Before hopping on a plane to New Delhi, you must commit to touring Little India in Artesia with our very own foodie friend, Chef Farhana Sahibzada.
Experience the amazing culture and cuisine of India and Pakistan through an educational, sensory-packed experience led by your tour guide, Chef Farhana. This three-hour excursion highlights the rich history and culture through all five senses; sight, smell, hear, touch, taste.
On April 9, Melissa’s Produce and friends got to see one of Southern California’s largest Indian grocery stores (Pioneer Cash & Carry), taste signature recipes from an Indian buffet (Ashoka The Great Cuisine of India) and ice cream shop (Saffron Spot), listen to the language between our tour leader and the business owners, and even try on saris! Chef Farhana’s “A Passage to Little India” is a brand new tour, featured in Westways, and is designed and created by Farhana herself, where food, fashion and cultural traditions shine.
Shop at Pioneer Cash & Carry
According to Farhana, Pioneer Cash & Carry is where dreams come true; If you dream of shopping for lentils and spices. Positioned as one of the largest vegetarian Indian grocery stores in Southern California, we understood Farhana’s high regard for this business.
The eggless bakery is beyond impressive and should be your first stop in the store. The freezer items are all sourced directly from India, and so are their fresh mangoes. The owners of the grocery store send their children to India for a week — just to buy mangoes! Add aisle six to your trip around the store, where all of the Indian organic items can be found. Things like dried spices, garbanzo beans, and pickled fruit made their way to our grocery list as well. And, naturally, the produce department caught our eye. If you’re looking to bring more Indian flavors into your home, stock up on fresh fenugreek, saffron, mangoes (lots of mangoes) and lentils!
Ashoka The Great Cuisine of India
Our tour leader guided us through our Indian buffet experience at Ashoka The Great restaurant. A buffet is definitely the way to go if you don’t know where to start on an Indian menu. This gives you the freedom to try as many different dishes as your stomach and heart have room for. Plus, you get a visual aid to connect with the dish names.
The goat curry was a favorite grab from the line, and the fresh garlic naan was as tasty as it was aromatic and acted as the perfect vessel for sopping up all of the delicious sauces that made their way to our plates. Not to be mistaken for sprinkles, Mukhwas are the perfect finish for the meal. This candy-coated digestif and mouth freshener can be made of various seeds including fennel, anise, coconut, and sesame. We skipped dessert at Ashoka because Farhana had other plans for us — ice cream!
We walked over to Saffron Spot from the restaurant nearby, and, boy were we in for a treat! There were so many unexplored flavors to taste for our palates: Saffron Silk, Gulkand, Pista, Chikoo, Lychee, Mango, Rose, Rajbnog and Fig to name a few. A spread of Indian style exotic ice cream and frozen desserts were available for us to sample. Try one or try them all; you’re guaranteed to experience something new.
By the end of the tour, you have the desire to return before you’ve even hopped back in your car. The whole experience was immersive and educational. You get to walk away having a deeper understanding of the culture and cuisine. For more information on Chef Farhana’s “A Passage to Little India” tour, visit Flavorful Shortcuts, follow her on social media @cheffarhana & @farhanaSahibzada, or watch this YouTube video!