Taj Grocers: My Latest Find For Amazing Middle Eastern Cuisine

Lately, I've been out of sight, sort of lying low for a bit as I pray to see what God has for this adventurous food snob. But with a family of growing boys to feed, that certainly doesn't mean time off from my home kitchen.

This past weekend, I discovered an AMAZING market in Plano: Taj Grocers. It's several blocks off highway 75 on Legacy. Newly opened about five months ago, it possesses a treasure trove of exotic spices, as well as whole grains, oils, and many other items used in middle eastern cuisine.

I was also delighted to find specialty flours (which are staples in other countries) such as ground millet and rice. While I grind my own grains here at home, not everyone owns their own grinder. So, to have a source as close as the Plano area makes it very doable when wanting to expand your own culinary capabilities. In fact, one of the recipes in my cookbook requires brown rice flour. And when wanting gluten free breads, other gluten free grains make this possible. Recently, I've seen both oat and rice breads at Sprouts, but how much nicer and ultimately less expensive would it be to make your own?

With limited time, I dashed to the sliding glass doors only to find them locked. Despite the early hour, in seconds, a friendly staff member opened up for me and I walked in to see several workers all watching a game of cricket on a television mounted high up at the front of the store. I'm sure my face registered suprise, but nothing daunts me from a new shopping experience, so I asked no questions and simply pressed on to the back of the store, laughing to myself at such an odd introduction.

As I took in this new world of exciting culinary possibilities, cheers and groans were heard up front depending on the field action. And a staccato of well timed claps were sounded at times the obvious fans deemed appropriate.

These cultural sounds accompanied me as I walked up and down aisles filled with selections I'd never heard of. Some of the more recognizable items such as cinnamon sticks, yellow curry powder, whole cloves, cumin seeds, star of anise, mustard powder, flaked coconut, and turmeric and ginger (both fresh and dried) were all thrown into my cart. Added to my bounty was black salt powder (which is actually pink), thick slices of wheat and white naan, a ten pound carton of brown basmati, and lastly, garam masala, an Indian spice mixture I'd discovered in a west coast restaurant last year.

A friendly staff member checked me out, informed me of future specials, and invited me to return. I certainly will.

In a world of fast foods and processed garbage readily available, I was thrilled to find a place that offered an astonishingly huge selection of amazing flavorful spices and grains that aid in the creation of wholesome, fresh menus for my family, friends, and clients.

I put those items to good use just last night, and as you'll see from the pictures posted to the right, the end products were Curried Pork Stew and Garam Masala Brown Basmati Rice. Fresh ginger, garlic, poblanos, red onions, carrots, leeks, granny smith apples and organic stock went into these aromatic dishes.

I mixed together fresh cilantro, lemon juice, minced garlic, greek yogurt, sea salt, and freshly ground peppercorns to make a cold topping which offset the spiciness of the entree.

And I grilled naan with a garlic/butter/parsley mixture, and topped it with Greek seasoning and sea salt for an amazing bread to finish out our meal.

There are times as recently as last week when I find myself complaining in my heart about what I wish I had or wish I could do. And then God gently reminds me of the overabundance of blessings in my life. This was one of them, as I served my family this dinner. We have the mercy and grace of a heavenly Father, the comfort and security of a loving home, and healthy, delicious foods to fill our never starving bellies.

I have decided to count my blessings today. If I keep at it, I'll have more than enough to remind me to always be thankful.

Happy Eating!
Polly~ The Food Snob

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