Exotic Dishes Made From Pantry Staples

With the economy in a complete disarray due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have had to cut back our grocery shopping to just the essentials. But this doesn’t mean having the same boring dinner night after night. Instead, try out these exotic dishes from around the world made using simple and affordable pantry staples. 

Exotic Dishes Made From Pantry Staples
Image sourced from www.pexels.com


This Polish classic turns the humble potato into a mouthwatering masterpiece. It is rather labour intensive to make, but the final result is definitely worth it.


For the dough:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 1/2 C butter, at room temperature

For the filling: 

  • 1 C mashed potatoes
  • 1 C cheddar cheese

To finish:

  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 onion, sliced


  1. To make the dough: Mix the flour and salt. Add the egg and combine.
  2. Work in the sour cream and butter until the dough comes together.
  3. Knead the dough without adding extra flour until the dough is less sticky.
  4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
  5. To make the filling: Combine the potato and cheese.
  6. To assemble: Roll out half the dough until it is about 30mm thick. Use a round 5cm cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Continue until you’ve used all the dough.
  7. Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling in the dough and fold over, creating a pocket. Pinch the edges of the pierogi to seal.
  8. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook about 10 pierogi at a time until they begin to float. Drain the pierogi.
  9. Saute the onion in the butter in a large pan until it begins to brown. Add the drained pierogi and fry until browned and crisp.
  10. Serve with additional sour cream.

*Recipe sourced from King Arthur Flour.

Image sourced from King Arthur Flour

Milho Frito

Milho Frito is a Portuguese dish made from frying cooked maize meal. By adding just a few simple ingredients, you can turn the traditional South African staple into a Portuguese favourite.


  • 6 C water
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C maize meal
  • 3 Tb herbs, finely chopped


  1. Add oil, water, garlic and salt to a large pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Slowly whisk in the maize meal in a steady stream. Once the maize meal is added, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Keep stirring for about 20 minutes until the maize meal starts to thicken and pull away from the sides of the pot.
  4. Add the herbs and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the maize meal into a greased baking dish and allow to cool until it firms up.
  6. Cut the maize meal into cubes or into chips and fry in batches for about 3-5 minutes a side, until golden brown and crispy.
  7. Allow the cubes to drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with some salt.

Recipe sourced from My Portuguese Kitchen.

Milho Frito
Image sourced from www.pixabay.com


Traditionally, paella is a rich and hearty dish made with colourful vegetables, fresh seafood and golden saffron. This recipe is made lighter on the pocket by using turmeric in place of saffron and chicken rather than seafood.


  • 1 tsp lemon rind
  • 2 Tb lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 Tb olive oil
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 Tb thyme
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C uncooked rice
  • 1/3 C dry white wine
  • 3 C chicken stock
  • 2 C frozen peas
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 Tb parsley, chopped


  1. Stir together the lemon juice, rind and turmeric and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a paella pan or large skillet. Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, for about 6 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, thyme and garlic to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in the lemon mixture, stock and remaining salt.
  7. Nestle chicken into rice, skin side up, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 18 minutes.
  8. Add the peas and pepper, increase heat to medium and cook until rice begins to brown at the edges, about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and serve scattered with parsley.

Recipe sourced from Cooking Light.

Image sourced from Cooking Light


Last but not least on our list is cassoulet – a rich southern French stew made from sausages and beans. Hearty, rich and filling, this is the perfect comfort food during cold nights.


  • 280g sausages
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 C parsley, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 slices white bread, cut into chunks
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 Tb parsley, chopped


  1. Cook the sausages in oil over a moderate heat until browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside.
  2. Cook onion and garlic until browned and add herbs, parsley and tomatoes. Season to taste and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Cut sausages into slices and add to the tomato mixture, along with the beans.
  4. Discard the bay leaf and heat through.
  5. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking and saute the bread. Stir in garlic and parsley and season. Then scatter over cassoulet.

*Recipe sourced from Epicurious.

Image sourced from Epicurious

Do you have any recipes for exotic dishes using pantry staples? Share them with us in the comments section below!

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