- Apple cider vinegar – it’s a great, mild vinegar for adding to salad dressings and anything that needs that fresh, acidic edge to it. Plus, according to lots of people it’s like the bees knees as far as health goes – so it can’t hurt to have a little in your life!
- Tamarind paste – go easy when using this stuff as it is strong as hell, but it is fabulous for adding a little zing to your meals or fixing that stuff up when you’ve made it way too salty or sweet.
- Tahini – this is basically ground sesame and it’s a great thickener for salad dressings and adds a lovely depth of flavour and wholesomeness.
- Mustard – because, mustard! We like whole grain mustard because it’s got nice texture, but you can have any mustard you like.
- Soy sauce - of course ours is the gluten free variety but it’s totally up to you. Try a few brands and pick the one that you like best. Some are stronger than others, it’s down to personal preference.
- Sesame Oil – it’s seriously the best thing ever. And a few drops goes a long way.
- Vegetable Oil (we find sunflower oil to be the mildest flavour) – for cooking, salad dressings, etc. You can of course use olive oil too, its apparently very healthy and people go crazy for it. I just don’t think any oil is ‘healthy’ in huge quantities, so go easy! And pick the oil that best suits your flavour profile. Some are really strong, which can give things an odd taste.
- Salt and pepper – because life would be boring without them. We prefer ground white pepper because then you don’t get chunks of strong pepper in your teeth half way through your meal. We’re probably heathens though – so use whichever pepper you like best!
- Liquid smoke – if you’ve never heard of it…google it and order some NOW! You can also get it from Asian delis and the like. It will turn your vegan baked beans into rich, hearty food and you’ll never miss bacon or smoked meats again!
- Dried mushrooms - these rehydrate quickly and easily to add some depth of flavour to your dishes. From stir-fry to stew, they'll give you the 'umami' you're looking for!
- Sugar – because we could all do with a little sweetening sometimes. It really doesn’t matter what kind. We usually have raw sugar on hand, but castor sugar will dissolve more easily into things if that’s a concern for you. Remember, sugar is your friend…especially if you accidentally added way too much chilli, salt or tamarind to your dish!
- Chilli flakes or dried chillies – for those occasions when you can’t be bothered with getting fresh chilli all over your hands and then rubbing it into your eyes and burning your face off.
- Curry Powder – because not everyone is perfect and sometimes it’s just easier to let someone else do the experimenting with flavours for you.
- Ground cumin and coriander – they just rock. You can also get the whole spices and roast and grind them yourself for way more flavour. But we understand if that’s too much like hard work.
- Dried rosemary and thyme (or fresh in your herb garden) – especially good with potatoes!
- Paprika – we usually keep smoked paprika on hand, it’s yummy and adds a real depth of flavour to things. Even if you simply sprinkle it on your potato wedges before they go in the oven.
- Cinnamon sticks – we add these to everything. Literally.
- Star anise – as above!
- Cardamom pods – and again…we’ll add these to pretty much any dish. You’ve just got to try and remember to hook them out before you chomp down on them half way through the meal. They’re not very yummy, but they do add great flavour to the dish!
- Bread or bread crumbs (keep in freezer) – great for topping bakes or pasta dishes to add some crunch and decadence without being bad. We usually have bread in the freezer (because gluten free bread sucks so it might as well live in the freezer!) but you can also buy bread crumbs. We just keep some home-made ones handy in the freezer for defrosting when required.
If you’re trying to make life easy and produce quick, simple meals that are healthy and tasty, you’ll want to stock your cupboard up with some of these essentials that will get you out of trouble every time.