India Cash and Carry
1032 E. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale; 408.735.7383
India Cash and Carry is a sensory experience. The aroma of myriad Indian spices and incense greet shoppers at the door. Instead of dull Muzak, the sounds of Bollywood play inside. The aisles (a few of them always seem to be strewn with boxes of unshelved merchandise) are stocked with every south Asian product imaginable. The lentil aisle is almost as long as the entire store. Also worth a detour: the Gopi’s desi yogurt and tubs of locally made Real Ice Cream, purveyor of exceedingly dense and delicious kulfi.

Best Buys: Fresh sate for $5.99 a pound, spices by the pound and seldom-seen vegetables—fresh garbanzo beans, snake gourd, banana leaves, fresh turmeric and tiny Indian eggplant.

Patel Brothers Market
2039 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. 408.261.3555
Located on El Camino Real’s ethnic-food haven, Patel Brothers Market is home to nearly any item required in Indian cuisine. The store carries Indian staples that are often difficult to find in American megamarts, such as ghee (clarified butter for cooking) and paneer (firm cheese used in many vegetarian dishes), as well as really unusual ingredients such as kasoori methi, a uniquely flavored herb used in Pakistani and Indian cooking. Patel Brothers also carries dried Indian snacks in bulk such as Kashmiri mixture; a cumin-spiced blend of peas, cashews and potato sticks.

Best Buys:
Bulk spices and snacks, fresh naan and Indian cheese.

New India Bazaar
2213 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. 408.249.2599
Similar to its neighbor, Patel Brothers, New India Bazaar features fresh produce for Indian cuisine as well as overflowing aisles of delicacies such as lime chile pickle (a tart and spicy condiment), pappadums (cumin-spiced lentil crackers) and different varieties of rice including red basmati.

New India Bazaar also has a small restaurant, Caf Tazza, in the back of the grocery that serves lunch items such as samosas and tandori kabobs as well as mango- and rose-flavored lassis. Caf Tazza also bakes fresh Indian pastries and desserts. The bakery offers subtly sweet coconut and milk cakes called burfi, sweet pastry balls, Gulab Jamun, pastries soaked in rose water and coated in pistachios and rasmali, sweet cardamom-flavored balls of paneer soaked in cream and pistachios.

Best Buys: Indian desserts, curry leaves and Alfonso mangoes in season.