Freshly Frozen

My fridge is full of rotting vegetables. These are usually invaluable leftovers from my shopping trips; unique veggies that are essential to one recipe or the other, but not available at Jubilee Market next door. Or the next three hundred doors for that matter.

Hence lies a problem with cooking Indian in New York - how do you keep veggies at hand without to take a jaunt to suburban New Jersey? The answer, in the land of huge refrigerators is of course frozen; tucked away nicely in that frosty-looking ziplock bag, waiting paitiently for your attention (somtimes for months on end). A few things are readily available frozen such as spinach and parathas, but I've discovered a couple of other really useful ones.

The mostest value undoubtedly comes from frozen green chillies. These absolutely indispensable hot friends can be frozen for a good long while; a couple of weeks at least. They lose some of their shape and become slightly watery when thawed, but usually survive the ordeal without much of a fuss. Paneer is readily available frozen from local Indian stores. Another is karela - which can be sliced and frozen for 3-4 months or more. Then there's onion paste - raw and boiled - it can be frozen for about a month according to official sources, but much, much longer if you're willing to do a pepsi. I discovered frozen methi the other day at Spice Corner. And finally, grated coconut preserves frozen for a good long while. For greated convenience, it can be pasted in a blender directly from the freezer.

Some crucial stuff, however, just wont freeze. Cilantro is a complete disaster if frozen. (luckily its readily available in stores). Limes are another - can be frozen in theory, but turn mushy too readily (the ice expands and bursts the pods). The juice of the lime, however, can be frozen - someone on a chowhound forum recommends making lime juice ice cubes. I would think that applied to any soft fruits - tomatoes, lemons, limes, oranges.

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