Sunshine Indo-Pak Grocery in North Miami Beach stocks everything necessary — spices, halal meat, produce and more — to cook the cuisine of the subcontinent to celebrate India’s Independence Day.
On Aug. 14 at the stroke of midnight 67 years ago, India became free from British rule and was partitioned, forming Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh.
Amin Alwani is from Mumbai and came to South Florida 25 years ago as a student. He studied business at Miami Dade College and opened the grocery when there was a large Indian and Pakistani community in North Miami.
While many customers are regulars, others find the shop online. Most of the products come from importers in New York, Chicago and Houston.
Produce bins are filled with small eggplants, warty bitter melons, long-ridged silk squash, small striped parval gourds, and pooi (Malabar spinach), all good in soups or stews. In season, find moringa (drumsticks): long, stiff pods of the horseradish tree that taste like asparagus.
Nearby are sacks of aged basmati rice prized for its delicate scent and nutlike taste. Shelves hold small boxes of masala mixtures used to season a specific dish such as butter chicken or biryani and jars of simmer sauces. Try jalfrezi to make spicy stir-fries (just add vegetables, shrimp or chicken).
Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, mustard seeds, cardamom and peppercorns are sold whole, while dried chiles, turmeric, cumin and coriander seeds are found both whole and ground.
Other items include puffed rice snacks, bottled chutneys, palm sugar and fresh curry leaves that add green pepper-citrus-truffle flavor to curries and dals for an edible passage to India.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.