Yesterday I shared a peek into Mallika Basu's home kitchen in London, England. Mallika (a.k.a. Miss Masala) is a mom of two toddlers, a PR executive, and the proprietress of a popular food blog called Quick Indian Cooking. I was charmed and impressed by her energy and inventiveness in cooking, but I was somewhat boggled — how does she do all this and cook traditional Indian food, which I find quite time-consuming (and not usually light or healthy).
So I asked Mallika for some tips for getting fresh, tasty Indian food on the table day in and day out. Here are her answers, along with a few recipes.
Here are Mallika's tips — there are many more good tips and recipes on her website, Quick Indian Cooking, too.
Mallika's Tips for Quicker Indian Cooking
The words "quick" and "Indian cooking" aren't natural bedfellows, and necessary was definitely the mother of invention as far as I was concerned. My tips for creating quick and flavorful Indian recipes are as follows:
1. Simplify the spices.
There are seemingly a million spices. The best way to start experimenting with Indian cookery is to pick a simple recipe that uses two to three spices and grow the spice collection from there.
2. Buy ground spices in small quantities.
Always buy ready powdered spices in smaller quantities as they tend to lose punch as soon as the pack opens. This will save having to grind/powder your own.
3. If you do grind spices, go with machine power.
If you do fancy grinding your own spices, a coffee grinder is the way to go — not a pestle and mortar. The cheaper ones with the detachable bowl inside are the best ones as the blades will inevitably weaken.
4. Use the freezer for specialized ingredients.
I love my freezer for ready access to specialized ingredients — coriander leaves, curry leaves, dill are really easy to whip out of the freezer when needed.
5. Freeze minced garlic and ginger in ice cube trays.
Make batches of minced ginger and garlic and freeze in ice cube trays. Then push them out and zip lock them into bags ready for curries. That'll save a whole lot of time when you're cooking next.
6. Skip recipes with fried onions.
What takes time with Indian cooking is frying onions until caramelised and then masalas until their raw, pungent smell goes. If you're in a hurry, pick recipes that don't use fried onions as a base.
7. Use Greek yogurt instead of cream.
Greek yogurt (thick, full fat natural yogurt) is excellent at adding texture and creaminess to curries and a far healthier alternative to cream.
8. Add a pinch of sugar to curries.
Add a pinch of sugar to oil when heating it up to add natural red colour to curries.
9. Learn to use a pressure cooker.
Learn to use a pressure cooker — every Indian cook has one up their sleeve. They cut cooking times dramatically!
10. Always make extra food.
And finally, always make extra. If you're going through the effort of making a curry, you should have plenty left over for another meal.
5 Quick Indian Recipes from Mallika
Here are five recipes I bookmarked to try from Mallika's website — each of them express some of her tips above.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)