Thursday, March 15, 2007

Calgary Spiceland

One of the most frustrating things for me about having this blog is the occasional inability to acquire ingredients I need to cook dishes I want to try. When I chose Thai food to cook for WCC 8, I went to 5 stores before I found lemongrass. Many times I've just had to abandon recipes and ideas because I couldn't get my hands on specific ingredients.

I knew I was in trouble again when I picked the theme of using your newest cookbook for WCC 13. My book I chose to cook from was an Indian Cookbook and while there were some recipes I would be able to round up all the ingredients for, I wanted to make one of the more interesting dishes. So one Sunday morning found me surfing the Internet looking for Indian or similar stores in Calgary or any mail order spice companies in Canada. Scott had the phone books out, looking for anything promising in the city. Luck was with us as Scott found Calgary Spiceland in the White Pages and shockingly, it wasn't even that far away. After calling to confirm that they are open on Sundays we headed out armed with our list of exotic (to us) ingredients we were hoping to find.

Calgary Spiceland is located in a little strip mall and looks quite small from the outside. It is larger than it looks and is crammed top to bottom with almost every spice/bean/lentil/Indian item you could think of.

I only managed to get 2 pictures before my stupid stupid camera died.

I got almost everything I wanted and a few extras. I was going to ask about the few things I didn't find, but the lovely couple who run the store were quite busy, so I'll just leave that for next time. We got:
Clockwise from back row: mint chutney, galangal powder, sumac, frozen onion parathas, coconut biscuits, roasted and seasoned chick peas and urd lentils.

Clockwise from back row: frozen dal curry, stuffed grape leaves, green lentils, ready-to-eat aloo mutter (peas and potato in curry), dried amchoor slices, dal makhani spice mix and dried curry leaves.

The cost for all this deliciousness? Just over $30. Yay! I am both thrilled at my discovery of this store and pissed that it took me this long to find it. For all of you in the Calgary area, I highly recommend a trip to Spiceland soon.

Calgary Spiceland
3-7640 Fairmount Dr SE
Calgary, Alberta

Side note: also in the strip mall is Sherry's Caribbean Food which sadly is closed on Sundays. I have heard very very good things about it. Should you be in the area any other day of the week, check it out.


Emmy said...

What a great store you found. Love the selection of goodies you got and the price was right too! I also wanted to tell you that I finally found some Amchur powder! I was pretty excited to find it.

Anonymous said...

Horray! You've jsut stopped me from driving up to crazy places in the north east! HORRAY!

MeloMeals said...

Looks like a great find! It's hilarious to me that most Indian markets look exactly the same... regardless of where they are located in North America..
I travel 50 miles to stock up on staples in my area.

Sara said...

Emmy, yeah I was glad to find it. Once the cupboards are a bit more bare I'll be going back. Let me know what you use the amchoor in, I don't know what else to do with it!

Lauren - glad I could help! Where do you go in the NW?

Melody - you're right, they do, don't they? 50 miles! Must be worth it though.

Ruth Daniels said...

I do love stumbling across shops that carry all those "exotic" ingredients I can't find in the usual shops near by or the big grocery stores.

I must admit that Toronto, being so multicultural, that you can find many ethnic do, however, have to go to the ethnic area. For instance the Loblaws in North York has the most amazing selection of dim sum dumplings and other Asian delectables.

Thanks for sharing your adventure.

Morgan said...

Did you try the deep fried things at the counter? We bought some squigly things made out of wheat dough and cumin seeds that were so addictivly spicy... I found this recipe today that uses amchoor. I'm typing up all my Indian cooking class recipes (turning chaos in to actual recipes that my mother can use) and I'll see what we used it in.

About lemon grass - Superstore on Southland and McLeod has had it everytime I need it. Any idea of where to get red Thai chilis though??

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Finding these places is always such a thrill! I always feel like I've been transported to a foreign place and love all the new smells.

Sara said...

Ruth - that's pretty true here too, although I am disappointed in a lot of the "big" chains of grocery stores for the amount of ethnic foods they carry. I try to stay away from them as much as I can, but it's not always poosible, or practical.

Morgan - there were no deep fried things at the counter. Maybe we were too late that day. That Superstore was the place I found the lemongrass. You were right about the spices too - the next time Scott and I were there he pointed out some things we'd bought from spiceland that i hadn't seen there before. Have you tried Co-op for the chiles?

Tanna - yes you are right, these shops always smell amazing.

Shaun said...

Sara - I'm so glad you got sumac; my life is forever changed ever since Eric and I discovered it. I am going to a Middle Eastern food store this weekend to get some because I am suffering from serious withdrawls.

Sara said...

Shaun - you'll have to tell me what to do with it! I have no idea, I just bought it on a whim.

Shaun said...

Sara, love - Eric and I love to use sumac as part of a marinade for steak. I have written about it before on my blog, so feel free to check it out (you will have to scroll down the page to the October the 6th entry in order to get it because I don't know how to do separate links for each recipe):
I really recommend it - Eric and I make it every other week...well, we did before I returned to NZ.