Spices To Grains, List Of Staples From An Indian Kitchen

Indian cuisine is countes as one of the best in the world and is diverse, delectable, and not as challenging to prepare as you might imagine. You can imagine how the diversity is absolutely mind-boggling given that every state, city, and even every home has its unique recipes for thousands of different cuisines. 

Traders who were looking for spices in India flocked to the country for centuries. It was also foreigners who brought spices to India that contributed to its cuisine. Rice and the wok were brought by the Chinese, while vinegar, tomatoes, potatoes, and chillies were introduced by the Portuguese. There were also major influences from Iran, Mongolia, and Indonesia. The following pantry essentials can help you create delectable Indian meals at home. 

Cardamom: Cardamom, a key ingredient in garam masala, has a grapefruit-like, flowery, soapy smell with hints of green and wood. It resembles ginger and has a menthol undertone. It can be used whole, as seeds, or ground. 

Cinnamon: The flavour and aroma of cinnamon are often woodsy, musty, and earthy, and it has a warming effect on the palate. The taste senses pick up on cinnamon more quickly the finer the grind. Whole cinnamon sticks are frequently used to flavour rice and sauces. While cinnamon is typically linked with sweet baked items in the West, it is a savoury spice that is also used in meat dishes in India. 

Coriander: Fresh coriander is typically characterised as having a waxy, lemony, and soapy flavour and scent. Unlike the flavour of the coriander seed, the flavour of the leaf is peculiar and very different. As a garnish, in seasoning mixtures, and in sauces like masala and curry, coriander is used. Curry powders and garam masala both contain ground coriander, which is a key component. It is said to have a minty, sweet, and citrus-like flavour. 

Cloves: Cloves have a flavour that is robust, aromatic, sweet, and almost burning. They are among the strongest-tasting spices, and their bitter, astringent flavour leaves the mouth feeling numb. North Indian and Sri Lankan spice blends both contain cloves as a key component. They are a component of pickles, biryani, and garam masala. 

Cumin: Cumin is a key component in curry powder and garam masala. It has a potent musty, earthy flavour with hints of green or grassy flavours. In cuisine, cumin can be used whole or crushed. 

Fenugreek: This fragrant plant is renowned for its pleasantly bitter, just a little sweet, rich, spherical seeds. Several items, including curry powders, spice blends, and teas, are flavoured with fenugreek seeds, which are available whole or crushed. No longer than six months should pass while fenugreek seeds are kept in a cool, dark location. 

Mint: This cooling herb has a delightful fresh, aromatic, sweet flavour and is frequently served with lamb dishes as well as in raitas and chutneys. 

Tamarind: Concentrated tamarind pulp, also known as Indian date, is used to give chutneys and curries a mildly sour flavour. Though, lime juice is a suitable replacement. 

Turmeric: The flavour of this ground, dried root is strong and slightly bitter, with a recognisable musky, earthy fragrance. Turmeric is a potent yellow-orange colouring pigment that is used to colour foods like pickles, relish, and chutney as well as rice, lentil, and vegetable meals as well as fabrics. It is believed that turmeric promotes healthy digestion and acts as an anti-inflammatory. 

What we have listed above is simply a limited list because Indian cuisine uses so many different spices. Consider stocking up on nigella seeds (kalonji—sometimes called black onion seed), saffron, and asafoetida for a well-stocked pantry. Peppercorns (the source of "heat" in spicy foods prior to the introduction of chiles), fennel seeds, poppy seeds, bay leaves, black mustard seeds, and asafoetida are other ingredients to consider. 

Coconuts: Particularly in Southern Indian cuisine, where curries frequently include coconut milk and oil, these ingredients are crucial. Desserts and sauces frequently contain grated coconut. 

Tomatoes: Similar to chiles, tomatoes were introduced to India by Portuguese seafarers. They play a significant role in chutneys, vegetable meals, and curries. 

Garlic: An essential flavour trio in Indian cooking is garlic, ginger, and green chilies, which are often sautéed in ghee or oil as the initial step. 

Ginger: The edible section of the "ginger root" is actually a piece of the plant's subterranean stem, not its root. Ginger is frequently used as a paste, which gives curries and other foods a potent smell, flavour, and bite. 

Fresh Vegetables: One of the world's cuisines that uses the most vegetables was developed by Indian chefs. Indian cuisine is a fantastic place to start if you want to eat more vegetarian meals. Vegetables including potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, onions, peas, and eggplant are some of the most widely consumed.  

Flour: In many regions of India, breads—including grilled breads like naan and chapati and griddled breads like roti and the crepe-like dosa—can be substituted for rice. Fried breads are offered as appetisers, snacks, and desserts, including samosas, pappadams, and paratha. 

Rice: The meaning of the name is "queen of smell." Since ancient times, this fine-textured, long-grained rice has been produced in the Himalayan foothills. The rice is used to make biryanis and other rice dishes for special occasions. 

Lentils: Indian cuisine is rich in lentil meals (a fine source of protein) because many Indian religious beliefs restrict or prevent eating meat. Examples include soups, stews, and breads. "Pulses" like lentils come in a variety of striking hues. Red lentils that have been hulled are widely available; compared to brown lentils, they cook more quickly and have a milder flavour. 

Since dairy products have historically not been refrigerated and have a short shelf life in the warm climate, they are very uncommon in Indian cuisine. Indian chefs made dairy products more accessible by processing them (culturing yoghurt, separating butter, and baking milk into sweets, for example). 

Curd: In addition to being prepared as a sweet or salty beverage (lassi), curd is frequently seasoned and served as a condiment (raitas) or substituted for coconut milk in curries.  

Paneer: Indian food doesn't use a lot of cheese. But one significant exception is paneer. Paneer, a fresh cheese that does not melt, is comparable to fresh mozzarella or queso blanco. As there is no rennet added, paneer is a vegetarian cheese. Try making your own homemade paneer and using it in a curry with spinach. 

Ghee: Ghee is a sort of clarified butter with a rich, nutty flavour that is especially popular in Northern Indian cooking. The milk solids are skimmed off after the butter has boiled until all the liquid separates from the fat. As ghee has a much higher smoke point and a longer shelf life than whole butter, it has advantages over the latter.