INDIAN KITCHEN STAPLES
Indian cooking can be overwhelming just because of the sheer number of essential ingredients. The great news is that you already probably have many of these in your kitchen or can find them at your local grocery store.
If you are just a beginner at Indian cooking, you can just stock up on the very basic ingredients that you will use in almost all the dishes. Having essential ingredients in hand can make it so much easier to begin learning the techniques just by following the readily available recipe.
TURMERIC: Fresh turmeric is from the ginger family. It has an astringent and acerbic flavour which mellows down to underlying sweetness when cooked. Turmeric is used mainly in powdered form not just for it’s flavour and colour but for it’s known anti-inflammatory properties.
GARAM MASALA: Garam masala is a fragrant and warm spice blend with lots of layers of flavor. Not every blend will have the same flavour but you’ll likely get hints of peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon. The quality and composition of the ingredients define the taste of this spice-blend so make sure to pick the garam masala from the most authentic brand.
CORIANDER POWDER: It is described to have a citrusy flavor with a slight sweetness and a hint of earthiness. When used as a whole, coriander seeds add the right level of spiciness, but as powder, they mix and blend with the dish and lift its overall taste profile.
MADRAS CURRY POWDER: The Madras Curry Powder has an earthy, yet fragrant mix of spices, and is used for a number of dishes, both meat and vegetarian. This spice is especially complementary to savoury flavours that are perfect in creating so many authentic South Indian dishes like cauliflower stir fry, dal, squash and potato stew and so many more!
PURE DESI GHEE: Ghee is widely used in Indian cuisine for tempering curries and in preparation of rice dishes and sweets. Ghee is often used instead of oil for a richer taste. Pure desi ghee is known to be full of antioxidants and essential vitamins that help in cleansing and nourishing the body. To reap all the benefits of this superfood, buy pure desi ghee from authentic brands only.
COCONUT OIL: 100% Pure Coconut Oil is a staple in every household. With its versatile use from cooking, baking to skincare, the nutritional benefits are endless! Coconut oil has a high smoke point of 350 F as compared to regular oils that have a smoke point of 200 F. This makes it ideal for sauteing and frying.
AROMATICS: The aromatics like ginger, garlic and onion form the base of most indian dishes like curries, dals (lentil stews) or stir fry dishes. When cooking, you can either soften them without colouring for a lighter curry or cook them longer and caramelize for something richer and darker. Either way the combination of these aromatics provides the deep base flavour to most curries and is crucial for an authentic taste.
BASMATI RICE: Basmati is a special type of long-grained rice. These long and slender grains are known for their distinct aroma. It is commonly used for making royal biryanis but there is so much more that you can do with it. Basmati can be used for making pilaf, biryanis, desserts or can be served just as a side dish with the curries.
WHEAT FLOUR (ATTA): Atta is a wholewheat flour used to make roti's, parantha and a number of different Indian breads.
CHICKPEA FLOUR: Chickpea flour, also known as besan, is a gluten-free flour used in a lot indian dishes like savoury pancakes called chillas, deep fried snacks (called bhajias) and even used as a base in some indian curries.
CREAM: Fresh cream brings roundness to the dish by adding flavor and mellowing the spicy flavour in the dishes. A dollop of fresh cream makes the dish creamy, rich and perfectly complements the meat or vegetables in certain dishes.
YOGURT: Indian curd also known as Dahi is made from fermented milk and is known as a great probiotic. It is used in a lot of curry dishes for its tangy flavour and is often served as is with the meals to balance the spiciness of other dishes.