Doing grocery shopping at an Indian grocery store can be quiet a daunting task. Not only will you be faced with fruits, vegetables, spices, snacks, flours, legumes that you may have never heard of or seen, but you will also be faced with the infamous AUNTIES. Trying to get in between them picking through to find the best fruits and vegetables is like being a gladiator about to enter the Coliseum to fight till death. Unfortunately, this is a matter that I cannot help with as I am still trying to master the art of dealing with the infamous AUNTIES. However, what I can help you with is deciphering what you need from the aisles and aisles of different spices, flours, legumes, and grains.
So let’s begin Part 2 of the setting up the basic Indian Kitchen, getting all the right legumes and grains. Legumes are a major part of the Indian diet – especially the Indian vegetarian diet since they are one of the main sources of protein. There are so many different varieties and every region of India uses one more than the other. To help me decipher what I needed most in my kitchen, I took mummy grocery shopping with me (actually to be quite frank, she always sets up my whole kitchen for me whenever I move! Thank goodness for her!) Below, is our list of essentials and then some more.
Basic Legumes and Grains Needed:
Split Moong Daal (without skin) – used most frequently to make daal tadka, daal palak, daal wada, and khichidi. This lentil is one of the fastest cooking.
Whole Moong Daal – used to make whole moong daal soup and sprouts which can be used in subzi, chaats, and even healthier versions of idli/dosa =o)
Toor Daal (Arhar Daal) – most commonly used for making gujarati daal, sambhar, and varan. Can also be used for khichidi. This lentil does take much longer to cook than split moong daal.
Desi Chana (Kala Chana) – another type of chickpea. most commonly used for chaats or kala chana curry. Can also be used for hara bara kebabs. Can also be cooked, smashed and fried to make chana chor snack.
Chana (Chickpeas) – used for one of the most popular Indian dishes – Chana Masala/Chole Bhature. Can also be used for chaats, falafel, hummus and salads.
Rajma (Kidney Beans) – used for another popular Indian dish – Rajma Masala. Can also be used to make refried beans or in Mexican food.
Chawal (Basmati Rice) – versatile for any cuisine. Commonly used for making jeera rice, biryani, pulao, and khichidi.
Chana Flour (Besan) – used for making kadhi and pakoras. Can also be used for making khaman, khandvi, puda/chilla, zunka, and ghatte ki subzi. Can also be used as a thickening agent. (Beauty secret: can also use this for a scrub — future blog post!)
Whole Wheat or Whole Grain Flour – most commonly used for Roti and Paratha’s. Also used for muthiya and theplas.
Now if have the space and want to really set up the whole kitchen, here some additional legumes and grains you may want to keep on hand:
Split Urad Daal (without skin) – can be used to make urad daal tadka, panchmel daal, and I use it frequently for idli/dosa
Masoor Daal – can be used to make Masoor daal, sambhar, and panchmel daal. (Beauty secret: can be used as a face pack – future blog post!)
Chana Daal – used to make chana dal fry, pairs wonderfully in subzi with doodhi (bottlegourd), and also used in panchmel daal. Can also be used to make khaman dhokla. Can also be fried and spiced to have snack of fried chana dal.
Moth Daal – can be used to make sprouts for chaats and subzi. Also used for matki. Can also be fried to make dal moth snack.
Rice Flour – my favorite use is for papdi lot (khichu!). Can also be used to make puda/chilla and instant dosas.
Bajri flour (Millet flour) – used to make Bajri na Rotla (bajri roti). Can also be used in theplas and for khichu.
Idli Rava – used for making idli/dosa.
Sooji (Rava) – used for making halwa, upma, uttapum and rava idli/dosa. Can also be used for muthiya.
Sattu flour (Roasted chana flour) – this I keep specifically for the Hubster to make him sattu parathas. Can also be used to make litti chokha.
I do have a few more items stocked in my pantry (i.e. quinoa, cornmeal, black eyed peas, brown rice, dahlia etc.) but the above items are my most used. I can’t wait to share recipes using all these ingredients (even post on making your own flour mixes using some of these legumes!) Stay tuned for Part 3 of The Indian Kitchen – Spices!
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