Regardless of your dietary preference, a well stock pantry is vital. For vegetarians and vegans there are a few essential basic ingredients for the pantry. In fact, these items are indispensable! And if possible buy organic as much as possible.
Grains: short or long grain brown rice, basmati rice, wholegrain bulgur also known as cracked wheat, whole grain buckwheat or kasha, quinoa (white, red and black), barley and couscous. Grains are the backbone in a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Flours: unbleached wholemeal flour, buckwheat flour, rye flour and premium baker’s flour.
Pasta and noodles: soba, ramen, udon, mung beans vermicelli, rice vermicelli, whole meal pasta, spelt pasta or Jerusalem artichoke pasta.
Lentils & pulses: red lentils, puy lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, black eye beans, yellow lentils and split green lentils.
Dried fruits and nuts: figs, apricots, currant, sultanas, walnuts, almonds, cashew, pine nuts, sunflowers, sesame and pumpkin seeds.
Spices: all spice, anise pepper/Szechuan pepper, black mustard seeds, black peppercorn, Cardamom pods, cayenne pepper, Chinese five-spice, cinnamon (ground and sticks), cloves (ground and whole), ground coriander, cumin (ground and whole), curry powder, fennel, garam masala, ginger, mustard, nutmeg, saffron threads and turmeric.
Cooking oil: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil and coconut butter.
Various other condiments: a selection of fresh herbs and ginger, raw sugar, rapadura sugar, blackstrap molasses, miso*, Chinese rice wine or sherry, light and dark soy sauce, an assortment of vinegars (Chinese rice, cider, red wine, white wine and balsamic), desiccated coconut, dried shiitake mushrooms, coconut milk, tahini, pappadum, nori (dried seaweed sheets) and textured vegetable proteins (TVP). **
* This is an energetically balanced food for all seasons. According to Zen cooking tradition soybeans represent autumn energy, salt represents winter energy and spring energy is found in the grains, mainly barley or rice. Miso is traditionally fermented in wood, which represents tree energy and would have gone through all four seasons. It will keep indefinitely refrigerated.
** TVP is readily available from most Asian groceries. They are mainly prepared from soybeans and are great in dishes requiring a meaty texture or bulk, like in lentil burgers or Chinese stir-fry.
It is also handy to keep a few cans of chickpeas and/or various other lentils/pulses.