Sanjana Feasts

By Sanjana Modha

Original recipes of savoury & sweet feasts: delicious plant-based Indian comfort food for your soul.

Friday, 21 July 2023

5 Gems to Grab from the Indian Supermarket Freezer

I went and raided the freezer at my local Indian supermarket. Quite frankly, it’s one of my favourite things to do. It's a place for grabbing old favourites and finding new things to try; just the right balance of home comforts and adventure. As you may sense, the Indian supermarket shopping trip is something I take pretty seriously.

You'll find snacks and ready meals galore in this particular section of the shop, from samosas and spring rolls, to dosa and dum biryani. Even though there's loads to choose from, these are the frozen items I always come away with.

1. Paratha

I can’t do a round-up of Desi freezer essentials without mentioning frozen paratha. They’re quick, convenient and don’t take up too much space. Frozen paratha are also great for those who’d do anything to avoid rolling out each flatbread individually. We’ve all been there. To cook them, simply remove one frozen disc from the pack, peel off the acetate and cook in a hot frying pan, browning both sides. If you can buy the wholemeal variety of frozen paratha, these are the most delicious of all.

Along with frozen paratha, you may find other frozen flatbreads, including rotis/chapatis, thepla (masala chapati) and a range of various stuffed parathas, from Aloo Paratha (filled with potatoes), to Mooli Paratha (filled with white radish/daikon). The stuffed type are heavenly for breakfast alongside a cup of chai and some spicy lime or mango pickle. If your alarm doesn’t get you out of bed, the prospect of an Indian breakfast might just do it.

2. Okra and other Indian veg packs

A delicious meal is only a freezer bag away when you know which frozen Indian veg to buy.

In the market, seeing rows and rows of fresh okra, bitter gourd, cluster beans, drumsticks, pigeon peas, ivy gourds and elephant foot yams can be intimidating. Some of these fresh South Asian veggies require a certain degree of preparation, like podding, stringing and inspecting for critters.

Since the fresh kind can be expensive, it’s a good idea to take the urgency out of trying different vegetables by buying them frozen. I grew up doing the week’s veg prep with my mum on Sunday afternoons. We’d chat and she’d teach me all about the different ingredients, from prepping them to cooking. I learnt that we should pick the skinniest and firmest okra for the most tender bhindi stir fry. Or that pulling the stems off chillies makes them last three times as long as when you leave them on.

Many of the vegetables are frozen as soon as they’re picked and prepped, so they’re as fresh as can be. Okra are always in my freezer because my family and I love them, and they can be stir fried directly from frozen in a simple dish such as this, Gujarati Okra and Potatoes.

3. Samosa and spring roll pastry

Packs of pre-made sheets of spring roll and samosa pastry are particularly useful if you’re a fan of all things fried and crispy. These stacks of wheat flour pastry simply need to be peeled apart and stuffed with your favourite fillings, from veg and potatoes, to keema, cheese and whatever else you fancy.

For a delicious air fryer option and tutorial for folding samosas using spring roll sheets, try these Golden Vegetable Samosas.

4. Shredded coconut

Shredded frozen coconut has come to my rescue on many occasions. It can be used for savoury cooking, as well as for baking. I often use it for making South Indian coconut chutney and aviyal (vegetable stew).

The flavour of frozen coconut is as fresh as can be and it saves you cracking open the coconut and grating it by hand. So put the hammer away, folks. Quality brands will offer a long-shred variety which makes for beautiful coconut cakes, muffins and laddoos.

5. Mogo chips

Mogo chips, or cassava chips (yuca), is a starchy root vegetable native to South America and is an important crop in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It’s a popular alternative to potatoes in the cuisine of the East African Indian diaspora. It’s also enjoyed in parts of South India. The flavour is like that of a starchy potato – very hearty and comforting indeed.

Depending on where you live, fresh cassava can be hard to find so frozen is always a good standby option. The frozen root can be boiled, mashed, stewed, roasted, barbecued and even made into cake or halwa. Often, we boil and then fry the mogo to make crispy mogo chips or chilli mogo (a Desi restaurant favourite here in the UK). One of my favourite ways to enjoy it is to stew it in coconut milk with roasted cumin seeds, ginger and green chilli. It’s how my grandmother cooked it for her 11 children.

Try this recipe for Mogo Chips & Bomb Sauce.


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