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Best Ethnic Grocery Store 

Apna Bazar

Despite its reputation for cultural homogeneity, Johnson County has long had a number of interesting ethnic food markets that serve the metro's Indian, Mexican, Asian and Middle Eastern residents. And as the borders of the county move southward, the small stores do, too. The two-year-old Apna Bazar in the Lionsgate Shopping Center (near the big, empty building that once housed a Dillons supermarket) sells both Indian and Pakistani products, but most of the customer base, the employees say, is from southern India. Any fan of India's or Pakistan's rich cuisine will enjoy wandering the aisles of this compact shop, where every shelf is amply stocked with fragrant spices, dried lentils, fat cans and small jars of ghee (the clarified butter used in many Indian dishes) and a mind-boggling array of mixes and cooking staples. A box of Dri-Tam, for example, promises all the benefits of tamarind sauce without the mess. An even smaller package of spices for butter chicken masala requires only tomatoes, onions and the bird. Indian cooking at home doesn't seem so daunting with simple-to-prepare products such as the packet of instant gulab jamun mix (which makes dozens of those bite-sized, syrup-soaked balls) or another that makes a foolproof vegetable biryani. And the prices, for those looking for an American-style bargain, are downright cheap.

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