When was the last time you hosted guests at your humble abode?
Last week, the week before that, or a few months back? Maybe it was a birthday or social occasion; hence, you made all the arrangements accordingly. From the decorations to the food, you made sure that you organised everything regarding the event. But most importantly you sent the invitations; therefore, you knew the number of people who would come over.
Having prior knowledge helps make appropriate arrangements, but what if a relative or a friend drops in announced?
“Atithi Devo bhava,” a Sanskrit phrase that translates to guest is a god, indicates how Indian culture emphasises hospitality. You may not believe in that ideology, but I am sure you would not want to turn away the guest either. So, what do you do? You scour through the fridge and cabinets and find what you can make for them. Why? Because nothing is more unkind than letting your guests leave without having some food.
Take a look at a few recipes that you can make in less time when a guest comes in unannounced:
Bhajias or Pakodas
It’s the evening time, and after a whole day’s work, you are enjoying your time to unwind. Suddenly, you hear the doorbell ring. So, you open the door to find a cousin or a relative; she exclaims with happiness as she sees you.
Since it’s evening time, tea or coffee is the most common beverage, but you ought to serve it with something tasty and fulfilling. How about bhajias? Fritters are made with besan(gram flour) and vegetables; if you think it is too plain and simple, hence not fit for serving guests, I would strongly disagree. Also, bhajias are the perfect companion with a cup of tea.
Take four to five cups of besan, add salt, mix it with some water, and add chopped onion, green chillies, and two tablespoons of turmeric powder. Mix it well, keeping in mind that the consistency of the batter must not be too liquidy or lumpy.
A proper pakora is crispy on the outside and cooked and soft on the inside. So, to make that happen, you need to ensure the temperature of the oil is not too hot, just hot enough. Then, take one ball of the mixture in your hand or a spoon and gently drop it in the oil. You can do five to six in one batch, do not turn on the stove’s heat; shallow fry it for five to six minutes and then turn each to their other side.
Repeat the process until you can see that the fritters are golden brown. Also, you can try the same recipe with any vegetable of your choice. However, I would highly recommend trying it with cottage cheese (Paneer), spinach, cauliflower, eggplants or aubergines, raw banana, etc. You can also add some coriander chutney or ketchup to go with it.
Leftover fried rice
The amount of food that we often have to throw away just because it is in excess quantity is enormous, which could help feed many hungry people. So, the next time you see leftover rice or rotis, don’t dump it in the dust bin, as you can make something delicious with it.
Fried rice is a classic Chinese dish that we have ordered as a takeout or while being in a restaurant. So, here’s a chance to make it yourself without any fancy items and by using readily available things in your refrigerator.
The first step is to cut onions, carrots, bell peppers, cabbages (if you have any), garlic, ginger, green onions. Next, heat three to four spoons of vegetable oil in a pan, put the vegetables one by one, add ginger and garlic paste, stir them for a few a minute or two, and then add the leftover rice. Finally, you can use a spatula or chopsticks to thoroughly move them across the pan to make sure it gets cooked evenly.
Add salt, one tablespoon of black pepper finish, stir a little more, and then plate it. The biggest advantage of this dish lies in its versatility; you can add anything that suits your taste. Also, since it is a customisable dish, you can add whatever ingredients your guests like, such as broccoli, chicken, eggs, etc.
What if the guest who comes to your house is health-conscious and is not much of a big fan of fried items?
Instant idlis are the perfect option for them; instead of rice-based idlis, which require pre-soak the rice the day before, Rava idlis do not need such elaborate preparations.
First, heat three tbsp of oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin, chana dal, and curry leaves, and saute it for a minute. Next, add freshly cut carrots, one tbsp turmeric, and green chillies; stir for a minute, after which add the suji and roast it for five minutes while stirring the mixture. After it turns aromatic, put it off the stove and let the suji cool completely, then add 3/4th cup of yoghurt, chopped coriander, salt, water, and mix it well. The consistency has to be smooth.
