By the above title of course we don’t mean sauces, ketchup, the salt and pepper shakers. This post is basically more for the Indian working woman, who at all moments should be prepared to , no not for an earthquake, but rather prepared to hustle up a quick three course meal for four persons at a short notice any time during the 24 hrs . So a restaurant may have the liberty to close down at 11 pm, but not an Indian woman, given our traditions and culture (please don’t ask us to elaborate on that as it is a very vast subject. Just remember that even Draupadi from Mahabharata was caught unaware when Lord Krishna turned up after cleaning up , for some grub. Its another matter that the Lord was generous enough to be satisfied with a grain of rice) Hence a woman must be prepared at all times for a quick cook up.
So how do you save time and effort? How can you shorten the process of chopping, grinding etc? We are not going to write about shortening the entire process, but instead focus on certain basic , should we say elements, that one should have stocked in order to quicken the process of cooking and also enhance the taste.
First in our list is the Ginger garlic paste.
Indian dishes usually are cooked in such a way that begins with the process of sauteing onion , garlic and ginger either chopped or ground. So why waste your time on first peeling the garlic and ginger and then grinding them? Always try to store the ready made paste which is available in the departmental store ,in your refrigerator . Saves a lot of time and effort.Right?
Second item that we would invariably prefer is the tomato puree.
The rising popularity and universal acceptance of the north Indian cuisine has made us realise the role and importance of the tomato in almost each and every vegetable dish. Of course there are few sabzis which require sliced tomatoes instead of purees but in order to get the thick spicy gravy right, you must have the right amount of tomato puree at the right time and place.
Third one of course is the cream.
Confused? Cream as in milk cream or cream of milk? Yes, we use that in cooking our dishes too. There are certain dishes like Chole, Rajma, Shahi Paneer , even Palak paneer, malai kofta etc etc, which requires cream as one of its ingredients and it helps a lot if you can save the effort of trying to strain and separate the milk from the cream. If you can use it to decorate beautiful cakes and pastries, then voila! serves a dual purpose too.
Yes frozen peas is a life saver or call it a meal saver as after potato, it is one of the most common vegetables to be used in Indian dishes. So you can go for a peas pulao, aloo matar (potato peas ) dish, matar paneer (peas and cottage cheese dish ),matar mushroom, mixed vegetable, gobhi matar, methi malai matar etc etc, without having to go into the tedious task of separating the peas from the pod.
And fiinally our fifth one would be ajinomoto.
Yes we know its beneficial effect has been under fire after people coming to know about the mono sodium glutamate thing, but a small pinch once in a blue moon, is something we risk at times. A Indo-Chinese dish is so very incomplete without it , be it the chowmein, or manchurian or simple fried rice. It’s not that we go for such a meal every day . Mind it we are not endorsing it ,but its just a solitary viewpoint of our food desk or more -something that we practise on ourself.
Of course there are the sauteed masalas and many vegetable mixes in the market, but after trying them out we realised that they didn’t quite exude that home made feel in the dishes. It had some artificial-ness in the flavor or aroma once prepared. And as a female member of the family your cooking will always be under scrutiny so, anything that might raise serious doubts on your culinary skills is not advisable according to our humble opinion. So those were our famous fives. We won’t mind it if you care to share yours.