List of Utensils, Cooking Tools, and Items for the Indian Kitchen (and beyond)

In the last two years in USA, ever since I started handling the kitchen, there have been so many times I got frustrated because I did not have so many things in the kitchen.  So many times I would wish to fly to India only to shop and bring kitchen items to USI used to forget that when you just begin to start a household in a new place on your own, you add things gradually.  Both in your apartment and in your life.  It is very different from starting a new life at homes and with families that have been well-settled at a place since decades.

There have been so many times I have made lists of things I needed to buy for the kitchen and my apartment, and wanted to shop like the world was ending the next day.  But when the sane me comes back to its normal state, I continue to compile the list of essential utensils, cooking and serving tools, kitchen instruments, basic and not-so-basic items I need (or anyone might need) – especially for an Indian kitchen and for Indian cooking, but of course not limited only to it.

Well, a woman’s shopping list for kitchen, house, wardrobe and accessories is infinite, but in the hope that the pictures of these kitchen items, the names of kitchen tools, and my comments/suggestions in this post help other beginners too.  If you are looking for utensils and things to start an Indian kitchenhere’s something to begin with…

stainless steel pans

Various stainless steel skillets, wide pans, deep pans, sauté pans, saucepans
   ~ buy the ones with sturdy handles, and preferably transparent lid

nonstick pans

Various nonstick skillets, sauté pans, saucepans
   ~ buy the ones with sturdy handles, and preferably transparent lid

stainless steel pots, bhagona in hindi

Various stainless steel pots [Hindi: bhagona]   
   ~ buying thick bottom bhagona is best for boiling milk as it won’t scorch at the bottom

stackable pots for mixing, storing, cooking, serving - hindi: patila

Cooking pots in various sizes  [Hindi: patila]
   ~ better if stackable, even better if the same cooking pots can be doubled up as serveware

english: wok - hindi: kadhai

Iron or nonstick wok  [Hindi: kadhai]
   ~ buy the ones with sturdy handles, and preferably transparent lid.  kadhai can be used for boiling, frying, stir-frying, and a good-looking one for serving

flat pan in hindi tawa

Iron or nonstick flat pan [Hindi: tawa]
   ~ medium size tawa for roti, larger-wider sized for dosa.  always get one with a handle

glass mixing and serving bowls

Various types and sizes of mixing and serving bowls

- Glass Bowls
~ glass bowls are great for serving too, especially if they are oven-safe as well, but important to buy with lids otherwise wastes a lot of cling wrap

stainless steel mixing and serving bowls

- Stainless Steel Bowls
  ~ these wide-mouth stainless steel bowls serve a lot of purposes ... from rinsing vegetables to rising bread dough

small pan for tadka tempering vagharia pan

Small pan with handle for tadka (tempering)
  ~ this one is hard anodized, scratch resistant, brand: nirali splendour, vagharia medium (india)

stainless steel cooking and serving spoons

Different shapes, sizes and types of stainless steel spoons for cooking and serving
  ~ these cannot be used on nonstick surfaces, but highly durable to use with stainless steel or glass and will last for years

ladle to serve liquid items - hindi: karchi, kurchi, kalchi

Ladle to serve liquid items  [Hindi: karchi/kurchi/kalchi]
  ~ different sizes with longer or shorter handles, some good for serving dal, some for fruit punch

rice server and idli scooper

Rice server and idli scooper
  ~ larger one to serve rice can also be used as turner on flat pan when making parathas; and smaller one to spoon out idli also has multiple uses.  but these are not "essential" - the serving spoons above can do the same job too.
types of cooking tools and serving spoons for nonstick utensils

Different types (wooden, nylon or silicone) of cooking tools and serving spoons for nonstick utensils
  ~ these are MUST-BUYS.  can use them on all kinds of cookware (and not just nonstick).

lids for pots and pans

Lids for pots and pans
  ~ better to buy limited number of lids that would fit both the stainless steel as well as nonstick pan sizes - save money.  my preference: glass lids, i want to be able to see what's going on in the pan.

