grocery


Park Bulvar in Sahil

Park Bulvar in Sahil

It’s the last day of the Novruz holiday, so after cleaning up my classroom and preparing for tomorrow, I headed off to Park Bulvar. It’s my mecca mall in this city. One of my simple pleasures is brisk walking along the tree-lined Bulvar and having lunch or dinner at the top floor’s food court. International choices abound from Japanese to Russian to Chinese to Sbarro, which is American-Italian.

But my fave food vendor is Sultan’s, which serves salads, kebabs, Azeri main courses and desserts. The food is healthy. The food is delicious. But the reason I keep coming back is because of the servers’ friendliness, smiles and flexibility. The man who I think is the supervisor can also communicate in basic English. The older I get and the more I travel, the more I appreciate excellent customer service because I tend to frequent places that I like, and it always makes me happy when I have a positive and friendly transaction. I will refrain from commenting on the opposite 🙂 But let it suffice to say for now, that in Baku you get an equal amount of positive and negative customer service, of people who genuinely care about other people and love their job, so I tend to cling on and only visit places where I sense a happy vibe.

Salad bar at Sultan's

Salad bar at Sultan’s

Sultan’s salad bar offers plenty of healthy eats. They have the usual lettuce and cucumber, but they also have red beets, cucumber pickles, jalapenos, a variety of beans, red cabbage, and my mystery leaf, which I will tell you about later.

I usually order the chicken kebab and couscous, but today I asked if I could change my couscous into salad. The supervisor was very flexible. Most restaurants stick to the prescribed menu, but he gave me half a salad and the kebab for 5 manat – a very reasonable price for a meal in Baku.

Chicken kebab and half a salad from Sultan's at Park Bulvar

Chicken kebab and half a salad from Sultan’s at Park Bulvar

And just to back track a bit, yesterday, I found a green grocer and I bought this mystery leaf that I love! It’s a bit spicy and I love how it tickles my tongue! But I’ve never seen this leaf before.

76_petrushka

Today, I asked Sultan’s servers about it and they said it was “petrushka”. So I looked it up and apparently, “petrushka” is the word for parsley in Russian 🙂 I can see how it’s similar to the parsley we have in the Philippines and the ones I’ve tried in the States. They look similar and they taste similar but they are different. Petrushka is definitely worth trying!

After eating lunch, I explored the new grocery store at the Park Bulvar’s basement. It’s called Bazar Store and it’s a popular chain in Baku. I wanted to see if they sold kefir and this is what I ended up buying–

74_salmon kefir and a glass

The kefir is deeeliiicious! This brand (I will not yet attempt to decode the Russian name :)) tastes exactly like lassi. It’s 95 quepic, but I don’t mind because it’s a good investment on my health. The salmon is 4.20 manat for 100 grams. I have yet to try it. And I know that you’re probably wondering why there’s a glass there. Believe or not, the usual grocery store I go to, doesn’t sell glasses in boxes so I’ve never bought from them because I tend to break glasses. When I first arrived, I bought six pieces and only one is left! I was able to find six chic small glasses – I wasn’t too fond of the the tall glass designs – for 2.15 manat. Considering that I didn’t buy them from Sederek mall, I would say it’s a steal.

I’m definitely coming back to the Bazar Store, even if it’s just for the kefir. But yes, I did see a reasonably price Russian caviar which I want to try during one of my cheat days.

Guess what I found in Hypercity today?

Our famous Philippine Century Tuna!

Century tuna has always been a staple in our family kitchen cupboard. Century sells tuna in water, tuna in vegetable oil. Tuna cooked in adobo or menudo style.

It was good to see it on the Hypercity shelf but I wasn’t too happy about this label–

It’s a Philippine product! Why is advertised as America’s number one brand?

Because no one really talks about the Philippines in Mumbai, Sacha. It’s marketing marketing marketing. A tiny voice in my head says and of course, the tiny voice is right :).

Did I end up buying the product? No, first because of its price, and second, I’ve stopped in eating tuna in cans because of the sodium content.

But still, it was good to see a little piece of home in the grocery store.

B is always complaining about my expensive taste in food. I can’t help it. Cooking healthy fresh food is an investment on my health. It’s much better to spend money on nutritious food now, than paying for expensive hospital bills later on in life. I take my health seriously.

I like my nutty pop-in-your-mouth quinoa. I love my crunchy lettuce. And I love munching soft, salty cheese.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I can only find quinoa and lettuce together in one place in Mumbai, and that place is my beloved Nature’s Basket.

Nature's Basket in Powai

Nature’s Basket has several shops in Mumbai but the one I visit is in Hiranandani Gardents in Powai. It’s a small grocery store with fresh vegetables, fruits and what they call “world food”. They have local items such as lentils and chicken, but they are more known for their imports. Some of my favorites are their cheeses–they have Swiss Gruyere, Stilton and today I bought some Brie. They also have Modena pepperoni, another fave junk food! They have jars of different types of Thai curry. Today, besides my quinoa and lettuce, I bought Tahini salad dressing. I’ll be grilling some garlic chicken either tomorrow or on Monday, so to add spice to my chicken salad, I will try the Tahini dressing. I’ll let you know if that turns out well.

If you find yourself in the Powai neighborhood, and are willing to spend extra money on world food, do drop by Nature’s Basket. The choices they offer are worth it!

I’m easing my way back into the physical health trail by choosing healthier entrees (with the occasional cheat) and doing light exercises such as walking and pilates. I’ve also been logging my eating and exercise activities in Twitter. (I just love using those hashtags!)

Looks like tomorrow I’ll be hopping over to Nature’s Basket and buying quinoa and lettuce. Nature’s Basket is the only place I know of in Mumbai that sells both.

How do you keep yourself on the health trail?

This is my last six months in Mumbai and I’d like to catalog images that make my father’s city unique. I always want to remember Mumbai, and I’d always like to see her through a traveler’s eye.

This is where I run to for last minute groceries after school. It's very much like the sari-sari stores in Manila.