India: Pantry Guide

In producing the stories for our August/September 2014 India issue, we discovered ingredients and information too good to keep to ourselves. Here are the hard-to-find and essential ingredients for cooking the dishes in this issue, plus where to find them online. —Kellie Evans, Associate Food Editor

Ajwain

Ajwain

Ajwain, these tiny seeds resemble celery seeds yet give off a thyme-like aroma. Often used in bean dishes due to its gas-fighting properties. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Amchur

Amchur

Also known as amchoor, tangy Amchur powder is made from dried, unripe mangos and imparts a sour flavor to soups, curries, and vegetables. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Asafoetida

Asafoetida

Asafoetida, or hing, the ferula plant's dried sap, comes in powder or lump form. Cooked, it has an onion-like flavor. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Atta

Atta

High-protein durum wheat flour, or atta, lends an earthy chewiness to chapati and other Indian flatbreads. amazon.comIngalls Photography
Banana Flower

Banana Flower

Found in Asian markets, banana flower, or kere kafool, tastes like an artichoke and is used in salads and curries. melissas.comIngalls Photography
indian ingredients, indian pantry, indian cooking, banana leaves, banana leaf

Banana Leaves

Banana leaves function as disposable plates as well as wrappers for steaming food. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Besan

Besan

Besan, or chickpea flour, makes a toothsome batter for fritters and adds nutty flavor to sweets and salty snacks. amazon.comIngalls Photography
Black Cardamom Pods

Black Cardamom Pods

Smoky black cardamom pods, or kala elaichi, lend a camphor-like perfume to rice dishes and sweets. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Black Cumin Seeds

Black Cumin Seeds

Earthy, sweet black cumin seeds, called kala jeera, flavor dishes like Kashmiri lamb in chile sauce. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
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Black Salt

Himalayan black salt, or kala namak, sold ground or in rock form, lends a pleasing sulfurous note to condiments and drinks. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Channa Dal

Channa Dal

Often cooked on its own, channa dal (Bengal gram) is a small, split yellow lentil also used to add body to dishes and crunch to tarkas. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Chiles de Arbol

Chiles de Arbol

Related to the cayenne chili, chiles de arbol have a searing heat and are usually toasted to bring out their earthy, astringent flavor. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Cilantro

Cilantro

Sometimes referred to as Chinese parsley, cilantro is the fragrant, perfumed leaf of the coriander seed. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Cinnamon Sticks

Cinnamon Sticks

True cinnamon sticks should not be confused with the much milder bark of the Indian cassia tree. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
indian ingredients, indian pantry, indian cooking, cloves, indian spices

Cloves

Whether ground or left whole, cloves imbue dishes with their pungent and aromatic spice. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Coconut Milk

Coconut Milk

Extracted from fresh coconut gratings, coconut milk imparts distinct flavor to vegetable and meat dishes, especially in south Indian cooking. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Extracted from mature coconuts, coconut oil is used throughout south India for stir-fries like beetroot thoran. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Curry Leaves

Curry Leaves

Fresh curry leaves, or kadipatta, lend their resinous fragrance to dishes from chutneys to curries. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Daikon

Daikon

Daikon, or mooli, a crunchy radish that retains its texture and subtle spiciness when cooked, is great in stews and stir-fries. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Dried Apricots

Dried Apricots

In northern India, dried apricots are common additions to pilafs and biryanis. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Dried Green Mango Strips

Dried Green Mango Strips

Dried green mango strips are rehydrated to add a touch of acidity to curries. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Dried Kashmiri Chiles

Dried Kashmiri Chiles

The deep brick red color of dried Kashmiri chile adds a smoky notes to dishes like mirchi qorma. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Dried Mint

Dried Mint

A perennial herb native to northwest India, dried mint is ubiquitous in chutneys and brings cooling refreshment to lassis. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Drumsticks

Drumsticks

Drumsticks, or sehjana ki phali, have a thick, ridged skin like okra and a flavor similar to asparagus. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds, or vark, are one of the key ingredients in the Bengali 5-spice mix known as panch phoran. They also serve as a post-meal breath freshener. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Fenugreek Leaves

Fenugreek Leaves

Fenugreek leaves, also known as methi leaves, have a sweet smell and a flavor reminiscent of maple. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek Seeds

