Some shortcuts that save me tons of time!

Indian cooking involves lots of spices and fresh ingredients that are not always on hand or a chore to prepare each time. Here are some shortcuts from my mother that are really helpful!

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Ginger and garlic cubes: I use fresh young ginger that is not very fibrous. Usually local stores (like Indian or Asian grocery stores) have the best ginger. After peeling the ginger I chop it roughly into big pieces. Then I take about an equal weight of fresh garlic and peel the garlic cloves. Getting cloves separated, putting in a metal mixing bowl inverting another bowl over the first one and shaking really hard will peel the garlic! Try it, it is magic 🙂 Next blend together ginger and garlic in a blender. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Pop out the cubes and store in freezer in a jar or zipped bag. Next time you cook a curry pop in one or two cubes of this mix while frying the spices to get the fresh ginger garlic taste. The stuff can be stored for a long period of time. You can also blend and freeze them separately if you usually do not use both together. The ginger cubes are great for making ginger tea.

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Fresh tomatoes are a must in many curries, but very expensive in the winter time. When tomato plants are booming the summer, chop and freeze in usable quantities in ziplock bags, and then use a frozen portion to fry with the spices. I get a farm basket every week and all summer there are way more tomatoes and tomatillos than I can eat, so I always have frozen portions stashed away in my freezer. The same goes for onions, chop and freeze a big batch for use whenever needed. If you get a big bag of hot chilli peppers, you can chop and store them frozen for future use.

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Specialty juices, like cherry or pomegranate, can be frozen in ice cube trays before their use by date, and then added into mixed blended drinks, like margaritas.

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Vege/Vegan culinary heaven – Roy’s!

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Admit it, if you are a vegetarian it is hard to find suitable food that tastes good too! So often I feel like a wet blanket when the first words out of my mouth are “Will they have vegetarian food?” when friends suggest a restaurant. And if you are a Vegan then life is very tough indeed. Sometimes it is helpful to do some research online, and sometimes you just have to ask at the restaurant if they have food that suits your dietary preferences. In Waikiki we chanced upon Roy’s, well known for its Asian inspired fusion cuisine, and online reviews said excellent things about the place. So we decided to go in and try the food out. However, except for one vegan sushi dish, most of the dishes praised online in vegetarian forums were not even on the menu. So we asked and boy were we delighted! Roy’s has an entire vegan menu, and they are extremely flexible with substitutions on those items.

Roy's Vegan Menu

Roy’s Vegan Menu

The place is pricey but the food is so scrumptious that of our three nights in Honolulu, two dinners were at Roy’s. The pride of place no doubt is the vegan sushi on the main menu. Containing all the usual sushi ingredients, it jumps to the top of the heap with its garbanzo based “fish substitute”. It is unique, flavorful and a meal in itself. Also on the vegan menu is a “poke” dish, made of fresh watermelon and bursting with flavor it is quite amazing.

Vegan sushi rolls, and "poke"

Vegan sushi rolls, and “poke”

In addition, the vegan menu has a hearts of palm ravioli that is is a visual and taste treat. The portion is small, and may not work as a stand alone dish to make a meal, but add the sushi to it and you have a great dinner.

Hearts of palm ravioli

Hearts of palm ravioli

The Cauliflower quinoa risotto is an interesting take on risotto, nicely balancing the carbs with some protein. It comes with asparagus and mushrooms, but you can easily substitute any one of these for the other. Both are wonderful accompaniments to the risotto.

Cauliflower risotto

Cauliflower risotto

By the time you are done with all this and groaning with over-indulgence there is still a desert to be had. The raspberries and almond tart with soy “gelato” is passable, but really not a star of this menu. However, on take two the staff happily substituted the vegan sushi for the dessert and we were all very happy with that! I know Roy’s can be found on every island in Hawaii, but also in other states – so find one and try it! You will love it.

This post focused on the vege/vegan menu items, but others in the party who had the real sushi, the duck and the rosted chicken were smacking their lips too and happily went back the second day. If you can keep the omnivores, vegetarians and vegans happy then what else does one need – so well done Roy’s!!!