Diwali Goodies from Amma Spices

OMG What a fantastic day I have had. There was a terrifying windy gale (blowing a hoolie is a term that applies) last night and tonnes of rain but I braved it all to drive into Edinburgh to see a friend. We got a bit of culture in the amazing Edinburgh Portrait Gallery and then onto the National Gallery on Princes Street.

However, I have a teeny tiny confession to make. I was only willing to go into Edinburgh to visit our favourite spot for Indian shopping – Amma Spices. Earlier this week, the owner posted that he had sweets in stock. INDIAN SWEETS. and DIWALI cards. I was beyond excited as it’s nigh on impossible to get cards in Edinburgh (one year, I was super lucky to get them at Carlton Cards on Princes Street but alas, the store is no more).

Patience was defo a virtue today as the sweets were very late in coming. I parked my card near the store at 11am, got into town for a bit of art and then came back at 4pm, salivating. Only to be turned away. An hour away (and over £50 lighter, thanks Sainsburys), I returned and became the annoying customer who demanded all the boxes be opened so I could get my goodies. Now, they didn’t have the mix box of sweets I like so I bought this lot instead. And some lovely cards too. Very very happy. Only 4 days to go before I stuff my face though the pani puri is going to wait until we are back from visiting the family.

The Amma Spices lads. Unpacking all their goodies.

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Amma Spices, 267 Gorgie Rd, Edinburgh EH11 1TX

tel: 0131 629 6847

My haul safely home in my kitchen. I’m going to divvy some up for hubby to take to work, and the rest is going firmly in our gob. Except the pani puri which I’m saving for after Diwali. OMG I just can’t stop squeeling with delight.

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Amma Spice Edinburgh

 

I’m as happy as a happy Guju girl can be because AT LONG LAST, I have found a place in Scotland that sells the veg I like. I’m hoping that unlike the local Morrison, that this find will continue to do fresh veg (shame on you Morrisons for leaving out rotting food…fresh market my ****).

We were in Gorgie road in Edinburgh to visit the city farm and noticed a couple of Asian supermarkets on the road. The first two were absolutely disappointing (one didn’t even have any groceries despite it being on their hoarding!). I nearly gave up and was a bit put off by guys hanging around, but I’m so glad that I went into the tiny shop Amma Spice because it’s full of heavenly delights.

I came away with my favourites guvar and valor as well as tindora, methi, raw mangoes, frozen theplas and parathas, ras malai that was so delicous and a box of barfi for the hubby. The bill came to £16. I would have spent a whole load more but would prefer to go back and get more when needed. Luckily they accept debit cards as I had limited cash on my person have just been to the farm cafe.

The guy running the place was friendly and helpfully pointed out veg I hadn’t noticed. He was from dahn sarf so we had a chinwag about some of the areas we both knew.

I will post about how to prepare with methi which is called fenugreek in English in the next day or so.

The shop is South Indian and sells Sri Lankan food too. I’m looking forward to getting to know about more ingredients and sharing the recipes here.

A tip – if you are going on Sat or Sun you can park at the council offices down the road for free for 2 hours.

 

Amma Spice

267 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, EH11

Tel: 0131 629 6847

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amma-Spices

Morrisons – market street

Our local Morrisons has just had a bit of a refit. Now it sports a new florist area, children’s clothes, a pharmacy and a shiny new market street with loads of veg, a greengrocer area, a deli area, a butchers area and a bakery. I was a bit gobsmacked when I went in to see veg that is now kept on iced compartments to keep nice and fresh. There was asparagus standing on their ends in a tray of ice cold water. Lots of “ethnic” veg including Chinese, Thai and Indian ingredients that I find hard to source in Livingston.

Each area had useful information which had me loitering around for ages. I swear to god, I could have stayed all day reading about different types of lettuce, aubergine, cauliflower (including the oh so pretty Romanesco) It’s not all veg either, there was lots of fruits including quite a few varieties of apples, some fresh coconuts (cocktail anyone?), and loads of strange looking fruits.

Some of the stuff on display was not  fresh. They did the refit over a long weekend, and had obviously just put out old veg.  However, I hope this is because they hadn’t managed to get fresh stocks in for the reopen rather than a trend. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, like their meat and fish, you could see a label telling you who a grower was and when an item was picked.

