Pooja Groceries

For those who want to move beyond tasting and try their hand at cooking ethnic food, there are several grocery stores in the area that help fill the bill. Stocked with traditional Indian spices, flours, rice, vegetables and many other products, Pooja Groceries is a good place to start.

Owner Anil Patel opened the store seven years ago because he knew there was a good international market in Columbia Heights, he said. The business opportunity arose from Patel’s greater dream to find a good life in America.

Patel moved from Gujarat, at the western tip of India, in 1982.

Everyone knows about the store, just from word-of-mouth, said loyal customer Pundi Madhavan, who drives all the way from Rochester to shop there.

“I really can’t think of anything a typical Indian would want to eat that’s not here,” Madhavan said. There may be a few things that newcomers to Indian cuisine may hesitate to try. Like Indian pickles.

“Indian pickles are nothing like Western pickles,” he said, pointing to a display of brightly colored jars. “I eat [them] like candy.”