What to expect from the largest spice market
Khari Baoli is the largest spice market in Asia and being situated in Old Delhi we expected it to be nothing less than intriguingly chaotic. The name means salty step-well as the area was historically used for public bathing. Sadly there are no remains of the baoli. This 4 century old market is only closed on Sundays and the closest metro is Chandni Chowk Station.
A casual walk down alleys and small corridors will be a feast for the eyes, nose and throat as you will eventually be left coughing and sneezing, but it is well worth it.
The tons of spices together with all the bargaining and movement can be daunting to see and if you are not an expert the big question remains, what spices should you buy? We made it a bit easier for you by listing some of the must haves from India and a few common uses for them.
You can buy this in several formats at the market. Cinnamon is used for a range of starters, mains and desserts. You will also find it floating in your green tea for that extra flavour. We preferred the ungrounded Cassia bark version also known as Chinese cinnamon.
Green cardamom is the most common and is used in almost everything, it is called elaichi in Hindi. Spice mixes, like Garam Masala also contains whole blended cardamom. Be on the lookout for an elaichi flavoured milk drink sold in small glass bottles, it’s surprisingly refreshing.
Used in a wide range of dishes, this spice can be used whole or blended, it should be used with caution as it does have a strong taste.
Turmeric has a lot of health benefits and you’ll find it in many juicing and detox mixes. It’s a relative of ginger and gets added to lots of curry recipes for flavour and the vibrant yellow colour. Be careful as it stains like crazy!
No introduction needed, interesting enough it is actually native to India. Black pepper is the most consumed spice and makes up 20% of the monetary value in spice trading.
One of the most commonly used spices in Indian cooking, it can be used as a base for a variety of spice mixes. Consumed both fresh and as a dried spice it’s either loved or hated by foodies. Medical studies can apparently determine the fondness for it by genetics.
Cumin is known for it’s smokey characteristics in Indian dishes. It’s ridged brown seeds has a intense fragrance and can be mistaken for fennel seeds. Best used freshly ground and you’ll finds heaps of cumin for sale. Cumin is the second most popular sold spice after black pepper.
The best for last. Famous for being a very expensive spice, saffron is actually more valuable by weight than gold and in India you can buy it at a lot better price. Besides for Iran, India produces great quality saffron in Kashmir. It should be dark in colour and is used in almost all Indian dishes, tea and our favourite dessert, Kulfi.
Khari Baoli is not only a spice market it’s a must visit tourist destination and there are lots of other products on offer. Besides for the tons of spices literally forming mounds there are dates, raisins, nuts, herbs and obviously great tea. We recommend you take at least half a day wandering around.
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