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Check out small, family-owned ethnic food stores in your area if you're cooking on a budget but yearn for something a little more exotic. I bought a 10 pound sack of delicious, fluffy, fragrant basmati rice at my local Indian grocer (in small-town Iowa!) for less than $8, and I even recycled the decorative rice sack into a purse! Ethnic food items and spices can usually be found much more cheaply at these types of stores than in the "world foods" aisle of the supermarket. Plus, if they're family owned and run, the person working there will usually be happy to give you free tips on what and how to cook with the food they sell!
When shopping at one, just be SURE you know what you're buying, because sometimes their idea of "beef stew" is a couple of pieces of peas, one slice of celery, and beef broth! LOL Another store
might put heavy unknown spices in EVERYTHING, as has happened here. Don't take it for granted that you will like everything if you are a native American, either. It can be "different" and "exciting" if your mouth is on fire. LOL Also, here they've begun to increase their prices thinking Americans WANT so much of what they sell. It's frequently for us just TOO exotic, TOO unfamiliar, TOO SPICY, and now
TOO COSTLY. Hope you're having better luck than we are right now during the "war"? God bless you.
I go to one periodically. I agree that you can get spices much cheaper than in the supermarket. Usually they have wider variety and you can buy in bulk if you need to. I have also bought cheese and cookies and real coconuts that aren't easy to find around here. Oh yeh, and Bakklava was wonderful from there! I would go there more often if it were closer to where I live.