Food shopping can be an adventure.
One of the fun parts about farmers market shopping is finding that heirloom tomato or that rare variety of apple — those special items that are unlike those you’d find in a supermarket.
The same is true of the area’s many ethnic markets. Step in to one of the Indian, Asian or Latin-American markets in the area, and you’ll find yourself on a international tour with sweets from Lebanon, Japanese snack food, Indian naan, specialty olive oil from Italy and Lyle’s Golden Syrup from the U.K.
Supermarkets have responded to shoppers’ more adventuresome palates by expanding their offering of ethnic ingredients. But the small markets offer a chance to find unexpected new flavors and give you a window into a part of the community. And, if you’ve found yourself getting bored by the same old repertoire of recipes, there is no better way to reinvigorate your passion for cooking than to grab a jar of something new and, Chopped-style, invent a new dish.
Looking to stock the pantry with exotic flavors or find a new place to browse for unfamiliar eats? Get ready to shop the world without leaving the state.
East West Foods
Where: 2626 Brown Avenue, Manchester, 232-5813
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days
What: A general store for Pakistani and Indian goods.
Shopping trip: Slowly but surely, says owner Nikul Shah, people have been learning about East West, which opened last December. “I began marketing it to an Indian and Pakistani demographic,” he said. “But we’ve been expanding, thanks to a great staff.” He’s added to his imported sauces and an array of bulk-bag rices to include teas, beauty products and sweets and the Chaat Corner, an Indian deli counter that also serves Bollywood Kulfi (Indian ice cream). Try the all-you-can-eat Pani Puri for $7.99 every Sunday.
Food & Fashion of India
Hours: Monday through Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Closed until Sept. 28)
What: A market stocked with just about everything for an Indian night in, night out, lunch or lifestyle.
Shopping trip: The market area features authentic Indian spices, lentils, rice, flor and dosa and idil batter for cooking and snacks and frozen products, as well as jewelry, accessories and henna tattoo supplies. There’s a full-service restaurant with lunch, dinner and a specials menu; main dishes are priced around $8 or $9.
Hours: Monday, 1 to 8:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: A large Indian supermarket importing a range of goods.
Shopping trip: This is a modern-looking market with a huge selection of ingredients, ready-to-serve meals, snacks and bulk items. There’s a veritable library of spices (see the list on their website) and various oils, as well as beans, lentils and rices in large bags, and fresh and frozen vegetables. Beverages, snacks, dry nuts and fruits, and ready-to-cook dinners and instant mixes for quick meals are available too, as well as British, Chinese and Indian teas and coffees, chutneys, sauces, pickles, and health and herbal products.
Global Flavors Express
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
What: A neighborhood grocery version of its mother operation on Daniel Webster Highway.
Shopping trip: This store is four times smaller and stocks the most popular and essential food products from Global Flavors, mostly ingredients for cooking, such as spices, oils and sauces and bulk-stocked rices. A row of refrigerators holds heat-and-serve meals and frozen snacks.
Lanna Asian Market
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: A stock of ingredients for Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Thai dishes, direct from Asia.
Shopping trip: Lanna preserves the traditions of Asian cooking and welcomes adventurous new cooks, hosting cooking classes in-store and posting free recipes on its website. The market carries food and ingredients from the Pacific Rim and beyond: soy, fish and chili sauces, Chinese five spice, dried and canned mushrooms, mung beans, seaweed strips, Japanese nori sheets for sushi, coconut milk, beef balls, Thai curry, numerous kinds of rice, many varieties of fish, Philippine longanisa and more. Twice a week, Tuesday and Friday, Lanna gets vegetables in from Boston.
Saigon Asian Market
Where: 93 S. Maple St., Manchester, 644-3555. The market is just off South Willow Street in a shopping plaza with Savers.
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week
What: This is the granddaddy of southern New Hampshire ethnic markets, with ingredients for not only Asian cooking but Latin-American and Indian cooking as well.
