Lifestyle

Simmer Sauce Solutions

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This may be obvious to you, but a well-stocked pantry is essential.  Especially, during these days of “social distancing”,  when going to the grocery is like going out to a war zone.    Like most of you out there, my pantry consists of the usual suspects-pasta, brownie mix, canned corn, canned tuna, chicken stock, canned tomatoes, pickles, etc.  A few more things that I always on hand are jarred sauces.  I used to hate using pre-packed sauces, they were full of sodium and preservatives and I most certainly sis not care for.  However, the necessity for cooking hearty meals in a flash lead me to explore some brands and I have settled on a few that are relatively on the healthier side.  They are also a couple bucks more expensive, so I always stock up on them when they go on sale. Here are a few jars that you will always find in my pantry.

Indian: Patak’s Simmer sauces.  I have tried most of the varieties of their but Patak’s Tikka Masala, Jalfrezi, Biriyani paste, and Rogan Josh are the best.  Here are some of the recipes I have made with them:

Murgh Kofta Rogan Josh

Gosht jalfrezi

Asian: For a delicious stir-fry, Tsang’s stir-fry sauces are the best, because they have the least amount of sugar.  I usually by the Teriyaki, Classic or Szechuan Sauce.  Here are my stir-fry recipes

Beef Teriyaki

Chicken in Classic Sauce

Mexican: Jarred pickled jalapenos and Salsa Verde are must-haves for my Chicken chili recipe.  I look for the Culinary Tours brand.

Chicken Chili

Italian: I always buy the Victoria brand of tomato basil sauce. Even “America’s test kitchen” vouched for this brand.  I don’t have to tell you how to use pasta sauce, but my favorite use is to make chicken parm or use it as a dipping sauce for eggplant cutlets.

Eggplant Cutlets

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Indian, Poultry, Savory

Murgh Kofta Rogan Josh

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15 years ago I would scoff at the idea of using “curry” from a “jar”.  15 years ago,  I was not putting food on the table after a busy day at work.  I will admit, I am a curry snob.  Well, let’s get one thing clear, curry really just refers to a slow-cooked, spiced, sauce–it is not a recipe on its own!  However, to keep things simple, I too have fallen into the practice of referring to any Indian saucy dish as curry.  Purists, please forgive me!

Now back to sauces in jars.  There is only one brand that I trust (and no, I don’t get paid by them!) is Pataks.  My Mom used it when we lived in the USA during the early 90s, which means this brand has her seal of approval.  Back then, you would have to drive several miles to get to the nearest Indian Grocery to stock up on these staples.  Now, you can walk into most food stores and find them easily.   One thing I always try to do with these store-bought shortcuts is to add more nutrients to them.  I almost always add vegetables to the sauce, not only does it stretch the meal, but I can get a certain picky eater to eat veggies!!  For this particular “sauce”, I have found that sweet potatoes work really well.  You can use any kind of protein you like (animal or plant-based).  For this version I used mini chicken meatballs, another ode to a childhood “curry” my mother made.  You can check out the recipe for the chicken meatballs here.  With that, here is how I assembled this meal.

Ingredients:

1 batch of mini chicken meatballs

3 medium sweet potatoes, diced.

1 jar of Patak’s Rogan Josh sauce.

1Tbsp of olive oil

1 cup of water

1tsp of chili powder

1 tsp of garam masala

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pan.  Once the oil is hot, add the diced sweet potatoes.  Saute till the potatoes start to become tender.

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Add the whole jar of sauce and 1 cup of water to the sweet potatoes.  Cover the pot and cook on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.  You don’t want anything to stick to the bottom off the pot!

After about 40 minutes, the sweet potato will become tender.  Using the back of a spoon, I roughly mash the sweet potatoes into the sauce.  This adds thickness and a delicious sweetness to the curry.

Add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat.  Remember, the meatballs are cooked, so you don’t want to over-cook them or use high heat.  That will toughen the meatballs and nobody likes that!

At the very end, I added chili powder and garam masala, stirred the spices in the sauce and turned the heat off.    At this point, you an let the dish cool down to room temperature, portion it and freeze it for later.

If you are planning to eat right away, I would add the spices along with the meatballs, cook the dish for 10 minutes and serve hot with either rice or Naan or both!!!  Enjoy!

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