Must-have Ingredients in an Indian kitchen.

Our country is full of colors and spices, flavor, and magical scents. The roasting and mixing of spices in vegetables and rubbing those aromatic herbs on meats is an incredible feature of India. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Then why not bring all this goodness and yumminess into your kitchen? In today’s article, we will find out about all the essential ingredients you will need in your kitchen.

This list is the ultimate guide of; Must-have Ingredients in an Indian kitchen.

Vegetables and fruits

An Indian kitchen is incomplete without fruits and vegetables. The Indian diet consists of a variety of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis and having these magical colorful babies in your pantry is a must.

They can be cooked in various forms, can be added in dals, tossed in stir fry, mashed in stuffing, squeezed in a juice maker and so much more. But what are the essential vegetables in an Indian kitchen? 

Onion, garlic, and potatoes –  If you have these 3 ingredients in your vegetable pantry, then anything can be cooked with them. Onion and garlic are extremely flavorful and potatoes are great with absorbing flavors. You can easily toss them in a pan, add some spices and serve a dish. 

Tomatoes and lemon – If you are looking for that tangy or citric flavor, then this red and yellow combo is a must. Tomatoes are juicy fruits that are most commonly used in every Indian dish. It adds a tangy punch to the dish and helps enhance other flavors. On the other hand, lime is the perfect touch to many dishes. Adding a few drops of lemon brings a fresh and citrusy taste to the food. 

Dry goods / Staples

Grains and pulses are essential to many Indian dishes. It’s a staple food in India and no Indian kitchen can be complete without them. So what are the few staple goods you must have? 

Basmati Rice – Indians love rice and we enjoy it in every shape and form. I am sure you already have rice in your pantry but it’s time to upgrade it. Basmati is long fragrant rice that is non-sticky and cooks beautifully. Always have some basmati rice in your pantry for special occasions or events. 

Chickpeas –  Chickpeas also known as garbanzo beans/ chana, are dried high-protein legumes. Chickpeas are commonly used in vegetarian dishes and absorb the flavors easily. You can always make chole rice/puri on special days. 

If you aren’t a fan of legumes, then you can also get in flour form. You can make crepes, pancakes, and even frying batter with it. 

Flour/Atta – Having some sort of atta in your household is essential. Flour is a finely ground whole grain powder and is highly elastic once turned into a dough. They can be thinly rolled out as chapatis or naans. As you can see flour can be used in many ways and is a multi-purpose ingredient. 


One of the most common and comforting Indian meals is a simple plate of warm rice with some legumes. 

Red dal also known as moong dal are salmon pink color legumes that are easy to cook and are packed with proteins. 

Split black lentils(urad dal) are used as a batter for idli and dosa and whole urad dal is used for dishes like dal makhani. 

Yellow Split dal, also known as toor dal, is the second most popular dal in India. It is commonly used in sambar and served with hot rice. 

Last but not least is kidney beans. They are a large, dark red colored legume also called rajma. They are wonderful red beans that are great for regulating blood sugar levels and bone strength. 

Condiments And Sauces

Sesame oil –  Sesame oil is also known as til oil is formed by grinding til seeds in a cold press and is commonly used in many Indian dishes. Sesame oil is full of antioxidants and vitamin E. The oil has two types, one is light in color and is mild in flavor. While on the other hand, the darker one has a nutty flavor and is mostly used in marinades.

Yogurt – Indian Yogurt, also known as dahi, is a thick savory cream. It is cultivated from milk and is high in butterfat. It can be eaten plain or in a sweet form or can be used as a marinade. It is also widely used in many Indian curries. 

Coconut milk – You can either buy coconut milk from a store or make it on your own. I would suggest you make fresh coconut milk, as it will taste better. Coconut milk is made by pressing and squeezing coconut meat. All you have to do is take the finely ground coconut mixture and strain it in a muslin cloth. You can strain it twice or more and fresh coconut milk is ready. You can add this in your curry or can use it for other applications. 

Ghee – Clarified Butter or Ghee is extensively used throughout India. It has a high smoke point which makes it ideal for Indian cooking techniques. It provides a nutty flavor and produces a mesmerizing aroma.  It can be used as cooking oil or a condiment.

Chutney – Chutney is like a typical Indian sauce that is sweet or spicy that features a bunch of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. You can either get the packed version or make it at home. 

Spice Rack 

India is known for its spices and we are the country of flavors. Indian dishes are incomplete without a good combination of spices in them. What spices can you have in your kitchen to “spice up” your dishes? Here’s a small list of the most essential spices in India. 

Ajwain – Ajwain is also known as carom, is a seed that tastes like thyme but is more intense and peppery. It looks similar to a celery seed and is primarily used to flavor naans, parathas, and vegetables. 

Asafoetida – Asafoetida is also known as Hing in Hindi. It is a dried gum resin made up of sap found in the stem of the ferula. It has a very strong pungent scent to it but when cooked it smells like buttery garlic. It has garlic – onion like flavor that complements a variety of dishes. You can add it to your regular dal to combine all the flavors. 

Cardamom – Cardamom has two types: large green pods and small black pods. They have a subtle, zesty spicy flavor and are used in sweet as well as savory dishes. They are more commonly used in delicate curries, meat marinades, briyani, tea (masala chai), and sweets. 

Cinnamon and cumin – These are dried aromatic sweet-spicy rolls found in the inner barks of the Cinnamon zeylanicum tree. It can also be used for both sweet and savory dishes. 

On the other hand, cumin is a tiny seed and is slightly more delicate but still pungent. They are very commonly used in dals. You can use them whole or crushed. 

Cloves – Cloves are unopened flower buds, used for infusion or seasoning. They are an essential part of garam masala. 

Coriander– You can find coriander in two forms: one is coriander seeds and the other is coriander leaves. They both can be used together or separately. Coriander seeds have a citrusy flavor while the leaves have a fresh touch to them. 

Garam Masala –  Garam Masala is a highly aromatic powdered mixture of different spices. It is a combination of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, and cardamom pods. It is widely used in many Indian dishes especially with chicken dishes. 

Turmeric – A spice box is incomplete with turmeric.  This golden yellow coloured spice has a strong earthy taste and scent. Kacha Haldi ( Raw turmeric) looks like ginger but has an orangish-yellow flesh inside. Adding a small teaspoon of turmeric to your daily diet can reduce inflammation. 

Chaat Masala –  Chaat Masala is a mix of dried mango, mint, ginger, black salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, asafoetida, and other spices. It is used for seasoning as well as garnishing for street snacks and adds a delicious twist to the snacks. 

Dried Chillies and Star Anise  – These two ingredients are a must-have, especially if you’re a curry lover. You can toss dried chilies with other spices and use them like a hot garnishing for your dish. Similarly, Star Anise is primarily used for flavoring rice and meat. 


Paneer – Paneer or cottage cheese can hold its shape well, it is both custardy and slightly chewy. It has a similar texture to tofu or feta. It is often used as a substitute for meat and won’t melt even after getting cooked. 

Pickles – Pickle is the best side dish in India, they have a sweet or tangy taste to your meal. Carrots, mangoes, or lemons are fermented in a mixture of oil and plenty of spices. 


We have finally finished our long list of Must-have Ingredients in an Indian kitchen and hope you guys enjoyed reading this article. Incorporate these ingredients in your pantry for the perfect Indian kitchen. 

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