Most stores in Little India are electic and Bangle Bazaar is no exception. You never know what you're going to find. Bangle Bazaar is an Indian music store that sells Indian music and movies on CD's and DVD's. Prices are moderate (2 DVD's for $15.99) and the store carries new releases. Bangle Bazaar also carries a wide variety of Indian magazines, features fresh paan and other sweets, sells phonecards and does video conversion and duplication.
In the heart of Little India, Ravi Groceries, the Patel brothers' grocery store, carries the usual variety of Indian foodstuffs but also so much more. Fresh chat and other sweets are featured. It used to be hard to find Basmati rice in this country, but Ravi Groceries sells large bags of several brands. The store also sells sporting goods and carries the major brands of cricket and soccer equipment and is the information news center for local leagues and sporting events. Soccer and cricket are very popular here. It's odd to see cricket (and soccer, depending on the season) played on the fields of my elementary and middle schools on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The incense at Farm Fresh is inviting, not overpowering. Store personnel are busy, but friendly and ready to answer questions if needed, or just let a person shop. I found the spice mix I needed for a lamb curry, not the meat, of course. You won't find much meat in Indian markets because many Indians are vegetarians. Farm Fresh has a refrigerated case in the back for frozen foods and sells Indian ice cream. Like other markets, they sell a wide variety of pre-packaged spices, lentils, bags of rice and wheat, cooking pots and fresh Indian melons and vegetables. The store is a good place to pick up an Indian newspaper.
East West Audio Video sells small appliances such as coffeemakers, hair dryers, grinders, rice cookers, heating pads and camcorders and carries Indian (such as Maharaja) and American (Black & Decker) name brands. They also carry and are knowledgeable about the small gadgets that let you use the appliance here or halfway around the world. If you're travelling to the East and want to take a hair dryer, this would be the place to buy it. The store also carries phone cards, toys and CD's and DVD's in most regional Indian languages. It's fun to browse the long, narrow aisle with goods stacked up to the ceiling. The store opens at 11, Tuesday to Sunday. Parking can sometimes be a challenge.
Taal Music, a tiny, narrow store in the middle of the block, has a wide assortment of Indian instrumental and vocal CD's and DVD's for sale. All regional Indian languages are featured (Hindu, Punjabi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu and Malayam) but there's also a wide assortment of instrumental CD's. The store is friendly and it's fun to browse, but keep an eye on your kids if they tend to touch everything. The store also sells phone cards, does video conversions and rents DVD's (but there are strict rules to follow, so pay attention).
Bombay Spices, in the middle of little India, is the "general store" where you can find everything from packaged spices to Carrom boards to toiletries and soap. Beautiful religious statues (Hindu, Buddhist, some even look Egyptian) are sold next to cooking pots. The store carries a variety of packaged foods and incense burners and incense. Along with ghee, incense is a familiar smell along Pioneer Blvd. Store proprietors are friendly and helpful if needed but otherwise let you wander around and browse. Curbside parking is available but can be a problem. Sometimes you just have to park where you can and walk. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are busy. Tues, Wednesday and Thursday are quieter. Like most stores in little India, Bombay Spices is closed on Monday.
Bharatiya Grocery is off by itself, on the outskirts of Little India on the north side of Artesia Blvd. It has it's own lot, thus easing the parking situation a little. The store carries everything you would need to prepare an Indian meal: many varieties of rice, beans or legumes for dal, chapati and all the spices needed for an endless variation of curries. I found the appropriate curry prepackaged for a chickpea curry. It's unfortunate that one can't find many authentic fresh Indian fruits and vegetables in Little India but this is probably due to import laws and California agricultural regulations. Store personal will help you find the closest substitute.
House of Spices is an Indian grocery store in the building where the old drug store used to be. The refrigerated cases (some held together with duck tape) look like holdovers from drug store days. Nonetheless, the store carries a good selection of packaged spices and nuts, beans and lentils, large bags of different types of rice and flour, live herb plants and fresh fruits and vegetables (though mostly american versions of eggplant, okra, peppers, squash and onions). Store personnel are friendly and attentive. House of Spices, open 11 to 8, has the advantage of it's own small parking lot, but it's also on a corner, so you can park around the block and walk if you have to.
Casa Saint Francis is a well-stocked, Catholic gift store that carries books, rosaries, religious statues, holy cards (can be purchased individually), Bibles, bookmarks and gifts. Shop for your own needs or for a gift. Store personnel are friendly and patient and helped me pick out an appropriate First Communion gift. The shop is organized and uncluttered. Casa St. Francis opens at 10 am, Tuesday to Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. The store only has curbside parking but since 187th is a quieter side street, this should be no problem.
Raaga is a small store but has 1000's in it's selection. If you're into Indian music, you would enjoy browsing among the CD's and DVD's. Almost all Indian regional languages and styles are available and merchandise is both new and used. The average price of a CD is around $11 and there is a clearance rack. Curbside parking is available, however, the area can be very busy on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Best to find a spot where you can and walk a bit.