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There is no sign welcoming you with symbols of the national animal (tiger) or flower (lotus). Sitar music doesn’t drown out the sounds of traffic. But there is a stretch of Pioneer Boulevard in the Southern California city of Artesia, located 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles, that has become known as Little India, even though an official designation eludes it.

The section in question runs for about five blocks, from Artesia Boulevard to South Street, just off the 91 freeway. Architecturally, the influence is more SoCal minimall than shikhara or Vijayanagara. But the people, the clothing and the aromas scream authenticity for the curious traveler with adventurous tastes.

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Destination dining: Spice shops in the neighborhood will help you gather the flavors to re-create your favorite restaurant dishes.
Cooking If you have ever taken a bite of great Indian food and then declared, “I could make this — if only I had the difficult-to-find spices and ingredients,” you can no longer use that as an excuse. House of Spices, on the corner of 186th Street and Pioneer Boulevard, has everything you need, from haldi (turmeric) and jeera (cumin) to jars of clarified butter, along with most of the related cookware. And if you’re looking for a conventional Indian grocery store that will carry other native foods beyond spices, check out Pioneer Cash and Carry, where you can stock up for your next homemade feast.
ALSO TRY:
Spice stores:
Bombay Spices
18626 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 860-9949

Grocery stores:
Ambala Cash and Carry
18411 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 924-1441

Farm Fresh
18551 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 865-3191

Dining Are you the type of Indian-food consumer who still has a few unused notches on your belt? If so, try Rajdhani. The vegetarian restaurant serves its cuisine thali style, with dishes from different regions, and does so in large quantities. For casual dining and sweets, there’s Surati Farsan Mart, just off the main drag. Sometimes the line of eager diners waiting to get in here stretches out almost to Pioneer. And even Ashoka the Great, emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, would have enjoyed the lunch buffet at the eponymous Ashoka the Great, despite the fact that the eatery serves meat (the emperor was an advocate of vegetarianism).

ALSO TRY:
Rasraj
18511 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 809-3141

Shan
18621 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 865-3838

The India Restaurant
17824 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 860-5621

Woodlands Indian Cuisine
11833 Artesia Blvd.
(562) 860-6500

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Sari Style: You could spend hours looking through the collection of jewelry and apparel, including sari fabrics, on Pioneer Boulevard.
Clothing and accessories Say you’re invited to a traditional Indian wedding in Mumbai, and you want to doll up and fit in. This section of Pioneer Boulevard has everything a dapper dude and lovely lady could need. There are clothing and apparel shops such as Anokhi, where the sari-draped window display looks like a backdrop from a Bollywood spectacular. The street has plenty of jewelry shops, too, including Bhindi, which carries a range of traditional and contemporary styles.

ALSO TRY:
For clothing:
Loveleen Sari Palace
18507 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 402-2481

Frontier Heritage
18581 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 653-9396

Sahil
18622 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 924-6667

For jewelry:
Vitha Jewelers
18501 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 402-4641

Highglow Jewelers
18644-A Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 402-0112

Various and Sundry Just off Pioneer Boulevard on 186th is Books N Bits, a tiny, charming emporium that offers plenty for the avid Indian reader. Here, you can pick up anything from a yoga manual to a biography of Gandhi to children’s books (we were tempted to pick up a copy of The Monkey and the Mango). There are also specialty stores, including the World of Handloom & Craft Inc., which sells clothing, accessories, furniture and home décor items.

ALSO TRY:
Cottage Art
18619 Pioneer Blvd.
(562) 924-6268