But you don't have to go there to get them. You only have to go to Artesia and the new Pioneer Cash & Carry market. This enormous supermarket opened last October, not far from the original location in the heart of Little India. It's a paradise if you're looking for Indian ingredients--I loaded my cart with things I haven't seen elsewhere.
At one end is a huge bakery. It's glassed in so you can watch as the breads are made (above). If you're mesmerized by machinery in action, you'll be spellbound by two machines so fast they seem like miracle workers. One can turn out 1,000 balls of dough in 10 minutes. The other flattens the balls of dough and bakes them, producing 1,000 breads in an hour.
Hot off the griddle, methi thepla was delicious with homemade garlic potatoes and additional vegetable dishes from Jay Bharat, a nearby restaurant (above). Dessert was Indian style ice cream from Saffron Spot.
This weekend I made my own pav bhaji with rolls I bought at Pioneer (above). I split these and grilled them in butter. My vegetable mixture certainly wasn't authentic--I put in poblano chile, celery root and mushrooms as well as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onion and cilantro, which are basic.
Because I didn't have pav bhaji masala, which you can get in Indian shops, I substituted garam masala. I also put in cumin seeds, garlic-ginger paste, amchur (mango powder) and added pats of butter for richer flavor.
My only guidance came from the Internet. Despite its imperfections, my pav bhaji was tasty, and I'll make it again. It's perfect for vegetarians and, eliminating the butter, for vegans too.
Pioneer Cash & Carry, 11700 183rd Street, Artesia, Calif. 90701.