The first time I moved out on my own (sans mom or MIL, but with the Mr.) I was 21 years old and had almost no cooking skills. We survived on A LOT of mac & cheese, canned soup, and drive-thru runs in the early years of ‘adulting’.
As my kids have grown up and I’ve spent more time developing my cooking skills, I’ve also developed a love for Indian cooking. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve figured out what tools are vital for a desi kitchen and which ones you can do without.
These are my 5 must-haves for your desi kitchen:
1. Atta Parat/Bowl
For years I tried making atta (dough for rotis) in little round bowls. I finally gave in and bought a parat – which basically a shallow bowl, from the Indian store 2 years ago. It was a game changer. Now my atta is easy to mix and comes together perfectly. I don’t question the magic, I just know it exists.
2. Belan/Indian Rolling Pin
There are basically two types of Indian rolling pins – short and fat, or long and skinny. I work with the long and skinny one. Whichever one you choose, you have to get a desi style one that is stationary and doesn’t spin around like a rolling pin that’s designed for baking. If you aren’t sure whether to get a fat one or a skinny one just buy both and experiment. They’ll run you about $2.50 each at your local grocery store!
3. A Proper Desi Patila
I’m sorry to break it to you, but Swedish soup pots can’t handle a desi tadka/tempering. March yourself down to your local Patel or Singh supermarket and get a good old-fashioned patila. For everyday cooking for a family of 4 I recommend a 16″ or 20″ one, if you are having friends over or cooking meat a lot and need space for browning grab the 24″ one.
4. A Mini Chopper, Mixy,or Blender
Whatever you call it, you need a device that chops onions like a boss, is easy to clean, and doesn’t take up too much space on your counter. (You need space to roll all the paranthe with your new belan – see #2).
5. Hand Held Immersion Blender
Shocked? Trust me, this is a tool that our mothers needed. It’s like a modern day madhani and makes saag the perfect texture, creams dal makhani, and is a must for a smooth butter chicken gravy. I can’t believe I managed without one for so long!
I do have to give an honourable mention to my masala dabba. I use it every single day in my kitchen, but I do know people that do just fine with spice jars.
What are your must have tools in the desi kitchen?