4

Spice Up Your Life at Baiz Market

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Check out Spice Girl, our new column devoted to -- you guessed it. Have a favorite place to buy spices? Send us there; leave a message in the comments.

The culinary landscape would be much flatter and a heck of a lot bleaker if it wasn't for one thing: spices. In fact, our ancestors used salt (although arguably a seasoning, not a spice) before they began cooking with fire, and the use of sesame seeds as a spice was documented as early as 3000 BCE in an Assyrian myth. And, let's not forget the spice trade, which pretty much developed the world as we know it. Whether you stick to basics like pepper and cinnamon or are more adventurous, it's hard to imagine life without spices. Even the Paleo (a.k.a. caveman) Diet doesn't discriminate against them.

Unfortunately, big box grocery stores are not known for carrying fresh or unusual spices. If you're looking for a way to spice up your life, you can't go wrong at Baiz Market, a Middle Eastern grocery with its own restaurant, Al Hana.

Fry's and Safeway stores devote maybe three feet of shelf space to spices, which is always crammed with racks of name brand jars filled with bland powders that may not be very fresh. It's not that they're bad, exactly; it's just that they are far from being ideal. Baiz Market, on the other hand, has one side of a long aisle devoted to spices of all kinds, mainly including Middle Eastern and South Asian specialties. There are no McCormick's bottles here, that's for sure. Most of the packages say something to the effect of "imported by" or "packed by," which is a good sign that they've been selectively sourced from a quality location.

It would be quite a task to list every spice that's available at Baiz Market, but if you're looking for anything Middle Eastern, they're sure to have it. Some of the items are whole and ground cumin, whole and ground cardamom, turmeric, sumac, allspice, and cinnamon. I snagged a bunch of Iraqi mango powder, called amchur in Indian cooking. It has a powerful tart flavor and will be great in curries. The best part of the spice selection is perhaps the house blends. Pick up the meat pie or the kebab blend to reproduce the food available in Al Hana, the market's restaurant.

For a taste of the spices in Baiz Market without slaving away in your kitchen, grab a bite in Al Hana, the Lebanese restaurant located inside the store. It's quick to grab a snack to eat while shopping. Mini pies, which are like three-inch pizzas, are 99 cents. The Small Meat Pie definitely benefits from the market's proprietary spice blend, and although small in size, it packs a lot of flavor. The small pies are available in meat, cheese, and spinach. Al Hana offers larger pies as well, which come in additional flavors soujouk (hot sausage), thyme, labneh (yogurt cheese), and veggie.

Or, stay for lunch and kill your hunger with a wrap or a big plate of food. Options include kebabs, shawarma, kafta, kibbeh, and falafel. The Beef Shawarma is tender and juicy and is served with rice, pickles, tahini, and two huge pieces of pita. The medium-sized plate ($7.99) is a filling portion, and the large ($11.99) would likely be enough to share. The Falafel Sandwich ($3.99) really hits the spot. The falafel itself is a little crispy with a soft but not mushy texture, and the hot pink pickled turnips are a great extra touch.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.