Not long after Andrew and I returned to Brussels, we discovered one major drawback to our trip to India – Indian take-away in Brussels just didn’t do it for us anymore. We love Indian cuisine and were blown away by the flavours we had in Bangalore, Goa and Kerala and by how each region varied so much in taste and ingredients.
Several weeks after our trip we had a craving for curry but found the options in Brussels seriously lacking. Andrew and I find ourselves ordering take-away Indian food several times a month. When our local curry shop changed hands and went seriously downhill, we scouted a few other establishments in Brussels. What we found was either very expensive or unoriginal. All of the menus basically feature the same six or seven curries. Most of the recipes people are familiar with come from Northern India and the food we ate in the south was completely different. We were seriously disappointed.
I promptly ordered some Southern Indian cookbooks from Amazon.co.uk and hit the kitchen. The only problem was where to get what I needed. Finding authentic Indian ingredients in Brussels can be tricky. Or at least it was, until the lovely Apolina of Bombay-Bruxelles suggested I try the Ideal Cash and Carry. Now I’m cooking up a curry storm.
My love-affair with curry started when I was very little. My friend’s parents were Indian immigrants in Canada and her mother was always cooking something delicious. While my friend favoured hot dogs and Kraft Dinner, I always wanted to try what her mom was cooking. If you’ve ever known an Indian mama, they love to cook for and feed people, so I was a welcome guest.
I started experimenting with cooking Indian food myself, back in university, when Patak’s curry pastes began appearing on our grocery store shelves. Later, I started to branch out and try cooking Indian curries from scratch. Armed with my new Southern Indian recipes I was ready to learn some new tricks. But first I had to stock the pantry.
So, a couple weekends ago, we ventured to Molenbeek to check out the Ideal Cash and Carry and it lived up to expectations.
The store isn’t huge, but it is jam packed with good things – many of which you don’t have to be into Indian cuisine to appreciate. It’s worth the trip just to buy spices alone. You can stock up on 250g bags (or much larger) for little more than a euro, as opposed to those tiny jars you get at the supermarket for three euro or more.
The quantity of basmati rice was also staggering. Although I personally don’t have use for a 20kg bag of rice, it was nice to be able to get something larger than the tiny 250g bags at the GB (That’s just one meal for us!). I found a 1kg bag for only a few euro that will last me for a few weeks. Nice!
Another good buy at the Cash and Carry is nuts. I found large bags of cashews, almonds and mixed nuts for much less than I pay and a regular grocery store.
For those folks who are on gluten-free diets, the Cash and Carry stocks rice and gram flour which make good wheat replacements.
As for Indian ingredients, there is a large selection of pre-made curry pastes, like Patak’s, a small selection of fresh chilli peppers and other Indian produce, some pre-made Indian meals, a small frozen section with great samosas and some Indian dairy products like paneer.
So, if you’re looking for Indian ingredients in Brussels, I highly recommend the Ideal Cash and Carry. If you’re looking for some great Indian recipes and techniques, stop by Apolina’s wonderful blog Bombay-Bruxelles for some inspiration. As for me, I’ll be in the kitchen.
Ideal Cash and Carry
Chaussée de Gand, 33
We’ve created a database of all of the great international grocery shops here in Brussels for you to enjoy. Know anywhere else to get Indian ingredients in Brussels? Do you have a favourite ethnic grocery shop in Belgium? Share them with our readers in the comments.