It's the little tips and tricks that help save time and effort in the kitchen. Indian food expert Maunika Gowardhan shares her wisdom with us.
As well as saving time, the following tips can help ensure your cooking ends up delicious, rather than a disaster...
1. Gently frying whole spices in oil prior to adding other ingredients gives an even amount of flavour to the overall dish. If using a spice paste such as Patak’s, this is done for you. Just add a splash of water to ensure your spices don’t burn.
2. If you’re crushing garlic or ginger for your curry, make an extra batch that you can freeze. This will last ages in the freezer and can be used straight from frozen into your warm saucepan the next time you need it.
3. Tomato puree, yoghurt and coconut milk all work as the perfect thickening agent for Indian curry dishes. It's a good idea to have tomato puree, tinned tomatoes and a can of coconut milk in the cupboard at all time.
4. Indian food isn’t all about the heat or usage of chilli. It’s a balance of flavour and spicing; so use chilli powder and fresh chillies accordingly.
5. If your curry ends up a bit oily, add a teaspoon or two of chick pea flour/gram flour towards the end of the cooking process. This will help absorb the excess oil and also thicken the gravy/sauce.
6. Add a small dollop (say a tablespoon) of yoghurt if you’re cooking with okra - it will stop it becoming all gooey.
7. Clever use of ingredients can give your dish a natural colour boost; blend spinach to get a deep shiny green, or add tinned tomatoes for a bright red hue. To get a mild creamy colour, use cream and ground almonds.
8. If you’re adding a lot of yoghurt to a dish, beat it a bit first as it can split if you pour it straight in due to the heat of the pan. Make sure it’s a full fat yoghurt too, such as Greek yoghurt.
9. Freeze any spinach you have left over. All you need to do is wash it, bag it and pop in the freezer. You don’t need to chop it when it comes out frozen. Simply crush it with your hands and add directly to raita or saag aloo.
10. If you’re making kebabs on sticks, wrap the meat around two sticks rather than one. Alternatively, use a tea spoon of gram/chick pea flour to bind the meat. That way they won’t roll round when you try to turn them.
11. Rather than re-heat leftover boiled rice, it’s far better to make a pilau with it. Quickly fry whole spices in oil or use a spice paste such as Patak’s, before adding chopped onions followed by the leftover rice - top with fresh coriander.
12. Finally, turmeric stains. If you get it on fabric soak in cold water with vinegar (my mother used to swear by that!) If it ends up on your carpet, pour over fizzy lemonade, leave and then dab with kitchen paper.
Perhaps the best piece of advice to all of us who cook is to enjoy it. After all, no one likes their food with a side order of stress. Take your time, plan accordingly and practice.
Have you got any tips and cheats you’d like to share with your fellow lovefood.com readers? Please let us know in the comments box below.
Also worth your attention:
Great recipes from Anjali Pathak
Recipes using Patak's pastes from Maunika Gowardhan
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