Pantry Staples and Make Ahead preparations

Lifesavers is actually a category in my shopping list. The  term came to existence ever since I realized that I need certain things as must  haves in the kitchen. Each one of you who has been into cooking would have experienced the day when you wanted to cook some dish however ran out of 1 or 2 ingredients. These are the ingredients that seem unworthy of being listed on shopping trip but suddenly become a show stopper. To counter this  challenge  I started collecting and stocking up.
You would think  she is talking about pantry staples ,things  you must always stock up in a functional kitchen. Actually  I classify  Wheat  flour  APF  Rice  Potatoes  Cooking Oil  Sugar and Salt as staples and believe  these are  always stocked up especially for a party.

Life savers are ingredients that allow us quick fixes. Like...
  •        If  your  kabab or  tikki is not coming together  you need bread or  cornflour to gather it back
  •        Something  about your curry does not seem right  no matter what, Kasoori Methi or Chat  masala can cover up
  •        You  run out of desserts  Milk and custard can help you whip up a quick  kheer
  •        Everything  looks perfect  but the cake looks too basic. Choco chips in buttercream or as it is on the top can save  face
  •        Someone  fusses about not being able to eat gravy or curry dish (spicy  or  plain uptight) instant curd  raita or tomato salad  with vinegar can help you come out.

Getting  my point now?
Some  life savers   I buy whether I need them for the menu or not are listed below.  These are stocked in sufficient quantities.

-  Curd/ yogurt
- Tomatoes
- Green chillies /red   chillies /black pepper/chilli flakes/cayenne pepper
- Milk
- Colored  vegetables
- Chocolate Chips
- Corn flour
- Chat Masala
- Cumin Seeds
- Plain Soda
 - Vanilla Icecream
My kitchen sometimes functions like a japanese assembly line. There are threshold levels marked  bottles and jars. The moment the ingredients reaches that level it is replenished with a new stock. (I may sound crazy to some  but this has been really helpful especially now when time is luxury)

Quantity of a substance is also an issue of concern for many while shopping. You can follow the rule of thumb that was once shared by a caterer with me. 100gm of vegetable per person when there are 4 varieties and 125 gms when there are 3 varieties.
- for e.g. when you are planning Mix Vegetable for 10 people to eat then the combined vegetables before cooking should weight 1-1.25 Kgs. This includes onions  tomatoes and potatoes.
-For rotis  breads you have to use 3 for elders when served without rice dish or 2 with rice.
- For kids make 2 rotis or 1 roti each.
- For rice  you have to count 1 small katori/bowl for 2 people as uncooked rice. This reduces further when you are adding vegetables to it.
- If you have good variety of starters  then you have to reduce the rice quantity.
- For starters & desserts count 1.5 servings per person as you will find people either opting or not for it in same numbers

Another important point while organizing a party is to reduce the D-day tasks to minimal. The key is trying to reduce it as much as possible. Make Ahead preparation help here
Assuming that all the shopping and organizing is done the previous days, the actual day would primarily focus on food preparations. No one wants to feed stale food to the guests. However there are still quite a few things that you can do in advance.
  •        Chopping vegetables
  •        Cleaning and separating stalks of herbs and leafy vegetables - Coriander  Mint  Fenugreek
  •        Tomato based gravy / sauces
  •        Cakes can be baked in advance
  •        Custards  kheer  pudding are perfectly okay to be cooked a day before. Stock in refrigerator
  •        Potatoes can be boiled and mashed if required
  •       Some snack and farsan items like aluwadi/patras can be made a day ahead and deep fried closer to the party time%
  •      Dips  chutneys  dressings are good be made in advance
  • Based on my experience with various cuisines and menus  I have often noticed that the last
  • servings / desserts  last course gravy etc are usually good to be made early on. The first  
  • second servings are the one’s that need to be cooked near the serving time like starters etc.

Tips for additional relief during the D-day
 - Always de-clutter refrigerator as much as possible  when you start cooking you do not want to spend time re-organizing things around
- Separate the serving dishes from the cookware in advance  so that you do not spend time washing and cleaning dishes
 - Mark your serving dish against each item before hand. This is part of planning.
- Experiments have to be done before the actual party day
- Write down the recipe and ingredient if possible ,so that you avoid blunders while cooking - even if you are a pro.
- Try not to use a new pack of salt as the saltiness varies from packet to packet. If you are using it then always taste the dish while seasoning.


Anusha said…
pradnya awesome compilation:)
Gayathri Kumar said…
Bookmarking all your posts...
Archana said…
Each of these posts by you is a show stopper. Bookmarking them
Padmajha said…
Nicely written.Bookmarking all these posts :)
Srivalli said…
Very interesting Pradnya..
Hema said…
Wow, Pradnya what perfect planning..
Ramya said…
very informative post
Rasi said…
This is super informative pradyna.. i love the detailing..any party & i know where to reach :)
vidhas said…
Perfect planning, awesome post.
preeti garg said…
well done dear its help me a lot in my next family party:)

Preeti's Kitchen Life
Harini said…
very useful compilation.
rajani said…
I am really loving this series from you, its absolutely great!
need to make a seperate folder for your posts!!lovely!!

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