Patel Brothers supermarket in Jackson Heights, Queens is one of the things I miss most about NYC. I jump up and down a little bit when I go in. Or sometimes a lot.
It’s a massive Indian supermarket, and it has basically everything. Any kind of spice you could want. Whole dried coconuts that look like brown monkey heads. Five-pound bags of whole garam masala or ground cumin. Giant bags of all kinds of lentils, beans, and rice. Canned pulp of Alphonso mangoes, the best kind of mangoes whose season is the occasion for a mango craze in India, which you can rarely if ever find fresh in the US,
a giant section of many chopped and frozen exotic vegetables including frozen cut lotus root,
and most exciting, an awesome fresh produce section full of all kinds of things that are totally unfamiliar to me:
Patra leaves are leaves of the genus Colocasia (one species, Colocasia esculenta, is called Elephant Ear, and the root is also eaten as the vegetable taro). The leaves are rolled up with chickpea flour (gram flour) to make a really really delicious Gujarati dish that is sold at Rajbhog Sweets around the corner from Patel Brothers.
So when we stopped by Patel Brothers recently, we stocked up on some fresh curry leaves and fresh turmeric (my picture of turmeric was blurry, so check out this one). Fresh turmeric! I always thought turmeric was just a powder, or I guess I might’ve thought it came from a seed, like powdered cumin does, but no! It looks like mini fresh ginger, but bright orange inside.
And finally, I was standing there admiring these tiny striped cucumbers, and a woman began filling a bag with them, so I asked her what to do with them. So I got some, and I cooked them, roughly according to her instructions, and I’ll tell you about it in the next post.