Desi cooking hacks

Desi Cooking Hacks: Make South Asian Cooking Easier and Faster with these Tips

We all love home-cooked meals but let’s face it, they take a lot of time and effort. Bringing you some desi cooking hacks that make cooking at home easier and faster with tried and tested results! Cook quicker and better (with lots of time to spare to share your creations on social media). You’re welcome.

  • Make a meal plan for the week. This will keep you organized and ensure you get everything you need in one grocery trip (I add weekly meals to the blog like this and this).
  • Make portions of your meat as soon as you bring it home, based on how much you need for the week. Now marinate it and keep it in the fridge to take out as you need it. My favorite marinade is Shan Ginger Garlic paste made of fresh ingredients.

  • To save cooking time marinate meat in yogurt overnight. Yogurt acts as a tenderizer and meat tastes better. Plus chicken will not break up while cooking.
  • Boil meat that you don’t need right away in a spoonful of Shan Ginger Garlic paste and a little salt. Add enough water that the meat cooks with all of it. Now make packets and freeze away. When you need the meat you can take it out and add to any gravy to save time!
  • Whenever you cook, make a little extra to freeze away. Dishes like Haleem, Nihari, Chicken Karhai, Daal etc can be easily frozen. Whenever you need them simply take out, thaw, heat and garnish.Never freeze a dish which has potatoes in it. They are best added fresh.
  • When you make Biryani, make extra chicken gravy and freeze away. Now whenever you need to make a new pot of Biryani, you only need to make the boiled rice and layer within the gravy.
  • A no fail formula for Yakhni Pulao is double the cups of yakhni/water for the cups of rice e.g. six cups of yakhni for 3 cups of rice. This is one of my favorite desi cooking hacks.
  • Heat frozen meals like Haleem, Chicken Karhai, Daal etc in a pot after thawing. This will ensure that they are heated evenly. Plus you can totally pretend that they were cooked fresh.
  • If onions make you cry when you cut them, store them in the fridge. No tears! This is one of the best desi cooking hacks.

desi cooking hacks

  • Add a little lemon juice or sprinkle some sugar on apple slices after you cut them. They will not turn brown. This also works for banana slices.
  • If meat gets burnt while cooking, add two to three tablespoons of cream and simmer on low flame. Keep stirring to prevent burning again. The burnt smell will go away from the meat.
  • Keep French beans green by adding a little soda while boiling them.
  • Desi meals are complimented wonderfully by Raitas, Achars and Chutneys.

desi cooking hacks

  • To keep your roti crisp, add a handful of oatmeal to flour and then knead. To make soft roti add about a tablespoon of yogurt to flour then knead the dough.
  • Forgot to soak daal overnight? Just soak in warm water for about an hour it will work just as well.
  • Use left over mince meat and left over rice to make a new dish: Rainbow rice! Use a  deep Pyrex dish and put in a heaped tablespoon Shan green chutney, next a layer of white rice and third a layer of mince meat. Continue to layer till the top. Pack it all tight. Microwave to warm . Leave to set. Serve by tipping over in a serving dish.
  • Left over Chicken Karahi can also be given a new look. Add some mint leaves and green chilies. Stir fry to enhance mint flavor and then layer with rice to make Biryani.
  • Use left over bread to make bread crumbs. Soak bread in enough milk to make it soft then add all other ingredients and make potato cutlets.
  • Fry onions and then add Shan Ginger Garlic paste along with cut tomatoes. You can freeze this (one cup per bag) and use to quickly make gravy for any dish.
  • Ramazan tip: If you can’t have iftari without pakoras and think it’s a hassle mixing ingredients everyday, prepare ten ziplock bags with pakora dry mix. Add besan, salt, chili powder, bicarborate of soda etc. Then just cut vegetables each day and add to the pakora mix!
  • Freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays. Add to water to make lemonade!
  • Make big batches of Shami Kebab and then freeze away. These are great for emergency dinners and lunch sandwiches.

desi cooking hacks

  • Firni Hack: Soak some rice, dry them and grind. Store them in a bottle in the fridge. Take it out to make firni whenever you need it!
  • Never add cold water to lentils or chickpeas because then they won’t become tender.
  • To remove the smell of meat, soak it in a few tablespoons of vinegar for 15 minutes. Rinse the meat with water and then fry it in onion, garlic and a green chili before adding water.
  • If you want your gravy to be nice and smooth shorba style, blend the tomatoes.
  • Leftover chicken from a Biryani or Pulao? Strip the chicken off the bones. Heat one tablespoon of oil, dice some tomatoes and fry them. Add a little salt and Shan Chaat Masala. Now add the chicken strips and stir in the mix. You can add this mix to pasta or sandwiches.
  • Need an extra dish for a dinner at home and want to save time? Buy frozen kebab (chapli or seekh) and bake them according to box instructions. Now fry some onions and add cut tomatoes. Once a nice paste forms, add the kebab. You will impress even the most critical guest.

  • Always buy small onions. The onion soaks in all the germs from the environment once it’s cut up. Use the entire onion once you cut it and don’t store unused pieces.
  • Desi cooking is (in)famous for the smells that linger during and after cooking. Ward off the smells by lighting some candles or heating a pot of water and adding cinnamon, orange or lemon slices.

Hope you enjoyed these desi cooking hacks. Would love to hear your favorite ones also.

Disclaimer: I was a brand ambassador for Shan Foods from October 2016 to March 2017 and this was a sponsored post by Shan Foods. All opinions in this post are my own. A special thank you to my mother-in-law, my friend Madiha and my mother for sharing their cooking tips and tricks via these desi cooking hacks.

5 thoughts on “Desi Cooking Hacks: Make South Asian Cooking Easier and Faster with these Tips

  1. Great tips! Thank you for sharing! I hadn’t heard about the cream for burnt near one. Will keep that one in mind.

    I’d like to add one to the list! If you’ve put too much salt in a salan, simply add a peda/ball of aata/dough and let it simmer for 15 minutes or so. It soaks up the excess salt.

  2. A very informative article. Having moved to Canada recently from Dubai and Pakistan these tips have been very helpful in making me a better cook.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I feel we need more shortcuts and hacks in the west due to the lack of house help! All the best for the transition 🙂

  3. Loved the to
    add a raw potato to soak the extra salt from any salan.

    Add fried onions and lemon to reduce spicy flavour of red chilli in salans

    For reheating rice/biryani/pulao Take a rice strainer with rice in it over a pot filled with hot water,cover it and heat the pot on the stove. The steam from water will heat the rice while maintaining the moisture.

    Green coriander can be washed,cut and stored in the freezer.

    Green chillies can be stored for a longer time by plucking the crowns out.

    Frozen barfi can be used in making doodh siwaiyyan it gives a nice khoya flavour to it.

    For maintaining the fresh green colour of spinach specially in palak paneer. Blanch it and dip it immediately in cold water.

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