Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pantry Of Desire : The Oriental Fruit Mart, New Delhi

Only when I was settling down from the holiday in UK and beginning to understand the finer distinction between, Irish, Scotish, Welsh, Cornish food and drink and gloat about writing my newly acquired knowledge on the blog. I was confined to the walls of the Escorts hospital and the food within it, albeit it was my father whom I was emotionally nursing. I was nourishing myself from the cafes and a dhaba owned by Wasim with the most amazing bread omlettes and Chai around the hospital.

Dearest wife Praveen tried to cheer me and my dear brother Sanjiv with her famous chettinad cuisine, outings to the Machaan, a dinner night at China Garden et al. Nothing seemed to bring me back into the fold as my head and heart was lost in atrial fibrilliation, aortic stenosis, diuretics, prothombin tests and betablockers apart from the trauma of a double open heart surgery for my dear father. At best I could have been an obedient dutiful son and a nervous bank clerk rolled into one. I did have sparks of action, thinking ahead of the game, the planner and strategist. However hospitals and doctors have their pace. All is well now.

Still I could not tear myself away and indulge in the urban pantry of my desires. I termed it a eaters block and perhaps momentary lapse of reason owing to the pshytropic journey we had been through. Then all of a sudden, an evening out, at good old Connaught Place. We dropped in at The Oriental Fruit Mart and Stores (The Food Store). You enter and are greeted by the two cheerful sons Ravinder and Jitender apart from the tubelit space and dark wood and glass showcases and stock cupboards, they have almost everything we need, we buy sardines, tuna, cream cheese, wasabi peas, diet chocolate and whole lot of other stuff. Though the packaged meats section is a bit weak. They make up with canned and tinned stuff.
It brought me back from my writing slumber and motivated me to write, my affiliation with processed food, meat, canned food goes back to era of the early 70s when Superbazaars were set up by the govt (This one was in Viashapatnam aka Vizag aka Waltair in AndhraPradesh) as a huge department store, it had everything from groceries to furniture to grinders to newly introduced HMT watches to custom confiscated goods including swiss watches and stretch lon trousers and bush shirts that lasted a lifetime. And, it had a meat section with piggery products from Ghanavaram and this was my favourite section, as it also had a mini zoo next to the parking lot. Who said the government can’t get it right.
My second tryst with canned food was shrimps, tuna, mackerel at a cooperative department store in Coimbatore (in Tamil Nadu) called Chintamani, while my parents shopped, I gazed at the canned food lost in a world of Enid Blyton's description of the feasting from the larder by the Famous Five. Sardines on biscuits, ham sandwiches, canned peaches and tinned cheese with tongue. Phew some of that was available right before my eyes.

Cut to the present, The Oriental Fruits Mart located at E Block in Connaught Place, close to the legendary store Giggles (the grand uncle and precursor to Archies stores) at E Block, offer and complement the heritage of Connaught Place and Delhi. The Oriental Fruits mart was set up by Brat Pal Arora in 1939 (which makes it 70 years old). It’s a food store stocking, from caviar and sturgeon /salmon roe to pomegranate syrup to churozio sausage. Its currently owned by Mahinder Pal who lives in Kamla Nagar and his helped by his sons as mentioned earlier, Jitender and Ravinder. Really friendly people.

Many years ago I often crossed the store, saw the exotic fruit and thought that’s not for me and I had been on this trip of buying and eating local produce. Eat what is available around you rather than something flown in from a distant land, and would be formidably expensive. However for the time being I have let the inhibitions aside and immersed in the choicest of food , fruit and meat.
Do try the store it offers great products at decent prices with excellent and friendly service. It helped me get back on track and back on business of the gastronomic pantry of desire. Thanks !


Raghunath said...

hi sam nice 2 know ur still eating out at all exotic places at both ends of the spectrum.since i have landed in chennai tipping the scales at 92kgs and moving to the border limits of physical activity and eating and boozing going on as usual.

Samil said...

Dear Rags,

After all the activity in the regiment, NCC is like a wark in the park. Quit the car and walk.

All the best. Thanks for the encouragement.


Anonymous said...

i been to that grocery shop...they were super-nice people i ever met in Delhi....warm welcome and very friendly.. thats what we need when we go to the shop...