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.
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
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:
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!