Time Savers/Tips

  1. Cook loads of dal in the pressure cooker, cool, and freeze in separate batches or containers. If you're short on time and want to do a quick dal tadka, just do the tadka, fry the onions or whatever else you use, and add the pre-cooked dal! (courtesy my mom).
  2. When making cutlets/tikkas/patties, for the nonvegetarians-Instead of rolling each cutlet individually in eggwash, just beat an egg (or two) and mix it into the cooked cutlet mixture. Shape into patties, roll in breadcrumbs, arrange the cutlets with spaces inbetween them on a plate and place the plate in the freezer, covered. When set, you can easily remove them and plonk them into a ziplock bag and freeze. This way, it takes up less space in the freezer and you can easily separate them. When you're hungry or you have guests, all you have to do is take them out of the freezer and fry in hot oil immediately. No need to defrost and no need to roll again in eggwash or breadcrumbs! (courtesy Ammuedathy and Hani aunty).
  3. When you buy a fresh bunch of cilantro or coriander leaves, chop them up finely and store in a container  (Tupperware Fridgesmart is great for this). So the next time you want to garnish a dish, you don't have to chop each time. All you have to do is take out the required amount from the container, wash it, and dunk it in your dish. If you want to wash it and then store it, make sure you dry it out well or it gets spoilt-but drying it out spoils the freshness anyway, so it's much better to just chop and wash it before use (courtesy me!).
  4. For fresh mushrooms, to store them in the fridge longer-wash, chop, and fry them in a little oil with just a pinch of salt. Wait till all the water dries out and then store in containers in the fridge for use later in any dish you want. This way, the mushrooms can be stored without getting spoilt for much longer (courtesy Priya Chandraveer).
  5. Green chillies keep fresh for longer if their stalks are removed and a little haldi is sprinkled on them before storing in a container in the vegetable tray of the fridge (courtesy mom).
  6. When buying mince (kheema), cook it with salt, pepper, chopped onions and green chillies and store in the freezer in separate containers. This can be used in a variety of dishes like shepherd's pie, kheema puttu, patties, spaghetti bolognaise, stuffed buns, etc. Since it's already cooked, it wouldn't take much time to assemble and cook the rest of the dish (courtesy yours truly!).
  7. Take half an hour out of your busy day on the weekend and plan a weekly menu (while  keeping it flexible and factoring in variables like eating out unexpectedly, last-minute guests, etc). Make a grocery list with your weekly menu in mind. Doing this not only minimizes wastage of vegetables and other perishables, but can also trim your food budget substantially (me, again!). You also won't have to stand in front of an open fridge, staring at the contents and wondering what to cook for the next meal, or use precious brainpower plotting and planning the next meal and the next meal and the next throughout the day! Once a week is enough :-).
  8. If milk gets curdled or fermented, instead of throwing it away, drain the water from the milk and retain the curd like substance. Transfer to a pan and heat on low flame for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring in 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar and have it like a sweet dish (this is my friend Emreen's tip-she swears its yummy!).
  9. Instead of grating a fresh coconut every time a recipe calls for one (if you use coconut regulary), grate a couple of them at one go and store in the freezer compartment. This will store well for weeks.When you want to use, just microwave the required amount for 30 seconds or use the defrost option (this one also is Emreen's). I have to edit this to say that personally, I'm too lazy to grate coconuts so I score out the inner fleshy part with a knife instead and store it in the freezer compartment. When I want to use it, I just have to remove the amount I want from the container (which is easier to remove if it's in chunks than if it were grated) and microwave it for 30 seconds or use the defrost option for bread.Then just run it in the spice jar of the mixie for 1 to 2 minutes until it gets finely shredded.