LAST UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2011.
Last update: November, 2011. This post was really itching for an update because so many of you emailed me with questions, recommendations and information about what I use in the kitchen. I’m hardly able to keep up with replying to individual emails so here are all your questions answered, hopefully. There is a WEALTH of information in the comments section below and we’ve got some very helpful folks chiming in with tips and advice. Do go through that.
I get many mails from readers looking for Mumbai’s best baking suppliers or cookware vendors. Lots of you are interested in finding the best places to buy food products such as imported cheeses, imported meats, herbs, spices, and chocolates in Mumbai. Buying home kitchen equipment is also top of the list.
I’ve been shopping for ingredients and bakeware in Bombay for many years, and have had some good and some not-so-good experiences. I’ve recorded most of these to share with you. I am obviously NOT affiliated to any of the places mentioned here in any way, so the reviews are non-biased.
Over the years, food shopping in Bombay has become easier and easier. The availability of quality cooking and baking ingredients in Bombay is steadily increasing and prices are becoming more competitive. Scroll down to read about the best places to shop for food in Bombay.
Cooking and Baking Ingredients in Mumbai
The number one request I get from readers is for a place to shop for quality baking ingredients and imported food items in Bombay.
- General ingredients: For chocolate chips, canned blueberries, and tahini paste, Philly cheese, pine nuts, spices, hazelnuts, walnuts, Nutella, Hershey chocolate Alfa at Irla is my preferred choice. Though you could find them at Crawford Market as well.
- Imported ingredients: Fancy cheeses with names hard to pronounce, marinated olives and peppers, Sri Lankan cinnamon, fresh bocconcini, Jamie Oliver bottled stuff, Japanese ingredients, fresh endamame beans, fava beans, artichoke, imported salami, bacon and cold cuts can be found at Hypercity, Indigo Deli, Godrej Nature’s Basket. You can also get cheese at wholesale rates at Crawford Market (Eram’s, Shop no. 123).
- Herbs: You can find fresh herbs (chives, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, etc) and cold cuts at any of the supermarkets like Hypercity or Star Bazaar.
- Sugars: Light brown sugar, dark brown sugar and muscovado sugar is available at Hypercity and Alfa but I really don’t recommend spending so much on them (they’re 10x the price of granulated sugar). You can use BlueBird Demerera sugar instead, which you can find at your local grocer. Another place I brown cane sugar at was Godrej Nature’s Basket. You can find it under the Conscious Food label.
- Vanilla: Fellow bakers! Please stop using the tiny bottle of vanilla essences. That is not real vanilla. I was so happy to find pure Vanilla beans on a trip to Bangalore that I made my own Vanilla extract – it’s really, really easy. I urge you to make your own. You will never use anything else. You can find vanilla beans at Godrej Nature’s Basket and Indigo Delicatessen in Bombay. In case you don’t have time to make the extract, use the innards of the vanilla bean. Read Vanilla 101 and How to Make Vanilla Bean Sugar for more information.
- Buttermilk: Sure, we don’t get buttermilk here but that doesn’t mean we can’t make anything that calls for it. While I may have buttermilk written in my recipes (because that is the preferred choice for the recipe), I have been very successful in using the same amount of stirred yoghurt. Although, this is not the only substitution. Joy the baker has some pretty neat substitutions.
- Chocolate: I use Callebaut for baking. You can find the most common baking chocolate: Morde and Selbourne at Arife, Alfa, Crawford Market.
- I use instant yeast for baking bread. It comes in a 500g vacuum sealed pack. It’s a lot better than the crappy active dry yeast (NEVER use this, it smells so foul) and has a much longer shelf life than fresh yeast (which you can get from your local baker).
- Japanese Ingredients: Maido India sells some funky Japanese ingredients at Godrej Nature’s Basket and Hypercity. Buy yourself a tube of wasabi, if nothing else and it will kick your regular mayonnaise up a notch.
- Lavender: While I got my lavender from the US, you can get a pot from the Lalbaugh nursery in Bangalore.
- Sea salt: Anglesey Sea salt is available under the Waitrose label at Hypercity and Fleur de Sel is available at Nature’s Basket.
