How do I manage excess cooked food? Freeze or not?

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Freezing food is a good way to have meals on the go! Whether it be leftovers or extra big batches made for future consumption, it is important to know how to store different foods. Here are some steps to make sure that frozen/refrigerated food is safe to eat and the taste is well preserved for your next meal:

      1. Freeze any fresh cooked food only once it cools down and reaches room temperature. You can quicken the cooling process by placing food in a shallow container on a cooling rack to allow air to circulate all around the container. Limiting the depth of food in containers to 2 inches or less leads to quick cooling.
      2. You can refrigerate practically any recipe of fresh cooked food if you are not going to use it for the next 2-3 days. If you plan to use the cooked food within this time, it is perfectly safe to keep it in fridge, it does not need to take up freezer space!
      3. thumb_IMG_0290_1024Store/freeze excess cooked food in small differently sized containers or freezer bags (not storage bags) so that you only reheat/thaw the amount needed for that meal. thumb_IMG_0105_1024

If using freezer bags try to flattened the food into a thin layer. A lumpy or rounded shape takes longer to thaw through to the middle.
Flat packages are also better for stacking in your freezer.

4. If you had to freeze a large container but want to eat a part of it at a time, be careful when refreezing partly thawed food. The thawed food can be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals. Try to reduce the time between thawing and refreezing to ensure that the food to be refrozen does not thaw completely.

Also check- How best to thaw frozen food? and Facts to know with freezing and thawing cooked food.

Invigorating Lamb-नशीली गोश्त करी

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SERVES: 4

Why this recipe? How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

Using Pressure Cooker for this recipe will take 10-15 minutes for the meat to cook whereas it will take 30-45 minutes in a regular pan. 

This recipe saves you : more than 70% of fuel energy and 30 minutes of your precious time that is about 16 to 20% of the total time you spend in kitchen on an average (assuming you spend a total of 2-3 hours in a day in the kitchen)

Allows you to explore your creative side. For vegetarian options, substitute lamb with baby potatoes, baby pumpkins, cottage cheese or other veggies.

TOTAL COOKING TIME: 25-30 Minutes

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon oil
1 daal chini (cinnamon stick)
1 chakraphool (star anise)
1 brown elaichi (cardamom)
2 green elaichi (cardamom)
50 grams of khus khus (poppy seeds)
2 tez patta (bay leaf)
6 palm sized pureed or finely chopped onion
2 medium sized pureed tomatoes
1 inch frozen ginger
2 inch frozen garlic
2 teaspoons meat masala/ curry powder
1 kilo lamb shoulder cut to small pieces
1 teaspoon red chilli (if you like it hot)
1 inch frozen green chilli or 2 fresh green chilies
1 teaspoon garam masala (All spice)
2 teaspoons salt

STEP 1. Put daal chini (cinnamon), chakraphool (star anise), elaichi (cardamoms) and tez patta (bay leaf) in heated oil, after 30 seconds to a minute add pre sautéed onion and poppy seeds or if using freshly chopped onion, sauté until onion are light brown.
STEP 2. Add lamb and meat masala , Stir for 2-3 minutes, add frozen ginger, frozen garlic, green chilli, salt and red chilli powder .
STEP 3. Sauté for 5-7 minutes and then add pureed tomato, and stir it well, add half a glass of water before you close the lid of the pressure cooker.
STEP 4. Cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes (or for three whistles) in pressure cooker or for 30-45 minutes in pan with lid on and add garam masala before serving.

HANDY TIPS:lambcurry

  1. You can replace lamb with pork, chicken, beef and baby potatoes or vegetables for vegetarian option.
  2.  Always wait for the steam in pressure cooker to release by itself. This is a safety precaution as well as retains all flavour of the food.
  3. Add a few drops of Kewra essence (a floral essence) to get that unique rich muglai flavour.

Chickpea Fish or Eggplant with Oats -अमृतसरी मच्छी या बैगुन और ज्वार का पोहा

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GLUTEN FREE

QUICK TO MAKE

Why this recipe? 

A similar conventional fried fish recipe would take considerable oil and time to deep fry the fish. Nutritional benefits of chickpea flour and goodness of veggies in the oats as a side, add to the dietary value and palate. 

How is it green? How am I contributing to making this earth green by following four steps or less recipes?

This recipe needs only 10 minutes of cooking time, you save fuel energy and your precious time.

SERVES: 3-4
COOKING TIME: 8-10 Minutes
PREPARATION: 10 minutes (Marination)

INGREDIENTS:

For Main Recipe
400 grams fish (or Zucchini/Eggplant for vegetarian option)
1 teaspoon of oil
50 grams frozen or fresh ginger
50 grams of fresh or frozen crushed garlic
cut coriander leaves
2 chopped fresh or frozen green chillies
2 pinches of orange food colour
1 tea spoon of salt
100 grams of chickpea flour

For SIDE
200 grams of rolled oats
2 teaspoon of oil
1/2 cup frozen green chickpeas or peas
1/2 cup of frozen sweet corn
3-4 nuggets of frozen spinach
10-15 craisins
10-15 pieces of pecans
3/4 glass of water

STEPS -Main recipe:
STEP 1. Mix all ingredients except oil and chickpea flour and marinade fish or Zucchini/eggplant pieces with it, leave it for 10 minutes.
STEP 2. Add chickpea flour and oil and smear all pieces well with the flour. before putting them on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).
STEP 3. Put all pieces on a non-stick heated pan. Leave it with lid covered on high flame for 2-3 minutes and turn it over once before it is ready (will be a total of 5-6 minutes).

