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Aziz Osmani

Kalustyan’s, 123 Lexington Ave., nr. 28th St.; 212-685-3451

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This is like Willy Wonka and the Imported Goods Factory!
I would say that we have products from over 70 countries here. We have over 40 kinds of rice from different parts of the world, including Carnaroli and an Italian-Chinese black rice hybrid that is new on the market—very good with fish.

Have you ever been stumped?
Sometimes customers come back from vacation asking for something that is available only in the country they were just visiting, like Moroccan harissa powder. We do sell some very hard-to-find things here, like smoked paprika—we have sweet, hot, and bittersweet.

When’s the best time to eat at the deli upstairs?
For lunch. Order a platter of moujaddara, falafel, bulgur pilaf, and giant baked beans.

The spice aisle is very fragrant. Do you smell very pungent at the end of the day?
My wife says, when I come home, “[You] smell like spices!” My favorite is cardamom. You can use it for a mouth refresher. Instead of taking candy, you put one piece of cardamom in your mouth and suck it.

You have a whole wall of herbal supplements. Anything particularly popular?
Black seed oil is very good for health, from Egypt. And the Shilazid from India.

Its label reads, “Retain youthful vigour.” Is that like Indian Viagra?
Something like that. A strengthener, I guess, but for both men and women.


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