Pantry Basics for Indian Cooking

Like any South Asian kitchen, our pantry and spice cabinets are full to the brim!! Between the two of us, we have close to 100 spices and atleast 25 different daals and beans! The sheer number can seem intimidating and very daunting to anybody. We have put together a list of basic items that will help you, and through the video, you see what they look like as well.

Besides these spices, a lot of companies have introduced ready spices; some of them are excellent, like Pav Bhaji or Tandoori Masala.  This list is to provide you with an introduction to the basics. So, be adventurous and go to any Indian/Pakistani store or even to a whole foods store in your area. Look around, savor the aromas that are associated with Indian cooking and Enjoy…


Whole Spices:

  1. Mustard seeds (Rai)
  2. Cumin seeds (Jeera)
  3. Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
  4. Whole Cloves (Laung)
  5. Cinnamon Sticks (Dalchini)
  6. Cardamom (Elaichi – big and small)
  7. Bay Leaves (Tej Patta)
  8. Whole Dried Red Chilies (Sabut Mirch or Kashmiri Mirchi)


Powder Spices:

  1. Red Chili Powder 
  2. Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
  3. Coriander Powder (Dhania/Cilantro seeds)
  4. Cumin Powder (Jeera)
  5. Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
  6. Garam Masala
  7. Asofetida(Hing)
  8. Chat Masala


Daals (Split Beans):

  1. Toor Daal
  2. Moong Daal
  3. Chana Daal
  4. Urad Daal


Whole Beans:

  1. Chana (Kabuli and Kala (Black) Chana)
  2. Kidney Beans (Rajma)
  3. Lentils (Masoor)
  4. Whole Moong


Chapati Atta (Whole Wheat Flour)


Basmati Rice


Sooji/Rava (Semolina/Cream of Wheat/Farina)

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0 thoughts on “Pantry Basics for Indian Cooking

  1. When your recipes call for mustard seed, should I use yellow or black (large or small)? I’ve asked in my local Indian market and the answers were something like, “it depends.” So, not having grown up in a traditional Indian kitchen, I don’t know what it depends on! 😉 Thanks for tips.


    1. Hi Liz,

      We always use black mustard seeds. We have found that the small ones are more flavorful than the larger seeds. The only thing we use yellow mustard seeds for is homemade pickles – we use something called Rai Kuria (which is mustard seeds that are husked and split).

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