As a working Indian mom, I struggle to make fresh Indian food for my family everyday. I would love to feed my children the same healthy and elaborate meals that my mother fed me as a child, but living in a nuclear family in a busy city leave very few hours (or even minutes) for cooking.
Traditional Indian food (read more about it here) has a reputation of taking arduous long hours to prepare, but trust me that the key to making quick meals is in the preparation. With just a few simple tricks and hacks that I have listed below, you will have half the work done in advance, cutting off many minutes off your valuable weekday cooking and win you the ‘mummy that cooks yummy’ badge for life!
So read my essential cooking tips for Indian working moms that you can follow once every 2 weeks over a lazy weekend and set pace for the rest of the week.
1) Freeze that ginger-garlic-chilli paste
Hands down this is the easiest cooking tip for every Indian working mom. We know that the start of every curry requires peeling and finely chopping ginger, garlic and green chilli. But hey, with this tip, you can create your “curry starters” in advance and save upto 10 minutes each time you cook a curry.
100gm of large chunks of fresh peeled ginger~
100gms of garlic cloves
1 tbsp of water
Add to a strong spice grinder and churn till blended into a smooth paste.
Now scoop into a clean ice tray and leave in freezer.
Pop out one cube every time you need to start a curry.
2) Freeze your onion-tomato masala
Masala (the base sauce of an Indian curry) is at the heart of most Indian dishes. Now most Indian cooks would know that you can’t rush that masala – it is the very core that holds the deep rich flavour that separates a bad curry from good, a rushed curry from one prepared with love and patience.
And while in an ideal world we would simmer this masala with the composure of a monk under enlightenment, let’s be honest, those monks ain’t dealing with long working hours and hangry kids tugging at their robes for food.
So my second top cooking tip for Indian working moms is to batch make that masala over a weekend and freeze in ice trays (like the ginger garlic paste above) for the weeks to come.
Once you have the frozen masala handy, all you do in the rush of those weekly dinners is to
– thaw some quickly in a pan (or microwave)
– add and cook your dry spices
– mix some boiling water and
– finish with your veg or pulse – boiled potatoes, boiled eggs, a can of chickpeas or a can of kidney beans.
And voila! Let the curry cook while you revere in the satisfaction of putting a hot pot of delicious curry on the dinner table in the middle of the week! Now that’s a feat even the enlightened monk would envy!
For an even better time saving tip, use ground crispy fried onions in your masala instead of frying freshly cut onions.
3) Always keep spare tins of chickpeas and kidneys beans
This is a no brainer, look at tip 2!
I cannot start to tell you how many times these cans of boiled chickpeas and beans have transformed my hysterical, bickering, hungry children into angelic little cherubs peacefully dunking into a bowl of hot basmati rice and chana masala.
So yes, lets not frown at those cans, because let’s face it, no one has ever, in the history of cooking, always remembered to soak those beans the previous night. So embrace the tins for those last minute wins!
4) Soak the lentils in the morning for quick dinner
And if on a beautiful bright morning, you have sorted out the kids AND the packed lunches, AND fed yourself, AND devoured that hot cup of coffee, AND managed to finish a thought in your head – well on that rare(!?) beautiful bright morning my friends, the word “dinner” might pop to your mind.
So on this rare(!?) beautiful, bright morning, soak a cup of yellow split pea lentils. Leave these golden jewels to swell up over the day, so when you put them on fire, they cook into the most hearty daal in a matter of just 15 minutes!
Now temper this into a delicious daal tadka and serve with some hot basmati rice!
A fulfilling end to that rare(!?) beautiful, bright morning!
Read more about the 5 most popular Indian lentils.
5) Make extra veggies to create quick tortilla wraps the next day
I live by this mantra – Always. Make. More!
I always make extra dry vegetables and use the left overs to make a quick wrap with shop bought tortillas.
6) And a Cheeky 6th (of course)
Always keep those condiments handy!
This was and will always be the easiest way to elevate those quick meals, to add tonnes of flavours with just a spoonful!
A dollop of pickle, a mix of chutney or a dash of sprinkles is all you may need to turn left overs, or even a bland takeaway from “oh no” to “oooooo yeaahhhhh”!
So tell us, which one of these is your favourite tip ?