|A photo of one of my hauls after a visit to TS Food Traders (see below)|
Berlin Indian curries are either too bland and tailored to the German palate, or totally authentic but more of a southern Tamil Nadu or Kerala style, whereas us Brits are used to northern Indian cuisine.
There's only one thing to do, and that's make your own!
Making your own isn't too difficult if you have a palate tuned to your expectations and the basic skills to match. But you also need the spices to build the depth of flavours, and that might seem difficult if you are depending on your local Rewe/Lidl/Netto/Kaisers etc. Just getting fresh coriander leaf is almost impossible from a German Supermarkt, and if you do you have to pay an arm and a leg. Similarly the small sachets of spices they sell are over-priced, and not often very fresh.
Your first point-of-call are the numerous Asia Markt stores around Berlin. Here you can usually get the most common spices, at a decent price. Some even have the Patak's range of curry pastes and pickles. One of my favorites (because it is convenient and has a good range - not because I am on commission) is on Kopenhagener Straße, just off of Schönhauser Allee (Netto on the corner). They often have good quality panir cheese and fresh curry leaves in the chill cabinet, as well as a good range of spices.
There are also a couple of wholesalers that sell direct to the Indian restaurants, but also have attached shops for the public. One of the largest is Punjab Food Traders on Tromsöer Straße, near Osloer Straße U-Bahn. A smaller (though friendlier) one is TS Food Traders on Stromstraße near Turmstraße U-Bahn: though it takes a bit of finding, they are often good for fresh okra, as well as cans of Idris ginger beer and reasonably-priced digestive biscuits. A word of warning though, don't expect Kaiser-style displays and lighting - it is all a bit basic.
Finally, don't overlook the Turkish supermarkets. They always have bunches of cheap, fresh coriander and flat-leafed parsley, as well as other essential fresh ingredients like chilli-peppers and spinach that don't make it into regular German supermarkets. Plus they have a good selection of dried and powdered spices, though they are often labelled in Turkish. One of my favorites is Eurogida, again on Turmstraße but with 12x outlets in Berlin; the most convenient store to me is on Badstraße near S- and U-Bahn Gesundbrunnen. Always busy, always lots of other (non-Indian) culinary distractions (many diverse sorts of olives, halva, haloumi, and stuffed vine-leaves). And if you want further fresh produce, there are no end of Turkish shops and stalls to be found in Neuköln and Kreuzberg. In particular, check out the wonderfully colourful and aromatic (but also bustling) Turkish market on Maybachufer near Kottbusser Tor and Schönleinstr. U-Bahns, Tuesdays and Fridays.
So that you can identify some basic Indian culinary spices and staples that might be packaged in different languages, here is a cut-out-and-keep guide to their English/German/Hindi/Turkish names:
|aniseed||Anis||suwa or shopa||anason tohumu|
|bay leaf||Lorbeerblatt||tej patta||defne yaprağı|
|black pepper||schwarzer Pfeffer||kala mirch||karabiber|
|black mustard seeds||schwarze Senfkörner||rai||siyah hardal tohumu|
|chickpea||Kichererbsen||besan or chana dal||nohut|
|chili pepper||Chilischote||lal mirch (red) hari mirch (green)||kırmızı biber or dövme biber|
|coriander or cilantro||Koriander||dhania||kişniş|
|curry leaves||Curryblätter||karhi patta or neem||köri yaprakları|
|fennel seeds||Fenchelsamen||saunf||rezene tohumu|
|fenugreek seeds||Bockshornklee||methi||çemen otu|
|ginger||Ingwer||adrak (fresh) or sonth (powder)||zendefil|
|nigella seeds||Nigellasamen||kalonji||çörek otu|
|nutmeg||Muskatnuss||jaiphal||muskat or küçük hindistan cevizi|
|pomegranate seeds||Granatapfelkernen||anardana||nar taneleri|
|poppy seeds||Mohn||khus khus||haşhaş tohumu|
|spinach||Spinat||palak or sag or sak||ıspanak|
|sweet or bell pepper (capsicum)||Paprika||shimla mirch or peeli mirchi (yellow pepper)||paprika or pulbiber|
|sweet potato||Süßkartoffel||shakarkand||tatlı patates|
I hope that has inspired you to seek out new tastes. Guten appetit!