28 Feb 2014

A Beginner’s Guide to Setting up a Kitchen (in New York!!)

Setting up home…in New York! Wow – I cannot help adding the “in New York” bit just about everywhere. I was never a big fan of living in the States and when coming to New York was finalized, I earned a whole lot of flak from my sister and cousins about my blasé attitude. NOW though…quite a different story.

I got my first taste of New York when I got out of the subway straight from the airport. It started snowing that very moment - and I fell in love. I find that there is something so magical about viewing a city through swirling snow; it feels straight out of a storybook.  I now live with my husband in an apartment in Manhattan and as my mother-in-law keeps saying, it is very “Friends“like. I quite feel like Monica Gellar, being the boss of my own kitchen!

Though I have lived away from home in the past, I was never in a situation where I had to look after a house or be responsible for preparing my own meals. So, when I arrived from India to an apartment whose kitchen needed setting up from scratch, I was really intimidated. The Kitchen came with a four burner stove, an oven and a fridge but not much else. It took me a few weeks of using my kitchen to understand what exactly I was going to need. I wanted to be frugal in buying kitchenware as we are going to be here for just a year and I did not want to accumulate a whole lot of things. I did not find Google to be of much service when it came to starting up an Indian vegetarian kitchen (what?!) and was really confused for a while. Hence, I decided to put together this post of simple multipurpose kitchen  tools to help out those 20 something people out there who are just establishing their first homes. 

Kitchen Essentials (in no particular order)
1.       Pressure Cooker – this I bought in India and brought here. It is a long term investment for those who cook Indian food – the Royal Bengal tiger of the kitchen. It’s perfect for boiling vegetables, making rice and dal, cooking any kind of beans, and cooking meat.
2.       Karahi – this also, I bought in India. It is like a wok but Indian style made of steel and with steeper sides. I use it to cook all kinds of sabzis or vegetables and also for frying.
3.       Tava – a flat griddle used to make roti or flatbreads, and omelets or pancakes.
4.       Small saucepan – I use this to make tea, boil milk, melt butter or heat soup. It has two spouts which makes it easier to pour liquids.
5.       Medium and large saucepans – I use these for everything!  Cooking, steaming and making soups and sauces. Buy ones with  tight fitting lids.
6.        Frying pan – for stir fries or  sautéing
7.        Food processor – I purchased a simple one. Though you need to make sure that you buy one that has a normal big as well as a small cup. I was about to buy a processor that had only a 48 ounce / 6 cup jar but soon enough realized that I would need a small jar as well as I was going to be cooking only for 2 people. The small jar chops small amounts of vegetables, and purees and minces them perfectly. I use the large jar to make shakes or when I need to cook in large quantities.
8.       Jhariya – this is a round steel spatula with holes and again something that I got from India. I use this for frying as it drains out the oil well.
9.       Rolling pin – from India as well. I use this for rolling out chapatis or flatbreads. Someday when I am in the mood to bake, I will roll out some pie dough.
10.   Chimta – or quite simply, tongs. This is made of steel and flat rather than curved at the ends. I use this to turn over chapatis on the gas and griddle.
11.   Pot holder – for utensils, when they become really hot or when they have no handles
12.   Turning Spatula - can be used to flip, turn and stir
13.   A good knife – I do not think I need to elaborate on this
14.   Peeler
15.   Chopping board
16.   Pair of scissors – for when you do not manage to tear that packet with your hands. Also useful for cutting herbs and leaves.
17.   Oven mittens
18.   Oven safe dish (es) – two (one medium and one large) should be enough.
19.   Grater – a box grater is so much handier though tougher to clean
20.   Can opener
21.   Colander – I bought a metal one as it can go on the stove to steam vegetables. It can be used to drain rice, pasta, and boiled vegetables.
22.   Strainer – mainly for tea
23.   Whisk
24.   Measuring cups and spoons
25.   Microplane zester – a pure indulgence
26.   Cutlery – a basic set of knives, forks and spoons.
27.   Plates, glasses and bowls
28.   A Mug – when you want tea/ coffee/ hot chocolate. Hot drinks in a glass just feels wrong.
29.   Serving bowls and spoons- however I do not find this necessary unless you have guests over. We generally serve ourselves straight from the pan as it means less cleaning up.
30.   Storage containers (plastic, steel, stone, ceramic or whatever you like) – I recommend you buy these in a variety of sizes
31.   Zip lock bags – multipurpose! I use these to carry lunch and store things in the freezer.
32.   Dishwashing liquid, and sponges
33.   Kitchen paper towels
34.   Dustbin and trash bags – remember to separate the garbage and the plastic!

*A list of pantry essentials coming up. 


  1. Sounds like you are going to be cooking up wonderful things! Come visit soon and we can cook together.

  2. Great start Radhika, all the best keep us updated for some more recipies.

    I am waiting....

  3. Aww..love u and miss u so much more after reading the first parts.all the best love xoxo