A Chef's Grocery Bag | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 09, 2018

A Chef's Grocery Bag

Have you ever wondered how a chef shops for his/her grocery? Chefs are known to be food experts, not only because they know how to cook it well but also because they intricately understand food quality and taste. The results of their culinary delights largely depend on the ingredients they purchase. So what goes into their grocery bag can ultimately make or break a dish.

Here is a sneak peak at Reema Islam's and Salina Parvin's grocery bags. Based on the way they shop, they have given us some priceless pointers to keep in mind when we go grocery shopping.

Reema Islam always prefers buying her grocery from her trusted vendors. A few staple items one will find in her grocery bag would be deshi ghee, tomatoes and garlic.

For Salina Parvin, organisation is the key word for a smooth-running kitchen. She does her grocery shopping in batches, buying all the 'shukna bajar' monthly whereas her kaacha bazar is a weekly affair. Her grocery staples are rice, lentils and wheat flour.


Both Reema and Salina are propagators of cooking with ingredients that are in season and locally produced. They believe in making the most of seasonal food items because it ensures you get the best tasting and healthiest food available.


Canned products are a total no-no. Reema categorically states that anything canned should not enter our gut. Preservatives are the main reason she never buys anything in a can, because she believes that food items with a dated shelf life are definitely not good to consume. Salina is of a similar opinion and prefers to make even sauces at home rather than buying ready made ones. You can be sure to not find any canned items in their grocery bags.


Locally produced food items are definitely a healthier food choice according to Reema. The price of the item she says is a good indicator for people to understand whether that particular item is locally produced or imported or even seasonal for that matter. Imported fruits and vegetables will always be costlier than locally produced items just as out of season produce will be costlier than the ones in season.

Matching Reema's opinion on vegetables, Salina says she is very particular when buying meat and fish. To make sure the fish is fresh she always checks its eyes, which are a good indicator of freshness as a fresh fish will have clear eyes and its body will not go limp when held in the hand. As for meat and chicken, its flesh being slightly warm and moist is a good indicator of its freshness.


Reema warns against over consumerism. She likes to keep her grocery list simple just like she does, her cooking. Her grocery items are very measured as she is very stringent about what and how much she buys. For her, a recipe with a few key ingredients can be way more flavourful than one with a truckload of them. So, keep it simple — is her advice.


Salina's grocery bag always contains brown rice, whole wheat flour (lal atta) and deshi sugar which falls somewhere between refined sugar and brown sugar. Even though she does use white rice, she prefers its unrefined counterpart. When lentils are concerned, she buys a variety of them and cooks a different one everyday as it is a staple in her house.

Armed with this little insight on what goes into a chef's grocery bag, we can hopefully make our grocery bags healthier.


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