-Submitted by Dahlia on 7th Dec 2007
(Indian Cooking Tips, Kitchen Tips, Cooking Tips and Tricks)
Top 10 General Tips:
- To make softer chapattis, take the flour, add warm water and some warm milk and knead the dough. Let it rest for 15 minutes before making chapattis.
- Use heavy bottomed vessel for boiling milk and for preparations using milk like kheer. Before adding the milk, a little water can be added to the vessel to avoid the milk from sticking to the bottom and getting burnt.
- Toasting nuts, rice, rava and dal (lentils) before cooking with it increases its flavors considerably.
- Adding few drops of oil to the rice before cooking it will prevent it from becoming sticky.
- Use the excess dal water from boiling dal to make rasam. Similarly, after boiling vegetables if you do not want the extra water, the liquid can be used in gravies or for making chapatti dough.
- Rub your hands in a stainless steel sink or vessel to remove the strong smell of onions or garlic.
- When boiling potatoes or eggs, add a pinch of salt to the water. This will help peel the skin easily later.
- To separate each string of noodles or any thin pasta, run it under cold water immediately after boiling and draining the water.
- Curd in winter - Set in a ceramic container and place it on the voltage stabilizer of your refrigerator. Other options are keep in a hot box, inside the oven (switched off) or keep it wrapped in a blanket. The idea is to give a warm place to speed up the fermentation.
- For making softer idlis, add some sago or cooked rice while making the batter.
Top 10 Quick Fix Tips (For Busy Days) :
Tomato paste or sauce can be used instead of fresh tomatoes. This saves a lot of chopping time.
- Soak chik peas in boiling water if you forget to soak it ahead of time. In this way only 1 hour of soaking in needed.
- Make ginger garlic paste in bulk and put it in the fridge. Similarly, make green chilly paste and keep in the fridge. This saves a lot of cooking time.
- You can also make a big batch of chapatti dough using your grinder atta attachment or food processor. Divide into smaller portions, put in ziploc bags and freeze it. Whenever you need, take one bag, thaw it and use. This stays good for more than a month.
- While chopping vegetables, chop in a bulk, use what is needed and put the remaining in the fridge for later use. Chopping a vegetable at a stretch saves a lot of time.
- Have lots of peeled garlic in an air tight box in the refrigerator.
- Grate a whole coconut at a time and refrigerate/freeze it so it can be used easily whenever needed. You can use the grater attachment in the wet grinders to get it done easily. I prefer freezing as it stays fresh longer (upto 3 months). Thaw it for 5 minutes before each use.
- Fry grated coconut in bulk with curry leaves and store it in the fridge. This can be used easily whenever gravies have to be made.
- Whenever you boil potatoes or cauliflower make some extra and put it in the fridge. This can be used to make stuffed parathas, cutlets etc.
- Use the microwave to saute onions, tomatoes and to cook up the vegetables.
Top 10 Preparation & Chopping Tips:
- Soak the onions in water for about 10 minutes before chopping to avoid tears.
- For peeling garlic easily, separate the cloves and soak it in water for 15 minutes. Another option is to put the cloves in a closed jar and shake vigorously for a minute. Most of the skin comes loose and the rest can be removed easily.
- For chopping dry fruits, freeze them for an hour before cutting. This is also true for meat and processed meat like bacon, panchetta etc.
- Do not wash the mushrooms with water as it will absorb the water. Clean it with a damp cloth instead. This way the preparations will not be soggy.
- To peel the skin of almonds, tomatoes or peaches, simply soak in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. The skin can be easily removed.
- To remove the corn from its cub, hold it straight with one end on the bottom of a big vessel. Then strip the corn with a knife. This will prevent messing up of the entire place.
- When cutting raw banana, potatoes or eggplant, soak it in water to avoid discoloration. Similarly, to prevent apples, avocados, bananas or peaches from browning, add lemon juice.
- Before grating cheese, apply some oil in the grater to prevent it from sticking. Also, spray the cup with oil before measuring honey so that it comes out fully without sticking.
- While adding curd to gravies or biryani, beat it nicely and reduce the temperature before adding.
- Wash the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear so that the excess starch gets drained away and the rice is not very sticky after cooking.
Top 10 Frying Tips:
- When frying, the oil should be in the correct temperature. If its too hot, the outside will get browned up too quickly before the inside gets cooked. If its not hot enough, the fried food will absorb too much oil before getting cooked.
- Choose any oil with neutral flavor like vegetable oil, refined sunflower oil, canola oil etc. for frying. Oils with strong flavor like olive oil or coconut oil will change the taste of the fried food.
- To reduce the amount of oil absorbed by the food when fried, add a pinch of salt to the oil before frying.
