Ready Steady Cook

Mallika Basu - Ready Steady Cook

Posted 19th November 2006

I spent the best part of today getting ready for the live cookery demo tomorrow. Normally I would prepare all the food the day before the party.

But in this case, I’ve had to keep everything prepared for actual cooking tomorrow. Aloo for saag aloo and gobi (cauliflower) has been peeled, quartered and is soaking in cold water. Two whole cauliflowers have been washed, cut into florets and ginger and garlic pureed for the dishes.

Technically, having an “Indian” dinner party does not qualify as quick Indian cooking. The sheer volume of onions, ginger and garlic to be chopped, fried and finished requires a certain amount of time. But there are certainly some techniques I use to keep things as simple and quick as possible:

  1. Cook large quantities of a few dishes rather than try your hand at many different recipes. It doesn’t take much longer to stir an extra onion, but making a whole separate dish will be more of a pain
  2. Never experiment. Do a dish you have tried before. Very important if you’re new to Indian cooking
  3. As mentioned earlier, cook the day before and leave the dishes covered in the fridge. Then reheat and serve on the day. This will let you enjoy your party and the food always tastes better the next day anyway
  4. Use expensive or fancy ingredients to get away from cooking many dishes. For example, prawns and pulao. This will let you make more of an impact without the effort. Time is money after all…
  5. Don’t bother with desert. In my experience, guests pig out on the mains and never have the stomach for deserts. Indian deserts are very sweet and when I have served them, they’ve not been the biggest hit. A block of fancy ice-cream or a platter of exotic fruit (papaya, lychee, mango) is often enough to sweeten the palate after the meal
  6. And lastly, serve the food out in the pots they were served in. I invested in quality pots, pans and a wok that doubles up as a karhai. While the food pictures in this blog look pretty, guests in my house serve themselves out of pots and pan. I mean, people are still eating out of banana leaves in Calcutta so a few pots and pans won’t hurt anyone!
  7. And lastly, and most importantly, don’t get drunk before the meal is cooked. This advice I can never seem to follow myself But the trick to quick Indian cooking is super concentration

Right, wish me luck for tomorrow. I’m getting quite nervous. Even though they may not notice what they’re eating after a few glasses of vino.

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