- Golden Syrup: Haiko at Powai or Nature’s Basket
- Dark and Light Corn Syrup (Karo): Alfa, Sante’s Crawford Market
- Phyllo Sheets: At Haiko, if you’re lucky (I haven’t been, but a readers tells me so)
- Molasses: I noticed a bottle of Grandma’s Molasses at Crawford Market (check the Crawford Market Guide below) but was too petrified to ask the price given he was selling Morton Sea Salt that costs just $3 for Rs. 4,000!
- Dulce de Leche: Why not just make some Dulce de Leche yourself?
- Whipping cream: Tropolite or Rich’s whipping cream (non-dairy) as well as Parsi dairy cream work well. Although, make sure you use the Parsi dairy cream immediately.
- Bread flour: I’ve noticed Waitrose strong bread flour at the store, but besides that I don’t know of any place that has bread flours. Most people add in gluten powder to the regular flour to increase protein content.
- Blueberries: Hypercity has blueberries! Rs. 199 for a 150g box.
- Rolled Fondant: Under Dr. Oetkar label, you can find these at Nature’s Basket.
- “00″ flour: You can find it under he Delverde brand at Sante’s or De Cecco brand at Nature’s Basket.
- Instant yeast: Arife, Continental Stores, Crawford Market
- Fresh yeast: Your local bakery.
Growing Herbs in Mumbai
If you have even a little space on your window, you can grow some herbs there. In my experience the herbs like oregano, thyme and rosemary that I have bought from a nursery (in Irla) have never survived. I prefer growing them from seeds, even though they might take longer. My theory is that these nurseries grow the herbs in cooler regions on the outskirts of the city – and they aren’t immune to the temperatures of the city. Growing them from the seeds acclimatizes them from the very beginning and if they can can survive the first few weeks, they most definitely will take to the weather and grow beautifully.
A little about my herbs:
- I’ve just recently grown the following from seeds and they seem to be doing okay: thyme, sage, purple basil. While the sweet basil is doing fantastically. I got these seeds from a friend , who got it from another friend. So I’m not sure where you might find it here. Although a few varieties of basil and a few herb seeds are available at Ratanshi in Byculla.
- Here is how I grew lemongrass.
- I got spearmint from a nursery in Pune.
- Friends tell me that dumping a bunch of mint leaves in a pot of soil is the easiest way to grow them. The leaves will wither away and new ones will take their place once the roots start growing. I am yet to try this.
- I got a pot of lemon basil from Green Growers in Versova (the map has the Bandra location mentioned). It grew well but I accidentally killed it by tugging on the stem. :(
- I plan to plant some chives soon.
Cooking Equipment and Bakeware in Mumbai
There are many good quality cookware and bakeware suppliers in Mumbai, so you don’t always have to rely on your cousin to come over from abroad!
- And a little about my KitchenAid: My uncle was kind enough to lug the 12 kilo machine from London for me. A word of caution, do not ask friends/relatives coming down from USA to get you a KitchenAid. Although, cheaper than UK, the US machine runs on 110V. You don’t want to shorten its life by using it here on 220V. Before the KitchenAid, I used a Black and Decker hand blender that held me in good stead for a pretty long time. David Lebovitz talks about things you must consider before lugging a KitchenAid from America to Europe, which applies to India as well.
- I also adore my CuisineArt ice cream maker. It makes ice cream churning so much simpler, and I have my favourite Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt in 30 minutes! I got it from the US, but I suggest, for the same reasons above, you get yours from Europe. I do not have any recommendations for an ice-cream maker available in India.
- Bakeware: For all sorts of cake pans, tart pans, dessert rings, muffin pans, springform pans (shoddy quality, though) Arife at Crawford Market and Andheri Station (West) is your best bet. For better quality stuff, Teflon, non-stick (though not so much variety) head to Hypercity, Home Stop or Home Center at Lifestyle.
- Measuring Cups: I use standard American size measuring cups (Kitchen Aid) and spoons because a lot of the baking I do is from American cookbooks. But you must know that I resort to measuring cups when I’m feeling very lazy. I much prefer to use the weighing scale.
- Ramekins: Saria Steel Depot, Home Center at Lifestyle.
