My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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A few year's ago my friend, Sarah, visited me in Ann Arbor. Her friend and her friend's college friend (both Penn State alumni) happened to coming to Ann Arbor that very same weekend to watch Penn State play Michigan in football. Having a big house all to myself I invited them to also stay at my house and the four of us had a lot of fun making dinner together and hanging out.

Knowing that I love to cook, one of ladies, who was from New York, mentioned that next time I was in New York I should really go to Kalustyan's as she was sure that I would love it. Of course I went on my next trip to the city and ever since I've made it a tradition to stop there every time I am in New York.

Kalustyan's is a specialty food shop that has all sorts of wonderful goodies, especially from India and the Middle East. The narrow aisles are lined floor to ceiling with just about every dry good imaginable. On top of the wonderful selection the prices are really great as well.

The best part of Kastulyan's for me is the amazing selection of bulk spices sold by the bag. The store smells amazingly fragrant with all of the spice smells mingling together.

Frank likes Kastulyan's because it is the only place other than a few expensive online sites that he has been able to buy smoked paprika, which is a staple in his cooking. Just as an example of the extensive selection of spices, the picture below is only showing different types of paprika that Kastulyan's stocks.

Although we could have easily bought out the store, Frank and I settled on getting two large bags of smoked paprika, pickling spice and some chia seeds. I've never made anything with chia seeds before but I thought they would be fun to try.

Before leaving Frank and I headed upstairs for a stop at the deli. Along with olives and cheeses, they also have a selection of vegetarian and meat options that make a great lunch.

Frank and I shared a combination plate of chick peas, grape leaves, a samosa and kasseri cheese. We enjoyed our delicious food while sitting in the window overlooking Lexington Avenue.

The most surprising thing happened after we had paid for our spices and headed outside to hail a taxi. Although I have been to Kalustyan's several times I never noticed before that there was a New York Historical Society plaque outside providing a little background to the building.

It turns out that at that spot on September 20, 1881 Chester A. Arthur took the oath of office to become the 21st President of the United States after President James A. Garfield was assassinated. William Randolph Hearst (inspiration for the famous movie, Citizen Kane) also later lived in the building. Fabulous spices and some history, too!

If you are in New York and love to cook I would definitely recommend a stop at Kalustyan's located at 123 Lexington Avenue. At the time of this writing the hours are Mondays - Saturdays 10am-8pm, Sundays/Holidays 11am-7pm.

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Reader Comments (6)

Love places like that, such a great variety. A little overwhelming though! FYI, Meijer (at least around here) carries chia seeds now! I love them in smoothies and oatmeal. Oh on yogurt too. They don't really taste like anything, but provide an interesting texture (they absorb liquid quickly and get kind of gelatinous. I understand chia seeds also are a great protein source. Have fun with your purchases!

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHilary

Went to Kalustyan's about a year and a half ago. I had never seen such a wonderful place. I spent a small fortune on spices, but my favorite purchase was the garam masala. I bought several bags of it and sent some to both my boys with a recipe for Chicken Vindaloo. I told them to cook it for their dates, that the girls would fall in love with them over that recipe. They both have steady girlfriends now ;)

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRene

What an amazing store. So many types of paprika - you just confirmed something that I thought was true. When growing up we must have been use to Hungarian paprika, & I liked, because the paprika used in most restaurants (locally) must be that of a very (too) spicy nation! Locally we have a couple of stores similar but not on Kalustyan's scale. There is a Whole Foods in Oakville, but that is an hour away. Like Hilary, I use chia seeds in cooked oatmeal (add just before serving), smoothies, yoghurt and also on salads. On another note, I have tried taking photos in the stores, ensuring no one person is in the photo, but I never have any luck and asking before hand usually gets a NO and odd look as to why. What is your secret to capturing (great) photos in the store? Explaining I am a scrapper usually gets even stranger looks :)

September 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Lou

Hilary- Thanks for the tip! I will have to check my local Meijer to see if they have chia seeds, too!

Rene- Isn't Kalystyan's amazing? It's easy to spend a lot of time and money there! I love garam masala, too. Also, good advice to your sons! :)

Mary-Lou- When I am in stores I just covertly take photos without flash using my Canon G15. It's a small pocket camera so it is pretty inconspicuous but it works pretty well in low light. If I was taking out my SLR I am sure it would look pretty suspicious...

September 27, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa

Hi Lisa. I've been looking for a new, purse-size camera, and the Canon G15 is on the top of my list. I'm glad to hear that it works well in low light. How happy are you with the camera overall? Are there any features that you wish were better? Did you use a flash with your indoors pictures in this post? I've read that the view finder isn't accurate, but this is one of the few compact cameras with a viewfinder. Thank you for any info that you can share.

October 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa

Theresa- I really like the camera. It does pretty well in low light and I like that I can shoot in RAW if I like. All the pictures in this post were taken without a flash. I don't really use the viewfinder and instead look at the digital image on the back. It's not the same as my SLR but for a point and shoot I think it is pretty great. I have a bit of a comparison of my old G12 with my G15 in this post: http://homeandawaywithlisa.com/blog/2013/1/5/white-bay-my-new-camera.html. Hope this helps!

October 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa

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