We celebrate our 62nd anniversary in a delicious way – with 62 food ideas that will help cement your relationship with food. Enjoy!
1 Celebrate Seasonal Produce
Challenge yourself to eat what is fresh now. Two easy ways to work out what’s in season – go online and find out, or check abundance at your local fruit vendor. Seasonal produce is usually more affordable too.
2 Keep A List Of Food...
...you have in the freezer and pantry. Not just what you’ve made and frozen, but other goodies you’ve stashed as well. This helps you plan meals and avoid wastage. We hate it when we have to throw away expired treats.
3 Try Indian Cheeses
West Bengal itself has topli na paneer, Bandel and Kalimpong worth seeking out. If you’re looking for more conventional varieties, The Spotted Cow Fromagerie and Fratelli (yes, the wine guys) have great selections.
4 Cook To Freeze
Cooking for more than once and freezing saves fuel, time and effort. Invest in reusable freezer bags or put those pesky delivery containers to good use. Remember to label contents with the name of the dish and the date with a waterproof marker.
5 Go Plant Based
Tempeh, soy, jackfruit… we love the variety that is now available. Don’t know where to start? Look for tempeh by Hello Tempayy! and jackfruit products by Wakao Foods.
6 Master Your Air Fryer
You’ll find great recipes and ideas on YouTube and Instagram.
7 Max Out Frozen Mixed Veggies
It has now been proven that frozen is as good as – sometimes better than – fresh produce. Green curries, quick stir fries, even tossed in to bulk out salads… we love the convenience.
8 Embrace The Grazing Trend
Laying out a table with finger foods that your guests can ‘graze’ from means that you can enjoy your own party without worrying about serving nibbles and refilling dishes. If you’re looking for customisable platters, Graiz India and The Theatric Platter have great options.
9 Learn To Make Bread
So the pandemic has resulted in a flood of breadmaking videos across the net, but, if you want to learn hands on with a master, might we suggest Sujit Sumitran’s sourdough class in Goa. We’ve tried it and it’s amazing. You'll also find his course online.
10 Learn To Use Your Spiraliser
Zoodles (zucchini noodles) come immediately to mind, but so do such great additions to your salads and soups.
11 Go Beyond Banana Bread
Forgotten bananas are a given in our busy lives. Luckily, the world (wide web) has conspired to give us ideas of what to do with overripe bananas. Think smoothies, brownies, ice cream…
12 Learn To Make Cheese
A cheese–making course we love is up in the Nilgiris, at Acres Wild in Coonoor. Acres Wild is an “Organic Cheese-making Farmstay”, which means you must be resident for the two days of the basic cheese-making course.
13 Learn How To Use Your Leftovers
Transform them into yummy snacks, fillings for sandwiches or roti rolls, use them as part of an unusual pasta sauce. You are limited only by your imagination, and the ideas on the internet.
14 Take A Course In Understanding Food
Mythopia runs a regular Studying Food Workshop helmed by Dr Kurush Dalal that offers eye-opening insights into the history and geography of food. The many experts who take guest lectures are a bonus.
15 Make Your Own Caramel Sauce
Place an unopened tin of sweetened condensed milk in a pan of boiling water, and keep it on the boil for three hours, topping off with more hot water. The resulting ‘caramel’ is a thick sauce that is yummy on ice cream, in banoffee pie, in rolls… the possibilities are endless.
16 Use Your ‘Good’ Crockery Every Day
We love Erma Bombeck’s poem about burning (and enjoying) the sculpted rose candle before it melted in storage. If there is anything this pandemic has taught us, it is that we should live in the moment.
17 Enjoy Vegan Chocolates
In India, two brands to try are Paul & Mike, and Keto Culture. The latter also comes sweetened with stevia if you’re avoiding sugar, while some of the Paul & Mike bars are sweetened with jaggery.
18 Use Reusable Wipes, Not Kitchen Paper
It’s convenient to swipe at spills in the kitchen with paper towels, but not so great for the environment. Invest in a set of tea towels that you wash out regularly, or do the Indian thing and recycle old linen into kitchen wipes.
19 Invest In A French Press, Moka Pot Or South Indian-Style Coffee Filter
Brewed coffee is the way to go if you can’t make your way to your favourite barista.
20 Make An Instant Lemon Curd
In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, 3 eggs, 2 egg yolks and ½ cup lemon juice until smooth. Add 100 g butter and microwave on High for 50 seconds. Remove and whisk vigorously. Return to the microwave and cook again at 50-second intervals, whisking after each, until done. Remove from the microwave, and whisk well. Add the zest of two lemons and stir. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate.
21 Get Yourself A Cookbook Holder
– or one that will hold your tablet at a convenient distance for you to follow the recipe. Ikea has a cool bamboo one.
22 Indulge In (Almost) Guilt-Free Goodies
We’re all for indulgence, but there are days when we like virtuous but delicious treats (emphasis on delicious). For those days, we have cakes from Serapheena – its gluten-free cake mixes are made with jowar and sweet potato flour, and its keto range with almond flour is sugar free.
