The first time I left India to come to the US, I had no idea what I should bring with me. The anxiety of leaving home and coming to a new place is real. What gave me some comfort was knowing some of the essential cooking tools my mom had packed for me so I could cook some delicious homemade Indian food for myself.
Slowly over the years, I have purchased different tools for my kitchen, some in India some here in the US. With Indian food getting popular throughout the world, I am happy that most of these tools are now easily available outside of India, thanks to Amazon, Indian Grocery stores, and other Indian businesses across the globe.
I have divided this list of essential Indian tools into 3 categories - Must Have, Could Have, and Nice to Have. So depending on your cooking expertise you can decide what you may need. Then slowly build an awesome collection of tools and utensils for your kitchen.
Just like anyone else, I am learning more and more about Indian cooking every single day. So if there is anything in this list that needs to be updated please let me know and I will be happy to include it.
I hope you enjoy this Essential Indian Cooking Tools Guide as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you! --Archana (Ministry of Curry)
Must-have | Basic Tools
- Spice Grinder
The trick to tasty, heartwarming Indian food is using a combination of whole and ground spices in a dish. Fresh homemade spice blends are easy to make, they add authentic taste and flavors and are cheaper compared to the store bought ones. I love this spice grinder with low sharp blades that finely grinds small amounts of dry spices. It is easy to use and clean and it comes with 2 jars one for coffee and one for spices. A great value for money!
- Belan (Rolling Pin)
If you love homemade Indian roti or Paratha you want to get yourslef an Indian rolling pin also known as "Belan" in Hindi and "Latne" in Marathi. Its much smaller, lighter and cheaper than the rolling pins used for baking. Next time you are in an Indian grocery store you can buy one there or love the convininece of amazon.
- Tawa (Griddle Pan)
I love this hard anodized griddle for homemade roti. It has a sturdy stainless steel handle that helps moving the the tawa on and off the flame easily. I use this exclusively for my Roti's and always handwash it. Note that this tawa will not work on Induction cook to. For Induction cooktop go this Ninja hard-anodized pan.
- Stainless Steel Tongs
If you love to make homemade roti, buy a good stainless steel pair of tongs. It is a must to put hot roti on open flame and to pick it up. These tongs can be dual purposed for serving salads and other foods. If you do have an induction cooktop, you wont need these tongs for roti as you will cook the roti all the way through on the pan itself. Check out my roti recipe for more tips on that.
- Stainless Steel Frying Pan
I have this frying pan for 10+ years and it is my everyday go-to when it comes to quick sauteeing, making dry curries, Indian gravy dishes or breakfast foods like poka or upma. I love the flat base and a medium size that works great for everyday cooking. During Diwali season I also prefer to fry in this pan instead of a round Kadhai as the flat base keep it more steady and safe on the stovetop.
- Pressure Cooker - Instant Pot
As you already know I am a huge fan of the Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have been used in Indian kitchen for generations and I am grateful that we now have a smarter and safer pressure cooker that can be used by expert and novice cooks. From cooking lentils, beans, meats just to name a new they are fast, efficient and make one pot cooking possible for busy weeknights. If you are not convinced check out my collection of 150+ Instant Pot recipes and also The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook. I recommend Instant Pot DUO 6-QT model the most but feel free to check out the Instant Pot buying Guide to see which one will work out best for your cooking.
Could-have | Intermediate Tools
- Small Tadka Pan
Tadka (chaunk, vaghar) or tempering is a technique of cooking or infusing spices and herbs in hot oil. Tadka is often added over cooked lentils, beans or salads to add a layer of earthy, aromatic flavor and texture. Since you just just a few tablespoons of oil to be infused, this small tadka pan with a handle comes in super handy. You can also multi-purpose the pan to toast small amounts of dry spices when making homemade ground spices.
- Spice Box
Spice Box also known as Masala Dabba is a must in most Indian kitchens and comes in handy if you enjoy cooking Indian food frequently. No need to search for your favorite spices in the spice drawers, or opening and closing multiple jars. Simply put 6 to 7 of your most used spices and now you have your own customized spice box - time saver and efficient!
- Roti Chakla
Love making Roti's at home? Ut might be a time to buy the special round board for rolling the rotis. Although you can always roll rotis on clean countertops, wood or marble boards, its nice to have a dedicated rolling board. The Chakla (Polpat) comes in many different varieties, wood, metal or marble. I love the aluminum one I have been using for 20 yeats. Its light weight, easy to clean and maintain. Mine is from India and I am linking one that is very similar to mine on amazon. You can also check your local Indian stores or a good Chakla. Wood Chakla can get discolored and scratched over time while the Marble Chakla are beautiful but heavy.
- Mortar and Pestle
Love to add some cinnamon or cardamom to your chai or grind fennel seeds before adding to the tadka? Mortar and pestle comes in handy for everyday Indian cooking. It can quickly grind whole spices or herbs to release aromas and the oils that adds flavor and aromas to your cooking. You can buy a metal, stone or marble set and they will last you for generations!
- Stainless Steel Pots for Rice and Daal
Stackable stainless pot are perfect for steaming rice and lentils together. They can be used in stove top pressure cookers or in the Instant Pot. I love the convinience of pot in pot cooking with these pots, you can make a main dish and a side dish such as rice or quinoa at the the same time. In addtion to using them for coking they also come in handy for soaking beans overnight, steaming vegetables, fish, Dhokla or Muthia.
Nice to have | Advanced Tools
- Idli Stand
Love South Indian food? I love this Idli stand and use it often to make Rice idlis as well as Quinoa Idli. The stand will work with a stove top steamer, stove top pressure cooker to a 6-QT Instant Pot.
- Dhokla Stand
A nice to have tool especially if you love steamed dhokla! You can make Rava Dhokla, khaman and I also use it to steam Muthiya and Kothimbir vadi. The 3-plates allow you to make extras that are perfect for a party or to freeze them for later.
- Paniyaram Pan
From makeing no-fry Sabudana Vada to Dahi Vada, I love this little pan that allow you to cook several deep-fried Indian delicacies in a fraction of oil. Obviously in addition to the traditional south Indian paniyarams ofcourse.
- Sev and Chakli Press
If you are stil looking at this list of Indian Essential Tools, you are a PRO! Get yourself this press that can make Homemade Indian snacks like the Chakli, Sev, just to name a few.
- Modak Mold
If you have followed my for a few years, you have seen me making the Ukadiche Modak for Ganesh Chaturthi every year. When I share them on social media my DM's usually are flooded with questions on this mold. Its not only easy to use to but makes us all experts in making perfect modak every single time.
Hope you find this list of essential Indian cooking tools handy! I would love your feedback on this list as I put a lot of thought into coming up with this list. Next time you go to India, you can also pick up some of these items. If you are leaving India to stay in another country, use this list as a guide to shop and pack the Essential Indian Cooking tools. These tools will help you make and enjoy your favorite foods anywhere in the world. Happy Cooking!