Indian Pantry 101: Aarti's Spice Essentials

Not sure where to start when it comes to cooking Indian food? We asked Aarti to share her top five spice-rack staples — plus how and when to use them.

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Super Swaps

No time to make ghee, the clarified butter frequently used in Indian cuisine? Don't worry about swapping it for regular butter or oil. "We only used ghee for special occasions, so I use oil usually," says Aarti. "If it's for slathering on naan, then I use butter."

Speaking of naan, the delicious Indian flatbread, Aarti suggests subbing pita if you can't find it and don't have time to bake. "It's not the same by any means, but it's a good last-minute substitute," she says. "I'm still working on my perfect naan recipe."