Cooking hacks to save supplies during the 21-day Coronavirus lock down

Cooking tips to help you save your supplies and make life easier during the 21 day nationwide lock downUnsplash

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to put the entire country under a 21-day lockdown caught many off guard. Some hadn’t stocked up on essential supplies, and for others, ordering in has been the main source of nourishment.

Regardless, these trying times will place restrictions on the amount of perishable food they can keep at home. Even though the government promised to keep the supply of essential goods and services flowing, it’s recommended that you stay indoors as much as possible to avoid infection.

Thankfully, there are always substitutes that you can use to keep up the same level of flavour even without the real thing. It’s also important to use what you have available judiciously during the 21-day lockdown so that you can make your supplies last for as long as possible.

Only cook as much as you know you’re going to consume and keep it as healthy as possible, given the circumstances.

Here are some easy cooking hacks tailored for the Indian recipes to keep in mind as you enter the nationwide 21-day lock down:
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If you’re not a master chef, you can always make cheela

If you’re not a master chef, you can always make cheela

Cheela is the most basic of Indian pancakes. All you have to do is mix together some besan (gram flour), water and a few spices. Even without finely chopped tomatoes and onions, it still makes for a filling and healthy snack. The best part is, it saves on time as well. In bad times remember that people tided over

Add water — and you’re done

Add water — and you’re done

(Source: Wikipedia)

Cereals like dhalia or lapsi, sabudana, poha, seviyan and upma require the least amount of effort to prepare. All you have to do is fry a few groundnuts or condiments, salt and chilly (red or green) add water, bring to a boil — and you’re done.

Dhalia is in a class of its own because you can always add sugar and turn it into a desert. For others, you can always add dry fruits to the mix. They’re healthy, last for ages and don’t taste all that bad either.

What's gravy without tadka?

What's gravy without tadka?

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The foundation of most dishes within in the Indian cuisine is tadka — the basic mix of onions, tomatoes and spices that every gravy is built upon. However, without fresh ingredients in free-flow, preparing a gravy dish can seem impossible.

One easy hack to substitute tadka with pizza base or pasta sauce. It has many of the same flavours and you can dilute the intensity using water.

Another hack for gravy is to go shahi. Even without cream or milk in the mix, ground cashews can add texture to any dish and tastes like royalty. If you haven’t stocked up on cashew, a mix of groundnuts and til (sesame seeds) too can do the trick.

Even khuskhus (poppy seeds) adds that jazzy taste and flavour to a dish which need not be all ‘watery’. Each of these can be used either individually or with a mix after roasting them a bit. Dry coconut can also come in handy.

If you want to go a step further, yoghurt always lasts longer than milk. You can always use that to add a level of creaminess to your dish.

Make your vegetables last by pickling them

Make your vegetables last by pickling them

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Also if you have few vegetables that might not survive the test of time, you could turn them into pickles to spice up daals that you might end up cooking for weeks to come. Almost every vegetable and fruit including carrots, and apples can be pickled to last long, and all it takes it fried mustard powder, spices and salt. Follow Sailu’s recipe here and you couldn’t go wrong.

Customised kichdi

Customised kichdi

(Source: Wikipedia)

Everyone has their own version of kichdi, but at the end of the day its soupy mix of dal (lentils) and rice. In most Indian homes, it is the perfect comfort food when you’re feeling under the weather. All one has to do is push it all into a cooker and wait for the whistle to blow.

While the traditional form of kichdi is normally bland, pickles are the perfect side-dish to add flavour. A spare packet of Maggi mirchi masala can also serve as a delightful twist.

Make it tangy with Rasam and Kolumbu

Make it tangy with Rasam and Kolumbu

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South Indian daals and soups can give that extra dash of fun to your plain rice. And, you don’t need anything too fancy except imli (tamarind). Using tamarind paste, thrown in a few spices and voila you have rasam which is the South Indian version of comfort food. Kolumbu however takes a bit more time but definitely tastier. Try the Hema Subramaniam version of millennial cooking here.

The Andhra version of these is also called pulusu which also uses tamarind and spices boiled to perfection. Just remember to omit vegetables or replace tomato with puree.

Soya chunks aren’t just vegetarian chicken

Soya chunks aren’t just vegetarian chicken

(Source: Unsplash)

Soya chunks sometimes get a bad name for being the vegetarian version of chicken. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, soya chunks aren’t perishable — yet they add a level of texture when you’re bored of eating the same thing day in and day out.

They don’t require a lot of prep work either. You just have to soak them in some water and add spices. It doesn’t even have to be fancy. The basic combination of haldi (turmeric), mirchi (pepper) and namak (salt) should be enough to do the trick. Frozen peas are a welcome addition.

Healthy food that doesn’t age

Healthy food that doesn’t age

(Source: Unsplash)

Dry versions of sprouts, peas and seeds are superfoods. Any kind of dry fruit tends to last a long time inside and outside a fridge and you can sprout them as per need. They can also be added to multiple dishes for a dash of flavour. If bored you can always consume them fresh with a bit of lime juice and chat masala. What’s more, it’s healthy.

But if you want to go the Maharashtrian way, you can also make a misal or a watery gravy out of it to eat with rice or chapati.

Muffin in a mug

Muffin in a mug

Source: Table for Two

Every once in a day, especially when you’re locked in all day, it’s not unusual for your sweet tooth to seek something new. But, there may be two problems. One, you may not have the skills to bake. And two, cooking an entire cake for one day of craving might not be the best use of your resources.

However, if you have a microwave at home, you can bake yourself a muffin in a mug in five minutes. All you need is some maida (all purpose flour), some cocoa, sugar, milk and baking powder. You mix it all together, pop it in the microwave, and cook it for anywhere between a minute or two. My personal favourite is the recipe from Table for Two — straightforward and without any complex tasks.


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