- OXO kitchen gadgets are available at HomeStop. They have everything from a vegetable peeler to a salad spinner.
- Canning jars: Italian canning jars (Quattro Staggioni) are available at Alfa anf Mahavir Stores in Santacruz. And you don’t just have to use them for canning
- Cupcake liners: The ones I used are sent my gracious readers so I’m covered for a while. However, Arife (Crawford Market) does have silicone cupcake liners in pretty colours.
- Cake boards, cake boxes: And lots more available at Cheapjack’s on Hill Road in Bandra.
- Le Creuset: JW Marriott, Tresorie and Indigo Deli stock cast iron goodness.
- Wilton: Arife stocks Wilton colours, glitters, sugarcraft tools and lots more.
- Piping Tips: Have a look at Noor piping tips.
- Blow Torch: I got my blow torch from Saria Steel at Lohar Chawl. Refer to the Crawford Market map for more details on that.
Growing your own herbs
I’ve been trying to make myself an edible window with herbs, chillies and tomatoes. I buy my seeds from Ratanshi’s in Byculla.
The Crawford Market Guide
If there is something that you haven’t found, you are bound to find it in the Crawford Market Guide I’ve worked on. Here is a map of the inside of it. If you have any suggestions on adding to this, please discuss in the comments section below.
Cookbooks in Mumbai
So where do I find all these awesome cookbooks that I keep making recipes from? It used to be gracious friends and cousins coming down from USA/UK, but now local bookstores + Flipkart.com make me very happy. For recommendations please check my Amazon Store. Also, The Bombay Baking Co at JW Marriott in Juhu has some very nice books in their shop. A charming place with equipment, ingredients, books and orchids. Wish there were more places like these!
I’ve written up a post on Baking Essentials, that should be extremely useful as well.
..or “I have a friend coming down from the US/UK/France/Baker’s Wonderland, what do you think I should get?”
Now this depends entirely on what you like to do in the kitchen the most. If cheesecakes are your weakness then a good springform pan is a must, but if you’re going to be making it just once a year then it’s really not that necessary, unless you are a kitchenware junkie like I am. But then again, we are addressing must haves. So here are some things that should definitely be on your list:
- Silpat – you will never need to line your baking sheet with wax paper/butter paper/parchment paper! These are reusable and very worth the USD 20.
- A Microplane zester – zesting your citrus or even hard cheese like Parmesan has never been easier. I probably sound like their marketing department, but I really do love this tool.
- Anything Wilton (because everything isn’t available here yet)! They have the cutest cupcake liners and silicone moulds.
- If you like adding colour to your food (I absolutely detest, and the only time I gave in was when I made red velvet cupcakes), you could get McCormicks food colour. I have the set in Neon.
- Dried cherries, cranberries, blueberries, apricots and whatever else you want – they keep well and they can be used in so many recipes. I love using dried cherries in my black forest cookies.(While you can get these here, you’d be better off with bulk packages).
- If you’d like to splurge a little, definitely go get some Valrhona.
- I’ve tried to be creative and use different things as a substitute for a cooling rack without much success. I’ve had to space my baking across time just because I didn’t have a cooling rack and had to use the wire rack from the oven as a cooling rack. This is definitely a must have! I especially love this three-tier Wilton cooling rack.
- If they love you enough to carry a 5 kilo pan, then by all means get a cast iron skillet. And if they’re willing to double that, then one for me as well, please. And it’s totally worth it for $18 when here the only thing you will find is Le Creuset which will burn a hole in your pocket (but make your kitchen look so pretty!)
Thanks to the adorable Roshni (The Vanilla Bean), we have an update for all the things you might be looking for.
Fresh fruits – I buy most of my fruit for baking on the carts near my house. For the more exotic stuff, I always take a walk down the Pali Naka stretch. They always have the more exciting produce. Although, nowadays a lot of the fruits which seemed exotic earlier are now available everywhere (like Granny Smith apples), Pali Naka is a complete package. I bought some super pricey blueberries from Nature’s Basket at Hill Road (they weren’t available at Pali Naka). Pali Naka also had strawberries and I was promised they would be there till March!
