Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Making Ginger and Garlic Pastes

One of the first cookbooks I ever bought was titled, simply, "Indian Cooking", by Lalita Ahmed. At the back, it included explanations and descriptions of ingredients that are less common in Western cuisines, such as panch-phoran (an Indian blend of 5 spices that's very different from Chinese 5-spice blends), baisen (chickpea flour) and different types of rice. There were also simple instructions on how to make garlic paste and ginger paste, staples in many Indian recipes. I buy fresh ginger root and garlic heads to make a bunch of each paste, and then I use a measuring teaspoon (not a regular eating teaspoon) to spoon out 1 tsp sized portions onto a sheet of wax paper spread on a cookie sheet. I use a separate cookie sheet for each paste so that I don't inadvertently mix them up. I then place each cookie sheet in my freezer, and when the teaspoon-size portions are frozen solid, I peel them off the wax paper and place them in appropriately labeled freezer bags or containers. That way, I have a handy supply of 1-tsp portions of ginger paste and garlic paste in my freezer ready to use whenever I make Indian food!

Here's how to make ginger paste from fresh ginger root:
Starting with an 8 oz. piece of fresh ginger root, peel and cut into small chunks. Place in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of water and process until you have a smooth paste. You can store the paste in a non-metal airtight container in the fridge for a week or so, or freeze in 1 teaspoon portions. You can multiply or divide this recipe for the amount of ginger root you have.

Here's how to make garlic paste:
Follow the same instructions as for ginger paste, but use 8 oz of peeled garlic cloves instead.

Zestfully yours,

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