Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pantry Essentials....

Chez Nous, we try and keep the pantry stocked  - so we can try out that Thai Curry or the Quiche Lorraine on a whim. The following is a list of pantry essentials in Fifi's kitchen......

Dry Herbs & Spices:

  • Indian Spices (Chilli - both fiery and spicy & Red and mild, Turmeric, Garam Masala, Coriander powder, Saunf (green fennel), Jeera (cumin seeds), Mustard seeds, Dry red chillies, Aamchur (dried mango powder), Assorted masalas - for channa, meat etc)
  • Whole Spices (Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Star Anise, Bay leaves, Nutmeg etc)
  • Roasted Garlic
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Salt
  • Lemongrass
  • Herbs (Oregano, Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley, Tarragon and Chives)
Fresh Herbs: 
Fifi plants and Serenity sincerely waters them, so technically all credit for our little herb garden goes to him! After one CRAZY trip around the suburb where I live on a rainy day looking for Italian basil because my recipe demanded it and I had guests that evening... and where I visited over SIX places and was disappointed, I decided we needed to plant some of these "exotic" herbs. This actually makes a lot of sense, since if you go to buy Italian basil, it comes in a BIG bag that will NEVER get used up even if you eat pesto for breakfast, lunch and dinner!! All it takes is sticking a few of the cut stems you buy into some soil... and lots of diligent watering, of course!! Please note that basil tends to blacken when you refrigerate it.... its actually better off left on your kitchen counter in a little bit of water - will stay reasonably okay for 2-3 days. 
  • Italian basil 
  • Lemon basil
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Rosemary (planted today, let's see if it takes!!)
I DO keep a ready-made pasta sauce in the fridge - it comes in SO handy when you've had no time to make dinner..... maybe one day I'll make my own and freeze it or something - but for now, the Ragu Pasta Sauce is my Plan B.... for pretty much ANY emergency meal !! 
  • Italian Dressing (brand - American Garden  / Remia / Kraft)
  • Sriracha Chili Sauce (a popular spicy sauce of Thai origin)
  • Kasundi - coarsely ground mustard sauce - and I SWEAR by the local Bengali version over ANYTHING else!! I also keep Kraft mustard and a Dijon mustard.... but the desi Kasundi is STILL tops!!
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey (superb with pork chops - yes, yes.... that recipe WILL come!)
  • Olive Oil (I do not buy pomace, recommend extra virgin olive oil)
  • Balsamic Vinegar / Red wine vinegar 
  • We always have tetra packs of coconut milk, tomato puree and cream. 
  • Ginger and Garlic Pastes
  • Thai Curry pastes
  • Bouillon cubes (Chicken AND Beef) 
  • Rice noodles (since Mimi makes something we call her "Rice Noodle Thingy"!!)
  • Egg Noodles
  • Flour
  • Cocoa
  • Cooking chocolate (comes in slabs.... I usually have the dark variety in the fridge)
  • Pasta (at any point of time, we have atleast 2 kinds of pasta - for variety!!) - and from a health perspective, I would recommend the use of wheat pasta rather than the refined flour variety. Try the gnocchi - potato pasta .... its heavy, but soooooooo yummmmmm!!
  • Rice (a regular kind and a lovely long-grain basmati!)
  • Lentils / White beans / Chick peas
  • Sun-dried tomatoes (these come dried - or you could buy the ones in oil - but that works out to be PRETTY steep.... I bought them in a packet..... cleaned them (and you will see why!), kept them in the sun for a day.... and put them in olive oil myself!)
  • Shitake mushrooms (these come dried and you can store them upto a year!)
In the Refrigerator / Freezer:
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Bacon (bits and fresh!)
  • Boneless Chicken breasts 
  • Sweet corn
  • Frozen peas
  • Cold cuts
  • Cheese 
  • CHOCOLATE!!! (yes, it is an absolute paradox - for a diabetic person, there is a LOT of chocolate in my refrigerator!)
I'm sure Mimi will have stuff to add...... but this is pretty much IT from me, Fifi ! 
Cook up a storm! Bon Appetit , Fifi .

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