MB Maps: Crawford Market
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A few helpful tips:
• Carry cash. And carry more cash than you think you will need, because you inevitably end up finding more than you thought you needed.
• Get there by 9am or earlier—that’s when the trucks offload fresh stock.
• Do a random check of the products, especially when you buy them in bulk. If you are not careful, you might end up with a bad apple.
• Carry a big shopping bag. Nothing is more annoying than juggling multiple bags in the crowded market. If you’re going to be shopping a lot, you can hire a coolie for his services.
The fresh fruit section stretches from near the entrance to the right end of the building, and beyond. There are dozens of stalls selling every imaginable kind of fruit (including a few you may not have heard of) but there is little difference in selection from stall to stall, meaning that one stand is as good as the next. Lesser known fruits include the bel fruit (an oversized pear with a tough skin that resembles a musk melon), mangosteen, rambutan (the scary looking fruit from the lychee family), dragon fruit and rose apples.
Jyoti Agriculture, Shop No. 172
Known for its fresh produce, this shop stocks jalapeño peppers (you can make your own jar of pickled jalapeños instead of buying it off the shelf). On a subsequent visit, I found some vibrant baby English carrots.
Trikaya Agriculture, Shop No. 180
Trikaya Agriculture is known throughout the city for its fresh, exotic produce, which is more affordably priced here than if bought from the supermarket. You might not get everything on their list in one visit, but you will not be disappointed by what you find. On one of my visits, I found kohlrabi, seedless limes, radicchio lettuce, broccoli sprouts and fresh herbs. On another visit I found garlic scapes (green garlic stalks), endive lettuce and the fattest lemongrass stalks.
POULTRY AND MEAT
Halal chicken and frozen meats are sold at the rear end of the building. To buy mutton, you need to walk to the next building all the way to the back.
VK Stores, Shop No. 467
This store stocks a wide array of products, cheese being one of them. Buy camembert, brie, Philadelphia cream cheese (for cheesecake brownies), mascarpone and ricotta at discounted prices here.
Arife, Shop No. 556
Arife La Moulde is the destination for bakers. They stock cake moulds, bread moulds, Wilton food colour, chocolate moulds, non-stick baking pans, tart pans, measuring cups and spoons, cake turn tables, silicone baking moulds, cookie cutters, chocolate cutters, palate knives, chocolate-making equipment, sugar craft tools, cream horn moulds, doughnut cutters, springform pans (usually used for cheesecakes), jelly and kulfi moulds. The silicone cupcake moulds are available in vibrant colours, much like the Wilton ones, but at a fraction of the cost (Rs150 for six moulds). They even have cake moulds in various shapes (birds, cars, houses, etc). In addition to equipment, they stock sprinkles, colourful sugar crystals and sugar flowers. They keep adding new items to their product offerings so you should ask them about their latest stock when you visit. Although baking equipment is their forté, they also have candle-making equipment. Arife has branches in Bandra (opposite Shoppers Stop, Linking Road) and Andheri West (shop no. 17, opposite the railway station).
PACKING, STORING AND SERVING
Patel Stores, Shop No. 539
Cling film, disposable boxes, foil containers, pretty tissue papers in bright colours, kitchen rolls and everything in between to keep your kitchen neat and organised. They also have paper doilies in different sizes, disposable plates, spoons and other party supplies.
Uncle’s Shop, No. 349
Uncle’s Shop sells an array of ingredients—dried cranberries and blueberries (although these show up sporadically at the store), Japanese ingredients like mirin, shiitake mushrooms, dashi powder, panko (Japanese bread crumbs), and sushi rice. Their Mexican ingredient offerings include tortilla chips, tacos, nachos, fajita and enchilada seasoning and refried beans.
Gloria Store Shop, No. 210
In addition to Goan dessert bebinca, they have an assorted range of chilli sauces, jellied cranberries, Kikkoman soy sauces and Tahini paste (good for hummus or marinated eggplant).
