Part 2: Story continued from the Menu: Back to Basics.


Spices and Nuts

Photo source: Zak Greant, Flickr

Sea salt
Black peppercorns (for freshly ground pepper)
Garam masala
Cumin seeds
Smoked paprika
Coriander seeds and ground coriander powder
Herbes de Provence
Chilli powder
Dried oregano
Dried thyme
Dried rosemary
Brown sugar
Maple syrup
Flax seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Chia seeds

A few notes: Garam masala and Herbes de Provence are the new salt and black pepper in my kitchen. This quintessential Indian spice blend has become a go-to flavouring for almost all my savoury dishes. The aromatic spice blend makes it the perfect addition to any recipe in need of a smoky, slightly sweet peppery flavour – I add it to tuna salad, guacamole and when roasting vegetables.

Herbes de Provence is a blend of savory, basil, thyme, fennel, lavender, and other spices which is perfect in pasta sauce, potato salad, corn and tomato salsa, and roast meat dishes.

If you’re a tea drinker like me, you’ll recognize the classic combination of cardamom and clove for spiced chai (Indian, milk-based tea). These two ingredients are also great for creating fragrant rice dishes for Indian and Thai recipes too.

Coriander powder is my recent discovery and I use it sometimes as a substitute for black pepper to add a different layer of pepperiness and smoky flavour to dishes.

TIP: To keep spices fresh, store spices in airtight, containers in a dry, cool place away from light exposure. Buy spices in small amounts, and ground spices should be used within six months. Whole spices can last about a year, if stored properly.


Oils, Vinegars and Condiments

Photo source: WordRidden, Flickr

Olive oil – for cooking
Extra Virgin olive oil – for salads
Vinegar — balsamic and apple cider vinegars for salad dressings
Canola oil
Mustard — honey, dijon, grainy
Low sodium soy sauce
Low sodium stock
Bread crumbs


Refrigerator & Freezer Basics

Frozen vegetables
Frozen fruit blends
Lemons and limes



Chunk chocolate chip cookies
Dill-pickle potato chips

Great for: Ok, so I just threw this in here…. what, a girl needs to indulge in some quick fix snacks once in awhile, no?

For a more comprehensive list of pantry basics, check out this list from Eating Well.


Now what?

With these basics and some ingenuity, you’re on your way to whipping up easy and healthy dishes. Watch this space next week when I share my favourite back-to-basic recipes.


the Menu is Jugni Style’s newest lifestyle column written by Naveen Atwal, bringing you details on where to eat, what to eat and how to make it. Plus tips on entertaining like a pro – or at least pretending you are!