As a foreigner living far away from your homeland in a foreign country, it is natural to miss many things about your motherland. For me, there are days when eating or listening or even dancing to something Indian puts a smile on my otherwise homesick face. Some of my most important essentials that I make sure I re-stock each time I go home are listed below:
- Ginger Garlic Paste: Want an ingredient that instantly makes pretty much every wanna-be Indian dish better? If you’re too busy to prepare a fresh paste each day to add to your dish, just make sure you restock on a few packets each time you go home.
- Pickles: Need I say more? Taking Dal Chawal (Lentils with Rice) to next level requires lots of Aachaar (pickle). I make sure to take my granny’s signature mango pickle and a few portable packets for different types just to instantly lift the taste of a plain dish.
- Lentils/Beans: I found many Indian/Asian stores that do stock Dals(lentils/pulses), however the quality was predominantly average. I learnt my lesson fast and made sure to restock on the same each time I go home. I make sure I pick lots of Rajma (kidney beans) as those are particularly hard to replace, especially the ones that come fresh from the hills.
- Tea: It’s extremely hard and expensive to come across loose leaf tea which you can convert into Chai when you’re in Germany. If you’re also a huge tea-lover like I am, make sure to carry a few types back. Some of my favorite types included black long-leaf Darjeeling tea, cardamom and spices, masala chai
- Ghee: A close brother to ghee in the German supermarket would be ‘Butterschmalz‘ but its the most disappointing thing I ever tasted. It works perfectly well for baking and deep frying stuff, but when you’re down to making khichdi and you need the ghee, it better come from India. Ghee lasts easily for a year if kept well, and a small bottle goes a long way. I mean what is Indian food without a healthy (cough) dose of Ghee anyway?
- Coconut Oil: A multi-purpose oil that can be used for not only cosmetic purposes, but also for cooking when you’re looking to make specific food. I sound like I’m writing a tagline for coconut oil, but if it made it to my essential list, its of-course an important product for me to stock up.
- Incense/Agarbatti: Getting your hands on good incense sticks that are also economically priced or for that matter varied is pretty hard. I normally pick up a few for myself and friends each time I head back to motherland.
- Junk Jewellery: Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with collecting junk jewellery. At some point, I almost started an online business around the same, however due to primarily low margins and intense unorganized competition in the sector in India, I decided against it. There is however no love lost, and I love stocking up on beautiful and unique silver, gems or any other kind of junk jewellery.
- Medicines: This one is a no-brainer. Many things in Germany, are not available over the counter and you simply might not know the equivalent of the medicine you grew up to. I have a list of my regulars that I need that I make sure I stock up each time I’m home. Not to mention, price differences are huge even after the insurance cover.
- Home Decor: Another item that is super affordable and completely unique is home decor items in India vs. Germany. For example, cute cushion covers can be found 3-4x cheaper in India. India specialises in beautiful textiles, and exports it all over the world. Take advantage of that.
Of course, there are many other things I bring back regularly from India. However, the list would then be too long and too funny.
What’s something Indian you would like to recommend?