Listed alphabetically are ingredients which have a good shelf life (fresh ingredients are not included in this list) that are used regularly in Ayurvedic food peparation. Buy in small quantities, and store in airtight jars, away from heat and sunlight.
Black cummin seeds
Black mustard seeds
Black peppercorns, whole and ground
Chick pea flour, besan
Cardamom, whole pods and ground
Cloves, whole and ground
Coriander, seeds and ground
Cummin, seeds and ground
Coconut - creamed and dessicated
Fennel, seeds and ground
Fenugreek, whole seeds and ground
Nuts - dried, unsalted eg Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Macadamia, Hazel, Pine, Walnut,
Pepita (pumpkin seeds)
Rose water or Rose essence
Oils for Cooking
Different oils used in various parts of India give the food of each regfion its distinctive flavour.
Sesame oil (Til) and Coconut oil are much used in South India.
Mustard oil is the favourite cooking medium in Bengal.
It is up to your palate as to which oils you use to cook with, but olive oil is not used in Indian cooking.
My recommendation is to use a tasteless oil, such as maize, sunflower or ricebran oil. It can be flavoured with Ghee.
YOGHURT, Dahi or curd
In Ayurvedic diet, yoghurt is always unflavoured, so use natural yoghurt, made from whole milk. I have found bought Greek yoghurt is most suitable.
These ingredients can be made at home:
COCONUT MILK: the milky liquid extracted from the grated flesh of mature, fresh coconuts, or reconstituted from dessicated coconut (dried, shredded coconut) Note: the clear liquid inside a coconut is coconut water, not coconut milk.
Coconut milk has an unmistakable flavour and richness. It is extracted in two stages: The first yeild is the 'thik milk', the second 'thin milk'. Use a mixture o first and second extracts unless a recipe calls for thick or thin milk. Coconut cream is the rich layer that rises to the top of the thick milk (or first extract) after it is left to stand for a while.
Place 2 cups of dessicated coconut in a large bowl and pour over 2 1/2 cups hot water. Allow to cool to luke-warm, then knead firmly with your hand for a few mninutes and strain through a fine strainer or a piece of muslin, squeezing out as much liquid as possible. This should produce about 1 1/2 cups of thick coconut milk.
Repeat the process using the same coconut and 2 1/2 cups more hot water. This extract will yield approximately 2 cups of thin coconut milk, because of the moisture retained in the coconut from the first time,
With an electric blender you save time, and can place the 2 cups dessicated coconut and 2 1/2 cups of hot water in the blender, cover and blend for 30 seconds. Srain through a fine sieve or piece of muslin, squeezing out all the moisture. Repat the process, using the same coconut and 2 1/2 cups more of hot water.
Sometimes a richer milk is required. For this, hot milk can replace the water and only the first extract is used. However, the second extract will yield a rich flavour and a reasonably rich grade of coconut milk that can be used in soups, curries or other dishes.
GHEE: Clarified or pure butter
Ghee gives the rich, distinctive flavour to your cooking. Having no milk solids it can be heated to much higher temperature than butter without burning. It can be purchased solid in tubs, packets or cans.
You can make your own by heating butter in a saucepan until it melts and froths. Spoon off the foam from the top and pour the melted butter into a heatproof glass bowl, discarding the milk solids in the pan. Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill until set. Spoon of the fat from the top, leaving the residue. Heat the fat again, then strain through fine muslin to remove any remaining solids. This will keep for three or four months without refrigeration.
PANIR: Home made cottage cheese.
Bring milk to the boil, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming on top.
As the milk starts to rise in the pan, stir in lemon juice in the proportion of 1 tablespoon to 2 1/2 cups milk.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, b y which time firm curds will have formed.
Strain through muslin, and let it hang for at least 30 mins, then press to remove as much moisture as possible.
If it has to be very firm, weigh it down and leave for some hours in a cool place. This is necessary when it is cut into cubes and cooked with vegetable dishes, such a peas and cottage cheese, muttar paneer. It may be added to any of the vegetable preparations for extra nutrition.
KHOA: Unsweetened condensed milk.
Made by boiling milk quickly in a shallow pad (such as a large, heavy frying pan) to allow for as much surface evaporation s possible. It must be stirred constantly. Wgen ready, the khoa has the consistency of uncooked pastry. Four cups of milk yield about 90g (3 oz) of khoa. It is an ingredient in desserts.
MALAI: Thick cream
This is not the separated cream sold commercially, but is collected from the top of the milk. The milk is kept biling steadily in a wide pan, usually with a fan playing on the surface to cool the top of the milk and hasten the formation of the skin. When cool, the skin is removed and the process repeated. It is possible to buy this typen of cream from Lebanese shops, where it is called ashtar.
PANCH PHORA: Five seed mix
Five different types of aromatic seeds are used whole, and when added to the cooking oil impart a typical flavour.
Combine 2 tablespoons each of black mustard seeds, cummin seeds and black cummin seeds, 1 tablespoon each of fenugreek seed and fennel seed. Place in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake before use to ensure even distribution.