It seems that Kalustyan's sells just about everything you might need for mideastern cooking. They have a dozen kinds of lentils, tamarind paste, dozens of breeds of rice in all colors and grain sizes and cans and jars of spices and condiments. To be honest, we were a bit overwhelmed. We bought some tamarind paste, to make margaritas like the ones at Tabla, but then we gazed at the arrays of olives, coffees, teas, dried fruits, and sort of blanked out.
We stayed blanked out until we got to the back of the shop where
have a little deli counter. Here we tried the mujadara, a mix of
onions, lentils and rice, served with an iceberg lettuce salad and a
of pita bread. It was amazingly good. The onions were sweet and brown,
lentils properly cooked - not too firm, not too mushy, and the rice
in to give it a wonderful richness. By this time, we were beyond trying
anything else, so we took our mujadara and ate, but if we ever need any
unusual condiment, or just a great mideastern meal to go, we have found
UPDATE 2003 - Kalustyan's now has tables. There are not very many,
but you can now sit by the deli and watch the cabs on Lexington Avenue
while you enjoy some of the best Middle Eastern take out and not so
take out in the city.
UPDATE 2004 - Kalustyan's now has a web site. You can order all
kinds of stuff!