Indian Pantry essentials to get started with Indian food. Spices, Spice blends, Legumes, Grains, flours. How to stock, Where to buy and what to cook with the Indian Spices.
The spices and beans on bold are the basic set that will be sufficient for most recipes.
The spices with * are good to have for frequent Indian cooking.
Spices and Herbs of an Indian Pantry: English name/names – hindi Name
Asafetida or Hing *
Bay Leaves – Tej Patta (Indian Bay leaf is slightly different than the regular Bay leaf) *
Black Mustard Seeds – Raee
Black Pepper – Kali Mirch
Cardamom pods – Green – Hari Elaichi
Cardamom pods – Black – Kali Elaichi
Carom Seeds – Ajwain, Ajwan*
Cinnamon – sticks and powder – Daalchini *
Cloves – whole and powder – Laung *
Coriander Seeds and ground Coriander- Sukha Dhania
Cumin Seeds and ground Cumin- Jeera
Curry Leaves – fresh or dried – Kadi Patta *
Dry Mango Powder – Amchur
Fennel Seeds – Saunf *
Fenugreek Seeds and dried leaves – Methi dana and Kasoori Methi *
Holy Basil – Tulsi
Indian Black Salt (pink in color)- Kala Namak *
Mace – Javitri
Nigella seeds – Black cumin – Kalonji *
Nutmeg – Jaiphal
Poppy Seeds – Khus khus
Red Chili Powder and whole chilies – Lal Mirch
Saffron – Kesar *
Sesame Seeds – Til
Turmeric Powder – Haldi
Curry Leaves -Kadi patta, also called kadipatta, or sweet neem leaves, come from a subtropical tree native to India. They are dark green and have a lime, coriander kind of flavor. In their fresh form, they have a short shelf life and do not keep well in the refrigerator. You can freeze the fresh leaves very loosely packed in an airtight container for a few months. They are also available dried, though the aroma isn’t greatr. You can add them to food whole or chopped. You can find them at Indian stores local or online, or online on amazon. Freeze them for months and use directly from the freezer if you don;t have fresh available easily.
These blends can be made at home by dry roasting the spices and grinding them or bought as ready made mixes at Indian stores or online.
Pav bhaji Masala
Many of these blends are in my first book.
BEANS, LENTILS, LEGUMES and flours
Bengal Gram Split and skinned – Split chickpeas – Chana dal
Bengal Gram Whole – Brown Chickpeas- Kala Chana
Black Gram Whole – black gram lentils- Sabut Urad
Black Gram Split and skinned – Urad Dal *
Black Eyed Peas – Raungi, Chawli, Lobhia
Chickpeas (green) – Cholia / Hara Chana
Chickpea flour – garbanzo bean flour * (different from besan, easily available online)
Chickpeas (white) – Kabuli Chana , Garbanzo Beans, Chole
Field Bean – Val
Gram Flour – Besan *
Green Gram Whole – Hare Moong, Mung Bean *
Green Gram Split and skinned – Petite Yellow Lentils – Moong Dal*
Moth Beans – Moth, Matki
Pigeon Peas, split – Arhar, Tuvar, Toor *
Red Kidney Beans – Rajma *
Red/pink/orange Lentil split – Masoor Dal
Brown Lentil Whole – Sabut Masoor, Indian Brown Lentil
See Pictures and details about the Dals and Beans here!.
Barley – Jau
Millet – Bajra , flour and whole
Rice flakes, flattened/beaten Rice – Poha
Semolina – cream of wheat, Sooji, Wheat Rava
Sorghum – Jowar, flour and whole
Wheat – Gehun, flour(atta) and whole
*Chickpea flour and Besan (Gram flour) – Chickpea flour in the US is generally ground white chickpeas, while Besan is ground brown chickpeas (Kala chana). Besan is also ground finer than chickpea flour. Because of these differences, chickpea flour generally makes a thicker batter and needs more water to achieve the similar consistency as besan batter if the recipe was written with besan. The reverse applies to recipes written with chickpea flour. In general this does not matter much and both can be used interchangeably in recipes. However, if used in baking keep this in mind to adjust the liquid.
Where to Buy
Indian spices and pantry items are becoming more readily available locally and online. For the cheapest options, look for an Indian store in your area or order online. The next best option that I have found is Amazon.com. Several Indian stores now have Amazon.com storefronts. I generally get most of my spices from Seattle’s World Spice Merchants, as they have the freshest spices, and you can also order from them online.
A Directory of U.S. Indian Grocery Stores:
Order Ingredients, spices, lentils etc Online:
Pantry Items and Spices also available at:
Amazon.com (has almost everything you will need)
Bobsredmill.com has many of the beans, lentils and grains.
What do I cook with Indian spices?
Start with simple and familiar recipes such as Palak Tofu, Bombay Potatoes, Butter Tofu, Dal Tadka. Gobi Aloo and then try some Amritsari Masala, Keema Madras, Kohlapuri sauce and more
For Printable Spice Charts and More Recipes, Check out my Best-seller Indian Kitchen Cookbook!
I purchased some fenugreek leaves from World Spice Market and they lost all of their scent pretty quickly. I stored them in a glass jar. A while back, I got some from an Indian restaurant/grocery store and they were much more potent and lasted a long time. Where do you get yours from and how long does it seem to last?
Thanks so much!!
