Ali Baba's Indian Spices

Ali Baba Outside.jpg

Yep, it's little. But there's lots of good stuff inside.

By Sabrina Pry

I love Indian food -- and I like to cook, so I've always wanted to try making my own. But one false move with the cumin can send your significant other/roommate/cat running from the kitchen never to return. So for years I passed by Ali Baba's Indian Spices on Fuller Road thinking it probably was probably meant for folks more skilled at Indian cooking.

Last week I threw caution to the wind and wandered inside. Now I'm wondering what took me so long.

Ali Baba is kind of a small place, but it's well organized, and it has something for all most every skill level. If you're the heat and eat type, there's a section of microwavable meals that will let you forgo the Spaghetti-O's for chicken tikka masala or lentil soup. If you're a snacker, You can go for the roasted chana (chick peas), dried dates, dried sliced coconuts, sugar-coated fennel seed, and about ten different types of naan. 



If you're thirsty, there are colorful mango, lychee, and guava juice drinks, as well as a variety of teas like masala chai tea.  


There are quick easy meals you can make even if the most you've ever done with curry is accidentally inhale it and sneeze a few times.  Boxes of spices and jars of sauces (from brand names like Shan) come with directions to help you prepare dishes like chicken white korma or vegetable curry without having to juggle dozens of spice containers or agonize over a teaspoon of turmeric.

indian mixes.jpg

 If you've got a strong handle on your spatula when it comes to Indian cooking, the store has plenty for you, especially if you cook a lot.  Most of the spices here are sold in bulk, mainly in 7 to 14 ounce bags. You can buy some bulk spices in the international aisle at Price Chopper or Hannaford, but you'll pay more. The majority of spices at Ali Baba are $2 to $3 for seven ounces. I checked at Hannaford and Price Chopper, and Indian spices of the same size ran more like $3.00 - $4.50.

Bulk spice.jpg

You"ll also find a wider variety of pretty much everything than you will in the international aisle: beans, peas, lentils, pickles,relish and spices. The fresh vegetables selection isn't as abundant, but they have the vitals like garlic and ginger. Ali Baba also has Basamati rice and flour in bulk (10-20 pound bags). Anyone want to make a gigantic piece of naan? 

Oh, and on weekends you can get Halal chicken, goat, and lamb.

One drawback: not everything is clearly priced at Ali Baba, so you may have to ask.
Other hidden treasures at Ali Baba's include soaps and hair products, incense, and Henna.  And how many grocery stores will give you a henna tatoo? The owners daughter does them for $10- $20 depending on the size and design.

Henna tattoo.jpg

And--and this seems a little random-- they also rent U-Hauls. I'm not sure you'll need that much bulk spice, but hey, you never know.


Find It

Ali Baba's Indian Spices
10 Fuller Road
Albany, NY 12205


I drive by this place all the time, and have never had the gumption to check it out. Thanks, AOA! Off to stock up on some mango drinks and chai tea!

Hunh, I never knew about the UHaul rentals, but I imagine it comes in handy.

This store is ok - there's a decent amount of selection, but I prefer Halal Market in Latham for prices and variety. This store's always just a little too cramped for me.

Ali Baba's is nice, as is the other Indian store very close by on Central Ave, slightly further east.

If you're up in Latham, the Halal Meat & Grocer store has many of the same items plus some more Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. This store is a bit bigger than the other two, and they tend to have a large variety of big sacks of rice as well as some fresh vegetables (though they're not replenished regularly like the supermarkets). They occasionally some homemade delicacies like samosas; I once picked up some delicious lamb sheekh kebaps that were sold in a ziploc bag as if the owner had simply made too much and wanted to sell the extras. They sell meat too, but I've never tried it.

It's at 638 Columbia St Ext, which puts it in the same strip mall as Trustco, Karavelli, Diamond 8, Family Dollar, that one gym, etc. I would just say it's across from Starlight, but I don't think that's a usable reference point anymore.

When I saw a UHaul here the other day, I thought that meant they were closing/moving. Glad to see it's just that they do rentals.

The new asian supermarket quickly seems to have run out of their 99 cent Swad brand microwave indian food thingies. They were great, and some of theme were even not particularly unhealthy, like the Navratan Korma. Does this place have them? I miss them. D:

Does anyone know if any of these places carry non-dairy ghee?????

I can't seem to find it anywhere :[

wow what a nice complements[some], i'm the owners daughter and i actually charge $5-10 for the henna tattoos
Also if you need or just want to aply it then just stop by or call us at [518]-489-2316.!!!

i went there and bought some stuff in a jar to make chicken tikka masala and chicken tikka, and even though i made it wrong because i did not read the directions (i forgot the yogurt) it was DELICIOUS (even my kids scarfed it down). it also was very reasonably priced, and the people in the store were very nice, too. i agree that the store is very well organized, and, if you are lazy, the smallness of the store saves a lot of walking!!!

That whole bit about prices not clearly marked is a real deal breaker for me. I like to comparison shop, especially when there are several different variations and permutations of the spices and spice blends for sale.

It is difficult for me to justify going here when the fellow at Kashmir on Central is so much more helpful and the selection at India Bazaar (also around the corner on Central) is so comprehensive.

But three independent South Asian grocers within a stones throw of each other? That's amazing! I suppose if you want henna with your garam masala, then this is your place. Otherwise, I'd recommend elsewhere.

In re: non-dairy ghee
It's clarified butter. What the heck is non-dairy ghee? It sounds like what they put on popcorn at the movie theater (not the spectrum, of course).


Non-dairy ghee is derived from natural vegetable sources. It's nothing close to that crap you eat on your popcorn. It is a wonderful thing that is extremely hard to find in these parts.

The non-dairy substitute for ghee is called vanaspati. It's made from hydrogenated palm oil. It doesn't really taste like ghee, nor is it particularly healthy. (Unless you mean something different?) Check out the non-hydrogenated shortening they sell at the co-op.

I agree about the prices not being clearly marked.

Also: The real desis & Indian foodies among us will know about the Indira foods monthly food event, where a Central Ave Comfort Inn motel room is transformed into an Indian food fair. Amazing prices, & particularly great snack food selection. The next one is next Sunday, Sept 27. Check it @

I eat Ghee all the time, the dairy variety. It has a very calming effect on Vata body types and also helps balance all body types.

Does anyone know if they is an Ayurvedic near Albany?

Since I live in Cohoes, I was a regular customer at Halal on Columbia St. Ext. Unfortunately, they are word, just closed. I have tried Ali it. Smaller than Halal, but even friendlier. It is definitely a "mom & pop", I will continue to shop there. They get my vote.

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