Used well, a freezer can be a cook’s best friend, as useful as your oven and cook top. There is nothing more comforting after a long, hard day, than coming home to a delicious, homemade meal and these easy-to-freeze recipes do double-duty for your dinner now and later. This is a very useful thread for all those busy bees……. time saver for working parents, a lifesaver for new parents, perfect for hubby’s to whip up quick meals if wife’s on a long vacation to India or can even come handy on a lazy day. Shared here are few Indian dishes which can be made ahead and stored in freezer for upto a month. Also please share your ideas on freezing and preserving Indian food.
Freezer Friendly Meals / Indian Foods to Freeze / Freezing Indian dishes / Make-ahead Meals / Freezer Ready to eat Meals / Freezer Friendly Recipes
Things to note before you proceed….
1. Freshness and quality of the food at the time of freezing really matters as they may affect the condition of the frozen foods. They turn out good and taste better if frozen at the peak of their quality, so freeze items sooner rather than later to retain nutrition, flavor and texture.
2. Freeze food in serving -sized potions. This way its not only convenient but smaller portions thaw more quickly.
3. Use freezer friendly containers, zip-lock bags and wraps which not only avoids freezer burns but also saves lot of your freezer space.
4. Labeling is very important- remember if you are not the one using and plan to store it for someone then that person may not have a clue as to what is what!! Sort veggie dish from meat, name and date.
5. Use a food processor for chopping and mincing as you will be making a big batch and they are really helpful in reducing some burden.
6. Do not freeze while the food is still hot, cool completely or bring to room temperature then go ahead and freeze.
Even though all items mentioned here are tried and tested, I cannot guarantee freshness, quality and safety. It all depends on how well its stored and the quality of food totally relies on the temperature. Tastewise they might not be as perfect as freshly cooked food but atleast better than those boxed store-bought ready made meals. I’ve tried my best to cover the basics and captured a few, will also update if I come up with something new. Also please do share your thoughts and ideas on this topic. I made a huge batch of these for my husband before leaving on a long vacation to India.
Here’s the Top 10 foods which freeze well and turns out pretty decent when thawed and re-heated. Some of these may need additional cooking once thawed.
1. Stuffed parathas – Fully cooked onion/ mashed potato or cauliflower / radish / Dal base stuffing works well. Once done layer them between parchment paper or wax paper and pile up. Stuff a few in a ziplock bag.
Plain chapati tends to become slightly hard when re-heated, if that doesn’t matter then proceed.
2. Cooked and mashed Toor dal, Moong dal - Soak and cook dal with little tamarind, turmeric and salt. Tempering or Talimpu is just optional. Pre-made sambar doesn’t taste that good so just make the dal ahead and add fresh saute-id veggies when you are ready to eat.
3. Chicken Curry – Make sure you add enough oil and saute until the oil separates from the gravy. Do not add too much water, make it slightly thick and adjust the consistency when ready to eat.
4. Dry Vegetable Curries – Most vegetable curries stay good. Some avoid potato as it tends to become little grainy but if you fry them in enough oil they tend to become intact. If you cannot handle just ignore.
5. Any kind of Tamarind based Mixes – Rasam mix is my favorite. (Shown above) You just start like how you make regular rasam and avoid adding any water or coriander. You may finish by adding those and simmering when you are ready to eat.
Use small plastic box for individual servings. Same way you can prepare Kaara kuzhambu / Pulusu. Kurma mix can be made ahead and you can finish by adding coconut milk later.
6. Biryani Curry Base – My all- time favorite life saver mix. Make a thick curry base with all masala. Add pre-cut frozen veggies or meat along with rice , water and yogurt whenever needed.
7. Idli Dosa Batter – i would recommend these only for a week or two may be… Grind the rice and urad dal and mix well. Do not add any salt. Pour them in batches and freeze. Whenever you are ready, take them out and leave them to thaw at room temperature for 3 hours. Then add required salt and ferment for 8 hours in a warm place. Then make idlis or dosas.
8.Bean dishes like Channa Masala, Rajma, Back eyed peas. Simply cooked beans or mashed or curried will stay good.
9. Cooked rice – If you have leftovers then freeze them if not try to cook fresh. Hope anyone can handle a simple rice cooker.
10. Stew and soups- Veggie stock and meat stocks freeze well. Stews prepare base stock and finish with coconut milk when ready to eat.
Some handy helpers are
1. Ginger Garlic paste
2. Green Chili
3. Yogurt Culture – Just thaw at room temperature and use it immediately for a fresh batch of yogurt.
4. Paneer (Cubed)
5. Usili Mix – Make the dal usili ahead and store like small pakoras .
6. Cut vegetables
8. Tomato puree
9. Coconut pieces – Break open a fresh coconut, cut them into pieces (or badhai) and freeze them in ziplocks. To thaw just put them in plain water for 30 minutes.
10. Dry fruits
Avoid these for sure
1. Milk based dishes
2. Yogurt and yogurt based curries
3. Coconut based curries
Some dishes keep well for few days if refrigerated provided you re-heat a small batch every time. Do not use the whole batch for re-heating. My personal choices….
1. Sambar- Stays fresh for upto 3 to 4 days.
2. Rasam – Upto a week.
3. Kaara Kuzhambu / Pulusu with or without coconut- 3-4 days.
4. Kurma – upto 3-4 days.
5. Biryani – Meat based upto 2 days. Veggie based – upto a week.
6. Idli-dosa batter with added salt and fermented – upto 5 days.
7. Dry Spice Mixes – Idli podi, Paruppu podi, Karam Podis etc – utpo a month.
8. Pickles and Preserves – Refrigeration not required but keeps longer if done.
9. Dry Flour – Wheat flour, rice flour, gram flour stays good for long time if refrigerated.
10. Plain Chapati / roti – upto a week.
11. Cooked rice – upto 3 days.
Hope you all will like it and I’m eagerly waiting for more suggestions and tips to add on.