My Kitchen Staples: Andy Baraghani’s 5 Essentials

black and white portrait of chef andy baraghani with three wine glasses stacked on table

Andy Baraghani wants people to cook with intention. His new NYT Bestseller, The Cook You Want To Be, draws inspiration from his Iranian childhood while asking readers to engage with food on a level they may not have done before.

“I’m really happy that the book seems to be resonating with people. The goal with this book is for people to fall in love with the recipes and cook them, but my big goal is to have people go that one extra step so they learn about ingredients they were unaware of, or techniques that they’ve never tried, or about the cultural context behind a dish. That was very important to me, for the home cook to go that extra step. I want people to come to the kitchen with an open mind.”

In Andy’s pantry, you’ll find simple, multi-functional ingredients. “I tried to think of things that weren’t so obvious,” he explains. Baraghani went on to suggest that he wants his pantry to be full of things he actually uses. “For example, I have a lot of hot sauces, but I use all of them. I think people wind up having a hot sauce collection that needs to be consolidated.”

And what should people do with the massive number of hot sauces they’ve accidentally acquired? “If they’re not expired, I would just combine them and make hot sauce baths for your wings, or marinades for grilled meats. I would push to experiment and see what happens when you combine a few of them together.”

Andy’s Kitchen Staples

Short Grain Rice

“While I grew up with long grain basmati rice, short grain rice is probably what I eat the most. I find that it’s something I’m preparing at least twice a week. Whether it’s steamed plain and ready to go for leftovers, tossed with butter and nori like I do in my book, or tossed with finely chopped kimchi throughout, I find the kind of chewy stickiness and slightly nutty flavor so satisfying. I love the short grain rice from Koda Farms.”


“This may come as no surprise, as I have more vinegars than I do oils. Unseasoned rice vinegars, red vinegars, white vinegars… I use them to make dressings, I’ll add a splash to a braise when I don’t have wine, toss it with a lot of chopped herbs and dab that on fried toast. I like mixing vinegars to add a level of complexity. I love TART vinegars, I think what they do is amazing.”

Dried Spices

“There are certain spices that I am always gravitating towards: Pragati Turmeric from Diaspora Co. It’s definitely a dominant spice that I grew up with, and I use it casually, whether blooming in some fat and making a Persian stew, to making a dressing with citrus juice for a black pepper and turmeric dressing … I’d say onion powder, turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fennel seeds. These are the spices I tend to use the most.”

Full Fat Cottage Cheese

“I think it works so well, whether I want something savory and salty, or sweet. It’s kind of my go-to snack. A big spoonful with shaved cucumbers, crunchy veggies, olive oil, salt, chili, and black pepper—that’s kind of my savory snack. Or, putting jam on top, or honey and salt. It ends up satisfying a sweet craving.”


“I use the zest because of their floral quality, they bring a lovely scent to whatever they touch. I love the juice for the acidity, but I’ll also use the whole lemon chopped up in a dressing. I tend to use all elements of the lemon.”