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!
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.
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.