MGM Foods

So don’t get too excited, because this isn’t going to happen a lot, but here’s something I just found that’s really cool.

One of the things that has always bugged me about Austin is that – being, in essence, a really big small town – it doesn’t have a big enough population to support the large East/South Asian or Middle Eastern neighborhoods you find in, say, Houston, with their accompanying awesome, cheap ‘ethnic’ groceries.

So the other day, I was looking forlornly at this awesome recipe for Paneer Masala, an Indian dish of which I am somewhat fond, wondering where I was going to find paneer, the Indian farmer’s cheese with which the recipe is made, or any number of the semi-exotic spices which it called for. Things like coriander, garam masala, etc.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details of my epic Google search, but it eventually led me and my friend Tamilla to MGM Indian Foods up on Burnet a little past FM 2222. As soon as I saw their website – so ridden with typos as to be borderline incomprehensible – I knew it would be a quality find. 

And it was. The shelves were packed with everything you could possibly need to make Indian, Pakistani, or Bangladeshi food, from dried chickpeas to frozen naan dough to more spices than you could shake a stick at, were you inclined to go around shaking a stick at spices. Around the edges of the store, stacks of Bollywood videos (in the original Hindi!) reached to the ceiling.

The owners, a sweet older couple from Northern India, were both there, and having nothing better to do, they trailed me around the store helping me find what I needed. The spices were ridiculously, riotously, obscenely cheap. For $2.50 to $3.00 each , I got half pound bags of cumin, coriander, garam masala, and “chilly powder,” which I assume was ‘chili powder,’ although, on closer inspection of the bag, seems to be a magic powder to spray on things to make them cool down.

Oh, and while I didn’t get any, they also have tons of prepared foods, curry mixes, etc. Also very cheap. So let laziness about cooking be no excuse.

So basically: cheap prices, cool ‘authentic’ feel, helpful staff, great selection. Well worth the trip.


4 Responses to “MGM Foods”

  1. 1 Samantha G. November 20, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I love ethnic food. If you haven’t checked out Austin’s China Town, it’s definitely worth the trip. Also, there are a lot of great restaurants that feature foods from various countries. For Indian Food I like India Palace and the Clay Pit

    I recently tried Ethiopian food at Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant, located in Central Austin near the UT campus .

  2. 2 Jane Kim November 21, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Ooh thanks a lot for this article!! I’m taking a South Asian Literature class and I have to write a paper about “Experiencing India in Austin.” I was having trouble deciding on a place to go, because I know half the class is gonna end up going to the Clay Pit, but MGM Indian Foods sounds like a great place to go for my project. I’m definitely going to go check it out.

  3. 3 jeffbechdel November 21, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Great post, as always. Just wondering if there are any sites out there that you use for “directions.” Maybe I’m the only one, but I can have all the right ingredients necessary for something delicious, but it rarely ever turns out that way. Anyway, I’ll have to check this place out. Thanks!

  4. 4 Saul November 21, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Jane-I like the Clay Pit, don’t get me wrong, but this is far less whitewashed.

    Jeff-I learned to cook from a woman-that being my mother-who was congenitally incapable of following a recipe. Like, she cooks wonderfully, but she makes substitutions when she has all of the ingredients. It’s horrible. She can’t help herself.

    Anyway. Point I was trying to make was, my cooking style is very much throw-everything-I-have-on-a-skillet-and-hope-for-the-best, so I’m not huge on recipes. But when I’m looking to get into an entirely new cuisine, I just google the name of the food and ‘recipe,’ and then search around until I find one that looks good.

    If you want, man, you’re welcome to come over at some point and we can try our hands at naan and curry again.

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