Neelam Stores, Shop No. 445
This store stocks all the regular Bluebird products—baking powder, icing sugar, corn starch, kulfi mixes and whipped cream powder. Look at Bluebird’s entire range of products here.
Victory Stores, Shop No. 448/449
Dried rosemary, thyme and spices are sold in small unbranded packages. They have canned goods aplenty, pastas, Nutella and a lot of everyday grocery items and regular imported foods.
Biscuitwala and Sons, Shop No. 482
You could easily cross this nondescript store without a second glance (okay, maybe one just for the name). But looking beyond the mundane pasta, rice noodles, artichoke hearts and tomato paste, you will find exotic Turkish oregano, wild rice, and a lot, lot more. I bumped into the purchasing guy from Asian restaurant Busaba who told me that they buy a whole lot of things for the restaurant from here. Other products on offer: wasabi paste, bamboo shoots, Jamaican Jerk seasoning, Spanish paprika, vine leaves, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They even have Grandma’s molasses, Morton Kosher salt (at a whopping Rs4,000), Kirkland steak seasoning, black bean seeds, nori sheets, wasabi, sushi ginger and a lot more.
Royal Dry Fruit, Shop No. 538
Following Royal Dry Fruit’s success, many others have tried to incorporate the word “royal” in their name. So make sure that you’re indeed at Shop No. 538. You can trust Royal Dry Fruit for their freshness and quality. They even have shelled pine nuts (perfect for making pesto sauce), as well as Delhi sooth (dried ginger), candied mango, American pecans and macadamia nuts.
Continental Stores, Shop No. 537
This shop stocks excellent instant yeast. There are many advantages of instant yeast over fresh or even active dry yeast, most notably that a half kilogram vacuum-packed package of Prime instant yeast will last you a very long time (about a year compared to 15 days for fresh yeast). They also stock cake gels and essences.
NEAR CRAWFORD MARKET
Saria Steel Depot, 26, Lohar Chawl (2-minute walk from Crawford Market)
Don’t be fooled by what meets the eye at this poky store that sells kitchen supplies. Aliasgar Saria, the third generation owner of Saria Steel, brings in equipment from all over the world and stocks them across seven store houses in the city. From regular knives costing Rs50 each to top-of-the-line Rs20,000 F. Dick Knives, Saria claims that 80 per cent of the restaurants in Mumbai have purchased equipment from him. They also have bamboo steamers, fondue pots, sizzler platters, pizza screens, Pardini thick-bottomed pans, non-stick baking mats, piping tips, cake stands, barbeque sets and copper satay grill. A word of caution: everything may not be available at the store at all times, so call before you visit (2208 2314)
Walking distance from Crawford Market toward Jama Masjid, Mirchi Galli, as the name implies, is something of a spice market. You can find dried ginger, turmeric and dried raw whole mango that you can freshly grind as you need. That said, the whole lane isn’t filled with spice shops; there are just a handful of them. The two shops worth a visit are:
Shah Gabharubhai Uttamchand & Co.
In addition to everyday spices, they also stock cinnamon quills, Kashmiri garlic (also known as snow mountain garlic) and whole dried mango (amchur). A lesser known spice I came across, pipramul or ganthola, is often used as part of Gujarati garam masala mix. They also sell an assortment of mukhwas (after dinner mint), cucumber seeds and pumpkin seeds at a much lower price (Rs400/kg) as compared to what you might pay at supermarkets.
Namdev Jagannath Supariwala
As the name suggests, this is a place for betel nuts. The folks at Namdev Jagannath hand slice betel nuts every other day, so you know you’re only getting your hands on the freshest stuff. They also stock a variety of spices, similar to the ones found at Shah Gabarubhai Uttamchand.
Shaheen Peerbhai is the author of the popular food blog The Purple Foodie, and loves writing, photography, baking and the colour purple.