Let the batter rest for 15 minutes, after which you will notice that water is already absorbed. The next step is to add two tbsp of water and 1/4th ENO (fruit salt) and mix the batter gently till it turns frothy. Finally, grease up the little cups in idli steamer, pour a spoonful of mixture, and steam it for 15 minutes.
If you don’t have an idli steamer, you can pour the idli batter into small bowls and place it in a big pan submerged in water after fifteen minutes, open the lid covering the pan and check the idlis with a toothpick or knife if it is cooked evenly.
P.S use coarse-grained semolina and not fine-grained, or else the idlis will have a rubbery texture. Also, avoid using baking soda because when it is combined with spices like turmeric, it reacts; for instance, it may change the idli’s taste.
Lentils or dal is a staple item of Indian cuisine, but it is popular because it is healthy, flavourful, and comfort food for many.
Add one cup dal in a pressure cooker; you can combine two dals or one; put ¾ cup toor dal, ¼ cup moong dal, and two tablespoons chana dal. Rinse them carefully at least four times while rubbing the grains with your fingers until the water is clear. Add three cups of water and close the cooker; on medium heat and pressure-cook the dal until you hear three to four whistles.
Cook the dal depending on the kind of pressure cook you are using; for example, if you are using an instant pot, cook for 10 minutes on high pressure.
While the dal cooks, heat 1 ½ to 2 table mustard oil in a medium pan, add one tbsp cumin seeds, and gently fry them. Next, add ginger and garlic, followed by chopped onion, fry them until they are translucent, stir them occasionally, and don’t let them burn.
Turn down the heat and add two tablespoons of turmeric, red chilli, ½ garam masala, salt to taste, and chopped tomatoes. Saute till the tomatoes are soft, and cover the pan for two to three minutes to speed up the process.
Check the dal, which by now must be done; ensure that the texture of the dal is soft and mushy, stir and mash lightly. At this stage, you need to add ¾ to 1 cup of water to adjust the consistency of the dal, then add the tomato and onion mixture and let it simmer for six to seven minutes. Finally, add chopped coriander or crushed Kasuri methi to give a distinct taste. You can serve this delicious dal with a cup of rice or roti.
You must have had different variations of kebabs made of chicken or other protein, but have you ever had veg kebabs?
I know kebabs, by definition, are non-vegetarian food, but there is no rule to have a veg variant of it. However, you can try it out with cottage cheese (Paneer).
The first step is to prepare a mixture of ginger and garlic paste, in which you need to add yoghurt, chat masala powder, chilli powder, cumin powder, salt, and coriander powder. Then, marinate cubes of paneer within the mixture, do not forget to coat the mixture on the paneer cubes. Finally, cover the marinated paneer with a foil and set it in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat a Tawa or grill pan over a medium flame while putting the cubes of paneer into a skewer stick. Ensure to leave a little space towards the end; grill the paneer for three to four minutes or until golden brown. Once the paneer is done, please remove them and serve them with mint or coriander chutney. You can add pieces of onion and bell paper along with the cheese cubes.
What goes with paneer kebabs? Well, you can serve them with cocktails or mocktails.
Jeera Matar Aloo
What do you do if the guests arrive and they are hungry? You do not have much time to prepare something extravagant. Hence, you cook whatever takes less time.
Jeera Matar-aloo is precisely for those who are hungry and desire something quick and tasty. First, pressure cook some potatoes, peel them off, cut them into chunks or dice; heat oil in a pan, add two tablespoons jeera (cumin seeds), chopped onions, two tablespoons turmeric powder, and the boiled chunks of potatoes.
Stir them for a minute or two, and add peas, salt, and amchur powder (dried mango). Next, sprinkle a few drops of water, stir the ingredients and let it cook with the lid on for 10 minutes.
You can serve the dish with paratha or roti.