Popular Indian Cooking Basics, Provisions, Spices, Western Meals Essentials, Tips
Times have certainly changed. Since a decade or more the over protection of the girls at home has lessened. Marriage being the ultimate goal is definitely not the aim of every parent now. Pursuit of career, concentration on studies and education has become the priority of most young people. They are all out there to take any opportunity to further their pursuits. There are plenty of opportunities to pursue a range of options, and gain a plus point for your bio-data. And why not?
However, in all this, the time to learn a bit of cooking and helping your mother in the kitchen has really gone out of the window. Where is the time? Extra classes, coaching centres, heavy curriculums, have left gaps in what used to be traditional upbringing with culinary skills. Ultimately the time comes when you move out of your home’s comfort zone, and you have to manage by yourself.
My aim is to help out in guiding in a simple way to go about it. So that the basics are taken care of and as time goes and you get used to it, you discover it is no big deal. If you are starting from scratch, organizing yourself is essential. It is not desirable to want to make something, only to realize that you don’t have the right ingredients or the right vessel, or utensils.
So let’s start with basics for an Indian kitchen. You will need
- A gas or electric burner.
- A pan with a handle [to make tea].
- A vessel with a thick bottomed [to boil milk], make sure it is large so that the milk does not boil over.
- A frying pan
- A Karahi [wok], 2 would be better.
- A cooker (very essential, various sizes are available]
- A Tava, make sure it has a handle
- At least two regular vessels, [patila] one for making rice (always have a separate one)
- A variety of ladles, khurpas, chimpta, a sansi [to hold a hot vessel]
- Steel bowls (katoris)
- Plates (nice steel ones are available)
- Serving bowls, some steel and some glass or ceramic, (for heating food in a micro -wave oven, never use a steel or metal container)
- A large steel Thali for making your dough
- Some large steel bowls for soaking and washing vegetables
- A large strainer and a small one for tea.
- Some cups, mugs, glasses
- Some plastic jars for storing your provisions, etc.
For 2 persons for about a month
Here is a list for basic Indian meals. The quantity mentioned is enough for a month, that is if you don’t entertain a lot every weekend. Even if you do you can always replenish your stocks when necessary.
It is advisable to buy sealed packets with an ISI government-approved stamp, what with adulteration in full force, it is better not to take a chance.
- Atta 5 kg [must keep in airtight container].
- If bought in large quantities, add a few dry whole red chillies, this will prevent insects from contaminating it.
- Rice 2 kg [also to be stored in air tight container)
- Cooking Oil (Sunflower, Canola, Groundnut, etc) 5 litres and Pure Ghee 2 kg
- Sugar 2 kg
- Tea 250 gm
- Coffee 200 gm small jar or refill packet (never use a wet spoon in the coffee)
- Dais (pulses) Arhar, Channa dal, Moong yellow dal.
- Moong whole green dal, Urad dhuli white, Rajma, White channa Suji, Besan 500 gm each should be enough Matches or lighter to light the gas.
- Papad, 1 packet
- Soda bicarb to soften the channa while cooking, and a pinch in the besan to make the pakoras crisp
- Tomato puree, excellent as a substitute to fresh tomatoes, makes any gravy rich and tasty.
For a normal meal, these basics are enough.
Next in the list of the provisions to be bought are the spices. Small packets are better to keep as they lose their flavour as time goes. They add to the flavor, taste and colour, and are also nutritious. Our condiments and spices are recognized for their properties to cure serious diseases and help restore good health, which is God’s greatest gift to us.
Small packets of spices should be enough for about a month.
- Salt 1 kg
- Haldi (Tumeric) 50 gm
- Red chilly powder 50 gm
- Coriander powder 50 gm
- Saram masala powder 50 gm
- Jeera whole 50 gm
- Jeera powder 50 gm
- Mustard seeds 50 gm
- Methi seeds [fenugreek] 50 gm
- Heeng small tin
- Amchoor powder 50 gm
- Chaat masala 50 gm
Whole garam masala: Bay leaf (Tej patta], Black pepper (kali mirch), Cloves [laung], Cinnamon (Dal chinni), Cardamom [choti elaichi), Black cardamon [badi elaichi).
