There aren’t many shops in the city where you can get Sichuan peppercorns, dried African bird’s eye chiles, homemade chai masala, Berbere spice blend, Japanese sansho seasoning, organic turmeric, international beers, dried apricot paste, henna, fresh catnip, gallon jugs of honey, and copper tongue scrapers.
In fact, there are probably only two establishments where you could get all those things at once: Kalustyan’s, the mother of all food shops, and the relatively unheralded Dual Specialty Store, which has a smaller space than Kalustyan’s, but also sells beer. Think of Dual Specialty Store as a baby Kalustyan’s, less crowded and possibly more convenient if you’re closer to downtown.
At it’s heart, the shop, which opened in 1989, is an Indian dry goods purveyor. It carries all the basic subcontinental spices, plus lesser known ones like pomegranate seed powder, sulfurous black salt, and nigella and ajwain seeds. But the spice aisle seems to go on and on, blooming out into Spanish anise seed, French lavender, Indonesian cinnamon, and Turkish ras el hanout.
Then there’s a daal collection to rival Patel Brother’s, totally obscure herbs, rice and grain from around the world, and the essential bhel puri in a box.
You’re guaranteed to walk out with spices you didn’t know you needed. And maybe a tongue scraper, too.
Dual Specialty Store
91 First Avenue