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Julie’s Asian Supermarket Tour: Part 2

Read the other installments of Julie”s Asian Supermarket Tour

Gulas Jamun (Indian doughnuts). Image from www.sxc.hu

Earlier this week, I took you on the first leg of my spin around Eurasia Supermarket in Fonthill. My Indian friend, Radha, a food scientist with two kids, is showing me what she puts in her trolley. This week we’re diving into the freezer dept first.  Kerry Katona or that Stacy from X Factor would be devastated at the lack of chips and prawn rings here.

In addition to naans and samosas you can get Parathas, really delicious little flat breads, which are plain or stuffed with potatoes, herbs, spices, paneer, mint, etc.  You just brown them off in a pan and melt a little butter on top.  If you want to try making them from scratch Radha’s recipe is coming up later in the week.

Idlis are healthy, steamed rice cakes which are handy to buy frozen as they take ages to prepare. They’re rice and urad daal (black lentils) soaked, ground into a paste, fermented overnight, poured into moulds, steamed and then eaten with chutneys and pickles for breakfast. Another frozen shortcut is Sambar, a lentil and veg soup from Southern Indian. It has a ridiculous amount of vegetables in it so is especially good for kids.

Eurasia make loads of sweets and desserts on the premises. I try Rasmalai (melt in the mouth paneer cheese with pistachios, almonds, cardamons, lemon and saffron in a sugary, milky sauce).  They’d be just great after a spicy meal. I also had Gulas Jamun (sweet, milky doughnut balls soaked and coated in a brown honey syrup) and Rassogolla (lemony, cardamony paneer balls in sugar syrup). Probably not the best if you’re watching your weight, teeth or diabetes, but just so good.  There are frozen natural desserts too, like Gajar Halwa (carroty), Moong Halwa (yellow lentils) and Coconut Burfee.

Pulses are a huge part of the Indian diet. Toor dal (split pigeon peas) are high in protein and soft, so used in soups and tomato dal. Kidney beans can replace chickpeas (eg: in Chana Masala). Soya beans can be soaked, ground into a paste mixed with spices and made into a flatbread which is deep fried. Crushed Wheat (finer than  cracked or “bulgar” wheat) is very good for weight loss as it’s wheat germ and high in fibre. To cook it simmer twice its volume in water and cook til soft.  Stir in veg, etc. or  throw into baked dishes or bread.

Mung beans themselves are healthy but the bean sprouts are really high in protein. Radha soaks them for a few hours, drains them and ties them tightly in a muslin cloth in a sealed dark container to sprout over a few days. You can also do this with kidney beans or chickpeas.  Jaggery is a mix of unrefined sugar cane and palm tree sap. It’s used in desserts but can also balance spicy, salty dishes, lentil soups, etc. You can crush it, mix it with ghee and eat on chapati too.

Vegetables are the main source of nutrients in Indian meals. Radha was stocking up on staples such as baby aubergines (delicious when sautéed with onions and spices) and drumsticks, which are very long and dark green. You peel the drumstick, chop into pieces and add to curries and soups.  Cooking bananas, mangos and okras are also thrown into curries. So too are tandooris, tiny courgette-like veg with watery seeds.

Ridged Gourds (like ridged cucumbers) are closer to courgettes. The knobbly looking cucumbers are Bitter Gourds and are excellent for the digestive system. Older people often drink their juice to maintain cholesterol levels.  Menthi leaves, from the fenugreek plan are ideal for kids as they help develop their vision and digestive system.

Eurasia also stocks cooking pots, serving dishes, accessories, clothes…the list goes on. Give it a whirl to reap benefits for your health and purse. You could even get a new hairdo when you’re there.

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