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Quick Weeknight Dinners with 3 Make-Ahead Food Parts

31 Aug

Weekdays are busy times for many of us who come back from work late evening and then fix a meal. We want weeknight dinners to be easy to put together, taking little time to move from kitchen to plate. [Not counting the blessed few like Rohit's boss with the gusto to whip up a fancy meal at that hour ;-)]

One could cook loads on Sunday and freeze for the week. But that’s not so exciting, is it? So how does one reach that elusive balance between easy+quick (pre-cooked) and tasty+interesting (freshly cooked)?

Here’s a middle ground.

Make-ahead food parts. Mix and match. Embellish.

Use the Pareto Principle to your advantage: identify the steps in cooking that consume a majority time and labor, and do them beforehand. The chopping of greens. The slow-frying of spices. The boiling of dal. When the time comes to make your weeknight dinner, all that remains to be done is the remaining 20% of cooking that produces 80% of the result.

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Cherry Tomato and Coriander Chutney

20 Jul

The tart sweetness of roasted cherry tomatoes and the freshness of coriander leaves come together in this lovely chutney.

Garlic and dry red chilies give it that extra zing.

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Tomato Peanut Chutney

5 Dec

A hot and sour tomato peanut chutney (pachadi), the making of which a friend from Andhra demoed to me in my kitchen last evening. Tomato peanut chutney is a great side dish with boiled rice, especially on days when you don’t have another curry to accompany your mail.

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How To Make Red Chili Flakes

28 Sep

Cross off red chili flakes from your grocery shopping list. You can make red chili flakes in the comfort of your home, with your choice of chilies. If you want the chili flakes bright red and medium-hot, use Kashmiri red chilies. If hot is your preference, use Guntur red chilies. Or mix up the chili varieties as you like.

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Til Methi Ki Chutney: Sesame Fenugreek Chutney

2 Sep

I am a fan of the fierce, bitter methi chutney, but I gather that not many are on my side. Most friends find it "a bit much" for their taste. And so – for them and for those of you that share their taste – here’s a milder, nuttier version of it: sesame fenugreek chutney or til methi ki chutney. (more…)

Sweet and Sour Ginger Chutney

6 Feb

Ginger lovers: this one is for you.

A spicy sweet and sour chutney, with ginger as its star. (more…)

Curry Leaves and Peanut Chutney

30 Jul

Inspired by the chapter on curry leaves in Ratna Rajaiah’s fascinating book How the Banana Goes to Heaven, I recently resolved to eat curry leaves as much and as raw as I possibly can. The prospect wasn’t enticing, let me say up front. Though I like curry leaves, I find their taste overpowering and use them sparingly even in tadka. I would have to steel myself to eat curry leaves raw, or so I thought.

How wrong I was.

A tentative stab at making curry leaves and peanut chutney turned out to be hugely successful. Peanuts balance out the bitterness of curry leaves, making this chutney not only palatable but also delicious.

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