Shopping trip: Where to start? Put aside for a moment the strictly Asian ingredients. Saigon’s meat selection includes oxtail, beef tongue, large packages of chicken livers and chicken hearts and just about everything to do with a pig — including pig ears, pork belly and more. If seafood is more your speed, check out the seafood counter, where you can find whole fish, salmon sliced to order, shrimp, squid and more. Or check out the canned goods for mackerel, tuna and sardines packed just about any way you’d like. Now, back to the ingredients you might need for Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Nepali or other Asian cuisines — find spices, sauces and noodles as well as snacks and sweets. A large produce selection includes some harder-to-find items, like chive blossoms. There is an impressive spread of Goya products and other brands offering Latin American flavors. And you’ll find drinks and sodas with flavors like lychee and tamarind. The market also sells strainers and other cooking utensils, bowls and other serving dishes.
Saigon Asian Market
Where: 33 Pine St., Nashua, 521-6171
Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., seven days
What: Similar to its Manchester counterpart, it’s slightly smaller than a supermarket and filled with stuff you wouldn’t find in one.
Shopping trip: At the rear of the store, there is a large produce section parallel to freezers. Sour oranges, purple yams, Chinese cabbage, pickled ginger, chayote, cactus, duck eggs and much more run along the cases, to the fish counter. There, daily cuts of cat fish, poggie, white-bass and blue fish are stocked. Frozen quail, whole cleaned squid, sesame balls, mandarin rolls and shumai are in freezers.
Uhen Heh Grocery
Where: 326 S Broadway, Salem, 893-8511, www.uhenheh.com. Parking is in a private lot out front.
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Korean-Japanese-Thai grocery market
Shopping trip: Inside, there are Korean and Japanese sweet, brown and mixed grain rices, noodles, vinegars, spices, sauces and pastes for making dishes like marinated chicken, beef or pork, dumplings, noodle plates, vegetable stews or Korea’s national dish. Speaking of kimchi, Uhen Heh makes its own for purchase, along with other dishes and even more ready-to-cook, packaged meals, imported from Asia. You’ll find interesting Asiatic fruits and veggies like Fuji apples and sweet potatoes, as well. As soon as you walk in on the right there is a refrigerator stocked with homemade, no-MSG kimchi, tofu and fish plates as well as Korean grapes and Fuji apples. There’s also a large selection of dried foods, including enoki mushrooms, garlic stem, shrimp, sweet potatoes and more. The freezers contain whole and cut frozen fish, fish cakes and dumplings
EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA
Bartlett Street Superette
Where: 316 Bartlett St., Manchester, 627-1580. Nestled in a West Side residential neighborhood, Bartlett Street Superette has street parking right out front.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Sunday
What: Polish and Eastern European imported foods and a deli.
Shopping trip: Come to Bartlett Street on Fridays to pick up a freshly delivered chocolate babka or other pastry. Any day, you’ll find cold cuts at the deli counter, fresh kielbasa, smoked mackerel and other Eastern European delights. Find pierogis (dumplings with fillings like potato or sauerkraut) and golabki and, on the shelves, a selection of pickles, pickled beets, sauerkraut and other packaged foods. In addition to Eastern European candy and cookies, the store carries Polish-language newspapers.
Siberia Food Market
Where: 100 Willow St., Manchester, 621-0017. The market is on the first floor of a two-story mall plaza with a parking lot.
Hours: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed Sunday.
What: Russian ingredients and packaged foods.
Shopping trip: The store is small but loaded with a variety of products. Penny-candy style bins of Russian candy are beside a refrigerator with ice cream, kefir and yogurts. All the items on the pastry shelves are packaged, but there is a wide selection of wafer creams, crisp bread, cookies and biscuits, as well as poppy breads and other cake items. Two glass-case counters flank the cashier, one filled with fish, the other with meats and cheeses. Herbal teas, remedies and medicines in Russian packaging are displayed beside the deli cases.
Siberia Food Market
Where: 259 A Main St., Nashua, 883-4110. There’s a private parking lot for this building at the intersection of Main Street and Route 111.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sunday
What: A substantial selection of Russian products and some Ukrainian and Georgian breads and meats.
