Every Cook has his or her own method to keep things ready for easy cooking.
I wanted to share some simple ideas for cooks who are learning to cook Indian Dishes. Depending on the size of your pantry and the refrigerator, you can stock the items.
I keep some items ready such as:
1.Chili – Ginger paste: It is not really a paste but close to it. Green Chilies and Fresh Ginger are very important items in Indian food . I keep some Fresh Green chilies and some fresh Ginger in the refrigerator.( Fresh ginger is great in Chai also.)
For this I use Serrano or Jalapeno Chilies and fresh ginger; I make it once a week, keep it in the refrigerator and use it in daily cooking. If you do not want it very hot, you can use Jalapeno Chilies.
To make Chili Ginger Paste: 2 to 3 Fresh green Chilies of your choice and 2 inch Ginger. Cut them in to pieces no need to remove seeds-and use an electric Chopper. Grind it so there are small pieces and not pasty. It is OK to have it pasty too if you prefer. Once it is chopped, add a little oil and put the mixture in a small container- keep refrigerated. Use it for no more then a week and discard unused portion.
2. Garlic Paste; I buy the store bought paste. Make sure to close the lid tight so the Refrigerator does not smell all garlic.
3. Frozen Coconut- Most Asian stores and sometimes big Grocery stores carry this item. If you can not find the frozen grated Coconut, use the dry packet available in Baking section. Put it in hot water and squeeze out the sugary juice and store the Coconut in a plastic freezing Bag. If frozen coconut is not available, you can use the one available in packet in Baking section.
4. Spice Box containing: Turmeric powder, Chili Powder, Dhana Jeera Powder- I buy slightly corse ground mixture( Most Indian stores sell in 1/2 pound or more in packages), Whole Cumin Seeds, Black Mustard Seeds, Dried while red Chilies, Dried Curry Leaves, Kokum.
5. Fresh Cilantro: It is easily available in many Countries and in United States. I find that the best way to store and keep Cilantro for longer time is to cut the bottom part, loosen the stems and leaves a little and wrap them in paper towel and keep in a plastic bag. Please make sure to wash it (as much as you use) before using. You can also wash and dry the Cilantro fist-it should be totally dry before you wrap it.
Because I use many spices and make my own mixes, I have almost all spices in the Pantry along with Rice, whole beans or Beans, Daals or Lagume, Chapatti Flour, and Chana Flour.
. These beans are mainly Indian whole beans such as Moong Beans, Whole Urid, Whole Chana, Lentil or Toor – Arhar, Moonth beans, whole dried Peas. Moong beans are used in many Asian Countries- bean Sprouts are made from these beans.
whole Urid are little – smaller black beans-they are not real dark black like the Mexican black beans. They change to lighter color when boiled.
Whole Chana-Chick peas-there are two or three kinds- Red(Brown), Green-these are small Chick peas with yellow inside. The larger Chana-the Chick peas, Garbanzo Beans or Kabuli Chanah in India, are lighter and larger-these are used for Hammus and some North Indian Dishes such as Chole.
Moonth Beans look like little brown Mung beans -they have different flavor and taste.
All of the above beans can be sprouted.
What are Daals?
Daals are split beans shelled
Daals are: Mung Daal, Chana Daal, Arhar ot Toor Daal, Urid Daal, Masoor Daal. Split green peas.
All the beans and daals cook better if soaked in water before cooking.
For best results, soak all whole beans over night and the Daals, about 15 minutes to 2 hours.
Recipes for each will include the time to soak.