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Cooking Indian Food can be time-consuming especially if you plan to do so on busy weekdays. These simple changes to everyday cooking techniques helped me cook Indian food in 30 minutes.
These 5 Simple Tips Helped Me Cook Indian Food Faster
Is it really possible to cook Indian food in 20 minutes knowing that the average cooking time for an Indian dish is 40 minutes?!
The answer is a very Hearty Happy YES !! 🙂
And I say it with such conviction as it comes from a Modern-Day Indian Kitchen!
Many of us have busy lives.
The times have changed with working moms and dads, household chores, school runs, afterschool activity and a string of daily errands to accomplish!
Cooking is a necessity which for many of us can become a not to enjoyable chore.
There is the convenience of takeaways and ping meals! (My name for microwave meals) which do come handy but not the best for health.
If you have been following my blog or on social media, you may have noticed that I call myself a ‘lazy cook’.
I love to cook but hate to slog in the kitchen.
I am always looking for shortcuts to cooking which my mother does not really approve of much :-), but I do not have the luxury of having a kitchen help to do the grinding tasks like most households in India.
Even with using cooking shortcuts, I pride in saying that each day is a different meal in our house (if I plan on cooking every day that is).
My mantra is to stick to the 30 – 40 minutes max to complete the kitchen odyssey!
Let me share with you an insight into how I plan and work on my daily cooking routine which ensures that I spend no more than 40 minutes in the kitchen each weekday, close the kitchen down at 7:30 pm (unless I sneak in for a cheeky chocolate/cake treat) squeeze in cuddles and giggles with my kids before bedtime and finally enjoy some ‘ME’ time !
Why Does Cooking Indian Food Take Time?
One of the key deterrents for not cooking Indian food on a weekday is because it can be time-consuming, complex and strenuous with all the chopping, mincing, stirring and waiting time required to cook a good Indian meal.
However, like preparing or cooking any other meals there are always shortcuts here too.
All you need is to think a bit creatively.
Now I do not expect everyone to put time and effort into creative culinary shortcuts, that’s where I come in to help!
Lets first understand ‘What makes Indian Cooking Complicated?’
1.The use of spices
Indian cuisine uses many spices which can lead to confusion and make it complex.
Not something you want to rake your brain for after a mind-boggling day at work, with kids or just as life happens!
2. Too Many Cooking Steps
Cooking Indian food is not about throwing together aromates, vegetables or meat with a dash of curry powder and broth and call it an Indian curry! Sadly this is not how it works.
You need to follow a certain cooking process which can be time -consuming.
3. Prepping for Ingredients to Cook Takes Too Long
The consistency of a thick rich Indian gravy comes from using onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic pastes!
Mincing or chopping each of these takes a considerable amount of time.
Not the best way to release stress over a pile of chopped onions.
4. Too Many Ingredients To Use
Almost 85 % of the dishes you search for as ‘Easy Indian Food Recipes’ will have a minimum of 10 listed ingredients, which is enough to put you off cooking.
Besides, you may not even have some of the ingredients.
Given why cooking Indian food seems difficult and a task in itself, can I justify my claim to make Indian Cooking easy and complete a dish in 20 minutes?
And the answer to this again is a YES I CAN…. and this is how…
Tips To Cook Indian Food Fast That Saves Time and Make Quick Meals
The tips that I share below will counter challenge the pain points I listed above and show what you can do to make Indian cooking easier and quicker.
1. Choose The Right Kitchen Gadgets That Makes Cooking Easy
During my early days of kitchen ventures, I used to spend a considerable amount of time prepping, ie. chopping, grinding, slicing.
Of course I still need to do the basic, but the modern-day kitchen utility gadgets have taken away some of the stress and cut cooking time!
Few of my favourite Kitchen must have especially for cooking Indian food that I absolutely recommend are:
A Good Food Processor or Blender
Investing in a good processor is perhaps one of the best time-saving kitchen tip.
A food processor for me is not a luxury but a necessity just as having a car!
You have flexibility, you save -time and you can do more than one thing at a time.
A food processor not only makes Indian cooking easy, but it can also be used for many other purposes apart from blending or juicing.
You can use a food processor for making sauces, chutneys, pastes, mincing, grating and also grinding spices.
A processor with multiple attachments such as this one from BERG comes with a 4L Bowl, Splash Guard, Dough Hook, Whisk, Beater, Juicer, Blender, Food Processor, Meat Grinder and Coffee/spice Mill.
This one gadget is great for making bread doughs, getting that perfectly sliced cabbage, onions, carrots or any vegetable that you find difficult and time-consuming to chop and slice.
The slicing tool helps me quickly put together salads for a crowd or just for family. ( I HATE slicing or chopping large quantities like any sensible person)
If you live outside Europe then this KitchenAid Food Processor with ExactSlice System comes as a recommended all-purpose food blender.
It has the first ever externally adjustable slicing system that gives you precise slicing and accuracy for all kinds of food—hard or soft, large or small.
As I make many spice blends and mixes at home, a spice grinder is where all my thinking comes to a stop.
You don’t need to have a large food processor as the one above.
I have been using the nifty little magic bullet for years before I moved to the big one. (As I had a bigger Kitchen and more storage)
It’s great for blending spices, making spice pastes, sauces other than smoothies.
The only problem I had with it was that it made a lot of noise and you had to ensure that the blades and the motor are stored dry and not used if damp. ( I was pathetic with it, had to replace one every 2 years)
You can choose any food processor that fits your purpose and your household need. If you are not much into fancy chopping and slicing then a basic hand blender like this 3 in 1 Hand Blender by Russell Hobbs works equally well.