Fresh Vegetables and Herbs – Again, Pali Naka it is for me. Of course, every other cart now has things like celery, basil etc. I bought galangal ginger from Nature’s Basket but it was available for lesser at Pali Naka. They also had edamame, fennel, asparagus, shallots, butternut squash, jalapenos, avocados, lemongrass (the kind you can grow as well), leeks, portabella mushrooms and other weird looking mushrooms. They home deliver as well. Foodhall also has a few exotic ones but they’ll cost you way more. Although, I was so tempted to pick up seedless limes!
Growing Herbs – my new favorite thing to collect! I bought my basil and oregano plant from Floraland (next to Regal and just opposite the Pali Naka lane). He gives fully grown plants for you to love and use. He’s promised me some rosemary and thyme too! He suggests Green Growers for things that may not be available with him. Their website is pretty helpful but I have yet to buy something from them. Floraland does have super cute pots etc to brighten up your window sill. e can be contacted on 9820094628 or 6006750.
Dried Fruits & Herbs– I buy dried fruit, nuts etc from Royal Dry Fruit in Santacruz next to Yoko’s. He stocks all kinds of nuts, dried cranberries etc. I buy vanilla pods in a small bottle from Modern but I’ve seen individual pods at Food Spot which can be useful. When I don’t have the time to go and buy fresh herbs or they aren’t available I use dried herbs which are available everywhere nowadays. I usually pick up entire stock from Neelam. I love Keya’s range of things like Japanese Seasoning, Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, Garlic bread seasoning etc.
Cheese – Philadelphia Cream Cheese is always bought from Modern. Its fresh and he doesn’t store it with smelly ingredients so that’s a plus! I’ve seen strawberry cream cheese at both, Nature’s Basket Hill Road and Foodhall at Palladium Mall. I’ve seen a more impressive collection of cheese at Sante’s in Pali Naka although, if cheddar etc is what you’re after, I’d go to either Nature’s Basket (which sells Monterey Jack shredded, cubed or whole – they also sell a mix of two kinds – how fun!) or Regal.
Whipping Cream – I switched to Tropolite after your recommendation which I buy from Arife in a 1 litre pack. It has to be stored in the freezer and thawed when required. Although, sometimes because Modern is closer, I use Rich’s cream. He sells them in 200gm packs making life much easier while measuring. Another excellent store for cream is Pakeezah Dairy Farm on 14th road. His whipped cream is quick and tasty!
Cold Cuts – Big Sam’s Seafood – simply because he’s conveniently located super close to my house (which I pass on the way home or elsewhere) and he also home delivers. Excellent honey glazed ham and other such items like salami etc. I’ve seen an equally enviable collection at Nature’s Basket but they’re quite steep. Oh, Sante’s has Milanese pepperoni too and it comes conveniently cut into discs to put a top a pizza!
General Ingredients like Tahina paste, whole-wheat pasta, etc – Neelam or any other store really. I’ve seen quinoa at Foodhall but it’s pretty steep. Also available at Foodhall are flavored oils. Polenta and couscous are also available at Neelam. I bought Japanese Rice Wine Vinegar from Modern too. I recently bought some rice noodles to find it’s available for much lesser at Modern. If you spend some time browsing the aisles or shelves, you might just surprise yourself!
Butter – Amul butter, of course, which is available a plenty. For shortening, I always pick it up from Modern – its unbranded, it’s cheap and I haven’t felt the need to do more research on it since I use it very rarely. I’ve seen Elle&Vire butter at Sante’s and if you walk right across the stretch, Regal stocks President and Lurpak too.
Sugar – Bluebird caster sugar is my go-to but I found super cheap, soft, light brown sugar from Modern – its 50 rupees for about 250 g. It’s so much better than using the chunky, sticky Bluebird brown sugar.
Eggs – I buy eggs from the guy who comes to our house with fresh eggs every day. But if it’s the more exotic ones you’re after then I’d go to Foodhall. They had organic, free range etc and cartons of brown eggs were available too. Although, there isn’t too much of a difference. I’ve never faced issues with eggs.
Flour – Madam brand available at my grocer. Whole-wheat flour is always around if I do ever need that. I’ve seen bags of ‘00’ flour at Nature’s Basket. I’ve yet to see bread flour though.
