10 Essential Ingredients for Indian Cooking

Cooking an Indian meal from scratch at home can be a daunting prospect, as it is famous for its spicy flavours and aromas, and vibrant colours. It can be off-putting looking at recipes with a long list of spices and ingredients, however, a lot of them can be kept in your pantry for a long time. So, to make sure you are prepared for your next curry night, we have compiled a list of essential ingredients you need to nail your homemade Indian dishes.


Let’s start with the basics. This is something you are likely to have in your cupboard anyway, but it is essential to kick off your curry. What else can make your onion and garlic crisp up, and your spices aromatic?


Fresh, crushed or whole – tomatoes are fundamental to making a rich sauce. Think tikka masala, madras or even korma, they all require this fruit. Fresh is always better, but we recommend stocking your cupboard with tins of tomatoes, so that you are always ready to make a curry!

Tomatoes are a core ingredient to our ‘Saunf Gosht’. We simmer prime fillet of lamb over a slow heat in fresh tomatoes, ginger, garlic & fennel sauce with a light dash of coconut milk. Perfect!


We all know this one. A staple to nearly every dish, Italian, Spanish and Indian alike. So, if you don’t have them in your cupboard – what are you doing?


See above.


It’s spicy, it’s tangy and it gives your curries that little something extra. If you buy it fresh, be sure to grate it up and pop it in the freezer to make sure it lasts. Or if you’re feeling lazy, you can buy it in a handy squeezy tube!

Ginger stars in our famous ‘Tandoori Mango King Prawns’ (a firm favourite at Calcutta Club). Our juicy, jumbo prawns are marinated ginger, fresh mango, Kashmiri chilli, garlic & fresh coriander. Fresh, zingy and delicious.


Whether you like your curries a Vindaloo temperature or you’re more of a Korma fan – chillies are essential. Fresh or dried works fine, depending on how much heat you can handle!


Turmeric has been known to have numerous health benefits and has even become the latest thing to be incorporated into lattes. It has a strong, earthy fragrance and gives your curries a beautiful golden colour (Warning – it stains very easily, so don’t wear clothes you are attached to when cooking with it!)


Did you know, coriander is one of the oldest-known spices in the world! Some love it, some hate it, but it will give your curry an aromatic and citrusy flavor.

Garam masala

This one is slightly different. It is an aromatic spice blend, typically of warm spices like clove, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and black pepper. Unlike most spices and blends, which are thrown in the oil at the start of cooking, this is usually sprinkled on curries near the end.

Cumin seeds

This one is quite a character, adding a smoky note to Indian dishes. Grind it up for a more intense, fresh flavor! (Warning – it is easily burnt and will make your dish taste bitter. So, toast it for 30 seconds max, just until you get a whiff of its smoky fragrance.)

One of our most popular starters, Aloo Tikki, are infused with cumin, roasted cinnamon and coriander seeds. This gives the lightly battered potato cakes and complex, but moreish flavor!

Don’t be intimidated when it comes to making an Indian curry. If you’re cupboard is stocked with these essentials you will be prepared for nearly any Indian recipe you come across!

If cooking really isn’t your thing, pop into Calcutta Club for authentic and award-winning Indian cuisine. Book your table now!

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