Imagine a well-stocked kitchen shelf and refrigerator filled with fresh produces, milk, yoghurt, cheese! No doubt this is a happy place to begin to cook delicious, comforting meals! Isn’t it? But, the reality is that’s not what our pantry and fridge look like all the time. Here is a guide to cooking tasty Bengali and Indian meals from your Kitchen Shelf.
Cooking is an essential homemaking skill, not an option!
Last year when the pandemic hit, we all were introduced to a new lifestyle!
We learnt a running city could lockdown in a short period of notice to save our life! Which means no going out for morning coffee or lunch! Many people don’t cook regularly at home, some had no idea about their pantry essentials! To deal with the situation, while some people did panic buy or hoarding during this time, many people experienced that their kitchen shelf or refrigerator is not well stock to survive for a week. Some struggled with financial challenges, and some dealt with a small kitchen pantry space! Some started home cooking for the first time in life, and they had no clue from where to start? what to buy, how to cook basic dishes like Dhal, rice or Khichuri!
We all learnt that home cooking is not an option, but it is also a life-saving skill!
Things we need to make budget-conscious, tasty meals without fuss–
After years of cooking, spending long hours in the kitchen and splashing out on ingredients, meal prep containers, I have realised that it’s all about making something tasty, healthy without costing lots of money, advanced planning for shopping. Most importantly, it’s also about creating lot’s of delicious memories without any fuss. To do that, over the years, I realise the more straightforward I keep my daily cooking, the less kitchen cleaning is involved, and I get more time to do what I love to do.
For that we need –
- Staples from the shelves
- A packed spice, herb rack
- A few fresh vegetables, fruits and protein from the local market
Follow these three easy steps
I constantly try to learn and find effective ways to do effortless cooking or minimum efforts to enjoy freshly home-cooked meals. A couple of months back, I was reading this book called “The Kitchen shelf.” And I was hooked by these three ideas and all the delicious recipes from that book!
You will be amazed by the variety of meals you can make by following these steps, and your kitchen routine will be so simple to follow.
Stock Ten Key Ingredients–
Stock your kitchen shelf with ten key ingredients of your choice. These are the base items for your daily meals, or I can say that if you have these items in your pantry, you can cook satisfying meals for a month without going out for grocery shopping. Though the authors from this book mentioned ten things, we can stock more than fifteen key ingredients by following a budget-conscious shopping routine. Here I am sharing my Ten key ingredients list, and your list might be different from mine-
- Rice ( Parboiled or Basmati)
- Kalijeera/ Gobindobhog rice
- Moong Dal
- Masoor dal
- Chana Dal
- Whole wheat
- All-purpose flour (Maida)
- Thick Poha
- Semolina or suji
All these items have a long shelf-life; except Whole wheat and All-purpose flour, you can store the rest of them for up to one year, store them in airtight containers.
Thirty Shelf and refrigerator Essentials
Stock your Shelves with essentials and easy to find spices, dried herbs and ingredients. And same as key ingredients over the times, you can increase your shelf and refrigerator essentials list as well. Some of my shelf essentials are-
- Mustard oil
- White oil
- Tomato Sauce
- Cumin powder
- Coriander powder
- Red chilli powder
- Turmeric powder
- Green cardamom ( Choto Elach )
- Cloves ( Lobongo )
- Cinnamon sticks ( Darchini )
- Bay leaves ( Tejpata )
- Cumin seeds ( Gota Jeera )
- Onion seeds ( Kalo Jeera )
- Brown and Yellow Mustard seeds ( Sada and Kalo Sorshe )
- Fennel seeds ( Mouri )
- Fenugreek seeds ( Methi )
- Green chilli
- Coriander leaves
- Curry leaves
Pick two ingredients from the local shop or store
Follow this tip weekly! These are primarily vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, milk etc. If you don’t want to do the weekly shopping, you may buy three to four fresh ingredients.
Suppose you are new to stock your pantry and learn the essentials to buy for a Bengali pantry. In that case, you can check The essential spices for Indian cooking and Emergency pantry essentials for Bengali and Indian food.
Coming from an Indian family, as much as I enjoy fresh home-cooked meals, I also like to do meal prep. But I don’t want to spend my entire Sunday evening for meal prep, or I wouldn’t enjoy the pre-cooked reheated meals throughout the week. In today’s busy life, you may ask, do you really think that it is possible to enjoy freshly home-cooked meals every single time?
And, my answer would be Yes! We all can enjoy a fresh home-cooked meal all the time!
By following these tips, your daily meals may not be fancy all the time, but I can assure you, they would be finger-licking and nutritious!
I hope you find this is a helpful read! If you have suggestions or a Bengali food-related query, please feel free to ask and connect with me on Facebook, Instagram; I will try to get back to you as soon as possible!