Fenugreek seeds, or methi, have a bittersweet, musky flavor that is similar to but stronger than the plant's fresh leaves. They are often fried and worked into curries. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Fermented Bamboo

Fermented Bamboo

In northeast Indian cooking, fermented bamboo shoots add pungency and texture to stir-fried dishes. asiansupermarket365.comIngalls Photography
Shredded Coconut

Shredded Coconut

If fresh mature coconuts are not available, substitute frozen shredded coconut in curries and sweets. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Ghee

Ghee

If you're not making your own ghee, a nutty fat derived from clarifying butter, purchase a jar made from pure butter. amazon.comIngalls Photography
Ginger Root

Ginger Root

Practically every curry dish includes ginger root, often in the form of a ground ginger paste. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Golden Raisins

Golden Raisins

Golden raisins are a vital ingredient in everything from Delhi-style pilafs to kheer puddings to spicy snack mixes. traderjoes.comIngalls Photography
Green Cardamom

Green Cardamom

Native to south India, ground green cardamom, or choiti elaichi, adds a heady perfume to savory and sweet dishes. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Green Chilies

Green Chilies

Green chilies add an herbal heat to stews and chutneys. They are also eaten raw as a condiment to spice up a meal. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Green, Unripe Mangos

Green, Unripe Mangos

Tart green, unripe mangos, or khatte am, retain some of their firm texture when used to prepare pickles, curries, and chutneys. melissas.comIngalls Photography
indian ingredients, indian pantry, indian cooking, green papaya

Green Papaya

Green papaya is often used as a tenderizer in marinades for grilled meat dishes. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Ground Coriander

Ground Coriander

The ground powder of the coriander seed is a common addition to most masala spice blends. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Ground Turmeric

Ground Turmeric

Mildly aromatic with a pungent, bitter flavor, ground turmeric gives Indian spice blends their signature golden hue. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Indian Bay Leaves

Indian Bay Leaves

Fragrant Indian bay leaves, or tez patta, lend herbal intensity to dishes like Chettinad pepper chicken. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Indian Eggplants

Indian Eggplants

More commonly called brinjals, Indian eggplants are the main ingredient in the famous Punjabi dish Baingan ka bharta. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Jaggery

Jaggery

With a maple-like flavor, jaggery or gur, lump cane sugar, is a key sweetening agent in dishes throughout Indian cooking. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Kabocha Squash

Kabocha Squash

In Indian recipes that call for pumpkin, the firm, orange-fleshed kabocha squash is an excellent substitute. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Kashmiri Chile Paste

Kashmiri Chile Paste

Kashmiri chile paste adds vivid color to tandoori dishes without the pungency of more fiery chilies. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Kashmiri Chile Powder

Kashmiri Chile Powder

The gently spiced bright red Kashmiri chile powder adds mild heat to Indian dishes like rogan josh and tandoori meats. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Long Grain White Rice

Long Grain White Rice

An essential part of Indian meals, husked, milled, and polished long grain white rice, such as basmati, is also used in desserts. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Loofah

Loofah

The long, rough-skinned loofah, or ridge gourd, adds a cucumber-like flavor and texture to vegetable curries. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Lotus Root

Lotus Root

Fresh lotus root, or kakadi, a crunchy yet porous rhizome, soaks up sauces. Asian markets sell it fresh, frozen, or canned. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Mace

Mace

The delicate red wrapping of nutmeg is a lacey coating called mace. When dried and ground it has a milder flavor than the harder seed. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal

Coral colored when dry, tiny masoor dal turns an ochre yellow when made into spicy lentil stews. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Fresh Mint

Fresh Mint

Fresh mint leaves are combined with fresh coconut in a popular Keralan chutney. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Moong Dal

Moong Dal

Moong dal, also called green gram, are tiny lentils that are yellow underneath their mint-green coating. Unlike many dals, this variety is left whole when cooked. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Mustard Oil

Mustard Oil

Widely used in northern India for frying, peppery mustard oil, or sarson ka tel, mellows as it heats. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Black and brown mustard seeds lend a nutty flavor and crunch when fried and are used to finish soups, sauces, and curries. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Okra

Okra

Known as ladies fingers throughout India, okra lends thickness to vegetable stews yet crisps up beautifully in dry stir-fries. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Palm Vinegar

Palm Vinegar

Palm vinegar, made from naturally fermented palm sap and water, was introduced by the Portuguese to flavor the hot and sour Goan vindaloo. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Panch Phoron

