The best thing I have learned from her is this tip about ginger and garlic. I'm not proud of this, but one of the main things that keeps me from cooking more Indian food (and Chinese too, for that matter) is that it is such a hassle to cut both the garlic and the ginger. I don't mind chopping one or the other, but something about the thought of having to cut both often seems like more effort than it is worth, so unless I have planned to make a dish that requires both, it does not lend itself to a spur-of-the-moment I-need-something-quick kind of thing. In addition, I always end up having to throw away that knob of ginger that is inevitably left over. There is something about the texture that develops when I throw it in the freezer, as many experts recommend, that puts me off too much so I can't do that, and it is a lot of trouble to chop it all and freeze it in ice cube trays, which is what I was doing to avoid having it go bad. I wasn't all that happy with the results from that, either, but it was the best I could come up with to deal with problem.
And then I was watching "Aarti Party" and she grabbed a jar out of the refrigerator, brought it over to the stove, and explained that it was equal parts of ginger and garlic chopped up with some oil in the food processor that she keeps around all the time. Made me sit up, that's for sure.
And then she pulled it out for another dish on another episode. And then she pulled it out again. The third time is the charm, and I decided this was something I should try. I got a 3-inch knob of ginger and a head of garlic. I peeled and chopped the ginger and peeled an equal amount of garlic cloves and cut them into fourths. I put them in the processor attachment of my stick blender and poured a little olive oil into the bowl, then I let her rip.
The result? Nothing short of miraculous. Having both the ginger and the garlic already minced and available whenever I need them makes it so much easier to throw together a curry, dal, or stir fry. Now it is one of the first things that pops into my head when I deciding what to cook.
I have heard that garlic loses much of it's healthy properties if left too long after it has been cut, so I have avoided all of those jars of pre-minced garlic over the years. I did give a thought to that when I decided to give this a try, but I still use enough garlic in other dishes on a regular basis that I cut as I need, so I do not worry about that.
This mixture will keep for weeks in the refrigerator. Having it around has broadened my options every time I have to decide what to make for dinner. I've only recently started keeping it on hand, and I already can't imagine what I would do without it.
TO MAKE GARLIC GINGER PASTE:
Peel a 3-inch knob of ginger and cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Peel and quarter an equal amount of garlic cloves. Place in a small food processor or chopper and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Process until a rough paste has formed, being sure to leave visible pieces of garlic and ginger. Place in a jar and store in the refrigerator. It should keep for a few weeks.