Buttermilk – I always make my own by adding 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to 1 cup of milk.
Chocolate – I’ve seen Callebaut Chocolate Chips at Sante’s. Nutella is available just about everywhere now! For chocolate chips, I’d go to Regal but they don’t always have it.
Japanese Ingredients – I’ve seen a whole row of them at Nature’s Basket on Hill Road. Although, if it’s Wasabi that you’re after or basic sushi ingredients then check Modern. It’s available for much lesser. Oh and I saw a whole range of Mexican chilli powder and whole chillies at Nature’s Basket!
Spices like Jamie Oliver bottled stuff etc, paprika, cayenne etc – Foodhall has a huge range. But I saw fleur de sel for 450! Eeks! I bought my bottle of cayenne pepper from Food Spot. I’ve also seen them aplenty at Patel Store next to Mehboob Studio.
Jams, sauces & preserves – golden syrup, Dulce de Leche (but make you own!), corn syrup both light and dark are available at Foodhall. I’ve bought Golden Syrup and Corn Syrup from Modern for much lesser though. I always ogle at the preserves at Moshe’s but haven’t bought any. Bonne Maman Jams are available at Regal for as little as Rs. 25 for a small jar! Other jams (not local) are available at Neelam.
Frozen Pastry – I’ve spotted phyllo sheets at Modern. He also has ready frozen puff pastry which comes to a close second. Also, he stocks rice paper and spring roll sheets.
Equipment – Sanctum is my new go-to place for cute and brightly colored oven proof bakeware. I also spotted zesters (Microplane!) and other such equipment, too. I’ve seen a huge collection of kitchenware and bakeware (including OXO) at Tressorie. I buy my cake pans etc from Arife but I’d invest a little more for springform tins (also available at Arife, Bandra now), pretty bakeware that can be brought right to the table etc. I buy my stock of parchment paper from Arife in Bandra (100 bucks for a large roll which lasts me a while). I saw super cute salt and pepper mills (apart from other such equipment) at Foodhall and I’m happy to report they work! They’re battery operated so they’ll cost you but if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, check any of the stores in Hasnabad Lane, Santacruz. For adorable tableware, check Surprise at Santacruz. I also bought my kitchen scale from Alfa (some dicey brand) but it’s lasted me a while.
Yeast & Bread Ingredients – Fresh yeast is available at Modern but he also has dried yeast. For bread pans (even with the closed lids), go to Arife, Bandra or Cheap Jack on Hill Road.
Rolled fondant – Finally available at Arife!
Canning jars – Saw and bought the cutest jars from one of the stores in Hasnabad Lane, Santacruz .
Biscuits – Savioardi (if you aren’t making your own) is available at Modern and Regal. Oreos are manufactured here now so yay! I’ve seen snobbish looking cheese plate crackers at Nature’s Basket on Hill Road and Sante’s at Pali Naka.
Cake Decorating – pastry tips, cake decorating tools, pastry bags, cupcake liners and silicone cupcake liners are all available at Arife and Cheap Jack. They also have a cake turntable which is worth investing in. Here is where you can buy bouquets made of cookies.
Tea and Coffee – Nature’s Basket for ogling but I generally buy it from Modern or Neelam. Davidoff coffee is available at Regal and Food Spot.
Thermometer – I’ve seen candy thermometers at Arife but Alfa has some too. For oven thermometers, check Tressorie.
Dishes, tablecloths, cutlery – Newly opened Sanctum on 19th road is slowly becoming my go-to place for pretty table stuff. Otherwise, I love a nameless store right opposite Shoppers Stop Bandra for ceramic bowls, mugs, ramekins etc. I’ve also seen ramekins at many stores in Hasnabad Lane.
Stand mixer – Not too long ago, I bought mine from Dubai. They have KitchenAid mixers there now too so it’s much easier to lug them from there. Plus, there’s no electricity conversion problem if you buy it from there because the voltage is the same. I bought a Kenwood Titanium Chef stand mixer that came with the basic 3 attachments and it works beautifully. Recently though, I saw one with a timer and digital setting for speed – wow!
Map with all these locations!
Here is a Google map of all the places listed above. Find them with their complete address!
View Baking in Bombay in a larger map