Bashkevitz – spicing up my life for the past decade

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Many years ago, walking through the shuk, I happened upon a shop front, narrow enough that, should I stand in the middle, I could probably touch both walls. Out front was a colourful selection of teas. I like the basic Ceylon black tea for my morning cuppa (with milk of course!) An Apple cider tea is excellent for autumnal weather and in the summer months pretty much anything provides a great base for iced tea.

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The other side of the entrance way has rice mixes which I’m not such a great fan of but which visitors from overseas seem to love and dried mushrooms which are a must for any larder as far as I’m concerned.

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On your left as you enter, the wall is filled with jars of whole and ground spices and spice mixes – everything that you’ve ever heard of and many that you haven’t – all available by weight and with free advice on how to use them should you ask.

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Behind the counter is a selection of coffees with appropriate grinders – choose the bean and whether you need it for filter, espresso or whatever and they’ll do it for you on the spot so it’s good and fresh. I once went in and asked if they knew where I could find chickpea flour – turns out that they have a grinder specifically for that purpose – who knew?

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The back wall is filled with huge bags of rice, pulses, legumes and grains. I generally buy chickpeas, lentils of all colours, freekeh, quinoa, oatmeal and other beans by weight here. As with anything that is stored in open sacks, it’s important just to check for creepy crawlies. They also have a reasonable selection of bottled goods here – curry pastes, oils, techina, silan – not the best selection in the shuk but they certainly have the basics covered.

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From what I understand, Bashkevitz has been in the same place in the shuk since the 1930s. It’s decor is basic – although the signage has been recently updated the flooring looks to be original but for me that’s part of it’s charm. The staff are pleasant and always willing to give advice on what to use with what and the place attracts not a few tourists buying rice mixes and za’atar to take back to their loved ones as gifts. 

We use a lot of spices and I don’t buy in huge quantities as they deteriorate with time and therefore it makes sense to keep a stock that’s as fresh as possible (within reason). I generally have something that I need or want to pick up at least on a weekly basis. No matter how small the purchase, I always feel as though I’m a valued customer there and I’m very happy to recommend them to anyone and everyone.

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