Basic Kitchen Items to Bring from India

“What all kitchen items should I bring from India?” my friend, who is getting married next month and moving from India to US, asked me.  I said everything ‘Indian’ is available in US, just twice or thrice the price, but while I gave her some options, I thought there may be more people having questions on what kitchen items to take from india to usa.

Especially those moving to a new place after marriage, especially those who weren’t bothered about kitchen before, especially those starting out fresh, and/or especially those having to go live independently.

After all, I was ALL of those once upon a time.

On this link you can find a list of basic utensils, cooking and serving tools, and kitchen items one might need – especially for an Indian kitchen and Indian cooking (but not limited only to those).

That list comprises of possible things for the Indian kitchen, but concerning what kitchen items you should bring from India to America, below are my suggestions.  I did not know what items I would need in the kitchen when I first moved here until I began to manage the kitchen on my own.  Your needs would differ from mine, but here is what I learned after 1.5 years in USA and here is what I suggest to bring from India to America.

a) pressure cooker, at least 2.5L
i have a 2.5L and a 3.0L pressure cooker from India.  they're good to cook for 4-6 people.  have bought one 6 Quart pressure cooker here but it's whistle doesn't rise to let out steam (only rotates and needs to be timed).  when you get a pressure cooker, bring along a spare ring, safety valve, and some kind of stackable containers that fit in your cooker (see b).  (learn more about how to use pressure cooker to cook lentils and my video on how to use pressure cooker to cook rice and even parboil potatoes).

b) idli/dhokla stands
they have idli and dholka racks to be used in the same steamer vessel, it's a good 2-in-1 use to buy the whole package.  or at least get the idli and dhokla stands to fit into your pressure cooker.

c) sev press
i'm going to bring one next time.  to make jalebi, sev, boondi, mudkul, etc here.

d) multi-purpose and durable kadhai
i have only one nonstick kadhai that Alok has had since few years.  i'm going to bring some good cast iron skillets and kadhai of different sizes next time to fry, cook, and serve in.

e) plastic/steel mesh (chalni)
plastic tea strainer in Indian store is $1.99 (~Rs. 100) and I'm sure it's not worth.  i'm going to bring some sieves/strainers/mesh (chalni) with various changeable nets.  they're very useful for straining pulps for juices and soups, for sieving flours to remove lumps, to dry washed and chopped vegetables faster, etc etc.

f) sturdy steel mixer/grinder
my Bella Cucina coffee grinder blades died within 1.5 years after all the spices i had been grinding in it.  next time i'm going to bring a strong mixer/grinder to make flours, chutneys, grind spices, etc.

g) stainless steel (S.S.) items
i brought only 6 S.S. dinner spoons, 6 small S.S. bowls, and 6 S.S. glasses with me, thinking those should be enough for the 2 of us here.  but when you're tasting food, mixing stuff, and having some spoons in the sink for wash - you are pretty much left with no spoons.  when you're having 1 bowl for dal, 1 for raita, and 1 for liquid curry - you are pretty much left with no bowls at a dinner get-together.  next time i'm going to bring more S.S. plates, more spoons, more bowls, and pretty much any stainless steel items from the Indian Kitchen Utensil List (since good quality stainless steel kitchen items seem quite expensive in America)

h) stainless steel /marble / granite mortar and pestle
especially to crush ginger + cardamom when making tea, and sometimes to crush spices and nuts when needed for their fresh aroma in cooking.  i'll look for the 2-sided mortar and pestle, one small and one larger, when i bring next time.  i still don't feel like spending $15 to buy one of these here.

i)  rolling board and pin (chakla-belan)
had i bought a wooden or steel or any other rolling board from India, i wouldn't have spent $15 for the marble one here.  then later i had a wooden pin and a steel board shipped.  but the steel rolling board (chakla) didn't turn out very stable when i roll out roti - so look for that when you buy yours.

What you bring obviously depends on your baggage weight allowance, so get the most essential things first.  Check this page again for basic kitchen items and suggestions.  In your later trips to India you can add more to your collection, and anyway after living in US you have to get used to the things available here and the price they cost.  And you'll also learn where to go shopping for lower prices.  (And you will learn a lot of other things after living in USA!)  Or, after settling here few months you can have your family ship you a parcel of things you think are ridiculously expensive here.

Any other suggestions you have?

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  1. very useful post... perfect for people moving to the states...

  2. Hey Nisha, a question for you. I am hoping a solution from u please. I have forgotten to carry a pressure cooker from India,Now its becoming absolutely impossible for me to cook Whole daals like chick peas and rajma in a pan,as it would not soften even after hours of cooking and keeping it soaked overnight….any solution how I can cook it in pan?

    1. Did u put some soda? Baking soda.. That helps it soften.

    2. Did u put some soda? Baking soda.. That helps it soften.

  3. Great explanation, thanks for the posting!

    Cooking Equipment

  4. wonderful post Nish
    happy new year to you & yours..:)
    Tasty Appetite

  5. Very useful post,an award is waiting for u,please stop by and collect it.

  6. there goes all the 46 kgs:)) thats a good collection.. some of the stuff can be substituted here, but those pressure cookers, presses and things are super important!:)
    Happy new year to u and your family too!

  7. Thanks Amina, Magi, Jay & Nalini!!!! :) :) :) :)

  8. Anjali, I've never tried without pressure cooker, but I think after having the dal soaked overnight & simmering on low-med heat in twice the quantity of water than the amount of dal for about 45 mins-1 hour with closed lid should work. Before pressure cookers were invented dals were made in pots on slow heat, just took extremely long time.
    But if even after hours of soaking & cooking they haven't soften like you said, then I'm not sure what's wrong.
    After having dals soaked overnight, you may also try putting your dals in twice quantity of water in microwave-safe bowl covered with microwave-safe lid for 30 mins & check how it turns out, then add more time accordingly. That may help it boil plus save the steam within to soften the dals.
    Please try & let me know here if any of it works. Without a pressure cooker it's quite a waste of gas/electricity & your time, dear. See if you can get one from an Indian store - otherwise you may have to use canned kidney beans & chickpeas until then :)

  9. Hahaha, yep Richa, though I didn't mean to have all of these carried from India, just a basic list for the kitchen, hehe, but yeah, thanks for emphasizing those necessary items! :)

  10. I am not sure I have all the basic kitchen tool..should get my husband to take a look at this ;-))
    p.s About the substitute of egg in my sweet bread recipe, I would go for the applesauce.
    Happy Weekend!

  11. Thanks Nisha for putting so much effort in replying me. I am surely trying this microwave thing first just to see if I get to eat cooked dal for a change :)…before I finally get down to an Indian store to buy a pressure cooker.Thanks once again

  12. Hi Nish, A very happy new year to you..First time here..You have a wonderful space & this is such a useful post...happy to be your follower..drop at my blog sometime.

  13. Thanks so much Angie & Nithu! :) :)
    And you're welcome, Anjali! :)

  14. The perfect list, this information is very important for me who just moved.


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