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