Say Hello to Authentic Indian Cooking With These Pantry Must-Haves!

What do you need for Indian cooking? We’ll teach you how to stock an Indian pantry with our free PDF Guide to Indian Cooking Essentials!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • May 4, 2021

If you didn’t grow up in a South Asian community, you probably remember the first time you ever entered an Indian restaurant. I distinctly remember the fragrant smell of basmati rice wafting through the air and the pungent collection of spices (quite miraculously) bringing pureed spinach to the top of my teenage ‘favorite meals’ list.

And that really is one of the most magical things about Indian cuisine — it can take any ingredient that you never really cared about and transform it into something positively delectable. 

Now, if you’ve started dreaming about the next time you can enjoy some amazing Indian food, we at Cook Smarts are excited to empower you with our free Guide to Indian Pantry Essentials! This guide will walk you through a list of Indian pantry items that are staples for Indian cooking.


Indian Pantry Staples

Stock your pantry with these ingredients and be ready to whip up tons of delicious dishes from all over India!

This list of Indian pantry basics will help you navigate over 50 Indian food staples in 8 categories — from aromatics to grains to frozen ingredients — that are used in a multitude of Indian recipes. But if 50 ingredients sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! You definitely don’t need to buy every item on the list to still stock an Indian pantry. Since our guide gives suggestions on how to use ingredients, you simply start with focusing on ingredients that are used in a particular type of dish, like curry or daal.

But remember, if you want to enjoy those delectable flavors that you know and love, you cannot skimp on the spices for Indian cooking! So, as you start gathering your pantry essentials, dedicate a nice portion of your budget to spices that you’ll be able to purchase once and use for a long time.

Since so many spices and herbs are mixed to build powerful flavors, we have divided our Indian spices list into two sections: Common Spices and Specialty Seasonings. The common spices used in Indian cuisine are ones you likely already have in your cupboard or at least know about, like cinnamon and turmeric. Meanwhile, our Specialty Seasonings section explains other essential Indian spices that you may not be familiar with but really enhance Indian home cooking, like ajwain and nigella seeds. 

As you go through our list of Indian pantry basics, remind yourself that you don’t need to know how to use everything yet. Creating new meals straight from the pantry is a skill that becomes easier each time you do it, and keeping our Guide to Indian Pantry Essentials handy will help you along the way.

Another great way to get started with cooking Indian food at home is to become a member of our meal plan service! We have dozens of recipes inspired by Indian home cooking in our Recipe Archives — from more traditional meals like Chicken Korma to fun fusion dishes like our Samosa Wraps with Okra Fries and our Indian Naan Pizza. You can also check out this Indian Recipe Collection that will give you a window into some of our favorite Indian-inspired meals:


Easy and Delicious Indian Meals – From the Classics to Fun Fusions

These Indian food recipes for beginners or advanced cooks include homemade Indian curry, a tikka masala sauce recipe, and more. Read more.

So now that you have some great resources for stocking and using Indian ingredients, here’s to cooking the best homemade Indian food your kitchen has ever seen!

If you like knowing how to stock an Indian pantry, get our Middle Eastern pantry list here and stay tuned for other cuisine-specific pantry lists by signing up for our weekly email below. And, don’t forget to forward this post along to anyone who loves home cooking and loves big flavors, too!


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