[yet to post a pic] Ghee container [Hindi: ghilodi]
  ~ don’t buy one with an edge like mine,  ghee gets accumulated at the rim and requires cleaning many times

[yet to post a pic] Casserole (insulated containers) to store warm rotis, rice, curries, etc
  ~ these are the best investments for serving food warm instead of reheating which kills nutrients in food 

high hipped flat large wide platter called paraat in hindi

High-hipped flat big platter  [Hindi: paraat]
  ~ mostly used for kneading dough, but of   course has many other uses 

rolling pin and board - chakla belan in hindi

Rolling pin and board  [Hindi: chakla – belan]
  ~ made of wood, marble, stainless steel, etc; whichever you buy look for stability of the board (I realized because the steel one I have keeps moving when I roll out roti on it)

perforated frying spoon skimmer strainer for deep frying called jhaara or zara in hindi

Perforated frying spoon/skimmer/strainer for deep frying  [Hindi: jhaara/zara]

turner to flip hot food called palta in hindi

Turner to flip hot food  [Hindi: palta]

pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker
  ~ some lids close from the inside, some to   be rotated on the outside;  some whistle, some don’t.  but pressure cooker is an essential in Indian kitchen.  learn how to use pressure cooker    

tongs called chimta in hindi

Tongs  [Hindi: chimta]
  ~ these are mostly good for flipping roti and picking up hot tawa; the kind of tongs for serving and gripping food are different (and on my shopping list)

muddler or churner called ghotni in hindi

Muddler/churner  [Hindi: ghotni] 
   ~ great to whisk dal, to make buttermilk, or to make my husband run away when he's troubling me too much  *giggling* 

spice box called masala dabba in hindi

Spice box  [Hindi: masala dabba]
  ~ read more about the Indian spice box container and what you can store in it

tin can and bottle opener

Tin/can and bottle opener
   ~ invest in one good brand that would last you forever.  mine is from Food Network.

aluminum and stainless steel ice cream scoop

Ice cream scoop
  ~ aluminum one (walmart, $2) has been great, and the stainless steel scoop with trigger is also useful for equally filling cupcake liners

idli racks - idli stand - idli steamer - idli maker

Idli steamer insert
  ~ i love the mini idli rack more. these days you find more of steel racks with holes than aluminum ones without 

types of metal strainers, sieves, mesh, and colanders

Different types and/or sizes of plastic or metal strainers, sieves, mesh and colanders  [Hindi: chalni/channi]
  ~ multiple uses, to sift flour etc for making cake, to strain for soup, to sieve ghee, to wash vegetables and let drain…

tea strainer called chai ki chalni in hindi

Small metal or plastic tea strainer  [Hindi: chai ki chalni]
  bought these from India; metal is better, but the plastic ones with double net (saw in India recently) are good too

pincers to hold hot utensils - hindi: pakkad or sandshi

Pincers to hold hot utensils  [Hindi: pakkad/sandshi]
   ~ you need max TWO pincers in your household; I do not know why I collected so many... I sure don't have a pincer-fetish.  get pincers with a good grip, test picking up some container before buying.  pincers with bad grip can cause trouble when you lift heavy pots with hot food.

garlic press

  ~ a great buy from IKEA and great gift to give families back home too 

lemon squeezer

Lime and/or lemon squeezer
  ~ not an essential kitchen tool for daily use, really - because your fingers will be able to squeeze more juice out of a lemon.  so unless you are squeezing numerous lemons you don't 'need' this.

sifter with interchangeable sieves

Sifter with interchangeable sieves
  ~ a great buy from india recently.  multiple sieves, with different spacing of holes, that can be interchanged.  to sift flour, grains, etc 

plastic or silicone spatula

  ~ an essential buy for bakers. get the silicone one.

potato masher

   ~ more popularly called as potato masher, but actually is great to mash many things…like boiled vegetables for pav bhaji, vegetable stuffing for a paratha, to mash eggplant for baingan bharta, etc

mortar and pestle called hamam dasta in hindi

Mortar and pestle  [Hindi: hamam dasta]
   ~ i kept telling myself to buy a double-sided one but ended up buying this in india because it was so cheap (marble mortar-pestle for $5) … not essential tool, really, but good for grinding saffron for making sweets, pounding cardamom fresh for tea, etc

jalebi bottle

Jalebi bottle
   ~ get one or use a ketchup bottle instead

metal mesh or wire mesh with handle to roast papad and puff up roti

Metal mesh/wire mesh with handle 
  ~ looks like and is called splatter screen by some, but I disagree.  If you don’t have a gas stove, this metal mesh is great to roast papad, puff up rotis, roast brinjal to get the smoky flavor – on an electric/coil stovetop (indian store, $5)

pizza wheel

Pizza wheel
   ~ not exactly an essential or basic for indian cooking, but good for cutting dough

essential kitchen tools - knives, peeler, scraper, scissor, kitchen shears, chopping board, chopping mat

