When your local kirana shop stocks pickled olives and supermarkets sell exotic items in ready-to-eat form, it’s easy to get caught in the rut of pre-packaged items. But, if your grandmother frowns upon heat-and-eat rotis and gulab jamun mix from a packet, she’s probably got a good reason for it.
There are plenty of ingredients that can easily be made at home; however, most people prefer to buy them off the shelves. Most blame this contagious consumerist behaviour on lack of time. But many of these ingredients can be whipped up in a jiffy, are easier on the pocket, taste infinitely better and aren’t loaded with unhealthy preservatives.
“I make all kinds of Mexican items at home, from sour cream to refried beans. Once you start eating homemade ingredients, you’ll never feel like eating the mediocre versions of them that you get in shops,” said Minnu Sheth, a Powai resident.
If the vanilla essence you use tastes remarkably like cough medicine, you’ll mark these recipes and use them for years.
Recipe: Minnu Sheth, homemaker
Ingredients: 1 cup maize flour, 1/4 cup maida (or all-purpose flour), 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/4 cup water (approx)
Method: Knead all the ingredients into a slightly stiff dough. Roll out into a circle (about 1 1/2 inch diameter). Make sure it isn’t too thin. Poke many holes in the circle with a fork so that it doesn’t puff up when frying. Deep fry the dough circles, and when they are partially cooked, use your spatula to fold them into a taco shape while it is still soft. Remove when golden in colour.
Recipe: Iona Pinto, homemaker
Ingredients: 250g raw saltless peanuts (with the skin), 3 tbsp ground sugar, 2 tbsp vegetable oil (the health conscious can use olive oil)
Method: Put the peanuts in the microwave for four minutes, stopping to give them a stir at the two-minute mark. You could also roast them in the oven or in a pan for a few minutes. Put the peanuts and sugar in the mixer and dry grind for about 30-40 seconds. Then, add the oil and grind for another 30 seconds (for chunky peanut butter) or longer to the desired consistency. Store in a refrigerator for upto 6 months.
Recipe: Chef Danish Ashraf, senior chef de cuisine, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel
Ingredients: 100ml light soya sauce, 5g chopped ginger, 5g chopped garlic, 5ml honey (add more if you like a sweeter sauce), 50 ml mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine, optional)
Method: If you're using the mirin, which is available at Crawford Market, let it simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and let them cook together for another few minutes. Remove from the heat and use the sauce with vegetables, meats, or noodles. If you're not using the mirin, simply mix together the rest of the ingredients and you have a simpler version of the traditional Japanese sauce ready in minutes.
Recipe: Nivedita Mittal, student
Ingredients: 5 1/2 cups flour (you can use all maida, or substitute 1 cup maida for whole wheat flour), 1 tsp yeast, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 2 cups water
Method: Heat the water till it is lukewarm. Add a pinch of the sugar and the yeast to it and set aside till the yeast mixture is frothy – about 10 minutes. Next, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Knead for between 7-12 minutes till the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Cover and let it rise overnight or at least till it has doubled.
Once it has risen, punch it down and pull out a tennis ball sized lump of dough. Roll it out on a floured surface to the thickness – and shape – that you like. Add your toppings and bake in a preheated oven at 250°C – the higher the heat the better -- for about 15 minutes. If you find that the dough is not cooked through, try baking the raw dough for about 5 minutes, remove from the oven, then add the toppings and return to the oven for 10 minutes.