Monday, August 29, 2011

Spice Shopping in Kathmandu

The other day I went to Bhat-Bhateni in order to replenish our cinnamon jar. As we have written about previously, organization of stock is not one of this supermarket's strong suits, and the spice aisle is certainly no different.

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Sure, from a distance the bags of spices appear fairly well organized, but if you look more closely you will see otherwise. Can't find your spice of choice on the shelves? Well, good luck finding it in these cardboard boxes.

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I figured that cinnamon -- hardly an exotic spice -- would not be difficult to find. But after a few minutes of searching the shelves and pawing through the boxes of miscellaneous spices, I gave up. At least I had not missed the obvious because when I asked a shopkeeper to help me, she had to take a moment to orient herself in the spice aisle. Eventually she followed her nose to a small stash of spices hiding in a corner on a bottom shelf.

But what she handed me was not cinnamon -- at least not by name. It was dalchini.

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I took her word for it and bought two bags to bring home. It definitely looked like cinnamon.

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But the smell -- the smell was something slightly different. And a little off-putting. It was like a cross between cinnamon and chicken seasoning. The taste matched the smell, and, in case you were wondering, did not make for a great addition to my morning oatmeal.

After doing a quick search on Wikipedia, I confirmed that dalchini is indeed the Hindi word for cinnamon. Cinnamon or not, this stuff was not quite right. Maybe it was a bad batch.

One more trip to Bhat-Bhateni later, I had some organic cinnamon in hand. Now this was the cinnamon I know and love!

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Lesson learned.

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