Knives (utility, bread, paring, etc), peeler, scraper, scissor (kitchen shears), chopping board, chopping mat, etc
   ~ invest in good quality knives, never buy cheap one from walmart (i use the chopping knife as a butter knife today), peelers from OXO are great and reasonably priced.

measuring cups and spoons

Measuring cups and spoons
  ~ stainless steel measuring cups and spoons are better but twice/thrice the price of plastic ones; also, the prints on these plastic measure cups & spoons (from walmart) have disappeared whereas engraved measurement marks on steel will always remain clear

[yet to post a pic] Cotton handkerchief, cheesecloth, or muslin cloth
  ~ indispensable for draining whey to make paneer, to make greek yogurt from regular yogurt

box grater, hand grater, or slicer

Hand grater, box grater, slicer
  ~ indispensable.  the box grater requires a little more cleaning so it is better to have a handy-dandy slicer and hand grater.  the microplane grater is on my wishlist.

pastry brush in natural bristles or silicone

Pastry brush
  ~ not exactly a basic tool for a vegetarian Indian kitchen (at least i did not "need" to use it so far), but great for a lot of other cuisines and baking.  silicone pastry brush is easier to clean than one with natural bristles.


  ~ i absolutely love the small whisk when i quickly need to whip up curd for raita, or batter to make small batch of pancakes, or chickpea flour batter to fry pakoda; the larger balloon whisk is of course essential for larger batters and baking

[yet to post a pic] Sev-press

[yet to post a pic] Dhokla Tray Insert

[yet to post a pic] Steamer insert

[yet to post a pic] Wooden or metal skewers
  ~ good for making paneer tikkas, kebabs, etc 

[yet to post a pic] Fruit/vegetable scooper
   ~ good for adding some fruit to punches, for scooping out to make dishes requiring stuffing/filling, but nothing that a knife can’t handle.

Basic necessities in (almost) every kitchen

[yet to post a pic] Aluminum Foil, Cling Wrap, Paper Towel, Parchment Paper, Newspaper

  ~ basics

[yet to post a pic] Various types of net bags and boxes to store vegetables and fruits in refrigerator

  ~ optional

[yet to post a pic] Paper Bag, Polythene Bag, Ziploc Bag
  ~ basics… 

[yet to post a pic] Toothpicks, Straws, Bands, Clips, Chopsticks, etc
   ~ basics… 

[yet to post a pic] Placemats and potholders for hot utensils
   ~ basics…

The above kitchen utensils list is a) not in the order of importance, b) by no means exhaustive, and c) absolutely up to one’s discretion.  And really, not all the kitchen items are required right away in the beginning – everyone gradually accumulates items over the months and years as deemed appropriate.

I will update the photos and list of items on this page as I stock up more in my kitchen and/or come across more items.

Any basic/essential items you think I missed out?  Only meaningful comments that add value to this list and post, please.


  1. really very useful and wonderful post... gr8 effort...

  2. You would be disgusted by my kitchen...I have VERY LITTLE. :) And I'm not exaggerating!

  3. wow that was really use full . U know what I am gonna take a print out of this and keep it. Its going to help me wen am moving to a new house. thanks for the post.

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  5. You go girl!! You put so much effort into every post. Keep going :)

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  7. I'm moving to the US and this is really very useful! thank you :)

  8. Really good post!! Very helpful to me as I am planning for my new house. As a part 2 sometime in the future, it would be good to have a list of what all containers to have (like for dal, rice, atta etc). I know that would be very subjective though.

  9. I loved this list. I don't, however, think that any kitchen needs non-stick anything. I have removed all the non-stick from my kitchen and have not missed any of it at all.

  10. Thank u..really helpful

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  13. please add Indian traditional utensils............

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