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So now that the problems on the road to ‘Gourmet-Dom’, (discussed in my last post) have popped out of the oven, here’s my list of simple, learnt-it-the-hard-way solutions to tackle them hot and head on.

Nothing beats ‘adjust’ and ‘adapt’… what we Indians are terrific at! But keep in mind that if you are going to make gourmet cooking a part of your weekly or even monthly routine, it does call for some lifestyle changes in your kitchen and shopping patterns, a gradual easing into a new, improved kitchen… and a new, improved you!

Some simple kitchen tools like air-tight silicon-lined plastic containers, cling wrap, aluminium foil and zip-lock freezer bags are a must today. These will help preserve your existing everyday ingredients as well as your fancy stuff. Try using the Lock n Lock range of kitchen containers – go for the stackable shallow squares for your fridge and the tall rectangles for your cupboards. If you really have to buy canned food, like baked beans, pineapple slices, pasta sauces, tuna etc. transfer the leftovers into these containers and store in your fridge, not in the cans you bought them in. Zip-bag your proteins like fish, meats and sausages and cold cuts to store in the freezer… no one likes to have fish-flavoured ice in their drinks!

And I know it’s a huge step, but… Freeze your cheese! Yes, as bizarre as it sounds, you’d at least get to eat thawed frozen cheese (a bit brittle, a bit less flavorful) a week later, than throw away the precious thing because of some disgusting rainbow-coloured mould on it. So if you love your cheddars and parmesans, wrap them individually in several layers of cling film, and then lock them into freezer bags and deep freeze them.

As far as possible buy small quantities of fresh produce. Most shops will sell you less than their ‘minimum quantity’ if they know you will come back… and when else will your bargaining powers come handy? 😉

If you are baffled by the names of the ingredients, try this website for Asian names, and this one for descriptions and substitutions.

And for substitutions, think creatively! If you know why you can make idli and dosa out of the same batter, but not vada, you CAN improvise. Take the elusive cornmeal – you could just use fine daliya or even finely crushed tortilla chips! ‘Think local, act global’ never fitted more snugly 🙂

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