Whatever your thoughts might be about big chain supermarkets killing the local independent high street retailers, I am glad that I no longer have to go over to Edinburgh as often to stock up. The question is are there enough foodies in Livingston and the surrounding areas to sustain the level of variety the store has? Livingston farmers’ market failed – however, it was placed next to the massive shopping mall where shoppers are more interested in clothes and other non-food items.  Another question is whether the store staff have the expertise that the independent florist, grocer, baker, and butcher had in terms of handling stock and advising customers on how to use it – sadly I think the answer is going to be “No” – as nice as the staff are, they aren’t going to spend the time the old independents did in building customer relationships and pride in their produce.

Anyhoo, I walked away with some bitter gourd (keralas), cassava (mogo) and Sicilian aubergine. I’ll be covering the latter two in my next posts.

And I would walk 500 miles to Leith

Ok, we didn’t walk, on Saturday we drove into Leith. I wanted to see what it was like to drive around Edinburgh and also to check out the food shops in Leith.

Driving would probably have been more straightforward without all the diversions caused by the tram works but the only time we hit any traffic was on Queen Street. I didn’t mind so much as I got a good chance to look at Queen Street gardens which I will take the little one to next time we visit by train. We found Leith fairly easily.

On this trip we went to two Asian shops:

Rajah’s supermarket 33 Albert Street  Abbeyhill, Edinburgh EH7 5LH  tel: 0131 555 1619

www.rajasupermarkets.com/

There was a lot of double parking on this street but further up we easily found a place to park. Unfortunately, this is probably where our car was damaged so I wouldn’t recommend parking here. If you do park, fold your mirrors in so that some eejit doesn’t hit them.

The shop has a very small front but there is a lot in this shop. A butchers, a cloth department downstairs selling material for salwar kameez and a large section at the back selling frozen and dried ingredients. The veg near the entrance was tired looking and in some cases mouldy. This was a shame as they had things like tindora and drumsticks but I wouldn’t waste my money on it.

We didn’t spend much time in the dress department as it was mostly for those who want to make punjabi suits. They did have a few ready made items but unfortunately, nothing in our sizes. There were also quite a lot of  bangles and other Indian accessories.

The dried ingredients section is extensive and not overly expensive. I was super pleased to get some normal strength chili powder. It’s a bit hard to walk around as there is not much space between the shelves and the freezers situated in the centre of the aisles. A little boy kept getting in my way and I was tempted to put him into the empty freezer!

When we went to pay we chatted to the friendly owner. He used to live in Uphall which is in Livingston and said he was happy to deliver to North Livingston….not sure he heard when I said a couple of times that that was great but we lived in South Livingston!

My overall impression of the store is that is a bit grubby but if you are after dried ingredients it’s definitely worth a visit.

Polypak Continental Foods 336c LEITH WALK, Edinburgh, Scotland EH6 5BR tel: 01315 535711

www: don’t bother as it’s not working.

Before going into the city I looked up shops and decided to visit Polypack  on Piershill Place. However, as we drove to Leith I saw this shop called Polypak. According to the cashier the one on Leith Walk is the original one. They used to run the one in Piershill Place too but have sold that off and the new owners kept the name with a slightly different spelling Polypack vs Polypak.

The veg in Polypak was better looking that in Rajah’s however, yet again not much choice. I picked up some okra. The helpful cashier explained that they used to stock guar and valor but there wasn’t much demand and the veg would go off. I could either get the frozen stuff or they could order some fresh in for me. She called over the manager who told me the cost, which I would have to pay upfront a few days beforehand and then take the whole box. The price for a whole box wasn’t bad but paying upfront is not practical when we live in Livingston and he couldn’t guarantee the quality. So for now, I am just going to try frozen.

This shop is really clean, there is plenty of space to walk in the aisles and a separate well stocked freezer section. I walked away with some more dried spices, frozen paratha and guar and hubby picked up a tray of barfi.

We finished out day playing in Pilrig park (loads of parking on this street but remember, fold your mirrors) and then some yummy coffee and home made Moroccan baklava in Eco’s cafe.

I like Leith Walk with it’s mix of food shops, cafes and other interesting shops – I am planning to go back by train (with the Proclaimers playing on my shuffle) to visit the Sewing Bee Cafe for lessons and the Elvis Shakespeare  shop (FAB name!!!). With regard to food shops, there are some Chinese supermarkets to visit which I saw with a quick glance stocked Asian spices and some veg too. And who knows I may venture further afield to see what the other Polypack is like.