IMG_1154STEPS for side :
STEP 1.
In another pan sauté rolled oats in heated oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
STEP 2. 
Add all ingredients including water. Let it simmer with lid closed for 3-5 minutes.
STEP 3.  
Serve fish with oats.  You can add all spice to oats before serving.

HANDY TIPS:
1. Cooking on high flame with lid covered will leave the fish/zucchini/eggplant juicy and tender while the chickpea flour will make it crisp from outside.
2. Be creative and replace fish/zucchini/eggplant and or marination herbs with your choice of flavour/aroma.

Spicy Sweet Tomato Chutney-खट्टी मीठी टमाटर चटनी

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Why this recipe?

GLUTEN FREE- loaded with vitamins and minerals

QUICK TO MAKE- Takes less than 10 minutes to cook to tingle your taste buds.

This recipe can replace canned and preserved tomato dips/sauces/salsa with a freshly made nutritious accompaniment.

You can be creative -add other ingredients like spring onions, nuts, raisins, berries, mushrooms or green pepper to further enhance flavour.

Cooking Time: 7-10 minutes

Serves- 3-4

INGREDIENTS:

2 big ripe tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 pinch asafoetida powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 inch of frozen grated ginger or 25 grams of fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of oil

STEPS
Step 1. Heat oil, add cumin seeds and hing (asafoetida) and let it brown for 30 seconds.
Step 2. Put all ingredients except garam masala and keep stirring until chutney becomes thick to the density of ketchup.
Step 3. Add garam masala and serve warm or cold.

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Why Spices?

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Spices offer exotic flavours to food, and flavourful food is divine. But spices are not just used to appease our taste.In fact, some spices can be a real boost to the body, and help rid it of toxins. Here are some benefits of spices used in most of my recipes:

1. Turmeric (haldi): Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Arthritis, joint pains, and Alzheimer are some of the known medical problems that turmeric helps in curing. It has been used in India for ages for cosmetic benefits like bringing radiance to skin, curing acne and skin related medical problems.
2. Cloves (laung): Anti-viral, Anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, source of many minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids
3. Cumin seeds (jeera): helps remove toxins, helps with digestion, lactation, common cold, diabetes, insomnia, prevents memory loss.
4. Bay leaf (tez patta): boosts immunity, improves nervous system function, protects oral health, regulates body metabolism and prevents blood-related conditions like anemia.
5. Star Anise (chakraphool): antioxidant, rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium, copper, and manganese. Has stomachic, anti-spasmodic, antiseptic, digestive, expectorant, and stimulant properties. Helps to increase the circulation and oxygenation of body parts.
6. Caraway Seeds (ajwain): improve digestion, reduce constipation, lowers blood cholesterol, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains and improves blood pressure. A source for thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and niacin, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. This is most commonly used as a safe treatment in India for stomach related medical problems for infants and kids.
7. Cardamom (elaichi): Aids in digestion and increased frequency and volume of urination, reduces spasms, lowers blood pressure and increases metabolism. A source of vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, iron, manganese and potassium.
8. Cinnamon (dal chini): Reduces inflammation, eliminates pain and infections, manages diabetes, reduces bloating, belching, gas and gas pains , increases cognitive function, good for bones, prevents cancer and good for the health of eyes and skin.

These are all mild flavoured spices used commonly in an Indian household. All of these are easily available in asian grocery stores all over the world. It is also good to know that they are quite inexpensive.

Spices should be used according to personal preferences/palates and in moderate quantities.

Colourful Beet Dip-दही गुलाबो चटनी

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Calorie wise nutritious home made spread 
Gluten Free, quick to make 
Packed with Minerals, Vitamins and Antioxidants
Ingredients:
500 grams greek yogurt
One small beet root
1 teaspoon salt
1spring onion chopped small
2 inch frozen crushed green chilli (optional)
2 cloves of crushed garlic fresh or frozen
Preparation:
If you do not use greek yogurt, you will need to extract water from regular yogurt.For this put yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it for 1-2 hours for the water to drain out.
STEPS:
Step 1. Chop beetroot very small by hand or in a chopper and cook in microwave for 1 minute to make it tender.
Step 2. Add salt, beetroot, spring onion, frozen chopped garlic, and frozen crushed green chilli  to greek yogurt or block of yogurt.
Step 3. Mix everything thoroughly and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Handy Tips:IMG_2163

1. Beetroot yogurt dip can be served with baked naan bread, corn wafers,  crackers or thin savoury biscuits.
2. You can be as creative as you want to be , add other herbs like dill weed, rosemary, basil, mint, coriander or spices like red chilli pepper, black pepper.
2. You can also add finely chopped bell peppers, mushrooms or cucumber, going even further you could add bacon pieces.

Plant in a vase-पानी में पौधा

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Green looks beautiful indoors, more so if it is in water. Here is a nifty trick to being some greenery inside your home on your kitchen counter or into your family room. A green herb or indoor plant with its roots showing in clear water not only adds vibrance to a room but also has other benefits. Like a mint twig in a room keeps bugs and mosquitoes away. Easily available indoor plants like a creeper, English Ivy, bamboo plant or money plant in water adds beauty and freshness to any room decor.

You need minimal materials for this project. A glass vase, water, a plastic drink cap and a plant. Check out the video above to see how to get through with this quick project.

Handy Tips:

  1. Make sure you do not leave any detergent residue in the glass vase where you want to put this plant as it may result in developing bacteria that may kill the plant.
  2. Do not change water often as all algae that has developed will be lost. Algae helps keep plant healthy.