Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Some shortcuts for busy folk who still want to present the best dishes possible. These are made and stored in my Food Bank and I get a good return on my investment on days filled with other demands on my time.
1. Fry some rai, urad dal (use jeera instead of dal or with), karipata and red chillies with hing in oil and keep this 'agar/phodni/talchu' in a bottle in the fridge. When mixed with any cooked/steamed veggie, you have a side dish in mins. Proportion for rai is 1 to 2 urad dal for this.
2. Dry roast the above ingredients, grind and store in a small jar in the fridge. When I'm making coconut chutney, I add a spoonful and it enhances the taste.
3. Clean, cook veggies and freeze them in small bags when they are fresh and they are ready to be cooked alone or in a curry as needed. PLEASE NOTE: I also serve something fresh at the meal to compensate for the loss of any nutrients and encourage those who worry about frozen food to take a vitamin.
4. My most used ingredients are peeled and grated ginger and garlic that is frozen on a plate and then cut into cubes and stored in the freezer. The juices from the fresh ginger and garlic help 'bind' it to burfi like cubes. Ration I use is half a piece of ginger to one piece of garlic.
5. Slice a batch of onions in the food processor, fry them golden brown and bag them (one tablespoon per bag). Freeze this and use as needed.
6. In a little oil but mostly pure ghee, I fry 10 bay leaves (ours are small), 5 1 inch cinnamon sticks, 30 cloves (buds removed of course), big and small elaichi and 10 anise. This has to be done on medium till the aroma is really strong. Bottle, cool and store in the fridge.
7. In summer when it is raining tomatoes, I chop these too and freeze the surplus neighbors give me. One to two tomatoes per bag...they are easy to separate.
8. ditto with all herbs.
Having a 'no free time day'? Take out one bag of onions, one of tomatoes, ginger, garlic, cilantro and a bag of frozen fried cauliflower and some peas. Add garam masala, chill powder, haldi, salt and any other masala you use. Simmer ten mins. If you like you can finish with a tablespoon of each or all of the following: coconut milk, ground khus khus/cashewnut powder.
If you're not making chapatis, cook some rice in the rice cooker with a tablespoon of the ready bay leaf/spices mix and salt. I add fried onions to this too.
While the rice and curry are cooking, chop up a salad or make a chutney/raita to finish the meal. i usually start the rice and I'm done by the time its ready or sooner. All this prep means I have fewer dishes/gadgets to wash too.
Now all you brilliant chefs, share your shortcuts here...

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