23 Invest In A Cast Iron Pan
A cast iron skillet offers very good heat retention and is great in an Indian kitchen to sear and caramelise food. We like the selection from The Indus Valley.
24 Make Healthy Pancakes
Yes, they exist. And they’re easy to whip up with the millet pancake mixes from Slurpp Farm. They’re targeted towards toddlers and kids, but we love them too.
25 Buy Artisanal And Socially-Conscious Coffee
Three brands we particularly like are The Indian Bean, Halli Berri and Black Baza Coffee, because they all work with the bean producers and ensure their welfare.
26 Get Handy With A Knife
You save time and effort with good knife skills. Start by watching Gordon Ramsay teaching you how to cut an onion on YouTube.
27 Support Home Chefs
The pandemic has brought out culinary talents in many homemakers who have been forced to take the plunge into catering. They need your support. If you love their food, keep them in mind for your meal rotation.
28 Cook A Recipe Book From Cover To Cover
Remember the movie Julie & Julia in which a young New Yorker Julie Powells decides to cook Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking from beginning to end? It’s a must-watch. Since we didn’t want to bring live lobsters home rn, we’re working our way through Chetna Makan’s Chetna’s 30 Minute Indian as we go to press.
29 Learn To Photograph Your Food
We are going to post our food pics, so we might as well make them look fantastic on Insta, right?. May we suggest a course with Vinayak Grover (@lost.and.hungry on Instagram), who could totally change the way you frame and shoot your food?
30 Grow Your Own Herbs
There’s nothing quite like picking parsley, basil or even kothmir on demand, is there? If you’re looking for help to start, Bombay Greens has DIY Grow Kits for herbs and microgreens.
31 Make pasta from papad
The very innovative Chef Saransh Goila has managed to make a perfectly good pappardelle pasta from your basic papad. Also on his page on Instagram.
32 Slurp Up Some K Food
If you’re a fan of Kpop and Kdrama, the next step is Korean food. Seek it out, cook it yourself. On the menu are kimchi, kimbap, bibimbap, tteokbokki, japchae and many more mouth-watering dishes.
33 Go On A City Food Tour
Most cities these days have wonderful food tours led by knowledgeable guides, who throw in snippets about the city’s history and culture along with the curated food. When you think it’s safe to go out again, pick a good one, even in your own city, and enjoy a new perspective on city life. You’ll be surprised at what you didn’t know.
34 Make Your Own Oat Milk
One of the biggest deterrents with making oat milk is that it can turn out slimy. Cut to Chef Saransh Goila’s version of oat milk – which he calls C-oat Milk (for the addition of a few cashews to the mix). Watch him make it on Instagram and you’ll never buy oat milk again. We don’t.
35 Get A Water Filtration Bottle
If you don’t have one now – in your bag, in your car – get yourself a steel water bottle. Or go one step further: invest in a LifeStraw bottle that automatically purifies water.
36 Go One Pot
One-pot cooking became a rage through the lockdowns when we didn’t want to spend the whole day cooking. B Ramakrishnan is considered a pioneer of the One Pot One Shot (OPOS) cooking technique, and his book, The Complete OPOS Cookbook: One-Pot Meal Plans Ready in 10 Minutes, could well become your go-to guide.
37 Cook With A Younger Person
Now that cooking is considered a life skill across genders, it’s time to pass your knowledge on to the next generation. It doesn’t matter if all you know to make is brownies; when you cook with a child, you’re showing that cooking is cool, and the opportunity to bond cannot be missed.
38 Decide To Master A Cuisine
May we suggest Greek? Or Tunisian? In these times when we’re still not getting out into the world like we used to, it’s a wonderful way of travelling – with food, no less, so delicious – and it offers you a chance to tap into a different culture.
39 Make Stock
Use your vegetable scraps to make stock. Wilted vegetables, the trimmings from carrots, old parsley… cover them with water and simmer for an hour, strain, and store. This stock makes a great base for soups and rice dishes. Good veggies for stock include carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms.
40 Repurpose Condiments
Those little sachets of soy sauce, tomato ketchup, oregano seasoning and chilli flakes that come with your delivery orders? Keep them in plain sight and use them innovatively in your daily cooking. That, too, goes some way in reducing food waste.
41 Throw A Potluck Party
You want to meet up with friends and family, but you’re so over cooking or even pulling together the food. This is a sitch made for a potluck. Just get everyone to get a dish, provide the cutlery and crockery, and you’re good to go. Want to raise the bar? Agree together on a theme or cuisine, and you’re guaranteed a very yum meal.
42 Plot A Picnic
It could be outdoors or indoors, as long as it involves cutting off from regular life, flopping down on a blanket with yummy nibbles and drinks (we like the idea of drinks in mason jars), and laughing uproariously.
43 Go Cutlery Free
Remember to tick the box that says you don’t want disposable cutlery and tissues with your delivery order.
