This one is for all our Indian readers who are struggling to create authentic South Asian dishes that remind them of home, as well as those beginner chefs who want to take on the challenge of recreating some traditional delicacies. Continuing our series of how to stock our kitchen, this is the Indian edition.
This culture features some of the most diverse and rich cuisines, characterized by spicy and tangy flavors. If you’ve ever tried making one of their traditional dishes at home and been disappointed at the bland flavor, don’t blame your skills but rather a lack of the right ingredients.
Here are some Indian grocery items you always need to have at home to make the best and most delicious foods.
Spices are a big and crucial part of Desi dishes. In fact, it’ll be hard to find any South Asian recipe that doesn’t use at least 16 different types of spices. When people from other continents try American dishes, they often find them very bland or tasteless due to the lack of spices.
Therefore, if nothing else, you need to stock up on the right Indian spices and sauces.
Garam masala is a blend of different spices and seasonings to make a highly aromatic and spicy spice blend. It is used in your normal stews and gravies. It can be sprinkled over your chaats and salads. You can even use it to make tangy sauces on the side.
You can find premade packets of garam masala or make it yourself using the following spices and herbs:
- Black Pepper
All these are important spices that you can incorporate in other dishes as well, so we’d suggest getting all these separately.
These small round seeds look similar to celery seeds and give off a taste that will remind you of thyme. However, it has a special peppery and intense flavor that you will find in many recipes.
Mangoes are a classic South Asian staple, and their sweet and tangy flavor makes them an excellent ingredient to incorporate in dishes. That’s why they are often processed and turned into mango powder, also called amchoor. It can be used during cooking or, besides that, to create sweet and sour sauces.
Lentils and Beans
Similar to spices, lentils are also a big deal in Desi cuisine. Daals, as they call it, make up a big portion of their daily diet and considering the variety of lentils there are, combined with the endless ways to make them, it’s hard to grow tired of the traditional dishes you can make with them.
Here are some of the classic lentils and beans you need to include in your Indian grocery items list.
The green beans reveal a yellow legume inside, which is often used to create the popular dish, Mung Ki Khichri. This serves as a healthy and tasty substitute for meat and can be eaten with rice or bread. Similarly, there are all kinds of other legumes, black, red, orange, etc., that are used to make a variety of daals.
While this is not an ingredient that is specifically limited to South Asian cuisine, it does hold a lot of popularity, with the legume being featured in all kinds of main dishes as well as snacks. This is a high-protein and high-fiber ingredient that everyone needs to have in their pantry.
In traditional Desi cuisine, chickpeas are also roasted and ground into a chickpea flour that is then used in making batter for frying or even in rotis (flatbread).
Kidney beans are also another ingredient that is common all over the world. However, in South Asian cuisine specifically, which leans more towards a vegetarian diet, kidney beans are an important source of protein. They are used along with different daals and added in other dishes to add more flavor and depth. A dish known as Rajma Chawal made from kidney beans is quite popular in northern India.
Dairy and Oils
In the dairy section, there are several essential Indian items you need to get, or else your dishes will be left incomplete.
Besides the spices, if there was one other thing that best characterizes Indian cuisine, it has to be ghee. This is a form of clarified butter where the butter is melted, and then the milk solids are removed, leaving behind pure and clarified butter.
Ghee is used in frying, as a dressing over certain dishes and even as a condiment. Ghee parathas are a popular breakfast item in the South Asian culture and are crucial for bringing that traditional flavor to your food.
Indian-style pressed cottage cheese, also known as paneer, is another flavorful and healthy Indian grocery item you always need to have in your pantry. It is easy to make on your own and is often used to whip up quick and tasty dishes.
Rice also makes up another big portion of the daily Desi diet. Moreover, some of their most classic and popular dishes, like
- Biryani, feature rice as the main attraction. Here are some of the kinds of rice you need to stock up on:
- Basmati rice
- Short grain rice
- Biryani rice
To be honest, Indian cuisine features so many unique as well as common ingredients that help make their dishes so delicious. There are substitutes for some of them but not for others.
Therefore, your best bet is to stock up on these essential items from a reliable Indian grocery store online whenever you get the chance. Besides the ones mentioned above, here are a few additional ingredients you need to have in your pantry:
- Tamarind paste
- Star anise
- Rice flour
- Sesame oil
- Curry leaves
With all these ingredients stocked up in your pantry, your Desi dishes are bound to be a hit at your next dinner party.
Moreover, if you are worried about where you will be able to get these authentic ingredients, you can go to a physical desi supermarket or check out an Indian store online like DesiClik for home delivery of Indian grocery where you will find a wide range of South Asian products that are full of flavor and will give your dishes an authentic Indian taste.