I have been hearing about the spice market and I have desperately wanted to go. It sounded like a magical place where the sights were only rivaled by the smells. Where wholesalers bargained out of burlap sacks and the color of the spices lit up the canvas of the market.
Unfortunately, it felt a little drab – more like the streets of Oliver Twist rather than the hoped fields of the Sound of Music – but there were some beautiful sights to take in. The spices did light up the back drop a little – like the hushed tones of a sepia infused photograph. Quietly stunning.
On the way to the Spice Market in Old Delhi, the streets are lined with nut wallas – a walla is a merchant – so you guessed it – a nut walla sells nuts. There were dozens of them – one right after the other. Their displays were beautiful and tasty.
There was also a paneer walla. He sells blocks of paneer – think cottage cheese meets tofu – it is very popular here among the veg and non-veg eaters. And, yes, it bothered me a little that it was not refrigerated – but it did not seem to bother anyone else.
Along the way to the actual Spice Market, you see a lot of stalls with spices in them. But even though these are not the stuff that the official wholesale spice market is made of, they are pretty all the same.
There are also all sorts of pickled treats. I am a big believer in “when in Rome” so if this had been pasta, I would have surely tried it. But alas, I am in India and could not bring myself to taste these unidentifiable delights. The locals were not so shy and quickly savored them.
Now this is another story – take a potato, slice it, and fry it in some grease – and you have yourself a customer.
These are bags of rice and flour.
These are seeds for Lotus flowers.
Someone told me what these were but I cannot remember – some form of crystallized sugar – maybe molasses – I can’t remember – if you know, please do tell.
I wanted to go all Martha Stewart on these stars of anise and decorate them with glitter or at least a little paint. Wouldn’t they be pretty hanging on a tree with a ribbon?
These bowls were in the actual Spice Market. I did not know what all of them were – but there is surely curry, pepper, cinnamon, salt, coriander, ginger, chili powder, and many other yummy spices in these bowls.
I wonder how this works. These are red chili peppers. This is a wholesale market – so it is entirely possible that these bags get emptied every day. But what happens if they don’t all sell? And who is buying that many chili peppers?
This yellow root is tumeric. It is said if you grind it and add it to a warm glass of milk and drink that every day, you will fight off the swine flu.
And, no, I really don’t want to know why they are selling rat traps here.
These are dried rose petals for making potpourri. They smelled as lovely as they looked and reminded me of my grandmother’s bathroom.
This is what a typical stall looked like. Bags brimming with spices just waiting for someone to come buy them.
And really, truly, don’t blink or you might miss it. This is the sign above the alley that tells you that you have officially arrived at the Spice Market. It was a crowded place with lots of activity – not many tourists – and a lot to see. I am glad we found it!