The Bare Necessities in India

The day after we arrived in India, a hotel clerk directed us to the “In & Out” convenience store at the gas station near our hotel. “They have everything,”  he promised. Indeed, besides the convenience store, the rather deluxe complex includes a juice bar, a sweet shop, an ATM, and a florist shop.

Later it occurred to me that what you’re likely to find in a convenience store is a mix of the frivolous–cheap candy and fast food–and the essential—items you would pay double for if you left them behind on a trip. A survey revealed some interesting similarities and contrasts with what we would expect to find in the U.S.

First, the personal items:


Laundry soap, stain remover (bars), toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.


Johnson’s products


Hair oil. If it remove tangles from little girls’ long hair, I’ll take three bottles.


Coke and Sprite--but smaller than U.S. size

Coke and Sprite (notice they’re smaller than back home)

These “Paper Boat” resealable drinks are interesting but not quite to our taste–juice of various familiar and unfamiliar fruits, from concentrate, with added sugar, salt, pepper and cumin.


Mango, “jamun,” and “jaljeera”

Tea and instant coffee:

Taj Mahal tea and Nestle's

Taj Mahal tea and Nescafe

Instant beverages–just add (bottled) water:


Almond milk


Horlicks “nutritional” milk beverage




Assorted salty (and usually spicy) nuts, as well as fried peas and lentils (“dal” below). We rather like the lentils and peas.

These chips look familiar, but they seem to be laden with fewer artificial ingredients than their counterparts in the U.S.

These look familiar, but I've noticed that they don't seem to be laden with as many artificial ingredients as their American counterparts.

Lay’s American Style Cream & Onion, Spanish Tomato Tango, and India’s Magic Masala

You won’t find “mini samosas” at 7-11:IMG_20150820_111804_302

Hot and cold cereal:

Another familiar sight

Kellog’s oats, Special K, and Corn Flakes

I’m sure this is better than mac & cheese for a quick-fix dinner:


Indian cheese (panir) dishes


Lentil (dal) dishes

Cooking ingreadients:


Sunflower and coconut oil. The young man in the shop was surprised to hear that the latter is most commonly found in specialty stores in the U.S.


Ghee and rose water

100% whole wheat flour

100% whole wheat flour

Mixed grain and lentil flours

Mixed grain and legume flours. Traditional South Indian dishes like idli and dosas are relatively high in protein, as the flour they are made from includes lentils.

I’m not sure what one does with this, but I’d like to try it. Porridge, maybe?

I'm not sure what one does with this, but I really want to try it.

Wheat, soy, garbanzo beans, oat, maize, psyllium husk


Dried legumes


This is, after all, what the British came for.

“Rasam” powder, cumin powder, garam masala, assorted chilly powders


Dried chillies, maybe?

Dried chilies, maybe?


Pickled mango chutney

Pickled mango chutney

By all means, don’t forget dessert:


Honey and nuts soaked in honey (If only I weren’t allergic)


Dried “grapes,” figs, and dates


Instant pudding, cocoa powder, gelatin, and, just in case you need to make goat cheese, citric acid


Chocolate … Incidentally, the best chocolates we have found are made right here in our hotel.

Let me know if you want to place an order for something you just can’t live without.

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