Monday, 5 October 2009

Gourmet Torbay: Pulses and Indian Food

I've mentioned before how much it sucked moving to Torquay in terms of good Indian food. But I may have been a bit hasty then. Turns out the answer is not just the internet but the local market as well.

Local markets are occasionally snobbishly disregarded - even by working class heros such as myself - when it comes to a source of food. Kind of a 'yeah they have a butcher but he doesn't have organic meat' and 'of course they have a green grocers but they don't stock purple sprouted broccoli'.

All this is problematic. Granted they can't afford to be more imaginative but food is still food and the cow is still dead. The traditional skill that foodies are often complaining about loosing can often be found on your local market. They are just priced for a pensioner's budget, selected for practicality and not housed in a pretty building. So it doesn't count right?

The market in Torquay manages to fill a significant gap. One of the few remaining places more geared towards locals than tourists is a lovely stall that sells a mixture of health food shop staples and giant bags of Indian delights.

Those hard to find spices? Check. I've bought asafoetida, tamarind and decent Garam Massala there. They also have the lovely huge bags of the more common spices of Indian cookery; cumin, coriander, and so on.

Lentils of every shape, size and colour? Check, double check because many of them are available in tiny stomach portions and 2kg bags.

Giant bags of rice? Defiantly, and if you ever see one you have to buy one. Even with as a single person who ate rice once a week getting the giant bag represented a significant saving.

And meany other things you never thought you'd see in Torquay? Oh yeah. I have jaggery in my cupboard! There are cans of ghee (not that I'll be buying that) and an interestingly picked selection of sauces from India, south east Asia, and the Caribbean. All in thrift friendly big portions. There's no tiny amounts of sauce in posh bottles here!

All of it inspired (and helped supply) the meal pictured above: Browned Rice and Spinach with Curry Sauce (both from The Asian Vegan Kitchen) and Peeli Dal (Indian Every Day a much better book than Indian Food Made Easy, especially for veggies, but didn't have a TV show). It was seriously one of the most satisfying meals I've had in a long time.

The rice was lovely and dry, just the way I like it, and delicately spiced. The home grown chillies in the dal made it seriously pop and the freshness of the Spinach Curry really came through. Home grown tomatoes and chillies in that one.

Torquay's Market Forum can be found off Market Street or by walking through the Union Square Shopping Centre (off Union Street) and is the host to Torquay Food and Arts Festival next Friday and Saturday.

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