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Cut your cooking time with some easy additions to kitchen

Mumbai may have had its first brush with the rains, but the monsoon is still some time away. Until then, one of the biggest things to combat is the summer sun. And toiling in the kitchen is the last thing you would want to do.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2013 16:09 IST
Sonal Ved

Mumbai may have had its first brush with the rains, but the monsoon is still some time away. Until then, one of the biggest things to combat is the summer sun. And toiling in the kitchen is the last thing you would want to do. We speak to chef Rachel Goenka and Irfan Pabaney from The Sassy Spoon, Nariman Point, for pointers on spending minimum
time in your kitchen.

ONE-POT MEALS
One of the best ways to cut stove time is to swap long lunches with one-pot meals.

Brown Rice Paella:
Ingredients: 50 gm brown rice, 5 gm tomato paste, 150 gm mixed vegetables (chopped), 50 ml vegetable stock, 10 gm basil (chopped), 10 gm chilli flakes, 3 gm garlic (chopped), 20 gm onion (chopped), 50 ml olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Method: In a sauce pan, heat olive oil and sauté all the vegetables. Transfer them into a plate and leave aside. In the same pan, sauté garlic, onions and chilli flakes. Cook until the onions begin to sweat. Add brown rice and continue to stir until the rice appears translucent. Add tomato paste and continue to stir the rice until it gets completely cooked. Add a few spoons of water if need be. Season the dish with salt and pepper and add basil leaves. Transfer the rice into the serving plate with the vegetables and serve hot.

TIPS:
* Always add your vegetables and meats at the end. This will ensure that they retain crunch and texture.
*Pre-cook certain ingredients such as vegetable and meat stock, sautéed vegetables and grilled meats the evening before.
*Ensure that you do not overcook seafood which tends to lose its texture during one-pot cooking.
*Apart from rice, you can experiment with puffed rice, cous cous or pasta.

COLD SOUPS
Cold soups not only calm parched throats, but are also full of nutrients.

Yellow Gazpacho:
Ingredients: 2 yellow bell peppers (chopped), 2 cucumbers (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 4 tomatoes (chopped), 100 ml olive oil, 2 ice cubes, salt and pepper to taste.

Method: In a blender, grind yellow bell peppers and cucumber into a fine purée and transfer it into a bowl. Separately grind onions and garlic into a purée, repeat with the tomatoes. Combine all the three mixtures together and mix well. Add ice cubes and season the soup with salt and pepper. Transfer into a serving bowl and serve cold.

TIPS:
*You can also experiment with other cold soup combinations such as green apple and celery, leek and potato, melon and mint, water melon and dill.
*To make a meal out of a cold soup, serve with a piece of bread and garnish with some crumbled cheese.
*The key to a good cold soup is to get the consistency right. It should be thicker than fruit juice, unstrained and have a good balance of two flavours.


FLAVOURED ICE CUBES
Give boring juices a unique kick by dropping into them ice cubes flavoured with various elements. The chilled globs can be used to spike up everything from iced teas to good old nimbu pani.

What you need: 1 packet of fresh herb leaves, 1 bottle of water, an ice tray.

Getting started: Muddle the herbs and dilute their purée slightly in water. Transfer the liquid into an ice tray and freeze until use.

TIPS:
Apart from herbs such as peppermint, sage, basil, mint, thyme, you can also experiment by freezing fruit juices, citrus wedges and whole berries.

INFUSED WATER
Fruit or herb-infused waters not only satiate thirst, they also come with additional benefits.
For instant refreshment:

Pineapple and mint water

Ingredients: 10 cups water, 1 cup pineapple (cubed), 12 fresh mint leaves (finely chopped).

Method: Add pineapple and mint leaves to a jug of water and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled.

For digestion:

Fennel and citrus water
Ingredients:
3 gm fennel seeds (crushed), 10 cups of water (plus 150 ml), juice of 1 lemon, 12 mint leaves (finely chopped), 1 slice of orange.

Method: Add fennel seed powder to 150 ml of water and boil it for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool. Add lemon juice, mint leaves, orange slice and 10 cups of water to it. Mix well and refrigerate overnight before serving.

The antioxidant:
Blackberry and sage water
Ingredients:
10 cups water, 1 cup blackberry or any other berry, few sprigs of sage leaves.

Method: Slightly crush blackberries and transfer them into a wide-mouthed jar. Add water and sage springs. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold.