How-to guide, cooking tips, answers to frequently asked cooking queries.
This aloo mooli kadhi (potato radish sticks in gram flour curry) recipe, adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s, is a simpler alternative to pakora kadhi, besides being an interesting way of adding radish (mooli) to the diet. The Indian white radish has a taste so powerfully pungent that one can’t have much of it raw. I like mooli paratha, but other ways of cooking mooli don’t excite me. Aloo mooli kadhi, though, had me sold from the word go. The potatoes tone down the sharpness of mooli, and the yogurt and gram flour cloak it all in a rich, delicious sauce.
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.
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.
It is one thing to know how to cook individual Indian dishes, quite another to combine the dishes harmoniously into an appetizing meal. Rajma masala and chhole masala are fantastic house party food, but would you serve them together? Not if you have a modest number of items on the menu. You love pooris as much as you love kadhi, but you would pair them with each other? Not if you want to kill the essence of both.
There are flavors that cohere and flavors that clash. You wouldn’t put multiple items of the same genre – such as gourds or dals – in the same meal. Pooris would possibly go with potato curry, kadhi would most definitely get served with plain rice.
Do you realize that if you stack round parathas in a square lunchbox, then even with the largest paratha size your lunchbox can accommodate you leave more than 20% of its surface space unused?
Does this er…criminal wastage bother you?
You can’t beat geometry. But you can pack parathas in your square lunchbox without an inch of space going waste. Let me show you how.
This was my first attempt at making pickle the traditional way and I have to confess I was nervous. The pickle jar needs to be placed out in the sun during the day and brought inside before sundown, regularly for days together. It needs to be handled with super-dry, ultra-clean equipment. My anxious mind asked – with no prior experience to bank on, a 9-to-6 job and other pressing domestic matters, will I be able to keep up with the discipline of pickle-making?
I did – and a week later, have this delicious green chili pickle recipe to share with you. Detailed step-by-step pictures included.