Garam Masala

Garam masala is one of those ‘go to’ spices in Indian cooking just like the essential spice black pepper. Garam masala is a mixture of hot spices such as clove, bay leaf and cardamom and is predominantly used in Northern Indian cuisine. Most supermarkets will have ready made blends but you can make your own at home and store away from sunlight, heat and moisture for up to 6 months. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium-low heat until you can feel the heat rising. Add 4 pieces of cinnamon, 12 bay leaves, 20 green cardamoms, 2 tbsp coriander seeds, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp cloves and 1 tsp black peppercorns. Roast for a couple of minutes and shake the pan from time to time until you can smell the aromas. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately tip the spices onto a plate and leave to cool completely. Transfer the spices to a spice mill or a pestle and mortar and blend until finely ground. You can use garam masala a few minutes before the end of cooking a dish or for a marinade such as in tandoori chicken.

Easy Indian Cooking

Easy Indian Cooking

Tinned Fruit

A tin of fruit such as some mango slices, pineapples and peaches can come in handy to make a delicious Indian style fruit salad along with some fresh strawberries and a banana sliced up. Make a dressing using the juice of 1 lime, 2 tsp demerara sugar and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

Can of Kidney Beans

A can of kidney beans can make a hearty Punjabi dish which tastes even better the day after it’s made. Heat some oil in a large saucepan, add a few cumin seeds then tip in a chopped onion and fry for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in about a teaspoon of grated root ginger and a quarter tsp chilli powder and continue stirring for a further 1 minute. Mix in the drained kidney beans and cook for a couple of minutes. Add a few tablespoons of water and simmer uncovered for 7-8 minutes stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the salt and garam masala and sprinkle with a few fresh coriander leaves if you have any.

Tin of Coconut Milk or block of Creamed Coconut

Coconut milk adds a hint of the exotic at times like these and works well with white fish, frozen or fresh. You can sprinkle a 1/4 tsp of turmeric and salt over 300g of fish fillets. Heat 2 tbsp of sunflower oil in a pan and fry the fish on both sides for 3-4 minutes turning occasionally and taking care not to break up the fish. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Add 4 chopped garlic cloves and another tbsp of oil to the pan and fry stirring for 30 seconds. Return the fish to the pan and stir in half a can of coconut milk or about 50g of crumbled creamed coconut along with 4 tbsp of water. Simmer for a further 3-4 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Serve with Basmati rice.

Red Lentils

Red Lentils are a staple in most households and make delicious dal recipes. Boil about 200g of lentils with around 500ml of water for 20-30 minutes until the mixture becomes mushy. Melt 45g of butter in a pan until sizzling and add a chopped green chilli, 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds if you have any, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of asafoetida and fry stirring constantly for 30 seconds, or until the spices splutter. Stir the buttery spice mixture into the lentils and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Curry Paste

Curry paste is a blend of spices and other ingredients used to create a flavourful curry sauce. Pastes provide a quick fix to dishes and only a few teaspoons are needed to make a curry dish for a serving of 4 people. When browning onions, add the curry paste to the pan and cook the paste mixture for a couple of minutes on a low to medium heat until you see droplets of oil surface. This is to make sure that the paste is cooked.

Jar of Ginger and Garlic Paste

At times like these, fresh root ginger and garlic bulbs may not be easily available so a jar of this blend lasts longer and goes a long way in creating various Indian dishes. Just 2 teaspoons for a serving of 4 people is enough when cooking a dish of either vegetables, lentils, fish or meat.