WESTERN MEALS ESSENTIALS
For young folks I have noticed a westernized meal is always welcome. Few ingredients as well as ready-made sauces are required to make interesting meals which are quick to make and very tasty. These are easily available , and can be kept in the fridge for number of weeks.
Here is the list of items required.
- Tomato Sauce
- Mustard sauce
- Mayonnaise [vegetarian as well as made with egg is available]
- Chilly sauce
- Herbs: Oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme. These come mixed in ready made Italian seasoning which is excellent for pizzas and pasta.
- Shelled Peanuts
Besides this, Bread, eggs, milk, and butter, are for use on a daily basis. At the end of the list do not forget Fruits! Best for good health, nutrition and a well-balanced diet. The saying goes, “2 seasonal fruits a day keeps the doctor away”. And after 40 good health is ensured.
The list is endless, though one can always add to it. The items given are more or less suitable for normal everyday meals.
REMEMBER – TIPS
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when you decide to prepare a meal at home:
First things first: Wash your hands. Washing your hands before you prepare food is one of the most important things you can do to reduce bacteria on your hands and on the food. Before preparing food, wash your hands in warm soapy water for about twenty seconds. If working with raw meat and then with fresh foods, be sure to wash them during cook and prep time frequently Avoid touching your face, skin, and hair while cooking to reduce the transfer of germs and bacteria.
When it comes to the ref rigerator, keep it at a suitably low temperature, because the colder air slows the growth of bacteria.
An organized fridge plays a big role when it comes to storing food in the fridge safely. Raw meats, seafood, and poultry should be sealed tightly and placed on a lower shelf so that none of the juices run out. Store eggs in the carton on the refrigerator shelves or on the door. If you are transferring food from a reusable tote to the fridge, wipe down the tote thoroughly.
The best way to defrost food is overnight in the ref rigerator, microwave, or under cold water. Never leave meats or other items on the counter to defrost. The result is the inner part of the food item is still frozen while the outer areas remain susceptible to bacteria.
Just like your hands, cutting boards and utensils can transfer bacteria and food-borne illnesses from one food to another. So be careful with all your utensils and cutlery. Make sure you wash the knives and all other cooking tools well after using.
A BALANCED DIET
It is all very well, you have planned your kitchen and stocked it up with all essentials and gadgets. The most important is to ensure a well balanced meal, necessary for physical and mental well being. On a daily basis, think about including:
Carbohydrates which are in certain foods give instant energy: sugar, milk, yogurt, grain bread, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes and nuts.
Proteins are the most essential part of a diet, no matter what the age may be. It helps to build a body as well as repair it and mental development depends on it: Meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, peas, beans, lentils.
Fats provide a concentrated form of heat and energy, and in the long run they sustain us. They also allow us to make our hormones. Sources are oils, butter, ghee, milk and milk products, cream, fish and meat.
Vitamins and Minerals – There are various vitamins: Vit A, several under Vit B complex, Vit C, Vit D, Vit E and many others. These, along with minerals like Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese, Iodine, and others are important for good eye sight, healthy skin, and good growth, our activity, digestion, nervous system, healthy appetite, healthy heart. Vitamins and minerals are provided by fresh fruits, vegetables, greens, milk and its products, meat, fish and eggs, lentils and cereals. Make sure to also take care of your calcium, iron and iodine intake. All this helps in keeping a healthy body, making it function well, maintain ionic and water balance and influence gland secretion. Another important aspect to keep in mind is that nature has all the answers. The seasonal f ruits and vegetables are the best basics to work with.
Foods that are the source for Vit A are eggs, milk, butter, cheese, spinach cauliflower, carrots. Amongst fruits, papaya mango, banana, apricot, grapes are good sources of Vit A.
Vitamin B is required for all activity, digestion, nervous system, healthy heart. Deficiency leads to loss of appetite, constipation, insomnia, red tongue fatigue and irritability. 6ood sources are whole grains, liver, eggs, mutton, ground nuts, almonds, soya beans and pulses.
Vitamin C gives the body resistance to disease, helps in healing wounds fast, and its deficiency leads to skin disease, bleeding gums, premature greying of hair, sore throats, frequent colds, and general weakness. Sources are fresh fruits, salads, capsicum, mustard greens, peas, cabbage, mangoes, citrus fruits, sprouted beans, pineapple, lemons and limes.
So best of luck. May all your endeavours be successful.