Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nazar Produce Market Opens In Columbia

Nazar Produce Market wants to sell you a complete diet of Middle Eastern food -- and if you are a good eater, you get a spectacular desert.

Nazar opened this month -- at the same time that the Pars Market opened a few blocks south on Snowden River Parkway -- in the Columbia space that used to house Caezar International Market (then called Sizar's).  Nazar completely renovated the space, making it bright and airy.

Now, the space is filling with all kinds of Middle Eastern food -- bulgar, beans, spices, olives, etc.  If you're interested in food, this is a fun place to walk the shelves.  Many of the items are Turkish, which makes the selection differ from Caezar and Pars, which sell all kinds of food but have lots of Iranian offerings.  I'm not sophisticated enough to identify all the difference or all opportunities.

Nazar sets itself apart from most small ethnic groceries by having basic produce, including some nice zucchini and fresh cilantro that I used in chili last week, and a variety of halal meat.  At the start, they didn't have the butcher like Columbia Halal Meat or Caezar's, but the freezer and the fridge have a variety.  Sour cherry nectar drink.  Frozen ribeye and filets.  Frozen chicken.  Halal chicken hot dogs.  Soujouk (great in scrambled eggs).  Three kinds of halal beef mortadella.  Three?  I'd love to know why this little store has three varieties of mortadella.

(Update: Nazar made some changes.  They cut back on the produce, but they added a butcher that looks a lot like Columbia Halal Meat or Caezar.  It's an option for goat, lamb, chicken hearts, and many other cuts that you won't find in a supermarket case.  You need to try the ground lamb or another meat for kabobs.)

In addition, Nazar sells frozen pastry leaves.  Some in a rectangle and a Yoruk brand in triangles.  I'm sure those would be key to making some authentic Middle Eastern dishes.  But they could also be an interesting tool in the hands of a creative chef.  What could you wrap up and fry?

Since you have eaten your meal, you get your dessert, and the dessert is reason enough to drive over to Nazar.  These guys had a half-dozen varieties of fresh baklava on display each time that I visited, including pistachio, "double pistachio" and a long thin variation that I think was called burma.  (Or maybe kadayifi.  I got different answers on different trips.)  Each variety was superb -- a fresh crunch to the pastry, a thick honey flavor, sweet nuts.  The burma and a variation called saragi burma have a shredded pastry instead of the thin layers of baklava.  If anything, that's my favorite.

The guy who cuts my hair -- shout out to Rafet's Hair Salon in Arundel Mills -- says this is the best baklava around.  Before his friends opened Nazar, Tim and other Turkish families would pool together to buy this baklava wholesale from New Jersey.  But then, Tim is friends with the owners of Nazar.  You can't just rely on his say, can you?  Don't you think you need to test yourself?  Don't you need some baklava today?  Or now?

If you shop at Nazar, I would love to know what you buy.  I have tried a few items, but I am sure there are some convenience foods for a weeknight and also the basics to learn some Middle Eastern food.

(Update:  There are terrific comments below, including a detailed one about learning Turkish food and  another about halal cuts of beef.  There are also a series that I think are fake and appear to be someone trying to promote Pars Market.  If Hasan, Suat or William Smith are real people, then they're welcome to email me directly.  For now, I assume they're part of a fake campaign here and on some other posts.)

(Update II: There are some anonymous comments below from someone who appears quite reasonable and knowledgeable about this kind of food. I loved the baklava, but the commentor says that the best were just average.  You can still taste-test the baklava.  Not such a bad afternoon.  I'd love other thoughts.)

Nazar Produce Market
6955 Oakland Mills Road, Ste A
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: Nazar is in the same store that used to be Sizar's.  It's just off Oakland Mills Road on the west of Snowden River Parkway.  From Rte 175, drive south on Snowden and turn right at the traffic light on Oakland Mills.  Then take the first right into the shopping area.  Nazar is on the right on the ground level.  Look across the parking lot for Bon Fresco.


Sarah said...

I need to go here and it's on my way home! Thanks for letting us know it's open!

HowICook said...

After hearing about Nazar from this blog, I’ve checked it out every weekend. There’s something about Turkish food that really resonates for me. It’s like the best fusion of Middle Eastern, generic Mediterranean, and Greek cooking. The food is much more accessible to me than most other ethnic foods especially Korean. I love Korean but I have a heck of a time translating it into home cooking. I’m still new at this but so far my favorite web site is the blog, Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook at Some of the recipes are over simplified or use non Turkish foods like wonton wrappers but lots of ideas. My favorite book is Sultan's Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook by Özcan Ozan. I bought it at Amazon for <$15.

