September 22, 2010

A Spicy Interlude

So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.– Willy Wonka

This week has found me totally swamped with homework. I have no idea when or where all of these responsibilities popped up, all I know is that I have things to do.

Lots of things.

Doing lots of things also has the tendency to interfere in my precious cooking and blogging time, which is why I deplore doing things.

Okay, I’ll stop saying “things.”

The point is, I’ve been incredibly busy this week and I haven’t had much time for cooking up any new yumminess for this blog. However, after falling asleep while reading Supreme Court cases about arbitration agreements last night, I thought I should take a break and think about something other than school. That is to say, once the utter disorientation of taking a nap at eleven o’clock at night wore off, I decided to take a break and think about something other than school.

Thankfully, I still have some pictures from my trip to Rani’s a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t found time to fit in as a post, so even if it’s not a recipe, this post is still about food.

However, before I begin, there’s something that I must do. To wake both of us up, here’s an example of one of the Bollywood music videos that you can see blaring from two plasma screens in the middle of Rani’s. This technically isn’t one of the songs that I’ve heard at Rani’s, but it is really catchy and heavily features people in shiny parachute pants. To me, that’s as good a reason as any to watch this video. Plus it puts me in a giddy, dancy, good mood.

Feeling awake? Slightly disoriented? Good.

We’ll start off with the spices, which are the crowning jewel on the crown of awesomeness that is Rani’s World Market.

First there’s turmeric. I’m beyond obsessed with it’s gorgeous orange color.

I’m not so keen on how it stains my cutting board.

Then there’s asafetida. It’s used in small portions to impart a gentle onion flavor. In large portions, it smells terrible.

Here’s some gorgeous garam masala, the staple spice blend in many an Indian dish. It’s complex and ridiculously delicious.

After garam masala comes a little bit of fenugreek, which really has that recognizable curry powder flavor to it, as it’s a major element of most curry blends you’ll find.

Then there’s some beautiful cinnamon, which I’ve already almost depleted after making copious amounts of cinnamon ice cream for the last Daring Bakers’ Challenge.

And finally, there’s cardamom, which is actually the second-most expensive spice in the world, next to saffron. It’s got a definite sweetness to it like you’d find in cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg, but it’s also got a little something extra.

Aside of spices, I rarely have much of a plan for shopping at Rani’s, since I’m usually too busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the cool foods that I can’t find at HEB. There’s naan, of course…

… and some Sevpuri snacks, which I’ve actually never tried before, but found pretty yummy.

Same with these munchies. I’d never heard of them, but their pinwheel shape caught my eye and I gave them a try. With a good crunch and a spicy aftertaste, I could definitely see myself buying these again.

I always end up grabbing something by Sunfeast…

…mainly because their packaging prominently features pictures of my favorite Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan.

Requisite spicy cashews. You already know how addicted I am to these things.

Beyond Indian food, Rani’s also sells goodies from around the world. Taking advantage of this fact, I also grabbed some peppermint tea…

…and my current obsession, Hobnobs. They’re kind of like oat cookies that taste a bit like graham crackers, dipped in chocolate. Yum.

Finally—just because I could—I grabbed some Vegemite. Honestly, I was pretty surprised by this stuff. It’s not as disgusting as it’s been rumored to be and it certainly doesn’t taste like vegetables. It actually tastes something akin to really concentrated, really salty beef bouillon.

I’m undecided about Vegemite.

So there you have it, a little update on my out-of-control food shopping habits. We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled programming as soon as I get some of this pesky homework out of the way.


  1. Loved the video, it made me smile. Loved the spices, especially the cinnamon. Loved anything with Shah Rukh's photo included. Thanks for the update.

  2. Rani's sounds like a fabulous place! Seeing all those delicious spices and random treats makes me miss the market I used to go to in CA. It was called Valley Produce and it had a huge selection of all kinds of different ethnic foods - Mexican, Indian, Japanese, Middle Eastern - plus awesome produce.
    There's nothing wrong with a little irresponsible food shopping : )

  3. I missed your posts! I'm glad in between your homework you managed to post this fun blog post! Loved the video too :) Good luck with the studies!

  4. Great video and awesome shopping bounty! I would have fun picking things out at that place as well :o)

  5. That Bollywood video put a smile on my face. I kind of wish I was in that colorful place dancing around with them! You got so much cool stuff here. I've never tasted vegemite. I'm not so sure about "concentrated yeast extract"--it just sounds nasty! I've heard that is is an aquired taste. Good for you for going ahead and buying it!

  6. @Lady Cooks the Blues: I completely agree with everything you just said. :D

    @Rachel: Oooh, that place sounds awesome! There are few things that I love more than exploring a new store.

    @Sara: haha Thanks! Slowly but surely, things are getting done.

    @Susi: Yay for random food shopping! :D

    @Marisa: There are so many times that I have wished people around me would simply break into song and dance. Life would be so much more fun!

    All I can say about Vegemite is that you don't really think "Yuck!", you just kinda go "Hmmm?" It's a very confusing condiment.

  7. This post makes me happy. Homework is not fun :(. It's been my evil nemesis as of late, keeping me from my beloved food blog. Curses! Spontaneous food shopping is a perfect pick-me-up to educational woes. I love the zoomed-in photo of your favorite Bollywood star. lol. And Twinings Pure Peppermint is one of our all-time favs! It tastes like freshly-picked peppermint leaves and Christmas morning (in spite of 90-degree Christmas mornings in Houston) :-/.


  8. These are terrific spices! I was glad to learn about asafetida, that's a new one for me!

  9. I LOVE peppermint tea, Bollywood, and especially Hobnobs!!!! I also love this post! Thanks Koci!

  10. I like your shopping habits!
    Had no idea that cardamom was the second most expensive spice, but I love it. Can't get enough of garam masala and like flavors lately!

  11. I love the spices :) But not the homework :( It gets in the way of life sometimes!! PS, you'd mentioned having trouble with your granola bars being crumbly in a comment on my blog. I'm always careful to really press them into the pan (using a piece of parchment paper and a spatula really works) to prevent the crumbly texture. Maybe give that trick a shot?!?

  12. I think I smelled the aroma of the spices off the monitor...very nice.

  13. @5 Star Foodie: I can't wait to give that spice a try!

    @Becky: haha Hobnobs are definitely the best!

    @Karen: Neither did I! I'm loving garam masala right now, too. It's so complex!

    @baking.serendipity: I like the spatula idea! I'll definitely give that a try next time.

    @Claudia: hehehe Thanks!

  14. Stay away from the Vegemite - stay away!! Iw ent to school with two British girls who would have the vile stuff for lunch EVERY DAY. I tried and swap..and lost out each time, because they got my jam and I got their ... ugh... vegemite.


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