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A Passage to Little India: Orange County Walking Food Tour

Yesterday, I embarked on an epicurean adventure in Artesia with Melissa’s Produce and Farhana Sahibzada. Indian cuisine is one of my all-time favorites, so when I was invited to attend this special walking food tour, I cleared my calendar to learn more about Indian cuisine in Southern California.

Pickled Fruit

Melissa’s Produce has spiced up my family cooking by introducing me to unique and delicious produce, and this event turned it up a notch. As an Orange County native, I have never been to Artesia (gasp!). I really didn’t even know where it was until I searched it on my GPS. I quickly realized that I drive right past it 2-3 times a week on my way to attend events in LA, and could of been experiencing the best Indian food in SoCal for all these years.

Pioneer Cash and Carry

I had only done walking food tours in Mexico until yesterday. I didn’t even knew they existed in our area. I pulled my car into the parking lot of the Pioneer Cash & Carry. I wasn’t quite sure what a cash & carry was, but our guide educated us on the fact that it is just a terminology that the culture refers to as a grocery store (they do take debit).

Turmeric Root

Our tour began in front of Pioneer where we learned about the different regions of India, and how the cuisine differentiates. I also learned a lot about the difference between Pakistan and India before the countries became divided.

Unique produce

Once the doors opened to the Pioneer Cash & Carry, we walked in. The owner walked us over to the bakery that is both egg and gelatin-free. With a son with a severe egg allergy, I was excited to find a new place to get him birthday cakes and specialty desserts.

Indian Puff Pastry

We sampled one of their Chinese puff pastries. Inside of a delicate crispy crust was noodles, vegetables and a Chinese sauce. Normally, the pastry is paired with a spicy sauce, but they were not aware of our spice tolerance, but I can’t wait to go back and experience the pastry with the sauce.

Then, we walked around the store. It reminded me of a Whole Foods version of an International Market. Of course, I got the most excited when entering the produce area. There were so many vegetables that I had never seen before. I was so excited about the biter fruit, that a customer started talking to me all about it, and how to prepare it for me family.

Shops in Artesia

Next, we were off to learn about Indian attire. We visited Sona Chandi’s boutique who has dressed many celebrities including Madonna, Frida Pinto and more. The store featured women’s clothing, men’s attire, jewelry, and an upscale saloon.

Little India Walking Food Tour

My stomach started to rumble after having the puff pastry at Pioneer’s and it was almost noon. Our next stop was going to be for lunch at Ashoka the Great. When we entered the restaurant, it was beautiful. White linin tablecloths and napkins. Plus, a delicious buffet of authentic Indian food that awaited us.

Indian food buffet

Farhana Sahibzada walked us through the buffet, and gave us some food pairing options. I would not of known what to eat if she was not our wonderful guide. The lunch was unforgettable. The curry’s were cooked to perfection, and the options were endless. I ate until I could not eat anymore. But, then we were in for a surprise…dessert.

We then walked over to get a taste of the Saffron Spot for some traditional ice cream. This was my first time tasting Indian ice cream, and I was in for a treat. The fig was my favorite flavor, and I highly recommend the paan flavor.

Saffron Ice Cream

Our tour ended by visiting Bhindi Jewelers. Karsanji Bhini is a fifth-generation goldsmith. He emigrated from India to the Fiji Islands, and opened his first showroom in the city of Suva. In 1975, they expanded their operation to Canada and in the 80’s to Southern California. Their once 7,000 square foot showroom now spans over 17,000.

The day ended by us all returning to our cars. We had tummies full of delicious food, and our minds spinning about how to incorporate this new Melissa’s Produce into our family diet.

Your family can expeirence a cultural tour with Farhana Sahibzada. Book your next tour by calling her at 818-312-2369 or via email at [email protected] or online at flavorfulshortcutrs.net.

Little India Walking Food Tour in Orange County

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