Rest your Quest for the Original Indo-Middle Eastern Groceries in NYC with Kalustyan’s

Kalustyan’s has become one of the names synonymous with New York’s history of catering to diverse communities. It made its way into the heart of an Armenian neighborhood,  tailored to suit the tastes of the immigrant population with Turkish and Middle-Eastern groceries, spices, and snacks. 

However, as the neighborhood grew to become the home of the Indian diaspora in the 1960s & 70s, Kalustyan’s branched out its range to include Indian culinary products, and also curated their own brand of mango pickles and chutney.

Kalustyan Indo Middle Eastern GroceriesSince its inception by Armenian-born Turkish immigrant Kerope Kalustyan in 1944, it has held a household familiarity for everyone, who wanted to find authentic Turkish, Indian, and Middle Eastern spices, grains, nuts, dried fruits, and more. 

As renowned food writer, Madhur Jaffrey fondly recalls from her initial days at NYC in the ‘50s when she had to go there as “they were the only game in town”.

Kalustyan Indo Middle Eastern Groceries

Located at 123 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, New York City, their address is historically known as the home of the 21st President of the U.S.A, Chestar A. Arthur. He even took his oath in the very premises. Following his immigrant ideology, it is almost poetic that Kalustyan’s has become the inclusive temple of immigrant cultural cuisine experience.

Kalustyan’s appeal to its Indian and Asian customers has led to many sub-continental stores and restaurants to open along the Murray Hill, such that it is now nicknamed as the “Curry Hill”. 

Ammini Ramachandran’s Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts, states the lure of the store went beyond its products. As she further recalls her trips to the store with her Indian classmates in the 70s, she mentions the friendly John Bas, who started out as Kalustyan’s employee. His family now runs the Kalustyan Corporation, an importer and processor based in New Jersey. They are also spice suppliers to large food operations like McDonald’s and Burger King. 

Currently, Bangladeshi cousins Sayedul Alam and Aziz Osmani owned the store in 1988, after Bas decided to focus on the wholesale end of the business. With high quality and sustainable products from over 80 countries, you will find consumer baskets ranging from Mexico to Casablanca, Europe and India. 

Let’s delve into how many happy customers peruse the shelves:

Kalustyan Indo Middle Eastern GroceriesKalustyan Indo Middle Eastern Groceries
With a near 5 star rating across several social media platforms, over 1000 reviews, 250+ likes, and countless loyal customers, it’s easy to see why everyone has been raving about Kalustyan’s for decades. 

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The store space has increased over the decades to keep up with demand. From Peruvian ají amarillo to Indian ghost chilis, they have an entire room devoted to chili peppers. Kalustyan’s has a ton of varieties, no matter what category you choose.

From shelves displaying Lebanese rose water, Uzbekistan’s dried apricots, Irish sea moss, and Iranian chickpea-flour cookies. A wall of salts ranges from Australian Murray River’s pink salt to Eritrean Red Sea salt. Dona Abramson, the manager, helps customers navigate the 27 aisles of the store, cooking tips, and product insights. 

Kalustyan Indo Middle Eastern GroceriesWith hundreds of cocktail bitters, some become professional bartenders, seeking inspiration. While others find a desire to connect to their roots, looking for lentils or their grandmother’s kitchen spices like za’atar. 

In spite of several competing brand names opening up on the street, Kalustyan’s has stood consistently on the top of the pedestal for its phenomenal product variety, beyond the original Middle Eastern and Asian range. 

As Osmani says, “We are willing to give anything a chance”, no matter how obscure a product is, customers always find their way to add it into their novelty list, making Kalustyan’s, the hot spot for fine specialty foods in New York City.

  1. Must Read: Patel Brothers- The one-stop shop for authentic Indian and Middle Eastern spices and groceries in NYC

Kindly read more from Tinds POV

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