Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Be Wary of Your Local Indian Store Abroad

Wherever there's an Indian community, there's bound to be an Indian store. Maybe it doesn't open up until there's 10 more more Indians around (which doesn't take long lol), but it will be there. Usually this is a great place to find food you can't easily get at your local grocer or to get Indian varieties of food fairly inexpensively.

I was very excited when one of my readers let me know that one had recently opened up in nearby us. This was the IndoPak store. Since then I've also found a second one, the Halal market. In the beginning the IndoPak store was fabulous. I could buy my Mirch Masala Moong Dal that I'm addicted to, mehendi and more. Hubby could get the chili's he wanted and find some spice mixes to make his cooking easier.

Some early observations of the store were how the owner didn't keep the temperature cold/warm like other places. If he had something in you liked you better buy enough to last because he may or may not order something again soon. Also, he may or may not be open at the times listed on the door, it was really hit or miss. Ah Indian business rules. He brought it with him lol. Oh well, I was content because it's not like I needed to frequent the store every day.

Then about a year ago I started to notice things going downhill kind of fast. There were expired products in the store and meat freezers noticeably too warm and beeping to alert him to the fact. He let them keep beeping. The meat inside was discolored and scary. It was right about that time he posted a sign on the door saying you were responsible for checking the expiry date and he wasn't going to give you your money back if you didn't notice until after you left the store.

Also about this same time he decided to open a restaurant. After many months of it sitting there, not opening because he couldn't get a visa for the chef he wanted, he decided to open and cook on his own. Now normally I wouldn't fret over this but it was at that same time many of the expired items started disappearing from the store shelves. I refused to go there and eat and I warned Rohit not to as well.

He didn't listen. He went and brought home enough food for a small army as if he'd never seen Indian food before. I fussed at him and he then told me that there were only 2 or 3 options for food on the buffet at that place and he bought the food out of guilt. Excuse me? Anyway, I let that go and then he opened the boxes and the smell was awful! Even our cats didn't bother to beg for any like they normally do. Even after Rohit carelessly left this on the counter, the cat's didn't touch it. I can't swear to it, but I am dead sure he was using the expired food to fill the buffet.

The store shelves remained half empty and littered with expired goods. We stopped going in there hardly at all and opted for the Halal Market. This hasn't proven much better but has certainly enlightened us to the non-existant ethics of our local Indian market owners.

Now, the man who works at the Halal Market that we talk to does not own the market. I feel that's important to say because he doesn't deserve to take the fall for what's going on there. However, he did tell us that after their halal meats sit in the freezer for 3 months (perfectly acceptable time frame for freezer storage), the IndoPak guy comes over and buys them for his store. OMG.

The Halal Market isn't perfect. You still have to be weary of expired merchandise too. But, the majority of what you find is fresh. Only, they're considering shutting it down. I wish they would move it instead. It's in a bad location. It's hard to get to and the fenced in parking lot is not the most inviting. I don't think many know it's there either. I don't see a lot of Indians go in there, usually it's Muslim's of other skin colors from the local area; rarely Indians.

The Halal Market guy used to work for the IndoPak guy and has told us enough other stories to know that I won't be supporting him anymore. I understand that life here is difficult, especially when it comes to money and keeping up with India's standards of success, but there is no cause for the things he does to make his money. He could have been just as if not more successful by running a clean store with fresh goods.

How is your local Indian store?
Do you run into some of these same issues?

1 comment:

  1. I'd have been tempted to alert the local health dept. as to an improperly maintained freezer items.

    I've been to a number of grocery stores in India & Nepal where the freezer wasn't being run nor cleaned properly. Mind you, the stores with freezer sections are generally upmarket & upscale. It was fairly obvious what the consequences of not running nor cleaning the freezer was- the stench of rotting meat & vegetables has often been so bad you can't even stand to be inside the store. I guess having a freezer is so new in India in Nepal that the owners don't know yet how repeated thawing and freezing badly affects food stuffs. Meat & vegetables aren't like cans of soda that can endure wide temperature fluctuations. Needless to say most of these places with stinky fridges went out of business.