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Feb 22, 2010 04:58 PM

HELP! - Imminent visit - Ethiopian spices, curry leaves, interesting spices downtown

This is unusual because I don't even know precisely what I'm looking for. I would usually do some research and list specifically what I wanted.
Suffice to say I have moved from Toronto and miss the food terribly. I am a two day drive from Toronto. Ethiopian food is unavailable. There are limited interesting spices available here. I can get many Indian food spices but I cannot get curry leaves.
I miss Ethiopian food the most of all, and I will not get to Toronto again until the summer, but I am having a MAJOR craving. I need to try to cook it myself.
My friend will be in Toronto for two days (starting tomorrow Tuesday February 23) and has offered to pick up some spices. I do not want to send her too far out of her way (okay - as much as she likes me she won't go too far), and am wondering if there are places close to downtown where she can get Ethiopian spices and ingredients (the priority), as well as places she can get curry leaves.
Off the top of my head I would be looking for Berberé and Mitmita (I can get Teff here at health food stores), but would love suggestions about other ingredients she could source for me.
Help me Chowhounds!

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  1. The first thing that comes to mind is Kensington Market - Ethiopian Spice on Baldwin SHOULD have what you want, but it has been a very long time since I've been in - House of Spice has a lot of basics and may have berbere, but I can't guarantee because that's not what I was looking for the last time I was there. Good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Wahooty

      I agree with Wahooty's recommendation. They should definitely have Berbere and Mitmita. They are located at 160 Baldwin St. In Kensington Market, yout friend can also try House of Spice (190 Augusta Ave.).
      Where in Toronto will your friend be? You can also try Arsema’s (813 Gerrard St. E.) 416-461-6766 for Ethiopian ingredients.
      Regarding curry leaves, Gerrard E. (Little India) is a sure bet. See this thread:

    2. Thanks for the help! She is staying very close to University and Queen, so these suggestions for Ethiopian are great.
      I was hoping to find curry leaves closer to downtown, because I don't think she'll be heading to Gerrard street with such limited time. But as my priority is very much Ethiopian spices, I am very happy with these suggestions!

      2 Replies
      1. re: 11oclockish

        I think House of Spice has curry leaves. I know they do have a lot of Indian spices. You could call and ask. Their number is (416) 593-9724. That way, your friend would only have to go to Kensington.

        1. re: toveggiegirl

          Yes, they should have dried curry/kari-leaves.

          Fresh are definitely better (and can be frozen if necessary), but I don't know where to get them downtown – all my sources are east end.

      2. Hi there,
        House of Spice in Kensington Market does have curry leaves - I just bought some on Saturday.

        1. You can actually order live curry plants from Richters Herbs, who do mail-order.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Snarf

            Ayayayay! Snarf! No No No! that is not curry leaves!

            Curry leaves as used in Indian cooking are the leaves of the plant murraya koenigii. Here is a link!

            i don't know about availability in Canada though.

            The helichrysum curry plant shown in snarf's link may have a "curry" aroma (whatever that is) but is never used as an ingredient in Indian cooking.

          2. Thanks everyone! She found everything I wanted, and more, thanks to your direction. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
            With respect to the live curry leaf plants, Snarf and Rasam got me trolling the internet for Canadian suppliers of murraya koenigii and I found a company out of Quebec called flora exotica. Thanks for the idea - the fresher the curry leaf the better!