There was a time when Indian spices were traded among colonies like a currency.
And if you were in the Roman Empire, getting your hands on it was like finding a brick of gold in your backyard.
Now all you have to do is drive to the store.
But not just any store.
With a burgeoning Indian population in certain communities in the Central Valley, dedicated stores carrying the products of the ancient culture are popping up strategically to cater to the emerging market.
Coming from a country with over billion people that is home to the oldest urban civilization in South Asia means that there’s a lot of history to draw from, and a lot of flavors from home that are typically missed in the traditional American grocery chain.
Need a Bollywood movie? You can find that. Trying to make traditional Indian vegan food? All of the ingredients are contained within.
And Manteca has two grocery stores that cater almost exclusively to Indian customers or people looking for an authentic Indian taste.
According to Gurpreet Singh, the move to America can be an unsettling one if somebody doesn’t understand the culture. While he said he loves being an American, being able to go places and pick up something that he grew up on in a setting that is familiar is a wonderful thing.
“You can’t go to a regular grocery store and get some of the items to make the dishes that a lot of Indian people are used to,” Singh said. “You can get some of the ingredients but some of them just aren’t the same. It’s nice to have something in your backyard that gives you the chance to pick up what you want and what you were raised on.”
Two stores on West Yosemite Avenue – Raj Grocery and Indian Wholesale Market – have become a destination for Manteca’s Indian natives and even just people who want to try something a little bit different for a chance.
Marlene Garvey said that she’s always liked Indian food and was delighted to see when one of the stores popped up in the community – giving her the chance to cook with authentic ingredients and get spices that can’t be duplicated by the standard grocery store spice rack.
“My daughter is a vegan so this creates a lot of different ways to cook food that she definetly enjoys,” she said. “It was something that I didn’t know a lot about but I got some recipes off the Internet and decided to give them a try. I’m glad I did.”
Raj Grocery Store is located at 1034 W. Yosemite Avenue and can be reached by calling 209.825.9477. Indian Wholesale Market, located at 905 W. Yosemite Ave., can be contacted by calling 209.825.7755.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.