The day after we arrived in India, a hotel clerk directed us to the “In & Out” convenience store at the gas station near our hotel. “They have everything,” he promised. Indeed, besides the convenience store, the rather deluxe complex includes a juice bar, a sweet shop, an ATM, and a florist shop.
Later it occurred to me that what you’re likely to find in a convenience store is a mix of the frivolous–cheap candy and fast food–and the essential—items you would pay double for if you left them behind on a trip. A survey revealed some interesting similarities and contrasts with what we would expect to find in the U.S.
First, the personal items:
Laundry soap, stain remover (bars), toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.
Hair oil. If it remove tangles from little girls’ long hair, I’ll take three bottles.
Coke and Sprite (notice they’re smaller than back home)
These “Paper Boat” resealable drinks are interesting but not quite to our taste–juice of various familiar and unfamiliar fruits, from concentrate, with added sugar, salt, pepper and cumin.
Mango, “jamun,” and “jaljeera”
Tea and instant coffee:
Taj Mahal tea and Nescafe
Instant beverages–just add (bottled) water:
Horlicks “nutritional” milk beverage
Assorted salty (and usually spicy) nuts, as well as fried peas and lentils (“dal” below). We rather like the lentils and peas.
These chips look familiar, but they seem to be laden with fewer artificial ingredients than their counterparts in the U.S.
Lay’s American Style Cream & Onion, Spanish Tomato Tango, and India’s Magic Masala
You won’t find “mini samosas” at 7-11:
Hot and cold cereal:
Kellog’s oats, Special K, and Corn Flakes
I’m sure this is better than mac & cheese for a quick-fix dinner:
Indian cheese (panir) dishes
Lentil (dal) dishes
Sunflower and coconut oil. The young man in the shop was surprised to hear that the latter is most commonly found in specialty stores in the U.S.
Ghee and rose water
100% whole wheat flour
Mixed grain and legume flours. Traditional South Indian dishes like idli and dosas are relatively high in protein, as the flour they are made from includes lentils.
I’m not sure what one does with this, but I’d like to try it. Porridge, maybe?
Wheat, soy, garbanzo beans, oat, maize, psyllium husk
“Rasam” powder, cumin powder, garam masala, assorted chilly powders
Dried chilies, maybe?
Pickled mango chutney
By all means, don’t forget dessert:
Honey and nuts soaked in honey (If only I weren’t allergic)
Dried “grapes,” figs, and dates
Instant pudding, cocoa powder, gelatin, and, just in case you need to make goat cheese, citric acid
Chocolate … Incidentally, the best chocolates we have found are made right here in our hotel.
Let me know if you want to place an order for something you just can’t live without.