11 Essentials for an Indian Kitchen

Our resident expert Mina lists her essential items that are used over and over again in her kitchen. If you have all of these you should be well on the way to preparing a true Indian feast, just like Mina does.

As with most things quality counts and pays for itself in time. Modern or traditional its your choice and these days many well known brands such as Tefal make cookware suitable for use in an Indian kitchen.

How many do you have?

1. Masala Dabba

Typically made of stainless steel designs range from being total utilitarian to more decorative pieces with clear lids. The outer tin may be made of stainless and sometimes copper.

The masala dabba consists of a large outer tin that holds 7 smaller tins and has an outer lid that fits atop the large tin and an inner lid that fits snugly on top of the smaller tins. The inner lid is kept on top of the small tins of spice to keep dust and debris off the spice and to help keep the spices fresh. The larger outer lid should be kept in place for periods when the spices are not being used.

2. Kadhai / Kadhi / Karahi

Used in the vast majority of Indian recipes, used for shallow or deep frying of meat, potatoes, sweets, and snacks such as samosa and fish and also for Indian papadums, often served in karahi dishes which take their name from the Kadhai.

Depending on the region the name may vary slightly, buy all pots are based on similar designs.

3. Tava

A tava is used to cook a variety of leavened and unleavened flatbreads and crepes across the broad region: Pita, Naan, saj bread, roti, chapati, paratha and dosa.

4. Chapati rolling pin + board

Essential for making Chapati, Roti and other flat breads.

5. Good quality saucepans

Ideally stainless steel with thick bases to prevent burning.

We recommend buying a good set of oven proof saucepans and these have more flexibility of use than non oven-proof pans.

6. Spice Grinder

Used for easily grinding fresh spices. You could also use a mortar and pestle if you prefer the manual method.

Always use fresh spices if you have them available as they add flavour and aroma to your dishes.

7. Garlic Press

Used in just about every recipe, a good quality garlic press can be found in every Indian kitchen.

8. Spice Tempering Spoon

(Also known as Tarka in Punjabi, vaghaar  in Gujarati, or Chhunka ) often translated as “tempering”, is a cooking technique and garnish used in the cuisines of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Whole spices (and sometimes also other ingredients such as minced ginger root or sugar) are fried briefly in oil or ghee to liberate essential oils from cells and thus enhance their flavours, before being poured, together with the oil, into a dish. May be prepared at the beginning of cooking, before adding the other ingredients for a curry or similar dish, or it may be added to a dish at the end of cooking, just before serving (as with a dal, sambar or stew)

Tempering Spoon Best Buys

9. Pressure Cooker

The raised pressure and temperature inside a closed pressure cooker makes the food in it cook faster (usually 1/3 the time) and more evenly than in an open pot. You save time and conserve the precious nutrients in the food which could otherwise be lost by overcooking. Lots of Indian foods are cooked in a pressure cooker, so you’ll never regret buying one.

Pressure Cooker Best Buys

10. Roti Dabba

Flat breads such as Chapati, Roti cool very quickly once cooked and can go hard if left open to the elements. A Roti Dabba will keep your flat breads warm and supple until you are ready to serve.

Roti Dabba Best Buys

11. Frying/Skimming Spoon

Long handled flat frying spoon/skimmer with holes to let oil drain through when frying. Used for frying Poppadoms, onion bhajis, tempura and more.