Monday, May 3, 2010

Cutting, Peeling, Frying, Gravies and Cooking

· Wash vegetables before peeling or cutting to preserve the water soluble vitamins.

· Peel vegetables as thinly as possible to preserve the minerals and vitamins.

· Soak potatoes and eggplant after cutting, to avoid discoloration.

· If you boil vegetables in water, do not throw the water, keep it to make gravies.

· To avoid browning of apples after cutting, apply a little lemon juice on the cut surface. The apples will stay and look fresh for a longer time.

· Keep coriander leaves in a muslin (cheese) cloth bag in the refrigerator. They will remain fresh for a longer time.

· Remove the stems of green chilies while storing them .This will help them to stay fresh for long.

· After peeling onions cut in half and soak in water for about 10 minutes before cutting to avoid crying.

· Soak almonds in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes .The skin will peel off easily.

· Chopping vegetables can be done in different ways using a sharp knife and a wooden chopping board. Cutting on a marble slab will blunt your knives.

· Remove the outer leaves and husks from the corn (bhutta). Holding the corn upright with the flat end firmly in a board, take a sharp knife and run it down between the kernels and the cob to strip them away.

· Wrap the fruits and vegetables in newspaper before refrigerating to keep them fresh for long.

· Chopping dry fruits - Freeze them first for one hour & then dip the knife into hot water before cutting them.

· To get the most juice out of fresh lemons roll them under your palm against the kitchen counter before squeezing.

· If you partially freeze meat it will be easier to slice it thinly.

· To get a beautiful, glossy finish brush beaten egg white over pie crust before baking it.

· If you place a slice of bread in hardened brown sugar it will soften the sugar.

· Do not throw out leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

· Brown sugar will not harden if stored in the freezer.

· Heat the oil thoroughly before adding seasonings or vegetables.

· Fry the seasonings until they change color, to get full flavour of seasonings.

· If masala sticks to the pan that shows quantity of fat included is not enough.

· Add some hot oil and 1/2 tsp of baking soda in batter while making pakodas.

· When coconut is used in grinding masala, do not fry for a longer time.

· If you are making patties or tikkis of potatoes, always make sure that the potatoes are boiled well in advance and cooled before you use them. It would be better if they can be refrigerated for a short time. This helps the starch in the potatoes to settle down and the tikkis will not be gooey.

· Seal the ice cream container in a plastic bag to prevent ice crystals from forming when it is in the freezer.

· Use plastic wrap instead of foil to wrap foods that contain natural acids like tomatoes, onions, lemons etc. Because a chemical reaction caused by the combination of acid and the foil will affect the taste of the food.

· Ice creams set faster and better in aluminium containers. Also, place a thick plastic sheet or spread some salt under the container to keep it from sticking to the floor of the freezer.

· Pooris can be rolled and placed between well-rinsed wet muslin cloth at least an hour ahead and can be fried before serving.

· To make pooris more crispy add a little rice flour to the wheat flour while kneading.

· Pakodas will turn out crisper if a little corn flour is added to the gram flour (besan) while preparing the batter.

· Heat a non-stick pan and add a little more butter than usual. Now beat the egg and stir briskly (even while frying) with a fork. This way more air goes in your omelet, making it light and fluffy. Fry till done and serve hot.

· Sprinkle a little amount of salt in the frying pan before adding bacon to fry. That way it will not splatter all over.

· When browning meat in fat, choose a large, deep pan. This will enable you to fry quickly, without splashing the stove with fat and meat juices.

· A handful of well-soaked moong dal added to any salad will increase the proteins and make it extra nutritious.

· Always use ghee or vanaspathi with oil or instead of oil, to obtain a good flavour while making gravy.

· Fry the ground masala in reduced flame, so that it retains its colour and taste.

· A little sugar or caramelised sugar added to the gravy makes it tasty.

· Keep a little powdered cashewnuts handy in a bottle to thicken gravies, milk, etc. in a hurry.

· It’s better to use fresh onion paste because if is prepared in advance it may get a bitter taste.

· Tomato ketchup or sauce can be successfully used in the gravies.

· To retain colour in the gravy always use ripe red tomatoes.

· Good variety chilies and chili powder also gives colour to the gravy.

· As far as possible try to use long variety red chilies. Dry it under sun for few days and powder coarsely at home.

· Always the coarse powder gives good taste in gravies and pickles.

· While using ginger and garlic paste in curries, always use garlic at 60% ratio and ginger at 40% as ginger is very strong and may make your dish sharp and pungent.

· If you add a little vinegar to the water when boiling peeled potatoes, it causes them to form a light crust that helps them hold their shape when combined with other foods, a special boon when making potato salad.

