Kitchen basics that are a fabulous addition to your cooking repertoire

Add flair to your meals and stock up on these ready-to-use quick and easy ingredients

24 Feb 2022

From Middle-Eastern dishes to Mexican salsa, there are so many delectable dishes that you can rustle up in your kitchen if you have the right ingredients. Fill your pantry with these essentials and cook authentic meals on the fly!


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This can be used as a salad dressing for lettuce, rocket leaves and cherry tomatoes! For this simple recipe, you will need a teaspoon of mustard, one tablespoon of vinegar and about one-fourth cup of olive oil. Use a whisk and mix these ingredients until evenly combined and store in a screw-top jar. You can use different types of vinegar for variety – balsamic, apple cider – or even replace it with lemon or orange juice, depending on how tangy you like your salad dressing!

Moroccan spice mix

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Keep this spice mix ready the next time you want to whip up a Middle-Eastern dish! All you need are mild paprika, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, chilli powder and ground allspice. Combine all the spices in a screw-top jar and store them in a cool and dark place. For some extra heat, add some more chilli powder to the mix or while cooking.

Cajun spice mix

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This easy homemade Cajun seasoning requires sweet ground paprika, ground cumin and fennel, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Combine together to make a delicious spice mix. Dust this over fish or chicken before pan-frying or barbecuing.

Red curry paste

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Why rely on the store bought packet when you can make your very own Thai curry paste? This is super-hot, flavourful and bursting with flavours. Tip the red chillies into a mortar and crush them finely to a powder. Now simply place the chillies, spices and all the other ingredients (ground galangal, peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass stem and garlic) in a food processor and whiz them to a coarse paste. You will need ½ bunch coriander or cilantro with the roots attached, 4 big red chillies, 1 lemongrass stem, white part only, 2 cloves garlic and some fresh ginger. Optional additions include shrimp paste or fish sauce, lime juice and zest, kaffir lime leaves, ground cumin and coriander seeds, ground galangal and ground peppercorns. Roughly chop the stems, roots and leaves of the coriander, cut the chilies in half and discard the seeds, slice the lemon grass and roughly chop the garlic and ginger. Process all ingredients in a finely chopped, add ¼ cup of peanut oil in a thin stream to make a paste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 1 week. To make a green curry paste, replace the red chillies with green chillies.


Use this as a spicy addition to soups and stews or as a condiment with meat, chicken and fish. Fresh harissa paste is easy to make with simple ingredients like long red chillies, garlic, ground cumin and coriander. Using a food processor, make a smooth paste along with olive oil and salt to taste. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Fresh Mexican salsa

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A great party dip that can be served with snacks of your choice. This super simple, delicious dip is made from blanched ripe tomatoes, chopped jalapeños/green chillies and tabasco sauce. Use this in tacos or burritos or serve with corn chips.

What are some of the kitchen basics you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

quick recipes Kitchen staples ingredients curry