Practically no Indian kitchen would be without cooking pastes. Most commonly, you would find garlic paste and ginger pastes in kitchens across India. If you ask any housewife or chef how important cooking pastes are in their recipes, one statement that practically would come from everyone would be the ease in cooking with these pastes.
No, we are not talking about ready-to-eat gravies which just need water and vegetables to cook; we are talking about three crucial Indian cooking pastes in general- garlic paste, ginger paste, and achar masala paste.
A. How to use ginger paste
Ginger is not only a spice, it is a crucial ingredient in various Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian cuisines. Besides adding a distinct taste to food, ginger is also recommended in Ayurvedic texts and home remedies to treat various ailments.
Many of us are so used to having ginger in our food, we tend to take its presence for granted. However, this humble food ingredient comes power-packed with a host of benefits. Given below are some obvious and surprising ways we can incorporate ginger in our food.
Though Chinese cuisine uses a generous amount of minced ginger, an easier and time-saving option would be using ginger paste. In fact, ginger paste can be added to marinating meat or a pan while stir-frying vegetables. With its strong and pungent taste, the amount added should be in small quantities.
Instead of wasting time mincing ginger, a teaspoon of ginger paste works just as well in your desserts. That could be your gingerbread, holiday cookies, or cake.
The fresh ginger paste adds an additional ‘kick’ of taste to your cocktails. You can add it to any cocktail with ginger beer in it, giving it a pungent and tangy taste. Preparing a bar-inspired cocktail at home is now super-easy!
Ginger tea is a great health tonic most of us are aware of. To make ginger tea with ginger paste, you can substitute 1 inch of ginger with 1 tablespoon of ginger paste and add other ingredients as required.
B. How to use Garlic paste
For many Indian cooks, garlic paste is not used independently, but as a combination of garlic and ginger pastes. These two pastes give dishes a balanced taste of both items, lending a unique taste to the dish concerned.
Garlic paste, though available in the market, can be used independently in place of cloves of garlic.
In fact, professional chefs recommend freezing garlic paste in ice trays for the best results. Garlic paste is great for the winters when raw garlic tends to sprout. One thing to note though, garlic paste needs complete refrigeration.
Garlic paste comes in handy when you need to incorporate the garlic taste in salads, dressings, and soups.
C. How to use Achar Masala besides making Achar
Who said Achar masala is used solely for making Achar? The yummy aroma and taste of pickles can be used to make many other dishes with a touch of pickle flavour.
If you are a true fan of Achar, this is a dish you must try. You can add some veggies to the Achar masala, sauté it on medium heat for some time and add cooked rice. Who knew an accompaniment like achar could be used as a main dish?
A tangy and spicy okra curry can taste amazing with some leftover achari masala. Move on from the regular Masala Bhindi, add a dash of spiciness with some amazing Achari Bhindi.
You can add Achar masala to any of your chutneys in place of Aamchur powder(mango powder) and lime juice. This gives a whole new dimension of taste to the chutney.
Spice up your regular aloo samosa by adding a generous amount of achar masala to it. Why have a regular aloo samosa when you can enhance its taste with some pickle masala?
Just as we changed the taste of samosas and bhindi curry for the better, you can also add achar masala to the atta or stuffing of your favourite aloo, gobhi, palak, or paneer paranthas. Your kids will surely be asking for more!
Pastes are a great way to store ingredients that need to be cut before cooking. This saves a lot of time and effort. Also, achar masala isn’t just for making achars(pickles). You can get a strong and pungent taste of achar in various dishes for the best results with this masala paste. In fact, many people are yet not aware of how they can use these pastes to improve their cooking skills.