Dr Rupy is a doctor, specialising in General Practice and Emergency Medicine. He is also on a mission to reverse preventable lifestyle disease, one plate of delicious food at a time. His food is simple, but exciting. He shares which ingredients are always to hand in his kitchen:
COOKS by Dr Rupy Aujla (Ebury Press, £22) Photography by David Loftus
A lot of store cupboard ingredients have really wonderful, strong flavours. As long as you are using good quality spices, there are masses of benefits. The trick is to replenish them often. They do have a shelf list. Do the sniff test - if it smells woody and sawdusty it’s no good. If it's pungent and flavourful then great, use it!
TRY: Dr Rupy's energizing recipe selections for an Express Vegan Dinner Party!
Why I love dried mushrooms
I use dried mushrooms all the time. Using dried is great - we can have ceps whenever, dried shiitake, any wild mushrooms - they impart so much flavour. I make a wild mushroom risotto - brilliant when the weather is autumnal. I love them. And the benefits are great. Most funghi are fantastic for your gut microbiota and antioxidants. Having them fresh or dry is beneficial.
My go-to: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
My go-to oil is always Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We usually have three or five different ones on the go. We have a subscription to an olive oil grove, so we get a bottle every quarter.
TRY: Dr Rupy's recipe for sipping broth - heartwarming!
Homemade Garam Masala and Tinned Fish
And - is it unfashionable!? - but I always have good tinned fish. My go-to is Ortiz yellow fin tuna and olive oil. Or good sardines. I’ve got a tin of razor clams I’m excited try too.
Vinegar: A secret ingredient
Vinegar! My favourite at the moment is black Chinkiang vinegar. It gives so much depth! The recipe I use it in has a blend of molasses and tamari - reduced down until it coats the back of the spoon and it’s wonderful! It’s so different from everything else I’ve used. And I always love a good aged balsamic.
Beans, Nuts, and Seeds - Pantry essentials
We have all sorts of beans - my favourites are giant navarrico butter beans and chickpeas. Bloody brilliant.
Plus tons of nuts, all the tree nuts. And all the seeds - pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, and my favourite is shelled hemp seed. It’s the highest in protein and has 9 essential amino acids. I put it in protein smoothies, and you can use it as a salad topper. Or it’s a good way to bulk out and add extra protein to recipes.
Quick fix with Pesto and Harissa
A good pesto is such a useful go-to. On a busy day, especially when I was working in A&E, I’d always have one ready. I use my coffee bean grinder as a paste maker. I like a good harissa paste too - of which there are so many - apricot or rose harissa are delicious.
Fruitiness of Dried Chillies
TRY: Dr Rupy's recipe for a tasty Ayurvedic Jewish Penicillin
Sugar types I use and portions
Sugar is sugar. There’s this sort of myth that ‘if I have agave or honey or manuka it’s better for me’. But your body can’t tell the difference - it either goes to your bloodstream or liver. So really it's down to dose rather than type. That's my two cents!
When I use sugar - I ask ‘am I using an excessive amount?’, or is it an appropriate dose, maybe 1-2 tsp. I use all types though. Jaggery, palm, maple. I love maple syrup actually, it gives a lovely earthiness.
Sweet honey hacks
Oh! I have a lovely recipe for hot chilli honey. Just honey, hot water, chilli flakes, mixed in a saucepan until it reduces down. Then spread over savoury cornbread - it’s a beautiful brunch dish. So good with a side of greens and a poached egg.
I was recently given some really powerful honey from Italy - chestnut honey! There are people who love the flavour… but I’m not sure. The only way I’ve found to use it (begrudgingly!) is adding it to a cacao drink. I mix raw cacao, mushroom blend and cinnamon - with chestnut honey - and hot water. Then a little bit of nut milk or regular milk.
Indulging in dark chocolate
Finally, dark, dark chocolate - 100% dark chocolate. I can just munch on a couple of squares - it has to be 75% minimum cocoa content for me and no additives. No need for any sort of extras.