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One of our secret vices, gentle reader, is to wander the manicured aisles of our local Nature’s Basket gently prodding at gleaming produce and designer snacks, before proceeding to our friendly kirana for our actual shopping. There’s something comforting about meditating over the purchase of perfectly packaged munchies at the most bougie price points that needs to become a part of one’s weekly self-care routine.

For our foreign-returns Nature’s Basket is cut-price Trader Joe’s. For others, it’s middle class silliness that they indulge in for special treats. A local comic endorses the breakfast sausages one can purchase from the in-house butcher’s because they are the only ones he’s found that “don’t just taste of eggs, dude”. An otherwise healthy eater confesses to a latent corn puff addiction from their Dubai childhood fuelled by the store’s imports.

Foreign fancies overwhelm Nature’s Basket’s racks - Flaming Hot Cheetos at Rs. Too Much For Crisps sit next to single origin dark chocolate studded with Iranian pistachios and dusted with sea salt. We personally recommend anything coming out of The Baker’s Dozen’s kitchens - chocolate croissants and bread so bouncy, it only needs the addition of a pat of good butter to turn around your day.

The store holds its secrets close - for a long time it’s where we cobbled together last minute lavash and Wingreens dips for when the girls came around for a giggle and a gossip, where we chose the most verdant head of broccoli for a one-pot recipe that would make us chefs worthy of Mama’s approval, where we experimented with local Kodai cheese for silken pastas that would remind us of our days under the Tuscan sun.

These are senseless indulgences, of course. One can get all these for cheaper, but where else will you contemplate spending five times as much for a deliciously designed pista kulfi that’s hardly better tasting than the stuff you can snag at your local dugdhalaya? Perhaps this is what Nature’s Basket is all about - a bit of retail therapy when the world is going to crap. For a minute your life can feel as precisely curated as the store’s selections.

After 20 minutes of luxuriating in the cool air of it’s newest Koramangala location and indulging in two shameless rounds of taste-testing treats proffered by the ever smiling staff, we sally back into the sweaty realness of the city. We are bolstered by our purchase of a grinder that promises to carefully crush the pink Himalayan salt and coarse pepper it holds. We are ready to conquer the world with perfectly seasoned salad.

Getting There: The newest Nature’s Basket can be found on 100 Ft. Road, Koramangala 5th Block, opposite Sukh Sagar, but locate your closest store here.

Sushmita Sundaram writes about food, culture, and discovering your city. Follow her on Twitter at @sushmitas.

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Food & Drink