You smell it some fifty paces before you get there. Surrounded by run down 19th century Parisian façades, nevertheless an exotic combination of garlic, onion, cardamom and turmeric wafts over your nostrils and you know you are getting close. Passage Brady, the Mecca of lovers of Indian food in Paris.
Paris is full of little passageways running between its main boulevards. Traditionally, they have housed workshops for the artisans. In the area around Bastille, most of the original furniture restorers (vernisseurs, ébenistes, doreurs, etc.) have given way to chic loft apartments. Here in the 10th arrondisement, the Passage Brady is home to the highest concentration of Indian restaurants and costume shops in the city. I don't know why the costume shops ended up next to the Indian food, but there are four of them nestling among the 10 Indian restaurants in this short corridor between the boulevard St. Martin and the boulevard du Faubourg St. Denis
You won't find Passage Brady mentioned in any guide book to Paris. This is logical, as very few tourists come to Paris for its Indian food. It's well known to the teeming expatriate community here: Brits (of course), Americans, Australians and even the Indians themselves! First, of course, are the restaurants. More importantly from my point of view, it has a really good little supermarket with everything you need to make Indian food,
As I sat watching Saturday Morning Kitchen on the BBC this weekend (theme: Indian food) it suddenly occurred to me that it has been a while since I stocked up on Indian food. I also reflected on the fact that most of the spices I use were purchased some seven years ago when I first met the Critic. (In a fit of enthusiasm, he insisted we buy one kilo bags of everything. In some cases, TWO one kilo bags.) I think they may have lost some of their potency.
Accordingly, I took off on Sunday afternoon with a folding canvas grocery trolley and ventured into the 10th arrondisement of Paris. What did I buy? Man oh man, what DIDN'T I buy??
I bought nearly 19 kilos of foodstuff, to wit:
two kinds of Tikka Masala paste
a jar of Vindaloo paste
a jar of Tandoori paste
three kinds of lime pickle
a jar of hot mango chutney
a jar of aubergine chutney
four little boxes of coconut milk
a box of creamed coconut (in powder form)
one kilo of Gram (chickpea) flour
a large can of mango pulp
three kinds of papadams
a bottle of orange water
a bottle of rose syrup
mung dhal (split yellow lentils)
Dosai mix (Indian pancakes)
moving to the spices...
dalchini Indian cinnamon
black mustard seeds
tiny red onions
a handful of hot peppers
And seeing as I was spending some 69 euros in his shop, the fellow threw in a packet of "aperitif Indien" for free, a dry mix of chick peas, cumin, salt, curry leaves, pepper and fennel!
So it was a very successful shopping trip. I am looking forward to using all these exotic ingredients. If you red this blog frequently, you'll notice a sudden increase in the number of Indian recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as we will!
(Drat. And I've just realized I forgot to get rice!)
83, passage Brady
Tel: 01 42 46 06 06
Metro: Château d'eau or Stasbourg St. Denis