If you grow up in a South-Asian home, you casually observe all the "tricks" mothers use to enhance the flavors of everyday dishes or make them quicker to cook. We are letting you in on all the little secrets of the Moji Masala kitchen to make your cooking faster, easier and more delicious!
What's the Secret to Thick, Velvety Curry? Hint: It's Not Flour.
Well, the picture likely gave it away: it's the wonderful onion! There's hardly a dish in Indian cooking that doesn't start with this powerful bulb. A well-browned onion is the first building block of a masala base. Aside from the full flavor it brings to food, it's also the key to a wonderfully textured curry that is absorbed perfectly by a warm bowl of Jasmine rice. If you have made our Rogan Josh, you know the recipe calls for two good-sized onions to create that thick gravy.
As we have been sheltering in place these days, making all our meals from scratch, the constant chopping has been a bit much. Also, we are trying hard to make our precious produce last. So we thought this is a great time to use another Moji hack: onion paste! Moji rarely chops an onion. She makes a batch of onion paste, refrigerates a portion for the next few days and freezes the rest in ice cube trays. So next time we make Quick Spiced Gobi or Mushroom, we can just grab a cube and toss it right into the pan. If we want to make a chicken curry, we use half a tray and a whole tray for Rogan Josh. And what's great is we can use it for all our non-Indian cooking that requires onion or simply a thick texture. Think beef stew or chicken Marsala. It's great to add to any braise, really.
And it's simple to make! You just chop your onions fine (I do 2 lbs. at a time) and deep fry them (about 1/4 cup oil) until they are golden brown and well caramelized. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from your pan and let them fully cool on a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer the cooled onions to a food processor, add a couple of tablespoons of water to allow it to move well and grind into a paste. Refrigerate in a well-sealed glass jar or freeze in an ice-cube tray for a few hours until solid and then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Sound familiar?