Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Tracking Down Exotic Ingredients

Locating all my specialty ingredients for my Monsoon Wedding Dinner & a Movie has been exceptionally easy this month. I already have a big jar of mango chutney that I bought online a couple of months ago at an Indian foods website called It was only $5.95 per one kilogram jar, with a little shipping. What a bargain. I ordered 3 jars of it on pure faith, and it's so good we've already polished off one of them, plus half of the second one. But there's still plenty left for my curry dinner. carries an amazing selection of Indian ingredients, and free shipping on orders over $50.

When it came to the exotic spices (garam masala, curry powder, cardamom, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, corriander seed, and cumin) I got really lucky. A new Cost Plus World Market just opened up in Napa, and they carry a full selection of ethnic spices at bargain basement prices. Most of them cost less than two dollars each.

The only thing I'm missing is tamarind paste and fresh curry leaves. I've never used curry leaves, or even seen them anywhere except the Food Network channel. The recipes all say that they are optional, but I'd still like to see what they're like. Maybe our gourmet grocery carries them. If not, I guess I'll just have to skip them. The tamarind I'm sure I can find at a local Mexican market.

So, with the exception of my fresh ingredients, which I will shop for the evening before the dinner, I've got everything I need to make an Indian curry feast.