You will find few more suggested food processors that come recommended depending on where you live on the shopping for ingredients section.
The idea behind buying a food processor or a hand blender is to make tasks such as mincing, grating or chopping easy.
This addresses one of the pain points of cooking Indian food, that is the tedious task of mincing, chopping and grating aromates such as ginger, garlic and onions.
Trust me when I say that having one of the gadgets above will instantaneously reduce prep time by half!
2. Have a Spice Grinder to Make Fresh Spice Blends and Mixes
Spices are in the realm of Indian cuisine.
It’s a given that most Indian households will have some kind of equipment for grinding spices.
Having a spice grinder will help you make your own blends with your chosen spices that suit your individual and household taste.
With a homemade blend, you don’t have to solely rely on the shop bought mix which has a standard set of ingredients and may not be suitable for all tastes.
So for example, if your kids or partner is not into hot spices then you can choose not to grind chillies or peppers for making a curry powder at home.
Or if someone does not like strong cinnamony flavours then simply cut down on them and make your own Garam Masala Powder.
It gives you so much flexibility, use and ease of making quick meals without the need to measure each time.
A spice grinder can be in the form of an extra spice grinding attachment like the one I showed in the multi-use food processor, a separate nut/spice/coffee grinder like this electric spice and nut grinder from Cuisinart
Or a more traditional mortal and pestle.
Freshly ground spices bring out so much flavour to your dishes while you can store them for upto 6 months and use it multiple times for making simple fast and easy Indian meals.
Besides, it takes away the complexity of spices as you can make your own mixes with the spices you are familiar with.
So no more ‘Where do I start with spices?’
3. Buy, Make and Store Common Spice Blends
If the above idea of making your own spice blends is not something for you, then buying good quality shop-bought common blends also helps.
Few of the blends that I have all the time are
2) Curry Powder
3) Homemade roasted cumin-coriander spice mix.
4) Any homemade spice mix made with your chosen spices.
One of my recommended spice stores is The Savory Spice Shop. You also get free shipping on orders over $20 at www.savoryspiceshop.com
The ease of using these pre-blended spice mixes is astonishing.
All you need to do is simply add it to stir-fried vegetables or meat dish, top up with a bit of stock/ water/ coconut milk/ beaten yoghurt or tomato puree, cover until the veges/meat is cooked and you have an Indian meal ready!
You can also use these pre-blended spices to make Indian meals in the slow cooker as well!
Using a Slow cooker makes cooking an Indian dish even more effortless. This easy Slow cooker Lamb Roganjosh recipe is a classic example.
Pre-blended spices ease the worries about combining or using complicated spices or having an extensive drawer of spices that you will only be using ‘when you have time to cook Indian food!’
4. Use a Pressure Cooker if Possible
Do you know how the Indians manage to make almost 3 meals every day!?
Because they use a pressure cooker!
If you do not know what a pressure cooker is, its a closed airtight vessel for quick cooking or preserving of foods by means of high-temperature steam under pressure.
The modern-day pressure cookers are absolutely safe to use without the fear of a bursting chicken in your kitchen!
This Pressure Cooker from Tower is reasonably priced for beginners and user-friendly too!
You do need to get used to it and get familiar with the settings before making meals in it.
Pressure cooker comes handy to cook rice, lentils and meat dishes within 20-30 minutes.
All you need to do in saute the aromates, add your chosen spice mix, add your chosen protein, veg or legume, top with some sort of liquid preferably water, broth or tomato puree, cover and bring to full pressure.
Once it reaches full pressure reduce heat or remove from heat depending on the time it takes to cook the raw ingredients used.
Here are few tips on using a pressure cooker.
5. Skip Using Onions
This is perhaps one of the best tips, when it comes to cooking Indian food at home I share with everyone!
When you fancy Indian flavours but want to avoid the lengthy task of standing over the kitchen counter following each of the cooking processes, then simply skip using onions in the dish!
I say this because most Indian dishes require onions to be cooked till brown which can take anything between 7 – 10 minutes.
By skipping this process you can instantly save 10 minutes of cooking time.
If you must, then replace onions with either the lesser own Indian spice called Asafoedita, leeks or use pre-fried onions that you get for burgers.
I am happy with using garlic or ginger which takes just about a minute in hot oil to cook and bring out the flavour.
So there you are, with my handy Indian Kitchen Tips and cooking ideas that will save you about 20 minutes cooking time without compromising on taste or health!
Recap Of Tips That Help Reduce Time To Cook Indian Food
Here a recap of what I do to make Indian cooking easy and cook Indian meals in minutes:
- Get a good food processor or hand blender to help you with chopping, mincing, slicing and grinding. This will save time chopping as well as make quick sauce base for easy sauteing.
- Having a spice grinder gives you the flexibility to make your own homemade blends and keep pre-blended spices ready to use without the need to measure and mix.
- If grinding spices is not your thing then buy readily prepared spice mixes and use them for making quick Indian meals. You will not need to buy different spices and yet have easy meals to cook.
- Use a pressure cooker for cooking hard, time-consuming ingredients such as meats, lentils, legumes. They help retain flavour while reduce cooking time by half.
- Using onions to make an Indian curry is optional (although not for traditional Indian recipes). You can replace it with leeks, pre-fried onions or asafoetida for added taste.
Will you be trying any of the tips shared above to see if it helps reduce your cooking time?
If yes, then do share your experience and other tips you may have up your sleeve.
And as always if you think this article will help others solve their Indian cooking phobia then please share and make Indian cooking easy:-)!