Slideshow: Market Tours: Patel Grocery, a Treasure Trove of Indian Ingredients in Sunset Park

Patel Grocery
Patel Grocery
Opened in 1981 when Sunset Park was home to a large Indian community, Patel Grocery remains popular with the now-smaller Indian population, as well as with the many other communities live in the neighborhood: Americans as well as Pakistani, Chinese, and Mexican immigrants.
Snack Mixes
Snack Mixes
If you're in the mood for an unusual crunchy snack, Patel's got you covered: they offer all sorts of chaat fixings, as well as fried, spiced chickpeas, mung beans, and peanuts.
More Snacks
More Snacks
Some more alternatives to the common chip: plain and cumin-dusted snack crackers, as well as fried papadum strips; ganthia, a Gujarati specialty made of fried strips of besan, or chickpea flour; and tum tum, churro-shaped snacks also made of besan.
Pickles
Pickles
Almost an entire aisle of Patel Grocery is devoted to pickled fruits and vegetables of all kinds. Here, two types of mango pickle, and a sweet lime pickle.
Not Tomatoes
Not Tomatoes
Love or hate it, bitter melon is an important ingredient in Indian cuisine.
Chinese Okra
Chinese Okra
Also known as loofah—yes, that thing you exfoliate with in the shower—is the overgrown, dried version of this fruit. In northern India, Chinese okra is known as turai, and is commonly integrated into bean stews.
Tamarind Paste
Tamarind Paste
Tamarind is another essential Indian ingredient. Patel offers several types of paste, a purée and concentrate of the tart, yet sweet, fruit.
Rice, Rice and More Rice
Rice, Rice and More Rice
Multiple brands and varieties of the staple grain, in bags and containers ranging from a few servings up to 50 pounds.
Unusual Flours
Unusual Flours
Americans might be used to flours milled from grains—wheat, rye, and corn—but in India, flour is just as often made from finely ground legumes. Here, Patel offers, from left, besan, chickpea flour; handva, lentil and rice flour; as well as jewar, sorghum flour.
Paneer Cheese
Paneer Cheese
A firm, mild cheese, paneer is often cubed and fried—becoming crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside—and combined with curried vegetables like spinach or chickpeas.
Papadum
Papadum
Usually made with lentil or chickpea flour, papadum are sold soft and pliable but served fried and crisp, to be dipped into chutneys and pickles at the beginning (or sometimes the end) of a meal.
Crates and Crates of Mangoes
Crates and Crates of Mangoes
Mangoes are a prized fruit in India—and at Patel Grocery, where they stock them by the crate.
Heat and Eat
Heat and Eat
Though it clearly caters to the home cook, Patel also makes some concessions to the harried eater, offering a wide variety of heat and eat entrées like mixed vegetable curry, tamarind and pigeon pea stew, and paneer tikka masala.
Frozen Meals
Frozen Meals
According to Ishwer Patel, the store's owner, Patel's selection of frozen foods is extremely popular with its customers. "People often stop in on their way home from work to pick up dinner," he said.
Dessert Mixes
Dessert Mixes
If you like Indian sweets but have never attempted to make them because they seem so complicated, the Gits brand line of dessert mixes might help you out. From left, mixes for pakora (actually a savory item, it's a batter for coating vegetables that are then fried); gulab jamun, Indian doughnuts soaked in sugar or honey syrup; and jilebi, a type of fritter soaked in syrup.