Essential Ingredients for Indian Cooking Checklist

Stock your pantry with a few basic ingredients to create an authentic Indian meal.

  1. Check Beans, dried

    Incorporate mung beans, lentils, or chickpeas into Indian dishes, or serve them as a side (possibly in a traditional dal stew).

  2. Check Cardamom

    An herb with medicinal properties, cardamom is used in sweets, chai tea, curries, and rice dishes.

  3. Check Chili peppers

    Indian cuisine’s reputation for spiciness comes largely from chili peppers. The type of chili used depends on the recipe or the chef, and it can show up in paste, powder, or fresh form.

  4. Check Cinnamon

    The sweet spice is used more commonly in savory dishes.

  5. Check Coriander

    Both the seeds and the leaves of coriander are put to good use in Indian cooking—frequently as a spice in curries and as a garnish on dal.

  6. Check Cumin

    A regular in Indian curries, this strong spice adds a bit of warmth and earthiness to recipes.

  7. Check Garam masala

    This blend of spices can contain everything from dried chili peppers to coriander to mustard seed to garlic. It’s typically added to a dish late in the prep so that the fragrance lingers.

  8. Check Ginger

    An integral spice in curries, ginger is also used in vegetable dishes and adds flavor to tea and coffee drinks. To prolong the life of fresh ginger, wrap it tightly and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

  9. Check Mustard seed

    Indian cooks use a very small, very dark version of the whole seed that has a slight smell similar to curry.

  10. Check Onion and garlic

    Considered the “wet seasonings” of Indian cuisine, onions and garlic are used in a wide variety of dishes.

  11. Check Turmeric

    This intensely yellow spice is used in many Indian dishes and is considered to be an antiseptic both inside and outside the body.