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"Food is the most important thing to your health," Nur Hossain says. With that in mind, he took over the Spice Corner, a small Curry Hill storefront packed with whole and ground spices, dried beans, and some herbal beauty products, in 1995. Hossain, who is diabetic, swears by chana dal (a bean similar to the beloved garbanzo but darker in color and with a very low glycemic index) to keep this condition under wraps. Following his doctor's advice, he also boils whole fenugreek seeds (half a cup per gallon of water) for twenty minutes and drinks the liquid every day, which is good for lowering cholesterol as well. But self-improvement does not stop there.
Hossain gets most excited when giving a recipe for a facial mask, the ingredients for which he has sold to hundreds of customers. He promises the combination of Neem leaf powder, orange peel powder, rose and mint oil, and cucumber extract will make any woman's or man's skin "so soft and cute looking." He says people return to the store to thank him with hugs.
Hossain sells almost 30 different spices and many herbs retail and wholesale to restaurants. But he prefers to bring coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and black peppercorns home to his wife, who whips up his favorite dishes: chicken curry, goat curry, and palak paneer (spinach and cheese).
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Add just enough cold water to form a paste. Apply to the face, avoiding the eye area, and let dry for 40 minutes. You can cook or do errands around the house, but avoid talking during this time, as the mask will have hardened and could crack. Then rinse with cold water and wash with Neem soap.