Ingredients I’ve bought:
-Dried mint – supposedly fresh mint is not a substitute

-Turkish rice – medium grain rice. Always prepared to not be sticky.

-Cheeses : Feta cheese – several kinds and Kasari (think sheep cheddar)

-Frozen yufka (thicker phyllo)

-Frozen shredded phyllo dough. Make your own dessert.

-Dried okra. Baby okra on string necklaces. Very cool. Cooks up nicely in soups and stews. I want to try the dried baby eggplants. You soak them then stuff them.

Here’s what I’ve made in the last couple of weeks:

-Beef sausage (soujouk) peeled, sliced and lightly fried then mixed with scrambled eggs. There’s something additive about the heavily spiced sausage.

-Red Lentil and Mint Soup (Ezo Gelin Corbasi). – very popular Turkish soup made with red lentils, bulgur, rice and spiced with dried mint and paprika.

-Ground Beef Pasta in the Oven (Firinda Kiymali Makarna) sort of an easy pastitso

-Spinach feta borek – phyllo layered (milk, olive oil and egg between the layers) in a baking dish with thick filling in the middle. I used regular phyllo but I’m going to use the yufka soon.

sima said...

Iranian people have their own stores(3 stores around)so i don't think they need more stores specially Turkish store to offer their is just for commercial........

Anonymous said...

Ok, we get it. Iranians don't like Turks. What's wrong with a Turkish grocery store? Nothing as far as I can see, and I'll be happy to shop at both Turish and Iranian stores, as are most open-minded people that live in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

I went to Nazar today and saw that they are selling mostly Turkish products as well as other nationalities such as Iranian, Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, Egyptian and more. They have variety of meats and produce. I met the owner too and he is a very nice young man from Turkey. He said they welcome everyone and every nationality. I tried the baklava and it was superb! I say, go check them out. I sure will be back there.

Anonymous said...

I went Nazar and and the pastry selection there was wonderful.. I bought baklava which was very very good. And I also bought borek in the box and I have put it in the oven at home and it was very delicious. The Turkish rice "Baldo" type which I bought cooked with the real butter I bought there was very good too. Before you leave the shop don't forget to buy from the rich selection of jams and preserves-the sourcherry was my favourite.. Thank you Nazar for bringing all these and many other delicacies..

hasan said...

I saw Nazar Market owner last week at PARS MARKET purchasing whole bunch of Iranian products I think for his store to mark it up and sale them in his store. it is nice to go shopping at pars market for most Iranian and Turkish goods at very low prices since owner told me his father Importing all variety Persian foods directly from IRAN and all will arrive in less than 3 weeks I can't wait to buy them, I liked Nazar a lot and their Baklava was so delicious but their produce seemed alil high price and I think coming from H MART in Catonsville, MD I can't wait to shop at Nazar Baklava Market tomorrow!

Louis Biggie said...

This is really great news. I was sorry that Sizar's left, and their new location is too far to get to. I will definitely check this out.

suat said...

I really don't care that everyone says Nazar Market prices seem very high and Pars Market is much much cheaper, I still go shopping at NAZAR and wanna waste all my money shopping there!

william smith said...

don't forget to stop by PARS MARKET just right around corner from nazar produce, he is a wholesaler where nazar owner purchase all his persian products from him all the time!

Nazar Market gets his supply from Pars Market+ Restaurant depot+ H Mart

Anonymous said...

As a halal meat eater, I've had a hard time finding different cuts of beef in this area. (Usually I have to go to Indus in Silver Spring.) Nazar sells halal frozen rib-eye steak and halal frozen filet mignon, both from a company called Nema located in PA:

Just thought I'd share this with any other Muslim foodies nearby.

Anonymous said...

After reading all the positive comments on the baklava, we sampled pretty every variety they had there Saturday and the best ones were average at best. The owner told us that Nema (mentioned in my previous comment) was suppyling him with the sweets. Maybe he changed his supplier from the New Jersey one to this one. It seems like the sweets come in frozen because he cautioned us to wait an hour before eating one of the burmas because that tray had just been taken out of the freezer.

Anonymous said...

To follow up, I found out today that Nema works in conjunction with or owns the New Jersey distributor that imports the sweets from Turkey. The sweets do come frozen, though. Sorry to rush to conclusions before.