I have finally been able to shop at Spar Hypermarket, walking distance from my flat. Yes, you heard correct, no mere “super” market but a hyper-market – shopping at this market ain’t like dusting crops, boy.
I guess the hyper-market label is fair after all. I’ve passed many stores here in Pune proclaimed as supermarkets which were the size of an exceedingly small US drugstore. So relatively speaking, Spar is hyper.
There’s a lot you can get at Hypermarket. Like a smaller version of a US Target or Walmart, you can get office supplies, small appliances, clothes, “crockeries” (kitchen goods), toys, hardware, sporting goods, and of course, food. Mainly I came for food – microwaving kebab a few times a week gets old, I wanted to get some actual food.
What did I get? Simple stuff, actually, like these small bananas – they are really good – oranges, onions, spices, some brown rice, some pre-cutup chicken.
Another vegetable I saw is bitter melon, a kind of tendril-skinned gourd. I’ve had bitter melon many times in Chinese food; the Indian variety seems a bit different. I’m sure I’ll try it, eventually.
The meat they had there was not abundant. There were some whole chickens, and a few cutup pieces. Not sure why that was. The store was re-opening after being closed a long time, due to a fire – maybe the butcher shop is not yet fully stocked?
A portion of the meat counter was marked halal; this is meat butchered according to Muslim law. There was not a lot there, mostly some desultory lamb ribs and hoofs. Again, I hope there’s more next time.
There’s also abundance of snacks, relishes and sauces – Indian and Western – as well as personal products, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. Prices on US products, for example Special K cereal, are not bad – approx $2.50 US per box. Hypermarket also let’s you buy many Indian staples, like rice and dal, in bulk; bulk rice is 30-40 Rs. per kilo.
In the end I got enough for my “home cooked” meal. Here are the seasonings:
The result was a vaguely Thai-curried chicken, served with onion rice and hot mango pickle – all in all a meal I would have killed for in my university days.
Hypermarket is the kind of place many middle-class Indians go to shop. But the vast majority of the population does their food buying from smaller shops, street vendors and the like. Those I will seek out as I can. Meanwhile, Spar is close, and has an excellent selection – home-cooking can continue as long as I can make the jump to hyper-market.