The cheat code to cooking like Nigella Lawson even though you can't make chai
Without burning a kebab-size hole in your pocket
I grew up on a near-constant diet of the Japanese anime series Doraemon. The time-travelling cat robot caught my fancy because the 4-dimensional pocket attached to his stomach had an endless supply of gadgets from the 22nd century. I’d use his Anywhere Door, which lets him travel through space and time, not to travel to the beaches of Santorini or the museums of Florence, but from my bed to my bathroom.
I am not proud to say that being chronically lazy has become a lifestyle. According to my mother, I’d be happy to even have someone to chew my food for me. Now imagine someone like that left to their own devices in a city like Delhi, on a student’s budget. I could only order out so many times before I’d be down to chawannis, still with half of a month to get through. That is when I discovered capitalism’s gift to the young, dumb and broke: sauce premixes.
It was a match made in heaven. If I felt like having mutton rogan josh without burning a kebab-sized hole in my pocket, I could just dump the ready-to-cook paste in a pan with mutton chunks and I would have a hearty meal ready in 10 minutes. But that wasn’t the best part. It was the low chance of ending up with a gas chamber for a kitchen considering I couldn’t cook to save my life.
As I’ve been divulging all my secret, serotonin-boosting techniques (re: my BugZooka and screaming goat), I thought it would be a disservice to mankind not to reveal my go-to sauce premixes for the days you’re feeling too lazy to cook — or you just can’t. These sauce premixes will keep up with your pasta-hogging tendencies and fulfil your dessert dreams.
9 sauce premixes for lazy Latas and hopeless chefs
For the ones who worship at the altar of the pasta lords
Arrabiata sauce by Living Food Company
This preservative-free sauce is Italy personified, with its fresh tomatoes having undertones of basil, garlic and olive oil and a hint of chilli justifying the ‘angriness’ of arrabbiata.
Freshly made with no sugar or artificial ingredients, the sauce should be slow-cooked to bring out its authentic scrumptiousness.
- Boil pasta al-dente and drain it.
- Add the sauce to the pasta and heat on low for 2-3 minutes.
Spicy pasta sauce by Habanero
Planning a Netflix date with your weighted blanket and your favourite homemade pasta? Fret not because this spicy, chunky pasta sauce by Habanero is the perfect companion for your two-minute foray into the kitchen.
With locally grown tomatoes picked at peak season, the sauce should be simmered on a slow flame to give you that bonafide Italian flavour.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use the vegan sauce as a gravy for any Indian delicacy to add an Italian twist to it, just the way dadi taught you.
- Sauté your veggies in a pan.
- Add the pasta sauce to your veggies and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Finally, add your boiled pasta to the mixture and let it simmer for 3 minutes.
Sundried tomato pesto sauce by Saucery
Made with a rich combination of sundried tomatoes, aged parmesan, powerful garlic, and a hint of rosemary, this sauce can be mixed into pasta, spread on a sandwich or even served as a dip along with your nachni chips.
Flax and sunflower seeds provide nutritious value to this pesto by providing Omega-3 essential fatty acids, fibre, and heart-healthy minerals.
- Heat a pan and add the Saucery Sundried Tomato Pesto to it.
- Add in the boiled pasta and toss until mixed well.
- Check and adjust seasoning. Serve hot with grated parmesan as garnish.
You will love this
For the main course connoisseurs
Mutton Rogan Josh by Riwayat
Juicy mutton, steaming hot oil, and dried spices. The three pillars that give this curry its distinct, almost smokey flavour have been preserved authentically in this king among sauce premixes by Riwayat.
This dish, which has its origins in Persian cuisine, tickles your tastebuds with its melange of zesty spices.
- Heat the oil and add the meat and sauté for 2-3 minutes on low flame.
- Add the rogan josh masala paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Now, add the yoghurt and mix well.
- Add one cup of water and cook on simmer till meat is tender.
- Add a julienned ginger, coriander and serve.
Bhuna Masala Gravy by ChefBoss
Skip the herculean task of toasting fresh spices and slow-cooking the onion and tomato gravy base for your bhuna sasala and pick this gravy paste by ChefBoss.
This spicy favourite has an authentic aroma owing to its blend of seven spices that will entice you like a seductive lover.
Chicken bhuna masala, paneer bhuna masala, and veg bhuna masala are a handful of the sauce’s variations.
- Lightly toss 200g or 8 to 10 pieces of chicken/paneer in a pan with oil (1 tablespoon) for 5 -7 minutes.
- Add 175ml / 1 cup of water and empty the contents of the entire pack into the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or till the gravy becomes thick.
- Garnish with chopped ginger and coriander. Enjoy with parathas or rice.
Thai Green Curry by Veeba
Craving the Thai green curry from your favourite Asian restaurant that shut down during the pandemic leaving a hole in your heart and stomach? Drown your sorrows in this sauce premix which claims to be low on noxious preservatives.
Make it a Thai Thursday with this green curry, laced with the flavours of the Thai green paste and a mix of yummy veggies.
- Mix 120g (half bottle) Veeba Thai Green Curry with 60g water and 60g coconut milk in a bowl and keep aside.
- Take 200g boneless chicken dices and blanch in boiling water and keep aside (can skip if you’re making the vegetarian version)
- Stir fry vegetables of your choice like onions, bell peppers, broccoli etc.
- Add the curry mix to the stir-fried veggies and bring to boil.
For the ones who live for their Gulab Jamuns
Blueberry spread by Epigamia
Remember how your grandmother’s greatest cooking hack for enhancing any dish was to add ghee? She routinely ensured there was freshly churned ghee at home, whether it was to drop a spoonful of it into your jeera rice or to make sure your roti was dripping with it.
This blueberry spread from Epigamia is ideal for millennials seeking a simple way to incorporate ghee into their diets.
These spreads are high in healthy fats, Omega 3, and contain no palm oil, making them a great snack to go with bread, paratha, and other flatbreads.
Nolen Gur kheer by Tasty Tales
The nolen gur kheer, Kolkata’s favourite dessert, invokes sentiments in a Bengali like no other. But you don’t have to be a Bengali to appreciate the hearty goodness of this dessert,
Nolen gur can only be prepared in the winter, using seasonally available date palm jaggery and Bengal’s famed fragrant Gobindobhog rice. But thanks to this dessert mix by Tasty Tales, you can now enjoy it all year round.
- Heat 500ml toned milk on low flame.
- Add the rice (pack 2) and cook for 15-20 minutes while stirring continuously until the rice gets cooked.
- Add the kheer syrup (pack 1). Mix well. Switch off the flame. Let it cool.
Tweak tip: The kheer is best enjoyed chilled so remember to cool it for an hour or two in the fridge.
Avocado mayonnaise by Black and Green
What do ketchup and mayonnaise have in common (apart from the fact that they’re both table condiments)? People either adore or despise them.
Mayonnaise isn’t exactly a healthy food, so mayo haters had virtue on their side until recently. Many people who can’t picture a BLT without it will be relieved to learn that some mayonnaises, like Black and Green’s avocado mayonnaise, are healthier than the traditional option.
This mayonnaise’s acidic flavour, along with its high content of good fats, makes it the ideal breakfast companion for those trying to eat healthily.