What is that one ingredient in your kitchen that you absolutely cannot do without? No, we are not talking about salt, water or sugar here... not the basics. But, that one ingredient that is a must-use in all your special recipes.
We asked the editors in our newsroom what they stock up in their kitchen pantry, especially as working in a newsroom leaves little to no time to cook an elaborate meal every day. But our Editors love their food. Some of them are weekend cooks while some plan their meals for the week. In any case, they keep their favourite ingredients close to their heart and kitchen.
Shyam Krishna, Senior Associate Editor likes the flavour of cloves. It was while he accidently put a lot of cloves while cooking that he realised its mildly spicy aroma. Since then cloves became a staple in his cooking. “It gives an extra zing, say earlier if I have to put 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, I will now put half a teaspoon and add 3 to 4 cloves along with it,” he said. This way the spicy flavour (hot and aromatic) is balanced well.
Another staple in his kitchen is coconut oil. He uses coconut oil while cooking most of his dishes. And connected to that is a dish that is close to his heart.
Here is the recipe for the egg cury
Sraddha Sabu, an Editorial intern, likes Gochujang chilli and swears by this fermented spicy paste special to Korean cooking. When she first came in contact with fermented food, largely Korean in origin, about a year ago at her University in Sheffield, UK, she felt like “it was a new world of flavour and quite enchanting and definitely wanted to experience the flavour again because it was new and exciting.
Since then, she began using this spicy paste in almost every dish she cooks. Even in rice dishes which are not Korean. That is how much she likes its unique flavour.
As per Korean food blogger JinJoo of Kimchimari.com says that a good Gojuchang paste should only have chili pepper powder (gochukaru), fermented soy bean powder (mejukaru), sweet rice/rice/brown rice/barley/wheat flour, rice syrup, malt barley syrup or powder and salt. If you see ingredients such as corn syrup in it, put it right back and walk away, really fast.
She explains on her Korean food blog site: “Gochujang is typically made in the colder winter months from the end of November to February in Korea. It is because the 4 to 6 months of fermentation needs to occur in full sun before the very hot and rainy summer starts in Korea.”
The making is a traditional process done in specially glazed earthen pots that can be bought online. If you are truly passionate about making the paste at home, head over to her blog and it has a pretty good recipe on it. Do let us know how it went on email@example.com.
Meanwhile, here is Tteokkbokki or stir-fried Korean rice cakes’ recipe
Cesar Valondo, Gulf News Digital Subscription Customer Relationship Advocate, adores the combination of bay leaves, pepper (ground/crushed), mild green and red chillies in his cooking.
The reason he keeps going back to these ingredients is because he grew up eating it and his parents use it often in their cooking. “I really can’t think any other reason but the fact that we have seen our parents use it since we were little,” he said.
He simply likes how well the ingredients taste after being cooked, and for their simplicity. “I like the outcome of a dish – its taste and unlike other people who understand technicalities and complexities of food, I don’t,” Valondo sadded.
Here is Cesar’s much-loved Beef Calderata or beef in tomato sauce recipe
Seyyed Llata, Graphic Designer with gulfnews.com, uses Oregano (an Italian herb) in most of the dishes he cooks, which includes a lot of Italian recipes. Originally from Mexico, he uses this herb in most of his native dishes as well. Explaining why, he said: “It goes very well with beef and enhances the flavour of beef, very strongly, so that’s why I cannot think of my kitchen without oregano.”
While cooking ox tongue, (a type of meat cut), he boils the meat with a lot of oregano and garlic to make tacos. “A lot of people will be like, why oregano, but it is like a burst of flavour and we cannot do with it,” he said.
The other thing which Seyyed uses this pulverised herb for is pasta. While boiling the spaghetti, “I add oregano, bay leaves, a little bit of garlic and salt to the water. When I drain the excess water and cook the pasta in olive, oregano dominates the flavour and is just fantastic!”
Here is Seyyed’s oregano-infused beef tongue taco recipe
Sharmila Dhal, UAE Editor, has a few must-have ingredients in her kitchen for more reasons than one. Ingredients like onions, tomatoes, potatoes, frozen peas, paneer and ice-cream give Dhal a sense of unexplainable security. “The feeling probably goes back to the good old days when we could keep our doors open and host impromptu get-togethers with friends and family. Now, that may seem like a far cry as we grapple with COVID-19 times and all the can’t-dos that one must comply with. But old habits die hard and a quick-fix paste made from onions and tomatoes, which are staples in the kitchen, continues to hold me in good stead,” she said.
“The lightly fried paste, derived from a blend of tomatoes and onions (3:2 ratio) with some garlic and ginger thrown in, serves as a great base for any dish, be it chicken, fish or prawn, if these items are available. Even if they’re not, I can always turn to my stocked paneer for another dish using the same paste. With peas and potatoes, of course, the paste allows me to churn out a myriad options – and voila, with some rice or bread, my table is ready to be set,” said Dhal.