If you like to cook the type of food you enjoy in Wichita’s Asian, Mexican and Mediterranean restaurants, your best resources are the dozens of ethnic grocery stores that dot the city.
Not only are these stores fun places to browse, but they also carry the less common ingredients needed to make favorite local restaurant dishes at home — and they also stock everyday ingredients at lower price points than Wichita’s main grocery stores.
I have many, many favorites in town, and one of them — N&J Global Market — is celebrating its fifth birthday on Saturday with giveaways and samples. People who stop in from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. will get a free bag of pita bread and can also get free N&J merchandise with $10 purchases or earn gift cards with $30 purchases.
The market, which is attached to N&J Cafe at Lincoln and Edgemoor, first opened in 2016. Its owner is Bettina Tobassi, the daughter of N&J’s founders.
It’s a tiny store, but it is positively packed with everything you’ll need to make hummus, shawarma, fattoush salad dressing and any number of other favorite Lebanese and Greek dishes. Plus, it sells fresh pita bread from John’s Pita Bakery, a business also owned by the N&J family, by the package. Many Mediterranean restaurants in town who put bread on the table or who serve sandwiches in pitas get theirs from John’s Pita Bakery, including N&J. The market also offers bags of the crispy baked pita served at the cafe next door.
I just stopped in this week and picked up the items I need to make Eagle columnist Adriene Rathbun’s excellent hummus recipe from her book “Social — Holidays and Happy Hours,” which I’m including below. The market stocks several versions of the key ingredient — tahini — which can be expensive and hard to find in mainstream grocery stores. It also has a large variety of canned and fresh chickpeas at a much lower price.
The store also includes a small section of seasonal fresh produce — including tiny eggplants and fresh grape leaves if you want to roll your own — as well as a refrigerator and freezer section that includes dozens of Lebanese cheeses, yogurts, breads, crackers and prepared items. There’s also a huge selection of sweets you’ve likely never tried as well as all the ingredients you’’d need to make things like baklava.
The spice section at the market is also quite large, and it’s where I always get my za’atar — a spice blend commonly used to make salad dressings or to sprinkle over olive oil for bread dipping. I always have a jar in my cabinet.
The market’s address is 5612 E. Lincoln. It has its own entrance, or you can pop in after dining at N&J through a door on the east side.
ADRIENE RATHBUN’S HUMMUS
2 cans garbanzo beans, Tazah brand preferred
1 cup tahini, in quart container, if possible
2/3 cup bottled lemon juice, Italian Volcano brand preferred
2 – 3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Olive oil for drizzling
Toasted pine nuts for garnish
In a bowl, microwave garbanzo beans and bean liquid for one minute. Pour beans and liquid – minus ¼ cup of liquid – into blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. If hummus is too thick, add ¼ cup reserved liquid and reprocess; if not, discard. Serve with olive oil drizzled on top and toasted pine nuts alongside pita chips, pita bread and/or veggies.
— “Social Holidays and Happy Hours”