Waitrose shares niche A-Z list of popular ingredients for 2021

Pass the Zhoug! Waitrose shares an A-Z of niche ingredients set to become increasingly popular among home cooks in 2021 – so how many have YOU heard of?

  • British supermarket shared ingredients expected to shape future eating habits
  • Adventurous A to Z list runs from Amchoor to Zhoug with many from overseas
  • Lots are associated with immigrants who have brought their dishes to the UK 
  • Originate from sources as far afield as the foothills of the Himalayas to Australia 

If you got experimental in the kitchen during 2020’s seemingly endless lockdowns, you may already be au fait with the likes of Zhoug, Amchoor and Pul Biber.

According to Waitrose, these three ingredients are among the top exotic ingredients and dishes set to whet our appetites in 2021. 

The British supermarket has compiled an A-Z of niche culinary delights expected to shape the nation’s future eating habits in the near future.

And it’s a far cry from a traditional meat and two veg diet, or the traditional Italian, Indian and Chinese cuisines we’ve come to know and love.  

Zhoug is a chilli-spiced blend of herbs and spices originally from Yemen but is hugely popular in Levantine street food culture thanks to Yemeni migration

The list kicks off with Amchoor, a seasoning made from dried and powdered green mangoes widely used in north Indian cooking to lend fruity tartness to recipes, and finishes with Zhoug, a chilli-spiced blend of herbs and spices popular in Levantine street food.

Many are associated with immigrants who have brought their dishes to the UK – and the list certainly demonstrates how Brits embrace cuisines and tastes from overseas, perhaps first enjoyed on adventurous foreign holidays (likely pre-2020!). 

The ingredients originate from as far afield as the foothills of the Himalayas to the freezing climes of Iceland, the Far East, Africa and Australia.

Waitrose A-Z of ingredients for 2021 

A: Amchoor

B: Black Garlic

C: Cà Ri Gà

D: Dashi

E: Ethiopia

F: Fragrant Rice

G: Gram flour

H: Himalayan Pink Salt

I: Icelandic Skyr

J: Jollof

K: Kalamansi

L: Lamingtons

M: Mezcal

N: ‘Nduja 

O: Orange wine

P: Pul Biber

Q: Queen Olives

R: Russia

S: Sambal

T: Tangzhong

U: Udon Noodles

V: Virgin Coconut Oil

W: Wayanad Peppercorns

X: Xantham Gum

Y: Yuzu

Z: Zhoug

Hailing from Korea, where it was initially developed as a health product, the list features black garlic, now popular in various Asian cuisines. 

Sweet and sticky with an almost figgy texture, the matured cloves are more mellow than fresh garlic and add depth to dishes such as a mushroom risotto. It can also be squidged onto a pizza or enjoyed with a strong hard cheese after dinner. 

Speaking of pizzas, ‘Nduja made the list – a spicy Calabrian sausage paste that adds a tasty kick to a Diavola.

If you’re a fan of tequila, you may have already tried its smokier relative, mezcal, which is listed in the Waitrose A-Z. 

It’s also made from agave plants, but the cores are cooked in fire pits before being distilled. Orange wine, where grapes stay in the fermentation vessel, is another boozy item on the list.

If Asian cooking’s your bag, you could switch up your usual chicken stock for dashi, a staple of Japanese cooking. 

The list also includes Himalayan Pink Salt, sourced from Pakistan’s Khewra mines; Icelandic Skyr, a cultured dairy product, and Jollof, a savoury tomato rice dish that originated in Nigeria. 

The popular Australian treat Lamingtons – small coconut-covered squares of sponge cake – also made the cut.

Dishes listed in the A-Z include Cà Ri Gà, a Vietnamese curried chicken slowly simmered with potatoes and carrots in a fragrant, coconut-based lemongrass and garlic broth.

There’s also Tangzhong, a pillowy-soft ‘milk bread’ which involves pre-cooking a percentage of the flour and water in a recipe to make a water roux, which is then allowed to cool before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients and baked.

If Asian cooking’s your bag, you could switch up your usual chicken stock for dashi, a staple of Japanese cooking


Chilli lovers will enjoy Sambal, left, a fiery and aromatic sauce and a typical condiment in places including Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, while ‘Nduja, right, is already a popular pizza topping

Spice up your fruit bowl with Kalamansi, a South East Asian cross between a kumquat and a madarin common in Filipino kitchens and often mixed with soy sauce, vinegar and chilli to make a versatile dipping sauce, or in zingy marinades; and Yuzu, a versatile East Asian citrus fruit which looks like a miniature grapefruit.  

Its juice and rind lend themselves to everything from preserves to cocktails, and add zing to ponzu sauce. 

Chilli lovers will enjoy Sambal, a fiery and aromatic sauce and a typical condiment in places including Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. 

Spice up your fruit bowl with Kalamansi, a South East Asian cross between a kumquat and a madarin common in Filipino kitchens

The list begins with Amchoor, a seasoning made from dried and powdered green mangoes widely used in north Indian cooking to lend fruity tartness to recipes


If you’re a fan of tequila, you may have already tried its smokier relative, mezcal, which is listed in the Waitrose A-Z. It’s also made from agave plants, but their cores are cooked in fire pits before being distilled. Orange wine, right, where grapes stay in the fermentation vessel, was another boozy item on the list

Fragrant Rice, Gram flour and Pul Biber, a traditional Turkish condiment of salted and oiled flakes of dried red pepper, are set to become new kitchen cupboard staples, while Queen Olives are the 2021 canape of choice.

According to Waitrose, we should all start thinking about the peppercorns in our grinders like we do chocolate and coffee, and spend ‘a little more on a single-estate product [which] makes a huge difference to the taste’. 

The supermarket recommends Wayanad Peppercorns, deemed to be the world’s finest and harvested by hand in Kerala, with hints of spice and citrus in their flavour profile.

And while virgin coconut oil has been a hip ingredient for a while now, Waitrose suggests looking out for one from certified organic plantations that’s been extracted without using chemicals, such as Groovy Food Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.  

Baking for a coeliac, or someone who’s avoiding gluten? Reach for a packet of Xantham Gum. It mimics the function of gluten, creating a better crumb and reducing annoying crumbling of the finished results.  

A spokesman for Waitrose magazine, which features the list in its January 2021 edition, said: ‘Never before have home cooks had access to such a wide range of inspiration.’ 

Dishes listed in the A-Z include Cà Ri Gà, a Vietnamese curried chicken slowly simmered with potatoes and carrots in a fragrant, coconut-based lemongrass and garlic broth,

Tangzhong is a pillowy-soft ‘milk bread’ which involves pre-cooking a percentage of the flour and water in a recipe to make a water roux, which is then allowed to cool before being mixed with the rest of the ingredients and baked

The list also includes Himalayan Pink Salt, pictured, sourced from Pakistan’s Khewra mines

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