· Use a plastic scrubber (round ball type) to scrub potatoes, beets, carrots etc. The mud and dirt comes off the crevices and curves easily. Keep the scrubber exclusively for this purpose only for obvious reasons of hygiene.

· Add a handful of well-soaked dal to any salad to add that extra requirement of protein in your diet.

· To make 1 cup of dal, add atleast 2-3 cups of water, depending on the type of dal.

· Soak whole pulses overnight and other dals for one hour before cooking.

· Always add hot water to the gravy to enhance the taste.

· Add 1 Tbsp of hot oil to the dough for making Kachories or Kulchas.

· Always use heavy bottomed vessels to make desserts, in order to avoid burning.

· Make desserts with full cream milk, to get thick creamy texture.

· Whenever curd is to be added to the masala, it should be beaten well and add gradually.

· Chop some extra vegetables, for next day stir fry.

· Use the leftover dal water to make rasam or sambar.

· Never discard water in which vegetables are cooked, use it in gravies, soups, rasam or kulambu.

· Onions and masala are fried in the cooker body itself, raw vegetables are added to that with enough salt and water. Cook under pressure according to the cooking time of the vegetable. This method helps us minimise our cooking time, use of utensils and nutrients are also preserved.

· If poppy seeds are used in grinding, soak it in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, if you are grinding it in a mixie.

· While boiling milk, always add a little water at the base of the vessel to avoid the milk from sticking at the bottom.

· Add a tsp. of hot oil to homemade pastes of garlic, ginger or green chili, along with salt to make it last longer and taste fresher.

· Store raisins in an airtight container in a refrigerator. They will stay fresh for longer.

· Add a few drops of lemon juice or a tsp of oil with rice before boiling to separate each grain.

· Never discard the water in which vegetables are cooked, use it in gravies or soups.

· Put tomatoes in a large bowl and cover with boiling water Leave it for about 5 minutes. Take out one by one, piercing them with a sharp knife, the skin will peel off easily.

· Immediately after boiling noodles put them in normal cold water to separate them each.

· If you forget to soak chana/Rajma overnight, Just soak them in boiling water for an hour before cooking.

· Never beat idli batter too much because the air that has been already incorporated during fermentation will be lost.

· To obtain fluffier idlis: while grinding rice for idlis, add one-fifth the quantity of soaked flaked rice (poha).

· Curd in winter - Set in a ceramic container and place it on the voltage stabilizer of your refrigerator.

· Potatoes soaked in salt water for 20 minutes will bake more rapidly.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Miscellaneous Measuring Tips


  • A measurement used on dry ingredients that is the amount you can pinch between your forefinger and thumb. It is less than a dash and equivalent to approximately 1/16 teaspoon.


  • A small amount of an ingredient equivalent to over 1/16 teaspoon but less than 1/8 teaspoon when measuring dry ingredients. A dash used to measure liquid ingredients equals approximately 3 drops.


  • A measurement equivalent to 3 tablespoons or 1 ½ fluid ounces.


  • A scant measurement indicates that you should use slightly less than the actual measure.


  • A term, used when measuring dry ingredients, indicating that enough ingredient should be added in the measure so that it heaps over the rim of the measuring cup or spoon.

Measuring Tips:

  • When measuring ingredients, never measure over the mixing bowl containing the other ingredients. You may accidentally tip the measuring device or over pour the ingredients and excess ingredients would fall into the mixture. This could ruin the whole batch, depending on the ingredient and how much was spilled. Measure over the sink, another bowl, or a sheet of wax paper to catch any excess spillage. Spillage caught on wax paper can be returned to that ingredient's container.

  • If you do not have two sets of measuring cups or spoons that can be used separately for the dry and liquid ingredients, measure the dry ingredients first and then use the measuring cups and spoons for the liquid ingredients.

  • Store loose dry ingredients, such as salt, in a lidded container. The ingredient can then be spooned out and leveled, rather than trying to pour it into a measuring spoon and having it spill over the edges.

  • To help you keep track of which ingredients you have measured and added in the mixing bowl, place all the ingredients on one side of the mixing bowl and once you have measure and add an ingredient, move its container to the opposite side of the bowl.

  • When cooking, learn to estimate the small measurements of ingredient to save time. Pour the measured amount of an ingredient into the palm of your hand. Observe the look and feel of the quantity and then try to pour that same amount into your palm without measuring first. Measure the amount you poured out to see how close you are to the actual measure. Practice doing this and soon you will be able to measure the ingredients by look and feel. This will greatly reduce your prep time when cooking. Do not use this technique when measuring ingredients for baking. When baking, it is more critical to that all ingredients are measured accurately.

  • Do not mistake fluid ounces for ounces. Ounces measure weight and fluid ounces measures volume.