Spice up your Staples


Most people refer to staples as flour, milk and eggs. In my house staples go above and beyond. Maybe if I lived in India I might have the average pantry…

It all started 4 years ago when a small Indian restaurant opened up down the street from work in my old hometown called ‘Tandoori Guru’. Being brought up in a family that has a great food and flavour appreciation, I could not be more excited. The food from Guru has become one of the most sought-after restaurants in town and I can tell you, even traveling abroad, I have still found it hard to find another Indian place that can beat it.

So, as I developed a craving hunger for this delectable cuisine, I wanted to start cooking it myself. It just so happened that the local book man was selling ‘The Best Ever Indian Cook Book’ at the Whyalla News when I worked as a journalist. This was soon to become my bible.

Then a meat-eater, the first recipe I flipped to was butter chicken. I wrote down a big long list of every spice and ingredient I needed, which was a long one. I could not be more excited to impress the family. And impressed they were. I went on to making kormas, lentil dahls, vegetable curries and even some Indian desserts. The more I progressed the more my spice collection grew. Mum and I even started making the effort to visit Indian market shops in Adelaide to stock up in bulk. Now I had big jars of lentils, and jars labelled and lined up with every spice you can imagine. Mum even started buying tinned tomatoes by the pallet.

Indian food had taken over and now it has become a staple part of my diet. The great thing about stocking your cupboards is that once you have the basics, you only need the core ingredient to make any dish.

Staple spices to have include:


* Coriander * Cummin * Tumeric * Garam Masala * Cinnamon


* Cummin seeds * Star anise * Cloves * Mustard seeds * Cardamom pods


* Tinned diced and whole tomatoes * Garlic * Onion * Dry lentils * Coconut milk or coconut cream *

I promise you that once you have all of these, you will only need your favourite filler and you have authentic cuisine every night (if you can handle it).

My favourites are:

* Palak Paneer (use tofu instead of paneer for vegans). Palak means spinach and paneer is an Indian cheese made from curdled milk.

* Chana Masala – Chana means chick peas, in a masala sauce.

* Mixed dahl with baby spinach – dahl is a mixture of lentils.

* Vegetable curry – dry or wet, I can make a vegetable curry with the absolute bare minimum in my pantry and fridge as long as I have the basics.

Favourite condiments

* Brinjal pickle – salty eggplant pickle with chilli.

* Raita – yoghurt, cucumber, and spices. A great way to add another element to the dish and cool down a hot curry. Instead of yoghurt, you can make this with thickened coconut cream, soy yoghurt, blended silken tofu, or cashew cream.

* Mango chutney – a sweet mango jam or relish.


What’s an Indian feast with out the bread right? I love naan bread.

At home I recently discovered just how easy homemade Roti Bread is to make so now I accompany my curries with that. The basics are just flour, water and salt. But you can add cumin seeds and other ground spices for a kick of flavour.

If you’re going a bit lighter on the carbs, but still need something to scoop up the curry with, then pappadums are the way. You can buy them boxed from any supermarket, and all you have to do is spray or brush with oil and microwave for a minute or so.


It is affordable cuisine

Amateur cook friendly

Endless recipes

Always a crowd pleaser

The best plant-based cuisine options

One Comment

  1. Hello Jade,

    Well done for the recipes so far, will look forward to reading some more.

    best wishes Marnie

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