London’s best Asian supermarkets

This is an article from last year but I’m sure many of the shops mentioned are still there. I like how the distinguish the different types of food.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/05/londons-asian-supermarkets

Generally, if you are looking for a specific type of food e.g. Gujarati, then head to an area that has many Gujaratis. Wikipedia supplies this breakdown of where each different group are mostly found.

If you are looking for Gujarati vegetarian sweets and snacks (like chevda, ghatia etc) then I wholeheartedly recommend Gayatri which is in Kingsbury – be prepared to queue on festival days. Oh damn, now I’m hungry and missing London :S

Not Goodness me – Clementine of Broughty Ferry

Update: Goodness me, I’m a bit of a what the Scots call a numpty. The shop I went into was NOT Goodness me which is a health store on Gray Street. It was Clementine of Broughty Ferry. Have a look on the site for the soup bags I mention below.

You can find them at

103 Gray Street
Broughty Ferry
DD5 2DN
call us on: 01382 738 939
email: tasty@clementineofbroughtyferry.com

Goodness Me

106 Gray Street  Dundee, Angus DD5 2DN
01382 736 344

What a funny name for anyone who saw the successful TV show Goodness Gracious Me. We popped into Clementine of Broughty Ferry shop on our way to the beach yesterday as Granny wanted to get some veg for soup at the church. It’s a sweet little organic food shop just by the level crossing. I wonder if they get any trade from people waiting for trains to go by…we were at the crossing for over 5 minutes waiting from trains going to Edinburgh and in the other direction, one to Aberdeen.

The interior of the shop is well laid out (you know I have no photos right?). I was a little disappointed that the herbs weren’t all grown in Scotland. However, all the vegetables looked very fresh and I walked away with the last of the okra (from India), a packet of coriander (from Spain), a Dutch Aubergine (from???) and some gorgeous flat mushrooms (Scottish….yippeeee). Like a plonker, I completely forgot to pick up the French garlic which first caught my attention. It isn’t cheap but as it’s so fresh, it’s likely to last longer than big chain supermarkets produce.  They also sell bags of ingredients and recipes which is a nice idea for someone dashing in to make something for supper.

Shopping for Indian groceries in Scotland

I’m slowly tracking down the places to buy Indian vegetables in Scotland – to anyone living in North London this will seem like a strange list to hold but believe me, there is a genuine lack up here. Luckily, in the big towns some of the huge supermarkets sell some Indian ingredients and vegetables.

Falkirk

Halal Continental Food Store (138 Grahams Road, FK2 7BZ). Only went here once. The customer before me bought all the okra so I had little choice left. Went away with some dudhi and some fenugreek leaves/methi. The methi was kept in the cold store so it wouldn’t wilt. However, there was also meat in there and blood had dripped on the methi so I dumped the lot when I got home. Very little else in terms of dried pulses or spices currently available.

Dundee

Paradise Fruits – 346 Strathmore Avenue Dundee. I try to get to this store whenever we visit Dundee as they occasionally sell some of the green beans I like. For around £15 this weekend, I picked up some okra (yum for dinner, half has been frozen), a dudhi, some fresh coriander, 3 packs of dried lentils, a tin of patra (a guja snack with is colocosia leaves stuffed with gram flour mix and steamed), some spices and a rather dried up pack of fresh curry leaves.

Mini Fruit Market – 122 Albert Street, Dundee, Angus DD4 6QN. This is such an odd store. I have no idea how they stay in business. They sometimes have some Indian vegetable but when I first moved to Dundee the owner told me he hardly stocks it now as it doesn’t sell. I told him I’d buy loads if it was fresh but that didn’t convince him. I still manage to get the odd thing in here and this weekend walked away with a kerala, an aubergine, some rose essence, a block of ghor (jaggery which is an essential sweet ingredient) and some mustard oil.

Matthews Chinese Supermarket – this has some dried ingredients that are common to Thai and Indian cooking. Oh and frozen pastry for making either spring rolls or samosas.

Edinburgh

I need to get to out to Leith to try some shops there. We have been along Nicholson street and picked up a few items from stores there.