Cookware To Get You Started

An Indian Wok - Kadhai. Image © Cilantro/ Getty Images

Indian food has the misunderstood reputation for being elaborate and difficult to make, so people assume they will need special equipment to cook it too. Believe it or not, you probably already have most of the utensils you need to cook Indian dishes, in your kitchen! What you don’t have, won’t get in the way of you trying out most dishes anyway and you can buy them when you’ve become more familiar with the cuisine.

Here’s a list of some of the utensils used in everyday Indian cooking.

Food processor
With attachments for grinding both wet and dry spices. Use it to make wet masala pastes and pureé ingredients like onions and tomatoes for gravies.

Mortar and pestle
For rough/coarse grinding of fresh herbs and whole spices.

Chopping boards
Make sure to use separate boards for meat and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination. Wood or plastic are best since marble/granite and toughened glass boards will ruin your knives and reduce their life.

Sharp knives
You will need knives for cutting both meat and vegetables, so having 2-3 different sizes is a good idea.

For when you need to make coarse pastes or powders from things like onion, garlic or ginger and cinnamon or nutmeg.

Mixing bowls
For making dough for different kinds of breads, mixing batters and other raw ingredients.

Rolling pin
For rolling out the different kinds of Indian bread and pastry.

Get yourself one that’s neither too heavy nor too light. When making Indian breads, the trick is in applying the right pressure while rolling them out.

For draining rice and washing vegetables and lentils.

Heavy-bottomed pots and pans in different sizes
A griddle-type pan for roasting/pan-frying breads; a deep frying pan; deep and flat saucepans with covers for making curries and vegetable dishes.

Personally, I prefer non-stick cookware because it helps you cook with less oil and therefore, healthier.

Large wok
The Indian version of a wok is called a karahi or kadhai. A heavy wok will work just as well as a karahi/ kadhai if you don’t have one. Small karahis/kadhais (which often come with their own wooden/metal stands) are great for serving food at the table as they make for an authentic Indian look and feel.

Pressure cooker
Some Indian dishes are best cooked in this handy utensil. It speeds up the cooking process and is perfect for cooking foods in the “dum style” (pressure cooking foods in their own juices).

If you thought Indian cooking was all about oil and frying, think again! Try and get your hands on a steamer that has several compartments. That way you can cook rice and steam fish and a veggie at the same time…meal-in-one!

Metal/Teflon whisk
For whisking gravies and yoghurt.

For pan/shallow frying foods, roasting foods on a tandoor (Indian Barbecue) and for turning breads while roasting.

Cooking spoons
A spatula, ladle, etc. Get wooden ones if you are using non-stick cookware.

Slotted spoon
For cooking and draining deep-fried foods.

Special utensils
This includes things like earthen pots which are sometimes used to make curries.