Chitra Agrawal, the cookbook author behind Vibrant India, created a line of authentic Indian condiments called Brooklyn Delhi, which are sold at Whole Foods stores nationwide — but that doesn't mean that she shops there exclusively. In fact, many of Chitra's favorite finds come from her local Indian grocery store.
For more than a decade, Chitra has specialized in cooking, teaching, and writing about Indian home cooking, in addition to traveling to India each year to visit family and pick up recipe inspiration for her blog, The ABCD's of Cooking. We asked Chitra for her favorite Indian grocery store finds from the freezer aisle, and she was actually super passionate about this topic. Here are her favorite picks to shop when she's home in Brooklyn.
1. Frozen Fresh Grated Coconut, $3 for 16 ounces
"My absolute number-one frozen item that I purchase at the Indian store is frozen fresh grated coconut because it is so much more flavorful than dried coconut. In other grocery stores, you will find frozen coconut but it always has added sugar to it. My favorite brand is Daily Delight."
She especially loves using frozen fresh grated coconut as an ingredient in her recipe for chitranna, a South Indian yellow peanut rice made with lemon, coconut, fried spices, peanuts, cilantro, and hulthi or turmeric.
2. Frozen Mango Slices, $2 for 12 ounces
"I will sometimes purchase frozen mango slices. I love Kesar Premium Select brand." It's not hard to cut up a mango (see: How To Cut a Mango), but having ready-to-go slices in the freezer makes it a lot easier to pull out what you need, when you need it.
3. Frozen Chikoo, $2.50 for 12 ounces
"One of my other favorites is frozen chikoo, sometimes referred to as sapodilla, which tastes like chocolate when you blend it in a shake. (Chikoo is a fruit with an inedible fuzzy brown skin. The pulp is often blended into smoothies and shakes or used in other desserts.)"