Shopping trip: The deli counter has liver, tripe and other pork for chopping or jellying along with cuts for making kebob-like shashlik. You’ll find ingredients for traditional Siberian dishes, especially doughs, for pelmeni and pies stuffed with cottage cheese, berries or cabbage, and broths for fish and cabbage soups. There’s a large sweets section, featuring a cooler with ice cream and kefir and Siberian cookies and other pastries. Specialty items like mineral water and crafts bowls are in stock, and a small pharmacy section with medicines and remedies, with instructions and descriptions written in Russian, is to next to the checkout counter.
Bakolas Greek Market
Where: 110 Spruce St., 669-2941. Get free street parking right outside the market.
Hours: Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Sunday.
What: This center city market is full of packaged Greek staples.
Shopping trip: If you were looking to create a care-package for someone homesick for Greece, this would be the place to shop. Find olives, pepperoncinis, grape leaves, biscuits, coffee, candy and honey (including pine tree honey). Cooks can also find spreads, spices and pastas to lend authenticity to their dishes. A counter in the back features a small selection of fetas, kasseri and other imported cheeses.
Where: 295 Lake St., Nashua, 882-1381
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: “The Lamb People,” as per the sign out front, selling Greek groceries.
Shopping trip: Since 1927, Liamos has continued to specialize in homemade Greek comforts. A deli counter full of lamb and pork cuts is only part of what they do. They also package imported olives, stuffed grape leaves and feta cheese and bake their own baklava, kourabiedes, and koulourakia. A selection of Greek items like tzatziki sauce, spices and imported beers and wines are stocked alongside American foods like chips, sodas and more.
Angela’s Pasta & Cheese
815 Chestnut St. Manchester, 625-9544, www.angelaspastaandcheese.com
. Just north of Webster Street, there is lots of street parking near the market.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What: A well-stocked Italian provisions store with an array of pastas, oils, vinegars, seasonings and sauces for cooking, a large number of cheeses, and prepared meals and desserts like tiramisu, cheese cake, ricotta pie and crème brulee, some of which are locally baked. This gourmet market features Italian goods and prepared foods such as frozen pasta, lasagna, eggplant parm and other restaurant-worthy meals, as well as freshly made carryout dinners and lunch from a variety of culinary traditions. It also carries hard-to-find ingredients such as ginger syrup, spaetzle, golden syrup and Devonshire cream.
Shopping trip: You can come out of Angela’s with everything you need for a classic pasta dinner: pasta (choose from a wide selection of dry pastas including rarer shapes such as trofie, which resembles a thin unwound paper straw), sauce, fresh bread, wines and dessert (there is a selection of single-serving desserts in the refrigerator, and cakes and more to feed a crowd in the freezer). And you can kick it up a notch by choosing one of several frozen stuffed pastas, selecting a cheese from the large cheese cooler (with cow, goat and sheep milk cheeses from Europe, Canada and the States — try the aged cheddar from Quebec, the butterscotchy gouda, one of the parmesean-like hard cheeses or head to the refrigerator case for a cheese spread), picking one of many high-end olive oils and vinegars, adding fresh sausages or Italian charcuterie and choosing one of their pasta salads to start the meal out. In addition to the dry pasta, Angela’s sells fresh pasta sheets, which can be cut in sizes from vermicelli to lasagna noodles. Angela’s meat, marinara and alfredo sauces are made in-house as well. In addition to the Italian and European fare, the shelves feature a lot of New Hampshire-made products, including Michelle’s Popcorn, Cathy’s Chocolate Delights, Gabby’s Organic Granola Bars, Sunnyside Maples’ syrup and CoCo’s Cupcakes dog treats. Do your shopping before 1 p.m. and buy a cup of fresh King David coffee (another New Hampshire purveyor), or show up at lunch on Fridays for pizza Fridays (find Angela’s on Facebook for each day’s lunch and dinner specials). Check around the holidays for special-order dishes, sides and desserts.
Where: 7 Willow St., Salem, 952-4875
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What: A large Italian market set to open in October by Tuscan Kitchen owner Joe Faro.
