They have a deep, oozy and rich flavour.
Indian food is rich, hearty and luxurious and those same flavours can be achieved with only a few pantry essentials.
In Indian cuisine, what may look like a simple dish on the surface can require several specific spices and ingredients.
Although there are various elements within Indian cooking, these basic ingredients are a great way to get accustomed to the South Asian spice.
They can levitate any dish and deliver those rich aromas and taste that is so natural for Indian dishes.
Here are five key foods and spices you need to help achieve some sublime Indian cooking.
Basmati Rice is the definitive pantry essential and a staple product for many Indian households and is often used in many recipes.
It is a fragrant, long grain rice, characterised by grains that become fluffy and do not stick together when cooked.
Used almost on a daily basis in Desi families, Basmati rice can be used for a variety of dishes.
Paired up with iconic dishes like daal or butter chicken can provide an exquisite and satisfying meal.
To get the most out of the rice, it is best to flavour the water you cook it in. Many cooks add salt, ginger and cumin to their rice to make sure it is bursting with seasoning.
Another staple in Indian cuisine is chickpeas. They are a high-protein and high-fibre legume that is mainly used in vegetarian dishes.
Desi chickpeas are small and dark and are the most commonly consumed variety in India.
Packed with a density that is perfect for comfort food, chickpeas are often used for dishes like chana masala.
They can be used at different stages of a recipe to achieve contrasting textures which leave stomachs feeling satisfied.
Turn them into Desi chickpea tikki’s or include them for the filling of the infamous golgappa.
Kidney beans, also known as rajma in Hindi and Punjabi, are large, dark red legumes that are frequently used in Northern India.
Like chickpeas, kidney beans are mainly used in vegetarian dishes and are often added to curries.
Being plant-based means kidney beans should be a staple in anyone’s diet. The beans also provide various minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which make them perfect for health-conscious foodies.
However, when used in Indian cooking, they have a deep, oozy and rich flavour.
They also absorb the aromatics and spices used within a recipe so are highly functional and will always be packed full of zing.
Canned kidney beans are perfect to buy in bulk and kept as a pantry essential all year long.
Cardamom (ground or pods)
In Indian cooking, there are two varieties of cardamom that are commonly used.
Green (choti elaichi) has a subtle, zesty flavour and is used in more delicate dishes such as curries and sweet dishes. In its ground form, the seeds have a more intense flavour.
Brown (badi elaichi) is a large pod and more intense – it is used in strongly flavoured curries.
Both are essential due to the different flavour profiles they add to a dish. However, they are incredibly versatile when used.
They can spice up your rice, provide a bitter aroma to curries or be used in teas for their relaxing qualities.
In addition, they can be used to perfume sweet Indian dishes like cupcakes or lassi. The possibilities are endless for this pantry essential.
An Indian kitchen is not complete without the aromatic spice blend that is garam masala. It is utilised in countless recipes as it is usually sprinkled over a dish towards the end of cooking.
It usually consists of a combination of warm spices such as clove, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and black pepper.
Garam masala is the go-to seasoning in Indian cooking, almost as necessary as salt and pepper would be to any dish.
It consists of all the pungent and spicy elements needed to transform basic ingredients.
It is incredibly versatile because it can be used in Desi dishes, as well as western recipes as well. Even adding garam masala to some scrambled eggs is impeccable for an Indian-inspired breakfast.
These basic pantry essentials are vital to achieving authentic and gorgeous Indian dishes.
The best thing about these ingredients is that they are easily available at all major supermarkets. So, everyone can experiment with these spices and foods.
Simple yet effective, these pantry essentials are also adaptable.
They can be used across most Indian dishes so there won’t be any waste – which is what Desi cooking is all about.
Add these tasty essentials to your pantry and start spicing up those dishes.