Indian Pantry Staples



Ghee gives the rich and distinctive flavour to Indian foods. Ghee is made from clarified butter and has high burning point. You can make your own by adding a block of butter to a saucepan. Heat it up until it begins to look foamy. You’ll notice the milk solids will sink in the bottom of the pan. Drain the clear butter off the top and discard the remaining solids. You will need to pour the ghee through a cheese cloth (or clean chux) to strain. Store at room temperature for up to 3 months.  

Indian Pantry Staples


A thick cream that you can buy from Middle Eastern and Indian grocers. Alternatively, just use thick cream from the supermarket.

Cooking Oils

  • Coconut oil
  • Vegetable oil
  • Ghee
  • Mustard oil

Peanut, sunflower, rice bran, grape seed or canola oil can be used in your kitchen as alternatives.


Paneer is an Indian style cottage cheese made from simple pantry ingredients. It can be added to vegetable dishes for taste and texture.

To make your paneer, bring 2L milk and 1 tsp salt to the boil. Turn the heat off and give the milk a stir. Add 100ml white vinegar and wait 15 mins until the curds rise to the top. Ladle the curds into a colander lined with cheese cloth (or clean chux). Make sure the colander is placed over a bowl to catch any excess liquid! Leave for 30mins to strain, then wring out any extra whey to make a firmer style cheese. You can also buy this from Indian grocers.


Cook using Basmati for an authentic, fluffy style rice!


Normally you can purchase it in a block or pureed in jars. It’s most convenient to buy the jar so you don't have to spend time to process the paste. This is done by soaking the dried tamarind block in boiling water and pressing it through a sieve.


You can use natural, unsweetened yoghurt. Greek or thick yoghurts are okay as long as they are labelled as plain. 

Spice Blends

Commercial curry powder isn’t really used in India as people vary spice combinations to suit different dishes as they cook. If you are going to buy some ready-made curry powders, you might want to get them from a reputable spice merchant or specialty Indian grocer. Making up your own spice mix is an art, but a lot of fun to make!

Common Spices 

  • Cumin seeds or powder
  • Nigella seeds
  • Mustard seeds (black, brown, yellow)
  • Black peppercorns
  • Green and black cardamom pods
  • Cinnamon- whole sticks and powder
  • Chilli - fresh green or red, dried whole or powder
  • Cloves
  • Coriander seeds
  • Curry leaves - fresh or dry
  • Fennel seeds
  • Fenugreek
  • Mace
  • Nutmeg
  • Saffron
  • Ground turmeric