Kenyan food blogger-African food blogger-

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This post is many many months overdue. I had promised to do one for my novice cooks friends and bachelors who wanted to know what they should stock their pantries with. My gal Mo actually came to my house about 2 months ago and said she was tired of waiting and she made me write the list down for her. I have gotten a couple of queries for this post as well so when I got another request last week from Bree, one of my readers, I knew it was time to get in it.

Now, sometimes I hear people talk about spices as if they are a bad thing, as though using spices in your food is a mistake. IT IS NOT. Herbs and spices are your friends; they complement your cooking and baking. They make food taste better and enhance the flavour of the dish you’re making. I hope you will all experiment with more herbs and spices and not just Royco. HAPPY COOKING!!

Basic Cook

  • Royco
  • Black pepper: Add to your food for a peppery taste, it’s great with pasta or potatoes. I also use it so as to use less salt in my food.
  • Ground garlic: it’s a decent substitute for fresh garlic, also use it when boiling your potatoes to add flavour,
  • Ground ginger: This is also a decent substitute for fresh ginger, makes great tea and when added to food it gives a great flavour
  • Tea masala
  • Fish masala: add to your fresh or canned fish when making a stew or when frying them.
  • Chicken Masala (Make sure its Nature’s own brand): add to your normal chicken stew, the flavour is amazing, you can also add a little bit of coconut milk. YUM!
  • Cinnamon: for your tea, milk, cakes, pancakes, some meat dishes
  • Turmeric: to add color to any curry you’d like to make
  • Rosemary : for tea and it’ s also great for marinades.
  • Knorr spicy beef and chicken cubes. And knorr sukuma wiki beef cubes
  • Curry Powder

For the experimental cook

  • Garam Masala: great for stews and curries
  • Cumin Seeds: Great for curries and rice
  • Cayenne pepper: I prefer this to normal chilies as its quite hot
  • Coriander Powder : good for curries and stews
  • Jeera Powder: this is ground cumin seeds, also good for curries and marinades
  • Mixed Spice: Used in baking, you might see it in some recipes as pumpkin pie spice
  • Cardamon seeds and powder: for tea and baking
  • All Spice: I’m still learning how to use this. Its flavour is very strong. Use it for baking, stews, curries and marinades
  • Bay leaves: good for stews and curries
  • Tandoori Masala: this is ooh so delicious. Mix it with natural yogurt, some chilli and maybe cumin and use it as a marinade for your roast chicken.
  • Chillie
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Garlic salt: if you love garlic this is great for flavouring your food
  • Aromat: I especially like the spicy beef flavour
  • Meat tenderiser: pour some on your tough cuts of meat leave for at least 30 minutes and it makes your meat softer.
  • Cream of tartar
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder



  • Soy sauce: get low sodium if your watching your salt.
  • Fish sauce: I love this sauce, it’s great for Asian dishes, the flavour it adds to food is out of this world. Take care of the salt you add to food though as this sauce is very salty.
  • Teriyaki Sauce: add this to your chicken with some brown sugar and you have a meal
  • Sweet Chilli sauce: good for stir fries or use it as a dipping sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce: great for meats and also a good substitute for tamarind (ukwaju)



Here you can be as experimental as you like. One paste I never miss is for red thai curry (ill post a recipe soon) pastes are great for when you want to impress but realy can not to bothered to cook from scratch. Most times you just need to add the meat to the paste, in some you may also need coconut milk. I honestly think they are lifesavers. Go to Nakumatt and look at their selection they have a very wide range.


  1. I tend to buy nature’s own masalas. I know there is a difference with the chicken Masalas, so I just tend to buy all my masalas from nature’s own the rest I do Tropical heat or either of the 2  any brands. BUT other than the chicken masala I can not say that the other masalas are not good or better. I do sometimes use Robertsons for “special spices”
  2. For spices that you do not use often buy the smaller tins as ground spices loose their flavour after about 6 months.
  3. Store away from direct sunlight or heat
  4. Spices are better when bought whole. If you can buy whole spices eg cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander etc and grind them yourself. The flavour will be stronger. Apart from flavour whole spices also keep their flavour for up to a year as compared to the ready ground that last just 6 months.
  5. There so many spices at the supermarkets to choose from you can start with the above then brunch out from there. The possibilities for your food is virtually endless

What spices do you love to use?



Written by David Mwakodi
  • Liz

    Can I add curry powder to your pantry?it goes well with almost anything just a pinch,
    Dhana jeera for fish n chicken,
    try Oyo I find it more subtle,rich colour n more thickening,
    corn starch (alternatively wheat flour works bestest)for those gravies
    I use tropical heat I don’t have a specific reason

    • Wangeci Wandere

      Dont know how i forgort curry powder and I always have it. Thanx for that I will add. As for the dhana jeera I usually have it but I left it our coz its a mixture of ground coriander (dhana) and cumin (Jeera) In fact i find the flavour to be very much that of cumin.

      Il give Oyo a try have no reason why i havent tried jsut that mum always used Royco.

      As for thickening gravies i use cornstarch because it cooks faster than wheat flour, browns better and gives a better crunch to food.

  • GN

    This should have been the first post 🙂 I have most of them now thanks to you-know-who

    • Wangeci Wandere

      Woi I know, its long over due, just procrastination. But at least You have stocked up over the months 🙂

  • Freshiah

    well i can see am not too bad..have all except for garlic salt

    • Wangeci Wandere

      good good 🙂 but have become quite the cook

  • bree

    yay (jumpin up n down)…now am gud to go for my jikoni shoppin…to my list i will moz deff include spanish paprika n meat tenderizer (bei ya gas imepanda… hihi) , cardamons na cream of tartar. btw u should try cooking wth ketchup instead o tomato paste.hmmm hmm hm!!

    • Wangeci Wandere

      I have cooked/baked foods with ketchchup but never tried it in like pilau or sauces il do that. thanx for stopping by 🙂 HAPPY COOKING!!

    • Wangeci Wandere

      I have cooked/baked foods with ketchup but never tried it in like pilau or sauces il do that. thanx for stopping by 🙂 HAPPY COOKING!!

  • emma

    wangechi your the best i like i love

    • Wangeci Wandere

      Thanx Emma. Welcome to my foodie family. HAPPY COOKING!!