No iftari is ever quite complete without chutneys, lemon wedges and green chillies, while curries do not have the necessary zing unless ginger and garlic are added to them. Vendors have the public over a barrel when it comes to maintaining steady supplies of these essentials throughout Ramazan and charge exorbitant prices regardless of their quality. Therefore, buying these ingredients beforehand makes sense.
Making a ginger-garlic paste with a food processor is easy as it stores well in glass jars in the fridge, or it can be put into plastic bags and frozen for up to six months. You can also wrap fresh ginger root in a damp cloth and refrigerate; this will keep it fresh for almost six weeks (matchstick-sized slivers of ginger freeze well). Healthy garlic bulbs on the other hand, need a cool, dry and airy storage area; otherwise, they will go bad in a few days.
When it comes to chillies, you can freeze them whole. Although they may not be as crisp as the fresh ones, once thawed out, they do the job perfectly well. However, if crunchy chillies are a must, buy saplings from your local nursery now; the same goes for mint. If you are not growing the latter two, then bulk buy, clean, chop, pack and freeze; both can be used straight from the freezer.
And how can we forget lemons? Check out your nearest nursery for potted lemon shrubs or trees with fruit on them (it is too late to grow a lemon tree from seeds). Leave the plants in their pots until winter starts when they can be shifted to the ground. Lemons freeze for up to one year, so go out and stock up now!
– B Khan