Christmas Gift – Stock-keeping!

    I think in a city like ours, we can never run out of occasions to meet and eat. Of course, for bigger occasions, we are always prepared – cabinets are filled up, fancy tableware is laid out and the freezer is obviously stocked. But here’s something – there are always those occasions where people show up unannounced or give you a moment’s notice or even when you run out of all creativity to put together some no-fuss-no-frills dinner together – even if it’s just for yourself. That’s why I am putting this list together, for me to remember and for you to pour over and make a small note/inclusion into your shopping list.
    Unfortunately, the weather here doesn’t support storing things for very long which is why I advise you to not buy them in bulk – just enough to tide you over the week but not greedily so. Remember to check and be mindful of the expiration date.
  1. Sandwich fixings
  2. Always, always, always have them in stock. Sandwiches are so versatile and it’s a pity we don’t snack on them as much as we should (or do you?). I always have some honey glazed ham, chicken mortadella (essentially salami) and other fix ins like multi-grain bread, mustard, pickled gherkins, lettuce, mayonnaise, cheese slices or even cubed mozzarella. For us at home, it doubles as a mid-evening snack or even a meal itself. If you want to create some table drama, you could always lay out the cold cuts, lightly toast the bread and have the other condiments laid out in pretty bowls to make a DIY sandwich station. 
  3. Ice-cream and fixings
  4. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of ice-cream but I never underestimate the power of it. There are some days where a dessert craving can drive you up the wall so in SOS situations like these, some thing just needs to be done. You must know that I’m talking about the good stuff – Baskin Robbins, Ben & Jerrys etc or whatever tickles your fancy. I always have some mint chocolate chip in store from Baskin Robbins. Most ice-cream places do ‘family packs’ so if you buy 1 or maybe 2 different flavors, you’re good to go. That being said, ice-cream is never good on its own for me so I always have some of this caramel (recent love of mine) or some Hershey’s chocolate sauce to bathe my ice-cream in. Although, some crumbled store bought cake also does the trick. P. S – It also makes for a very quick ice-cream cake like the one here.
  5. Cream
  6. For me, this is a non-negotiable item. It’s pretty versatile, in the sense that it allows me to whip up cream at a moments notice to douse over plain ol’ fruit but it also works well as chocolate’s better half in a ganache. If I’m craving these truffles, some good quality cream helps. I always buy 1 litre packs of Tropolite (available at Arife, Bandra) to stock my freezer and have some Amul Fresh Cream at hand to use in cooking. Although, Amul cream can also be used in ganache so don’t afraid to mix it up.
  7. Tortilla wraps
  8. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my freezer run out of these. They’ve been our fall back dinner option countless times. You can use whatever stuffing you like and they can be quesadillas, wraps, part of lasagna but you’re already sold in this aren’t you?
  9. Chocolate
  10. The good kind – there are countless options available here – exotic, imported, simple, homemade etc but you can’t go through life without some chocolate to fall back on. I always make it a point to buy some good chocolate on the way home from Dubai (at the Airport Duty Free section) so if you have some globe trotters in the family, give them your list. Otherwise, Regal in Bandra has some tempting offers. Some of the best (although I could never pick just one) are Lindtt, Hersheys and Galaxy. If you’re an ardent baker, stock up on some cooking chocolate as well – if you get them in chocolate chips form it saves you a whole lot of chopping later.
  11. Herbs
  12. Even though I love collecting and growing my own herbs, I know that living in a place like ours, its not always a feasible option. Sometimes, the bottled stuff just has to work. I love Keya’s range of dried herbs and flavorings. They’re really innovative too, coming up with Japanese seasoning, Pizza seasoning etc. I always have oregano, basil, parsley and some whacky Keya bottles for making things extra flavorful at a whim.  Of course, if you’re making Pesto or something of the sort then I insist you use the fresh herbs; even if you chance on a recipe where you’re required to use a large amount of fresh herbs then you should go out and buy some versus using bottled ones. I bought some sumac powder and za’atar (which I love sprinkling over potato chips – nostalgia!) powder from Dubai that I sprinkle over everything – pizzas, cheese toast, fries, shawerma, salads etc so some exotic never hurts.
  13. Souvenirs
  14. Of course I don’t mean fridge magnets (avid collector, guilty) but I mean the little ‘exotic’ ingredients you find on vacation – the stuff that reminds you of holidays and sunshine. I love collecting sauces, oils, salts and other such ingredients on trips abroad and its always fun to broaden the culinary horizon when I’m back by doing some research and using them in innovative ways. Always fun to collect – different colored sprinkles! I recently bought them in Halloween colors and Christmas colors!  
I hope this helps you stock up for the holidays!
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