44 Master Three Great Cocktails
Make one sweet, one sophisticated and one a batch cocktail (which you make in a big jug to fill many glasses in demand). We’re definitely counting a sangria as one on our list of three.
45 Make Pretty Ice Cubes
Adding bits of fruit, herbs or flowers to ice cubes really elevates your entertaining game.
46 Try A Coffee Subscription
Something’s Brewing has one that gives you access to 30 roasters you might otherwise not even know about.
47 Look Up Places In Your City...
...that accept extra food and keep the list handy.
48 Sort Out Your Fridge
Take the time to regularly go through your fridge; you might have forgotten what treasures lurk there. Organise the shelves to keep them tidy – if you see ingredients and products, you will use them. Might we suggest that you always keep leftovers right on the top shelf, so they move quickly, and dairy in the middle? Wrap herbs and salad leaves in kitchen paper or a clean cloth to keep them fresh.
49 Book Yourself On A Gastronomic Holiday
Yes, it is possible to have food as one of the main reasons to travel. Spain and Italy are two destinations that come to mind. One of our favourite food influencers Roxanne Bamboat (@thetinytaster), who is the brains behind different food events in Mumbai, including the acclaimed food section of the Kala Ghoda Festival, leads food tours through international destinations on which everyone has great fun and eats their weight in local food.
50 Think Of Goa For High Spirits
It is now home to Paul John Whisky, Makazai rum and Vinho Fontainhas – a new port wine. And there’s also All About Alcohol, Goa’s first museum of alcohol, with a whole section devoted to feni. And of course, Goa has at least five homegrown gins – Pumori, Samsara, Jin Jiji, Tickle and GinGin.
51 Organise Your Food Cupboard
Put older ingredients in the front and newer ones behind so you don’t have to discard expired food products. Keep a list of what you have, so you know when you’re running low on ingredients. If you need to maximise shelf space, get yourself a tiered shelf organiser that allows you to see bottles, packets and cans at a glance.
52 Thaw A Pack Of Puff Pastry
There was a time when readymade pastry was pricey and only to be found in gourmet food stores. No longer. Now puff pastry is available with online grocers, and the possibilities are endless. Chutney pinwheels, anyone?
53 Start A Recipe Book Of Tried-And-Tested Recipes...
...online or in a nice binder. Only add recipes that you have trialled and really like – with your own notes, of course.
54 Try The Bento Cake Trend
Though the term ‘bento’ comes from the Japanese, these adorable mini cakes are widely popular in South Korea and perfect for a tiny treat and, of course, your Instagram page. Usually decorated in pastel colours with immaculate lettering, they make amazing indulgences. Get some in, or make them yourself.
55 Practise Mindful Eating
Rooted in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, eating mindfully requires you to give your full attention to your food, trains your body to get back in touch with its internal appetite and digestive rhythms. This aids in the cephalic phase of digestion, that part of the process in which your stomach prepares digestive juices in response to the smell, taste or sight of food. Here’s how: Remove all distractions before you settle down to eat. Ask yourself whether you are eating out of hunger, or just boredom or habit. Pay attention to your hunger cues. Take note of what is on your plate – take the time to appreciate the textures, colours, smells, flavours… Be grateful for what you have received. Take a moment to review how you feel after you eat. Do you feel satisfied, bloated, tired, or energised? These cues will help you decide what to choose when you eat next. Mindful eating will take about a week to settle in; give it that time.
56 Make A Simple Jam
All it takes is fruit, sugar and lemon juice. Check TheKitchn.com for a no-pectin recipe.
57 Celebrate A Birthday By Sponsoring A Meal At An Old Age Home Or Orphanage
It’s an old idea but one that bears repeating. Make sure to confer in advance with the management on what will work well in terms of food for the residents.
58 Join A Whiskey Club
We love the idea of getting together over a shared passion. Mumbai has The Dram Club, Bangalore the Single Malt Amateur Club (SMAC); find one in your city or form one with like-minded enthusiasts. Activities include tastings, appreciation sessions and, often, first samplings of new offerings from Indian distilleries.
59 Try an Indian Gin
Gin in India is enjoying a second coming. Long after the British have left, the gin in your gin and tonic is now infused with uniquely desi botanicals and spices. Indian gins to try include offerings from Hapusa, Greater Than, Stranger and Sons, Jaisalmer, Terai, Tickle Gin, Samsara, Jin Jiji, Gin Gin and Pumori.
60 Be Grateful For Your Food
Before you eat, mentally thank the people who helped produce it, the one who has cooked it, the circumstances that allow us to have it...
61 Be The Custodian Of Your Family’s Culinary Traditions
Talk to your elders – grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, old family retainers – and note down recipes and rituals associated with food in your family. This chronicling will help you preserve the wisdom of generations that would otherwise be lost forever for generations to come.
62 Learn To Compost At Home
It’s a great way to reduce and recycle kitchen waste, and you get to nourish your house plants. Compact, non-smelly kits are now available.
Also see: 62 tips to refresh your home
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