During our visit to Kochi last summer we visited some of the shops in the Broadway Bazaar. It is a section of town that is full of small shops. Kitchenware, saris, electronics and spices are just a small sampling of the variety. Each shop is no more than 10 to 15 feet wide and has an open front that bulges from the wide array of products they have for sale. The street was narrow and the sidewalks were even narrower. The area was packed solid with people, auto-rickshaws and a few small cars attempting to move forward. Our driver parked our car in a lot on an adjacent street because he knew that maneuvering an SUV on this road would be a disaster. I do not know how the brave drivers were able to move with all of the pedestrians. One contrast I noticed was people there had a mission to accomplish as opposed to the U.S. where most people are moving slowly and gazing at the merchandise. I had a blast watching the people and checking out some of the stores.
The spice store that fascinated me was the Kerala Masala Shop. As you can see from the photo, it had abundant supplies of fresh spices, nuts, lentils, and teas. As I walked inside, the aroma of fresh spices invaded my senses. I was amazed at the variety of each spice. For example, they had several bins of fresh green cardamoms in different sizes. The small or medium sized ones are available in the U.S. but I have never seen such large ones! Of course I purchased a bag of of the large ones to bring home. They also sold exquisite saffron from the Kashmir region of India. I bought several boxes of this since it is so expensive here. (The next time I go I will buy a suitcase full since I like the favor and use it often.) I saw mountains of star anise, cinnamon sticks, cloves, turmeric and dried herbs like rosemary that is popular at home.
The store stocked locally grown nuts, specifically, my husband’s favorite cashews. They were larger than the ones available in the U.S. Yes, they were bigger than “Texas-sized.” Their flavor was so fresh and rich that my husband added a few pounds of them to the purchase. Yum!
The people who worked in the shop really knew their spices – origin, freshness, etc. They were very generous in giving samples to taste before I made my selections. In addition they were very generous with their time for a person who they won’t see again for a long time.
I had a great time that afternoon poking around several spice shops. I’m sure Kachi was very entertained by watching me! I can’t wait to go back!
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