What to buy at Bombay Bazaar, according to a local chef
After Bagga Satnam and her family migrated to Colorado from New Delhi, India in 1994, they purchased a 1,500 square foot space in Aurora. There, Satnam opened an Indian market called Bombay Bazaar with the goal of bringing the flavors of his homeland to the Denver metro area. Nearly 30 years later, the store has grown to 46,100 square feet and has become a go-to for cooks looking for everything from rice and lentils to frozen entrees and cookware.
Madhavi Tandon, a three-year-old chef and owner of Maia Foods, which offers pre-packaged Indian meal kits and homemade ghee, biscotti and spice mixes, discovered Bombay Bazaar in 2005 while searching through the yellow pages an indian market. buy ingredients for his family. “It always felt like a quick ride home,” says Tandon, from Pune, Maharashtra, India. “The smells, the familiar products, the ease of knowing what to expect is very comfortable.”
But the familiarity of visiting the market isn’t the only thing that keeps Tandon in the winding islands of Bombay Bazaar. The chef here sources exclusively traditional ingredients for his meal kits, striving to keep his recipes authentic and uninfluenced by the preferences of a predominantly white American clientele.
“The impression that many have of Indian cuisine is mainly for [what’s available at] Indian restaurants, which are not representative of regional cuisines,” says Tandon. “I don’t want to modify my product or make it less authentic just to make it look familiar. Indian stores help me achieve this goal.
Satnam ensures that its shelves are filled with products from different parts of India and Pakistan. It offers, for example, more than eight types of rice from different parts of India, a variety that Tandon likes. “Brand loyalty is important to us,” says Tandon. “But it also affects the flavor. Different types of rice sit differently in your belly, and for my business, I want the flavors to be high quality and consistent.
Bombay Bazaar’s shelves reflect the diversity and interests of a burgeoning community seeking Indian goods in Colorado. While visiting international grocery stores can be daunting, Tandon says it can also be eye-opening and educational, dispelling misconceptions about Indian cuisine. “East Asian grocery stores help people see Indian produce and familiarize them with the type of spices, range of lentils and ready meals we eat,” says Tandon.
In the store, Satnam can be found hustling across the islands to meticulously organize and restock products and answer customer questions. Shoppers stroll the aisles past walls adorned with posters of Indian landmarks and actresses as music and TV shows from the country blare from screens scattered around the store. “The community has supported us through and through…I love coming here,” says Satnam. “It’s a lot of socializing with my parents.”
Don’t know what to buy? Here’s a short list of Tandon’s favorite things to buy at Bombay Bazaar.
Shan seasonings: Available in flavors such as chicken masala, chicken jeffrezi and pilau biryani, these convenient mixes help those looking for artisan Indian meals on the go.
Minute Khana Multi Paratha: Sponge up your curries with these microwaveable stuffed naans, fluffy flatbreads filled with white radish, herbs and spices.
Fresh fruits and vegetables: Tandon is always stocking up on fresh limes, curry leaves and ginger in the produce aisle of Bombay Bazaar.
pressure cookers: Many Indian chefs rely on these vessels to prepare dals, curries and other staples. Luckily, Satnam has a whole section filled with pressure cookers, along with other handy marvels like rotisseries and griddles.
Paneer by the block: This Indian cheese, which Bombay Bazaar also sells in bulk, is the centerpiece of many Indian dishes – a smooth, creamy protein for specialties such as tikka masala, samosas and curries.
Gluten-free flour: Roti, a deliciously moist unleavened flatbread often eaten with Indian meals, can be made with gluten-free flour rather than wheat flour.
Haldiram Frozen Samosas: These tasty fried pastries are stuffed with spiced potatoes and are ready to eat after a microwave or oven spin. Found in the expansive frozen aisle of Bombay Bazaar, they come in packs of eight to 70.
Shan South Indian pickles: Indian cuisine is notoriously tasty, and pickles often accompany creamy and savory dishes, such as dal and curry, to cleanse the palate between bites.
Frozen Haldiram Roti: Don’t feel like making roti from scratch? Browse the frozen section for a range of ready-to-reheat roasts, from gluten-free to whole wheat, to complement your meals.
Guru Nanak Ice Cream: The ice cream section of Bombay Bazaar is full of tasty flavors like saffron, cashew raisins, pistachio kesar and mango; Guru Nanak is a popular Indian brand available in the United States.
Today, Tandon buys the ingredients – short-grain sticky rice, pigeon pea dal, cumin seeds, whole red chillies, turmeric powder, curry leaves and a spiced masala – to make tadka dal, a dish of popular Indian lentils and a staple in his household.
In the next weeks, 5280 will go behind the scenes at Tandon’s house, where she will share the meaning of tadka dal and prepare it in her kitchen. Watch the cooking video, part of our new series featuring local chefs, on 5280.com.
Bombay Bazaar is open daily (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.); 3140 S. Parker Road, #4, Aurora
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