Sumary of The New Yorker’s Go-To for Spices and So Much More:
- When she couldn’t find it, she went to Kalustyan’s, the prodigiously stocked specialty food shop on Lexington Avenue between East 28th and East 29th Streets, and Aziz Osmani, one of the store’s co-owners, tracked down a source in India.
- “We don’t like to say no, so if it exists, we try to have it, or we’ll create a blend, or we’ll get it from no matter where,” says Osmani.The store, which opened in 1944, was originally a small-scale spice purveyor owned by Kerope Kalustyan, an Armenian man from Turkey.
- And every inch of its 6,500 square feet of space, which sprawls across three storefronts (123, 125 and 127 Lexington), seems stuffed — not only with spices and spice blends, many of which the store makes itself, but also with every conceivable herb and flavoring, a vast range of coffees and teas, myriad hot sauces, pickles and much more.You enter at 123.
- And beyond that are the spices and condiments, lined up on shelves in what appear to be endless rows: fresh turmeric from Fiji, holy basil from Ethiopia, black peppercorns from Ecuador and white ones from Cameroon, thick bitter-orange preserve from the Greek island of Khios, organic ghee and tapenades from Turkey, Palestine and Israel and housemade mango chutney.And still there’s more.
- here is a habanero hot sauce, bottled in Queens and sourced by Dona Abramson, the store’s operations manager, who is sometimes thought of as the oracle of Kalustyan’s.
- Company bookstore in Greenwich Village and a serious home cook, makes straight for the Tilda basmati whenever he shops at Kalustyan’s.Arranged about the space are barrels and boxes of dried fruit: jumbo prunes;
- “Try this, it will change your life,” says Abramson, who is holding out a fat orange-gold Uzbekistani apricot with a pair of tongs to me.
- And the store is truly a family affair: Alam introduces me to his wife, Rubina, who manages the boxed tea department and cookbooks, among other things.In 1968, when Alam arrived in New York, there weren’t many other Bangladeshis in the city.