I get mine from both world spice in seattle and Indian store. My world spice lasted 2 years and were quite potent. Indian store brands some are good and some not so much.
I’m having a hard time locating a spice box like the one pictured in your photos above. I’ve heard they are called masala dabba’s? Do you have any tips on what to look for and where one might be available to order?
Thanks so much!
Vegan Richa Support
Thanks for your question Dylan. You can find some of my most frequently used things on my shop.
I also like ‘The Spice People” and Indian spices and pantry items are becoming more readily available locally and online. For the cheapest options, look for an Indian store in your area or order online.
I was wondering what you use to dispense the oil into the pan on your videos? Do you have a tools list anywhere?
i use a spoon or the bottle of oil directly. i have some tools in my shop which i need to reorganize with more tools. https://www.amazon.com/shop/veganricha
Thanks. I thought the bottle was some kind of tool. LOL
I am a keen follower of you and I’ve made many of your recipes. I have a well stocked kitchen with most of ingredients your recipes call for. No fresh curry leaves on hand so I recently ordered those only to be disappointed by the condition of the leaves when they reached me. Can you recommend a website from which I can order (and receive quickly) or a substitute? I’m from Denmark originally but I should have been born in India as I love everything associate with above-mentioned cuisine. Thank you for all of your incredible recipes!
the best kind you will find at indian stores. I usually get a bunch of fresh ones and freeze them. Frozen are as good as fresh in recipes. you could also get a curry leaf plant from logees and that will give you a constant supply
Thank you so much for your reply!! I had not thought of growing myself but why not? I always have ‘fresh’ Kaffir Lime leaves in the freezer and I was thinking that the fresh curry leaves would do well frozen as well. Thanks again, Richa 🙂
Can you tell me where I can find Gluten free asafoetida powder?
i get some from worldspice.com
Thank you so much, my vegan heart goes out to you. I recently fell in love with Indian food after one bite of lemon rice. After researching, I came upon your website and you made the beginning of my learning experience much easier! I will be developing an understanding for years to come and I will be purchasing your Indian book asap!
Thats awesome! Thank you!
Love your site and am exploring your Indian cookbook. One substitution question:
I am allergic to tree nuts and cashews will kill me. This takes a lot of the recipes out of the running. I know they are usually used to replace the creamy texture of actual cream. I’m wondering if there is anything else I could replace them with. I’m not allergic to seeds or legumes like peanuts. And while my preference is to eat vegan I do include limited dairy in my diet occasionally. I’d rather a vegan substitute but am I better off just to replace cashew cream with cream? If so would the amounts be equal?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Hi Tiffany, There are substitutes mentioned in the book and there are also examples of nut-free sauces and you an use the same subs in other with nut sauces. Pasanda sauce uses pumpkin seeds, the malai kofta sauce uses cauliflower and seeds, some other sauces use non dairy yogurt which you can get nut-free, or make your own with raw peanuts, some recipes use coconut cream if that works, sometimes you an also us a roux to thicken. So you can make almost all the creamy recipes without nuts. There is limited space in the book, so some recipes might not mention nut-free options, but there are other similar sauces that dont use nuts as I mentioned above and you can use the process in any of the sauces depending on your overall preference of flavor and texture from the many options.
Jason loves Spices
You can also find high quality Indian spices at The Spice People.
Love your website so much! Thank you for all the wonderful resources and recipes. It would be wonderful if you could also do a list of the best utensils and kitchen gadgets for a Vegan Indian kitchen with your suggestions/opinions! 🙂
Thank you so much!
Great idea. i’ll make another page about it. You can find some of my most frequently used thins on my shop. https://www.amazon.com/shop/veganricha in the meanwhile
Thank you so much!! Can’t wait for the post 🙂 I’ll check your shop meanwhile. Happy New Year!
You may have posted this somewhere else, but can you provide recipes for your chana and garam masalas, and/or recommend a name brand one you trust/like.
Oh i do have the recipes on the blog https://www.veganricha.com/2016/05/garam-masala-recipe.html. i’ll add the links here.
I usually use swad or deep brand whole garam masala ie. it the spices have not been ground. Then i usually will grind about a 1/2 cup of the spices and store them to use. The whole spices stay fresh for longer
A beautiful name for a beautiful lady. I have a recipe for dal sauce which calls for roasting it. I don’t know how and am curious as to the various ways to cook dal including roasting. Please tell me if you can help.
You can roast the dals when dry. The recipe should say exactly how and which step .
I love what you tried to do here, Richa, with this pantry list. I was wondering if you could, perhaps, elaborate on some of the beans, lentils and legumes section. For instance, providing all the names that exist for a particular item to make it easier to locate/purchase. For example, the gram flour – besan is better, more widely known in the US as garbanzo bean/chickpea flour. When I first heard of it/started looking for it, I was searching out besan flour, to no avail. Then I stumbled across the fact that it was just garbanzo bean flour and realized that it was under my nose the whole time!
For those items that have no “American” names, I was hoping for suitable alternatives. Like, for instance, if split mung beans can be subbed with green split peas in a recipe. Though I actually have an Indian grocery near me, the last time I was in there, their bean/legume section didn’t have most of the items you have listed here. ??! So, I was hoping to find some workable subs on this list.
Hi Liz, I will be updating this page with more details. Besan is not exactly the same as chickpea flour, but yes they can be used interchangeably.