- Before deep frying vegetables or fish or meat, pat it dry completely on a kitchen towel or using a paper napkin. This will ensure that it gets fried properly and tastes better. Also there will be less oil splatter since water is oils worst enemy.
- To make crispier puris that stay puffed up longer, add a little rava to the wheat flour while kneading.
To make crispier bajjis (pakoras), add a little corn flour or rice flour to the gram flour while making the bajji batter. Also add some hot oil to the batter.
Use a deep vessel to fry chicken to avoid the splashing of oil and juices all around the place. Use long tongs to put the foos to be fried carefully in the hot oil.
- When frying mushrooms, add salt only after it has browned. Similarly adding salt to the chicken also slows up the browning.
- When doing any seasoning, fry mustard seeds, peppercorns etc. until they finish popping. The dals should change color to a light golden brown. Only then the seasoned oil will be very flavorful.
- While it is not at all advisable to reuse fried oil, some people still prefer to do it. In that case, strain the oil before using it again to remove all fried bits and pieces.
Top 10 Storage (Refrigerating, Freezing)Tips:
- Store nuts and dry fruits in the refrigerator to increase their shelf life. I also store coffee powder and health drinks in the refrigerator. In room temperature, it gets hard due to the humidity in the air.
- Keep coriander leaves in a air tight plastic box with a paper napkin inside to keep them fresh in the refrigerator for a long time (almost a month).
- Remove the stem of the chilly while storing them whole. Another method is to make chilly paste and store it.
- To store fish longer and fresher, clean it, apply some turmeric powder, lemon juice and salt and put it in the freezer.
- Soak beans in bulk and freeze it. That way you can make quick curries and side dishes quickly. Also, you can sprout the beans and freeze it.
- Wrap the fruits and vegetables in newspaper before refrigerating to keep them fresh longer.
- For storing ginger garlic paste longer, add some oil and salt while grinding.
- Store onions, garlic, potatoes and tubers in open space with good air circulation to prevent it from rotting. Also, do not store onions and potatoes together in the same container.
- Always keep the bananas separated from the other fruits to avoid quick ripening of fruits.
- Store spices away from sunlight in a closed dark place to retain their freshness and aroma longer.
Top 10 Health Tips:
- Do not wash the vegetables after peeling or chopping. This will wash out all the water soluble vitamins.
- Try your best to steam or stir fry the vegetables to cook them and retain all its nutrients. However, if you need to boil the vegetables, do not throw the water. Many nutrients are left back in the water, so use it when making some gravies or soups.
- Potatoes, drumstick etc. have their nutrients in their skin. So try using them without peeling it. Also, eat fruits like apples along with its skin.
- Tamarind can be substituted with raw mango powder, lime juice, kokum etc. These are healthy alternatives.
- Add a pinch of baking soda for any preparations using gram flour (besan) like dhokla, pakoras, chilas etc. This not makes the batter lighter but also is easier for digestion.
- Use lot of garlic and asafoetida in recipes to avoid gastric problems.
- Add salt at the very end of the cooking process to reduce the overall salt intake. Also, adding salt in the beginning dehydrates the vegetables and reduces its nutritional value.
- Use half wheat flour for any recipes that call for refined flour (maida). This will improve the nutritious value of the dish.
- Cut the fat in your recipes wherever possible. Prevention is better than cure. e.g : use less oil, use less coconut in gravies and substitute with poppy seeds or tomatoes, substitute cream with milk.
- Eat freah home cooked meals and snacks as much as possible. It is always mush healthier as you have a control over the ingredients used.
Top 10 Shopping Tips:
- Always prepare a shopping list to avoid over buying based on instinct or under buying and missing out the necessary things. Clean your refrigerator and pantry once in a month before preparing a shopping list.
- Always be sure to check the expiry dates of products. Purchase large quantities only if you are sure to finish it within the date.
- While buying mutton, get a smaller animal. The meat will be pinkish and not dark red. This will ensure tender meat when cooked.
- When buying produce, look for its freshness. Do not purchase if it doesn't look bright and firm.
- Choose brinjals (eggplant) that are lighter. Heavier ones are more mature with many seeds and the brinjals will also taste bitter.
- If you are not able to find fresh herbs, you can buy dried ones. However, you have to use very sparingly as dried herbs have a stronger aroma.
- Always read the nutritional labels while buying canned or processed food. Compare similar products to check for salt content, fat etc. Also purchase low sodium options whenever possible.
- Always be brave and try out new fruits and vegetables that you see in the market. Who knows? It might become your next favorite.
- Plan and buy some frozen food. It is always useful to have some frozen vegetables like green peas, corn etc. to make quick fried rice or noodles. You might not have the fresh ones all the time.
- Purchase fish in bulk. This way you do not have to rush to the market often. If you clean and refrigerate in small portions, you will have fish ready for cooking any time. That way you will eat healthy often.