Shopping trip: More than 10,000 square feet of shopping space with imported specialty extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, fresh-sheeted pasta, imported cured meats and cheeses, Italian espresso and desserts. A butcher with fresh cut meats is available as well as a wine cellar with 3,000 plus imported bottles. Sandwiches and other café food plus Italian pastries and 24 different flavors of gelato will be available at an in-store café too.
Where: 302 Lake St., Manchester, 218-1226
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
What: Central American and South American foods and convenience store with a deli.
Shopping trip: Caribbean Market boasts a deli counter with basic sandwiches and a fridge with fresh garlic, tomatoes, peppers, plantains and other produce. Jars of jalapeños, guava, cactus and chipotle peppers line one aisle, and in another, there is a large selection of cooking spices in easy-to-store containers for kitchen racks.
Where: 304 Merrimack St., Manchester, 644-0122
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
What: A corner Spanish and American grocery.
Shopping trip: A small produce section on one wall features mangos, limes, avocados and dried corn leaves. The fridges contain packaged seasoned pork, soups and frozen empanadas and a healthy selection of Latin American sodas from Goya, Coco Rico, Jarritos and Good-o. Basic canned goods from various companies are on the shelves — beans, peppers, hominy and more.
Where: 334 Union St., Manchester, 627-1580
Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Street parking along Union or Auburn street.
What: Latin-American staple foods from brands like Goya, Raylicious, Fela and more, plus lots of drinks.
Shopping trip: A produce stand near the entrance offers fruits and vegetables common in Latin American cooking, such as yucca root, guascas and papaya. On the shelves and in the drink coolers are many packaged and canned foods from Central and South America and the West Indies, such as plantain chips, aguacates, rices, okra, chick peas, jerk spice and sweet potatoes.
Two Guys Market
Where: 414 Union St., Manchester, 627-7099
Hours: Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What: Pan-Latin American and West Indies staples including cooking spices, coffees and soft drinks, snacks, breads and prepared soups and rice; also amenities like decorative candles, magazines and Spanish birthday cards.
Shopping trip: After coming to the U.S. from Colombia, Fernando Hilarion opened this store 16 years ago. “We can serve [people from] about 50 countries per week,” Fernando said, adding that he tries to specially stock his store for Uruguayans, Mexicans or other people from different ethnic backgrounds he talks to when they shop there. In particular, Two Guys began stocking Uruguayan foods over the past year: traditional yerba mate tea and guava paste, as well as refrigerated chorizo, blood sausages, empanada dough and noquis de papa.
Where: 326D S. Broadway, Salem, 898-8677
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, closed between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. for prayer
What: The name means ‘Our Market’ in Pakistani and the shop stocks Middle Eastern food and has a butcher.
Shopping trip: The butcher has halal meats, including lamb, beef, chicken, goat and pork, all stocked in a walk-in freezer behind the counter at the rear of the store. Call ahead to order large cuts. There’s also a large selection of spices, tea, rice, flour, pickles and curry mixes, plus frozen naan, somosas and halal meats ready to serve, like chicken franks and breasts. Snacks, corn chewda, sev and dal moth, packaged like large bags of chips, line an aisle.
Where: 245 Maple St., Manchester, 626-7290. Situated in the shopping plaza next to Gill Stadium, Spice Center has an on-site parking lot.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week
What: This Middle Eastern market also sells Indian ingredients and frozen foods and is home to the Ali Baba Cafe.
Shopping trip: This market is a mixologist’s dream, with syrups, juice drinks (with flavors like mango and guava) and even Tang (did you know there was a pineapple Tang? mango Tang?) to help you create inventive new cocktails or mocktails. In addition, find raw ingredients for Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine (such as boxed spice blends for dishes like Malay Chicken Biryani and Chana Chaat) as well as Halal meats at a butcher counter, with deliveries each day between 3 and 4 p.m., treats (including sesame sweets from Lebanon and large boxes of baklava), rice, lentils and more. And then there’s the cafe. Come hungry for some shawarma or tabbouleh, pasta salad, falafel wraps as well as vegetarian and chicken dishes, priced from $5 to $10.