Saturday, May 19, 2007

A trip to Assad Mini Mart

I looooove Asian cuisine--Filipino, Singaporean, the different regional cuisines of China, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Korean ... you name it! (Well, with the exception of some North Indian and West Asian/Middle Eastern dishes: I'm not really into beans.)

And the secret to authentic Asian food, as most people know, is finding the right flavors and spices! Using, for example, Japanese soy sauce for a Chinese dish is simply wrong, and Malaysian food without lemongrass just isn't the same ....

Of course, it isn't always easy to find spices which aren't endemic to the Philippines. A few substitutions can be made, because a lot of ingredients in other Asian countries have parallels in the Philippines. (You can, for example, use Filipino patis instead of Thai patis, although it's harder to use Filipino shrimp bagoong in place of Malaysian belacan, because the taste just isn't the same.)

But oh, the difference it makes when you find authentic ingredients!

A few months ago, a friend told me about the Indian groceries along U.N. Avenue, although I never got the chance to go. Today, however, I had an errand to run in Manila. And while we were there, Mike had the brilliant idea of eating at a little Indian eatery he had seen across Unilever. It was--you guessed it--right beside the row of Indian groceries!

So after eating scrumptious mutton curry and shrimp masala at Assad Cafe, Mike and I trooped to Assad Mini Mart, just a few doors away. I wanted to buy some ghee, but it came in a giant box and had an August 2007 expiry date (I told Mike: "I don't think we'll be having that much Indian food between now and August). It was also a little expensive. So instead we settled for dry spices and different kinds of masala powder. I was also tempted to get some lentils and basmati rice, but we didn't bring a lot of money for this excursion, so I changed my mind at the last minute.

I remember how we learned in history class that one of the principle motivators for the Europeans to explore the world was the spice trade. People actually died for these spices! And now all a Pinoy needs to do to get a bag of spices is to take a trip to U.N. Avenue. Hmmm.

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Anonymous said...

May i ask for directions going to assad mini mart please?...any distingusihing landmarks?


Greece said...

it's in front of Unilever.