Ethnic-food lovers can find ingredients of paradise in Baltimore THE WORLD AT YOUR TABLE

April 27, 1994|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,Special to The Sun

Ask any adventurous cook what's the hardest part about preparing authentic ethnic food, and the answer is likely to be: finding the ingredients.

Where in Baltimore can you locate fresh lemon grass for Thai coconut soup, green cardamom pods for an Indian biryani or dried ancho chilies for a Mexican mole? What's the difference between a bird pepper and a serrano chili, and how the heck can you find asafetida when you can't even pronounce it?

Luckily for Baltimore-area residents, there are many markets that specialize in ethnic food products. Often, they are staffed with accomplished cooks who can assist customers in selecting ingredients or making substitutions when necessary.

We've compiled a list of some groceries to turn to when shopping for ethnic ingredients in the immediate Baltimore area. While it's by no means all-encompassing, this guide is meant to start you off in the right direction.

Searching for obscure ingredients can take a lot of the anxiety out of trying a new recipe. So our first bit of advice is to start close to home. Don't overlook the gourmet aisle and produce department at your local market. Many stores carry a wide variety of ingredients, from jarred grape leaves and fresh cactus to Peruvian purple potatoes and Kalamata olives.

Upscale groceries such as Eddie's Supermarket, Graul's Supermarket, Fresh Fields, Gourmet Again and Sutton Place Gourmet also carry a wonderful selection of specialty items. But if you're still stumped, here are some ethnic markets to visit:

Asian

Asia Food, 5224 York Road, (410) 323-8738.

Oyster sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, noodles and a wide selection of other Chinese ingredients are available at this large market.

Eastern Oriental Market, 2030 St. Paul St., (410) 752-6327.

Eastern is one of several Korean markets in the area that $H specialize in Korean ingredients, like pickling salt and red

pepper threads. Other Asian products are available, too.

Ghanada Oriental Store, 6232 Eastern Ave., (410) 633-7373.

Ghanada carries Korean cooking supplies, in addition to Chinese and Japanese ingredients.

Oriental Grocery, 5722 York Road, (410) 323-1900.

While this is mainly a Korean grocery, Japanese and some

Chinese and Thai ingredients are stocked.

Thai-Philippine, Oriental Foods, 523 Gorsuch Ave., (410) 243-6193.

Stocked with everything from frozen galanga root and Kaffir lime leaves to fresh holy basil and bird peppers, this market is a true find for fans of Thai cooking. They also sell ingredients for other Southeast Asian cuisines, as well as Latin American and Caribbean products.

Caribbean

L West Indian Imports, 5318 Park Heights Ave., (410) 664-1818.

Pick up everything you need to prepare foods of the West Indies, including goat and oxtail, hot pepper sauces, erk seasonings, plantains and more.

Caribbean American Foods and Grocery, 513 W. Lexington St., (410) 234-2895

Congo peppers from Trinidad, meats, spices and other products for West Indian cooking are carried.

EKO Food Store, 401 Woodburne Ave., (410) 433-2700.

A virtual supermarket of Caribbean products, this store is stocked with fresh and frozen meats, fresh produce, spices and seasonings.

German

Egon Binkert Meat Products, 8805 Philadelphia Road, (410) 687-5959.

German sausages and lunch meats are made on the premises, including Westphalian-style ham, bratwurst with garlic and natural casing franks.

Mueller's Delicatessen, 7207 Harford Road, (410) 444-4860.

In addition to regular deli items, Mueller's sells imported German products and homemade knockwurst, bratwurst and hot dogs.

Greek

Atlantic Foods, 7810 Harford Road, (410) 668-9722.

We sampled deliciously sharp Kefalotiri cheese and Kalamata here. Besides Greek delicacies, Atlantic sells imported Italian products.

L Greek Town Bakery & Deli, 4705 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-8052.

Dimitrios Trikoulis offers Greek pastries, breads and cakes, along with olives, cheeses and products from Greece, Italy and Spain.

Greek Village Bakery, 4711 Eastern Ave., (410) 675-8155.

The aroma of freshly baked bread is irresistible at this shop, which also sells Greek cheeses, olives and other Greek products like long tubes of pasta for pastitsio.

Indian

Bombay Bazaar, 1524 W. Pratt St., (410) 233-6303.

We found a dizzying selection of pickles, chutneys and spices, along with a helpful staff who guided us in making selections. Homemade Indian desserts and samosas are available, too.

Himalaya Spices & Gifts, 6818 Harford Road, (410) 444-5767.

This small, pungently aromatic store was recommended to us as a great place to buy spices and basmati rice.

India Bazaar, 8600 Harford Road, (410) 665-6493.

Our search for black mustard seeds ended at India Bazaar, which sells inexpensive bags of spices, sacks of basmati rice, chutneys, puppadams and other Indian products.

Shyam Foods, 1724 Woodlawn Drive, (410) 265-5119.

Jim Lawson, author of "The Baltimore Ethnic Food Store Guide," called this one of the best Indian stores in the area.

International

Big Boy's World Wide Food Market, 218 N. Paca St., (410) 685-4080.

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