Khari Baoli is home to Asia’s largest wholesale spice market and it has been operating since the 17th century. I only spent like 4 hours here including a short tour with a local food guide (Delhi food walks @ Facebook), but from my short experience I did learn some useful tips on how to navigate the market. Unfortunately I stayed in the backpacker-ghetto of Paharganj during my visit in Delhi and all of the drivers that I approached tried to tell me that the market was either closed, only selling spices in large quantities and that they knew of a better market that they could drive me to.
This is of course all lies. The market is open from 11am to 6pm but it is indeed closed on sundays. My tuk-tuk driver started going in the wrong direction telling me the market was closed and that he were taking me to a smaller spice shop instead. When this ever happens no matter what country I visit I just tell them to stop and drive me to the destination I desire or else they will not get any money. I also make sure to confirm the price one more time, just to make sure I won’t be hassled when I finally arrive. I’ve been there and done that so to speak.
On my guided food tour through Old Delhi on a saturday evening I opted for a slight detour just to get a grip of the spice market before going there. I was told that foreigners or “goras” sometimes get to pay a higher price if you’re not stubborn or well-informed. The advertised kilo price might well turn into the price for a 100g if you’re not aware of what’s going on. This short guidance certainly helped me a lot when I finally got there.
1. It’s true that Khari Baoli is mainly a wholesale market but there are also lots of shops where you can buy smaller quantities of spices or grains.
2. The market is open from 11am to 6pm and is only closed on sundays.
3. The prices on the signs is the cost per kilo if nothing else is specified. If someone tries to tell you something else, keep insisting or walk away. This actually never happened to me but there’s plenty of shops so this shouldn’t be a problem.
1 kilo of cumin could cost 240 INR or 3,50 EUR
1 kilo of coriander seeeds is around 280 INR or 4 EUR
1 kilo of premium green cardamom will might set you back 2000 INR or 30 EUR, but it’s still half the price of what you pay in Sweden
4. Interesting spices from my point of view:
Black cardamom pods is the coolest spice I’ve used in years. Despite it’s name it doesn’t belong to the same family as green cardamom. The seed pods are dried over open fire which gives them a smokey flavor together with notes of pungy menthol. Price is around 600-700 INR/kg.
The anise seeds I found here is nothing like I’ve encountered before, they’re sweet and green with clear hints of liquorice.
Asafoetida is extracted from the roots of a certain species of giant fennel. The flavor can best be described as fermented onions and it’s frequently used by Jain or Brahmin Indians who doesn’t eat onions nor garlic. I still haven’t experimented enough with this but it’s easy to see it’s potential.
Unripe mango powder/Amchoor
This is made from green mangoes that’s been peeled and sun-dried. It has a sour fruity flavor and is frequently used to flavor samosas and pakoras together with a wide range of vegetarian dishes.
5. Some specific shops, these are all located near the Fatehpuri Mosque:
Afghan Store 6653
I here I just went for the green cardamom and saffron, they also have a big assortment of dried fruits and grains.
A. Kumar 6535
This is the rolls-royce of spice shops when it comes to teas and spice blends. Since I prefer wo buy whole spices I went for some dried chili powder, dried pomegranate seeds and tea. It’s on the expensive side but they definitely deliver on quality.
Heena Traders 6624
Here is where my major shopping took place, no fuss and quick business. Black cardamom, dried mango, cumin and anise seeds just to name a few.