Shan Masala is the staple of all desi cooking. While you can find desi spices at any Bulk Barn, these mixes come with their own recipes. If only one didn't have to trek to Nepean or Kanata to find them...

beef, meat
Manahil Bandukwala

And you don't have to anymore. At least now, you know where to go and you won't have yet another disappointing experience in a Walmart.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover the areas in Ottawa where a lot of students live. When you don't have a car (or parents) to pick up spices, rice, or ginger-garlic paste for you, cooking becomes a whole lot harder.

It's also a good time to learn that there's more to desi food than just curry.

So here are four places that have pleasantly surprised me by having Shan Masala and ginger-garlic paste.

1. Independent, Billings Bridge

For anyone who wandered the aisles in Walmart and Independent at Billings Bridge, the Asian food aisle is finally here. Even better, it realizes that 'Asian' includes South-Asian too.

Many students on campus do their groceries in South Keys, but that location lacks a certain masala. Billings Bridge is just as close and it won't disappoint.

Location: 2277 Riverside Drive

2. Food Basics, Alta Vista

tea, coffee, beer
Manahil Bandukwala

This place is a bit inaccessible for students living on Carleton's campus, but for those living in Alta Vista or around it, the Food Basics has a pretty great South-Asian food section. Not only will you find desi spices, but there's also basmati rice, moong daal, and Maggi. 

Location: 1670 Heron Road

3. Food Village, Hog's Back

cake, water
Manahil Bandukwala

Hog's Back is known for its waterfall and shitty bus route, but here's something that'll make that area a whole lot better. Behind the McDonald's (you know which one) is a store that holds the desi spices of your cooking dreams.

Location: 888 Meadowlands Drive East

4. Kaashi Foods Centre, Chinatown


pquan on Flickr

Given that Chinatown, despite its name, is full of Pho restaurants, it's only fitting that there's a desi food store at the corner of Somerset and Booth. 

Location: 802 Somerset Street West

You have no more excuses to put off grocery shopping. It's time to get cooking with desi spices that aren't (too) hard to find here in Ottawa.