an Indian grocery store in Aurora, Colorado

Though we believe that India’s flag should display the phrase, “Land Of The World’s Greatest Food”, there were still times in Delhi when Jenny and I needed the tastes of home. This inevitable expat longing obviously extends to NRIs as well, which is why, in any American city with a reasonable Indian population, there are a handful of Indian grocery stores.

And in those stores: roasted channa! Frozen chapatis! Dried garam masala! NRIs (and India-obsessed Americans) rejoice!

And because we were always surprised to see which American brands had made the global trek to our local Delhi markets (Lays, yes; Cheetos, sadly, no), we feel that those of you reading these words in India might enjoy seeing what a Stateside grocery looks like.

That’s what it looks like. A generic storefront in a generic strip mall in a generic American suburb.

(Some advice: if you ever find yourself in an American suburb, seek out the older strip malls. These are the ones without Old Navy and Applebees and Office Depots. Look for poorly-designed parking lots and bad line-of-sight to the road. That’s because these strip malls are too unattractive to the chain stores that are choking American suburbs like cancer until every city is identical to every other city; which means these strip malls are the only suburban locations cheap enough for mom-and-pop restaurants and independent retailers like India’s Harvest to survive. These strip malls are the only places you’ll find anything unique in the American suburbs.)

(Also, for those readers who accused this blog of being too critical of India, hopefully this shows that we’ve got plenty to snark about America as well.)

So, India’s Harvest. India’s Harvest! Though it’s less than a block away from Bombay Bazaar, another Indian grocery, it’s distinguished by boasting a tiny restaurant in the back. So when Jenny and I and Little Georgiana pulled up in our Prius (yes, we’re that much of a stereotype), the first thing we did was order a meal, hoping that finally, finally, we’d find some Indian food here as good as what we’d eaten there.

(Up until now, we’ve been 0-for-about-a-dozen Indian meals. My god, do we miss Sagar Ratna!)

The second thing we did was ask permission to shoot. I explained to the owner that my friends back in the Motherland would enjoy seeing what a US-based Indian grocery looked like. He didn’t seem to care either way.

And here it what it looks like: aisles and aisles catering to homesickness and nostalgia!

Packaged meals, snack foods, sacks of rice, bags of lentils, and, of course, spice boxes: everything you need to recreate the tastes of home, all the way down to pre-baked puris for homemade golgappas.

Then we stopped taking photos. Our food had arrived.

What you see here is the thali we ordered. It was good. But what you don’t see here is the uttapam that arrived at the table too tardy for this picture.

It was the single best uttapam we’d had since we left India.

And so, our craving for India momentarily satisfied, we cruised the aisles looking for other joys.

And there — Haldirams!

And baby eggplant! And green mangoes! And… oh, karela. Well, we’ll skip that one, thank you.

Our shopping spree ended with a few bags of snacks, some frozen lotus root, bhel puri mix, and a bag of pre-cooked paneer cubes.

Oh, and this joyful sight we beheld near the checkout counter.

We didn’t buy any spice boxes this time. We probably have too many as it is.

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15 responses to “an Indian grocery store in Aurora, Colorado

  1. Would you believe that I found it easier to get a few exotic “Indian” items in the generic “Indian store” in the US than in India? For example, I could get hand-pound rice in almost every Indian store in the US (almost ten years back i.e.), but here, in Chennai, only a few special, pricey supermarkets have them.
    Strange, huh?

    • LG, i know what you mean. I asked my mom to send me back lotus root *kondattum* which i thought would easily be available all over kerala, but it was only available in guruvayur, which is like a 5 hour train-ride away from where she stays!

      And in Dxb, i found a lil Indian store called Tamil Sandhai that had ALL sorts of kondattums- from lotus-root to french-beans to regular karela and chillies. 😀

      HEAVEN!

  2. Oh, forgot to add, we don’t get lotus root anywhere in Chennai ! Can you beat that?
    Maybe I should make a trip to the US to stock my exotic Indian food shelf.

  3. Hey, how come you missed Cheetos in Delhi? It’s been around for very long. Not as easily available as Lays but definitely there!

  4. Hahaha, you have no idea what a comfort this post is. I’m moving to the US in a month – so glad to know I’ll get all this! 🙂

  5. Made me real proud when you said “homesickness” 🙂 .. I’m so glad you think of India as your home!

    I also love that you get Masal Maggi everywhere in the world where there are Indians. Yum. Crave crave.

  6. Oh, be as critical, snarky or as approving as you like. Over-sensitive Indians or Americans can just …..it’s a blog, not a PR brochure.

  7. Haldiraaaaam’s! God, that stuff has seen me through so many long-haul public bus rides… I don’t know how I’m living without it in DC now.

  8. 🙂 So so agree! I am thankful to all those who got Indian stuff to US and American food to India. Can’t live without any 🙂

  9. It good to see that somewhere in the world the word Bombay still exist, back in the motherland it would have created a much uproar. Nice read 🙂

    Weakest Link

  10. Last week I was in Gurgaon, and my bro-in-law took me to Bikanerwala. Bang in front of it was Sagar Ratna which he said was quite famous for the South Indian food. Was this the same place you are missing? We didn’t manage to go there by the way (instead had gone to Saravana in Delhi).

    The thali looks scrumptious. Glad I am reading this after having my lunch.

  11. Over here in the UK it’s pretty easy to get Indian food supplies in any city with a large South Asian population, so in that respect (as an Indian food obsessed Brit) I’m lucky to live very close to Nottingham and Derby, where there are great supermarkets such as Pak Foods and Sharif & Sons. The shelves and freezers look similar to those over here, but we also have fruit and veg outside the shop on big tables, so the shops don’t look so boring from the outside, plus they’re usually in a busy inner-city location. ‘Curry’ is officially Britain’s most popular food, but in most restaurants that cater to mainly British people the food is often bland and full of colouring, with the same standard (sometimes invented) dishes available. Thankfully there are some restaurants and plenty of sweet centres where you can find more authentic fare. In Leicester, about 20 miles away, there is a huge Gujarati community and consequently many good value restaurants and sweets centres too. Yummy. South Indian restaurants are becoming more widespread too.

  12. This is good to know as I am from Denver and might be moving back! I’m learning how to cook Indian food now so I hope to be able to replicate some tasty Indian meals upon returning to the U.S.

  13. Cheetos was here in India a decade and a half ago! But at some point of time, they decided that the India market wasn’t for them and it disappeared from the shelves 😐

    When I was in UK, I used to go the Indian grocery store and stock up on haldiram and maggi and in India I miss my my British grocery store. Such is life.

  14. Hi guys. I used to live in suburban Denver and used to go to that Indian store. The food was good but I recall the service a bit slow. Good luck with your book!

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