Time-saving Indian ingredients

Time-saving Indian ingredients

By
Anjum Anand
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493789
Photographer
Lisa Linder

There are so many products you can buy that will help you cut down on time spent in the kitchen… the only question, really, is how much do you want done for you? I still like to do as much as I can, but there are some time-saving ingredients that I do use all the time, and still others that I think are worth considering.

Crispy fried shallots or onions

I once bought a jar of these from an Oriental supermarket and found them so useful that I now always have them in the cupboard. Leave them whole to enhance biryanis or to add an extra texture to a salad or soup, or crush them and add to curries instead of using fresh onions. I haven’t done that in this book, but it is an easy way to add sweetness, particularly if you use the onions rather than the shallots. Buying these will of course save you 10 minutes or so of slicing and frying… but really they are much more useful than that.

Tamarind and date chutney

This thick, dark, sweet treasure is one of India’s most popular chutneys. Similar to ketchup in its versatility, Indians use it in just the same way as a condiment and dip, but it is also mixed into snacks and street foods. I used to make my own, but these days I also buy it in. I haven’t tried every type on the market, but I do like the Maggi brand, sold as tamarind ‘sauce’. A fantastic time- and effort-saver!

Ready-cooked rice

Although rice only takes eight minutes once the water is boiling, it does add another element to cook in your meal. There are now very good ready-cooked rices that only require reheating and they can be used in any of the rice dishes in this book. They are often sold in 250g packs, which equates to about 95g of raw rice, so you can estimate the amount you will need (though be aware that it will depend on the type and age of the rice, so it is impossible to be exact). Omit the rice-cooking process from any of my rice recipes and stir the ready-cooked rice into the flavoured oil or base (which needs to be fully cooked).

Pani puri packets and kits

Pani puri is a most delicious Indian street food snack of crispy thin-skinned spheres of pastry filled with any combination of ingredients, topped with a sweet, sour and spicy liquid and popped straight into your mouth. They are really, truly delicious. You can now find packets of the puri (the spheres) as well as the pani (the spices and sauces that go into the liquid), or you can buy whole kits with everything you need inside. Pani puri are excellent quick bites to whet the appetite and the kits are definitely worth buying.

Rice paper wrappers

These are so versatile that I have been using them for a long time now. The longer I have them, the more uses I find for them, so in this book I have included some delicious and easy recipes. They only need a five- to 10-second soak before they can be eaten, so are minimal effort. Buy them in Oriental supermarkets and online.

Frozen grated coconut and creamed coconut

I always have a packet of frozen grated coconut that I buy from my Indian shop. It is kept in the freezer and bits are chiselled off as needed. It is by far the easiest way to get fresh coconut into your meals. You can buy it online as well. A block of creamed coconut is not a new revolutionary ingredient, but it has recently had a resurgence in my kitchen. I hate wasting 400g cans of coconut milk that only get partially used, and refuse to add the whole thing just because I have it. So creamed coconut really works for me. Store it in the fridge and grate or chop off as much as you need for a recipe. It is not as sweet as coconut milk and I find it has more texture. It is easy to find in supermarkets and well-stocked local shops.

Ginger and garlic pastes

I have to confess, I do not use these as I always have ginger and garlic at home and it takes just minutes to grate, but I know a lot of very good Indian cooks who do, so feel free to use them if you find them more convenient.

Paneer

This Indian white cheese can be bought in supermarkets as well as online. Soak in just-boiled water for 10 minutes to soften it before using. If you want to make your own, which will be more tender (though obviously not time-saving!).

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