The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Vegan Grocery Shopping In a Local Middle Eastern International Supermarket

Posted on October 28, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Dina Gharib, VRG Intern

Koko Market is a small, international grocery store located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a family owned business, with a heavy emphasis on the Middle East, but also supplies goods from all over the world. What you may not know is that small ethnic stores such as this one are filled with a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian goods for half the price of your local supermarket. With much patience, and deep observation, you can find everything you need to satisfy your global taste buds, while supporting your local small business.

If you’re a tea enthusiast and American teas doesn’t satisfy your complex palette, Koko market offers a wide variety of traditional flavors like Earl Grey from England, to more exotic flavors like Darjeeling from India. If that doesn’t satisfy you, they also have Green, Ceylon, Back, Ginger, Sage, Hibiscus, and Star Anise teas, shipped from all over the globe. For the juice lovers, Koko market offers pure juices varying from mango, apricot, and pomegranate to guava, peach, and cherry. These juices are all vegan, and don’t contain any artificial additives or preservatives. For the date lover, Koko market offers a wide variety of fresh dates, for half the cost of your local supermarket, with a 30-ounce container of Delget Noor dates costing a mere $4.99. Other varieties for sale include fresh California grown Medjool dates, on the vine Bahri dates, or the sweet and sticky Khalas date.

In the canned goods section, you’ll find authentic Egyptian, Lebanese, or Palestinian Ful Medames (cooked and mashed fava beans) prepared according to each country’s tradition. After close observation I also found that all the canned and prepared stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage, and stuffed peppers were all vegan. If that wasn’t enough to make me a happy patron, they also had a wall of canned hummus in multiple varieties. They also had canned Baba Ganoush, as well as cans of a hummus tahini mix. If you’re more of a tahini (sesame paste) fan, Koko market has endless varieties all for less than $5.

In the jarred food section I discovered a delicious eggplant and hot pepper vegetable spread, along with a vast amount of olives ranging from Green, Black, Stuffed, and Kalamata. For those looking to add a kick to their dishes, the store offers canned and jarred Harissa (hot pepper paste) for less than $4. If you’re a fan of pickled vegetables, they offered a whole section dedicated to a wide variety of pickled vegetables and fruit, from traditional Egyptian pickled lemons or turnips, to exotic Indian pickled mango.

In the freezer section, the items that I found to be vegetarian were the vegetable samosas, prepared falafel dough ready to be balled and fried, ready to eat falafel that came with a side of tahini dipping sauce, and a variety of vegetables ranging from Taro root to Molokhia (jute leaves) .

Craving a sandwich? Grab a quick $2 bag of pita bread that is delivered fresh daily! If you feel like preparing a meal, Koko market offers a large selection of dried legumes such as fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, and split peas. For hearty grain substitutes they offer, couscous (granules of durum wheat), freekeh (roasted green wheat), and Bulgur wheat. If you’re an avid rice eater, they offer a wide variety ranging from brown, basmati, jasmine, and white to traditional Egyptian rice. Finally to top off the endless possibilities of extravagant meals, they offer a huge selection of oils imported from countries such as Greece and Turkey. These oils include Sesame oil, Extra Virgin Olive oil, Avocado oil, Flaxseed oil and Grapeseed oil. Finally if you’re craving a heavily aromatic and flavorful dish, check out their wall of spices and seeds featuring Star anise, Flaxseed, Pumpkin seed, Mustard seed, Gram Masala, Ginger, Curry, and Turmeric, as well as their prepared spice packets for traditional ethnic dishes such as Biryani, Mihshi, Dahl curry, and Vegetable korma.

Don’t be afraid to visit local ethnic markets in your neighborhood!

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