Panch Phoron

Panch phoron, a Bengali spice mix of fennel, black mustard, nigella, fenugreek, and cumin seeds, is toasted or fried before using. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Paneer

Paneer

Soft and crumbly, the fresh cheese known as paneer is made from compressed milk curds. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Persian Key Limes

Persian/Key Limes

Persian/key limes have an intense lime essence; the juice is essential for nimbu pani, India's lemonade. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Poha

Poha

Poha, made from flattened and parboiled rice, is dried and used for snack mixes, cereals and garnishes. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Pointed Gourds

Pointed Gourds

Fresh pointed gourds, or potol, have a mild zucchini-like flavor. They're added to vegetable stews and curries. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Indian Poppy Seeds

Indian Poppy Seeds

Unlike its European counterpart, Indian poppy seeds are cream or grey-hued. The cream variety is preferred in Indian dishes. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Rasam Powder

Rasam Powder

Rasam powder, a toasted blend of chana dal, chiles, and whole spices, is used to flavor soups and chutneys. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Red Indian Chiles

Red Indian Chiles

Toasting red Indian chiles retains their scarlet tinge and brings out the spice, adding a punch to Indian dishes. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Rice Flour

Rice Flour

Made from ground, broken white rice, Indian rice flour is gluten-free and available in varying grinds. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Roo Hafza

Roo Hafza

This tasty herb and fruit-based syrup, known as Roo Hafza, is used for drinks like sharbat and falooda, or blended with water for a refreshing beverage. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Rose Water

Rose Water

Indian rose water is extracted from deep red roses grown for their fragrance. Small amounts flavor deserts as well as meat dishes. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Saffron

Saffron

Saffron threads, or kesar, the stigmas of crocuses, lend a golden hue and earthy flavor to desserts. The most prized variety is grown in Kashmir. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds impart a delicate, nutty flavor to dishes. In Tamil Nadu, black sesame seeds are ground with chile to serve with idlis. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Sev

Sev

In salty snack mixes or as a topping, sev, or fried chickpea noodles, provide a nut-like taste and crunch. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Edible Silver Leaves

Edible Silver Leaves

Use tasteless, odorless, and tissue-thin edible silver leaves, or vark, to add a striking garnish to Indian desserts. nycake.comIngalls Photography
Star Anise

Star Anise

Star anise is added whole to stews and curries to provide a subtle licorice hit. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Tamarind Pulp

Tamarind Pulp

Preferable to the sometimes bitter concentrate, tamarind pulp adds a sour tang to desserts and savory dishes. ishopindian.comIngalls Photography
Toor Dal

Toor Dal

The split yellow lentil, toor dal, is the legume of choice for the everyday dal dish and the most commonly used variety among Indian cooks. patelbrothersusa.comIngalls Photography
Urad Dal

Urad Dal

The black legume Urad dal, split or whole, is the base of the famous idlis, vadas and dosas of South Indian cooking. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Whole Mature Coconut

Whole Mature Coconut

Whole mature coconut is a common ingredient throughout India for everything from Mumbai snack mixes to Keralan vegetable thorans. melissas.comIngalls Photography
Yogurt

Yogurt

Creamy and tart, plain, full-fat yogurt or Greek-style yogurt is ideal for raitas, lassis, and the tangy stews called yakhni. wholefoods.comIngalls Photography
Whole Raw Cashews

Whole Raw Cashews

Whole raw cashews are immensely popular in India, spiced as a snack, scattered in pilafs, and finely ground for rich desserts. kalustyans.comIngalls Photography
Foods of the World: The Cooking of India

Foods of the World: The Cooking of India (Time Life Books, 1969)

Foods of the World: The Cooking of India (Time Life Books, 1969) offers inspiring recipes and fascinating photos. amazon.comIngalls Photography
Masala Dabba

Masala Dabba

To store and organize spices, Indian home cooks use a masala dabba, a round metal tray in which smaller tins nest. amazon.comIngalls Photography
India Cookbook

India Cookbook

Pushpesh Pant's India Cookbook (Phaidon, 2010) presents 1000 recipes for classic dishes from home cooks and professional chefs. amazon.comIngalls Photography
Tiffin

Tiffin

The tiffin, a nesting lunch box, is perfect for transporting the various dishes that compose an Indian meal. happytiffin.comIngalls Photography