Handy tips for smart kitchen work
Try out these handy tips for trouble free time in kitchen. Avoid sticky rice
Wash the rice a few times until the water runs clear. Remove all the water until no water remains. Let it sit for 20 minutes. This will remove all the starch and help the rice to remain separate.
Also adding a few drops of lemon juice to the rice while cooking, you will find that the grains of rice will tend to remain separate.
2. For crispier puris
Add a teaspoon of semolina / rava (suji) and 1 teaspoon of rice flour to the wheat flour while kneading.
3. Quick tomato paste cubes
Spoon tomato paste into ice cube trays. Freeze overnight. Transfer into plastic bags and freeze. Frozen cubes can be dropped right into curries.
4. Eggplants retaining colour
When cooking eggplant add a spoon of milk to a bowl of water and add the cut up pieces to that water. The eggplant will retain their color without becoming black.
5. Remedy for salty curry
Wash a potato. Cut into two. Place the two halves of the raw potato in the curry and it will absorb the extra salt.
6. Ready to use masalas
Sometimes cooking requires a lot of pre-preparation. Make masalas ahead of the time. Stock the masala in the freezer till not required for cooking. This method will save a lot of time.
7. How to cut an onion without crying?
One can adopt any of these methods to cut onion without crying - peel and cut onions under running water. Chop onions near a gas flame. Or refrigerating onions before chopping.
8. Using kitchen scissors most
One must use kitchen scissors to chop coriander leaves, mint leaves and chillies to avoid any kind of a mess. One can stock this for the purpose of garnishing.
9. Buying lemons and lime
Buy large lemons and limes, they tend to be much sweeter. Make sure that the skin is thin, those are much juicer. To obtain more of the juice from lemons, limes or oranges, microwave on high for 30 seconds and then let stand for a couple of minutes before cutting and squeezing. Rolling them between your hand and the counter will also help release more juice.
10. Skinning a chicken with ease
Always peel off a little part of the Chicken skin to start with and hold it tightly with a paper towel. The skin latches on to the paper towel.
11. Overripe tomatoes
Dip them in cold water, add some salt and leave overnight. They will be fresh and firm to touch the next day.
12. Tips for making dosa
To ensure that the griddle (tawa) is hot enough before spreading dosa, sprinkle a little water over it. If it sizzles immediately, then the griddle is hot enough. Wipe with a clean rag or half a raw onion and proceed.
13. Tip for making soft chappati dough
While making paneer from milk, don`t throw away the paneer water. This nutritious water can be used for making soft dough for chapatis or can be used to cook dals.
14. Retaining the "whiteness" of white rice
While cooking rice add a few drops of lemon juice. The color of the grains become bright white.
15. Reheating left-over rice
Refrigerate leftover cooked rice in a well-sealed container. Reheat cold rice with a sprinkling of water in a microwave oven or in a covered pot over low heat.
16. Peeling a whole garlic
To peel garlic, place your knife flat on the garlic clove and whack with your other hand. The covering will burst open and the clove can be easily removed.
17. Peeling or scraping ginger
Peeling or scraping ginger with the back of spoon is an easy way to peel ginger. Scrape the ginger with the inside of a spoon, getting the edge of the spoon into the crevices of the ginger. The skin will come off with a gentle scrape.
18. Dicing onions
The best way to avoid crying when dicing an onion is to use a very sharp knife and to move as quickly as safety permits.
1. Cut off the end of the onion end with the small roots sticking out.
2. Cut it into half lengthwise, so that the end that is still together is cut into half.
3. Now remove the skin and may be one of the layers to clean the onion.
4. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting surface slice the onion parallel to the cutting surface so that you are making slices that are 1/4 inch from each other. Remember to never make a cut that would break through the end of the onion. The onion will come apart if you slice through the bottom end. Remember to never make a cut that would break through the end of the onion. The onion will come apart if you slice through the bottom end.
5. Turn the onion. Make lengthwise slices remembering not to cut all the way to the end . The onion will still be in one piece and look like half an onion.
6. Turn the onion and chop the onion all the way to the back of the part that is still together.
7. You will have perfect small dices of onion.
8. Now chop the other part of the onion the same way.
19. Avoiding over-spilling milk when boiling
Before pouring milk into a pot for boiling rub butter along the top edge and inside lip of the pot. When the milk foams up, it will stop over spilling when it hits the butter.
20. Removing the garlic skins
Wash the garlic buds before peeling the skin. The skin of the garlic will come off easily and quickly.
21. Instead of onion
If anyone does not like or want the strong taste of onion, you can use cabbage in the recipe for the same taste and good recipe.
Cook carrots, peas, beetroot or corn adding a pinch of sugar to the water to keep the flavour.
To keep sweet corn yellow in colour, add one teaspoon of lemon juice to the cooking water just about a minute before removing from heat. Never salt the water you cook corn in. It will only toughen the corn.
The best way to thaw fish is in milk. The milk draws out the frozen taste and gives the fish a fresh flavour.
Keep lemons in hot water for twenty minutes before squeezing. They will yield more juice.
Muffins will slide right out of tin pans if the hot pan is first placed on a wet towel.
Add a few drops of lemon juice while preparing sugar syrup. The impurities will collect on the surface of the syrup, which you can then remove.
Dip nuts in milk before placing them on top of the cakes or biscuits to prevent them from falling off while baking.
Coat raisins or other chopped dry fruits with dry flour before adding them to the batter of cakes or puddings. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom while baking.
Chapattis would come out very soft if a little rice flour is used while rolling out the dough.
If you have no sour cream, add one teaspoon of lemon juice to every half pint of fresh cream and stir. Let it stand for ten minutes before use.
If you have to make cutlets in a hurry and have no breadcrumbs use semolina for coating them.
The art of making good naan khatais lies in beating the mixture till it becomes light and fluffy. Also only vanaspati should be used to make them.
Do not salt meat before cooking as salt draws out all the flavour, but fish fillet will benefit from a bit of salt during refrigeration before cooking.
A little rice flour added to bhajia batter will not only make the bhajias crisper but also less oily.
To make creamier raitas, add a little fresh cream. It will however make the dish richer.
Use the whey drained from curdled milk to knead chapatti dough. They will turn out softer, whiter and most importantly more nutritious.
Using chilli oil instead of plain oil while cooking will make the dish spicier.
To make potato wafers whiter and crisper, soak the potato slices in water to which some alum crystals and salt. Drain the water and then deep fry.
Before cooking cauliflower florets soak them in warm salted water for a while to get rid of any tiny insects that may be present deep inside the florets and not visible to the eye.
A pinch of turmeric powder and a teaspoon full of ghee added to dal before pressure-cooking it will give it a better flavour.
Add a few fenugreek (methi) seeds to tuvar dal while pressure-cooking. The dal will be easier to digest.
Crush excess katlis in a dry mixer and refrigerate crumbs in an airtight jar. This can be added to gravies to give a mughlai touch to the dish.
Crumble leftover bread, buns, etc. which may have become too dry or a bit stale. Add chopped green chilles, ginger, garlic, onion, salt and sufficient water. Mix to form a sticky gooey batter. Deep fry as dumplings till golden and crisp. An excellent alternative to bhajias.
While making chapattis, place a kitchen towel under the rolling board. This way the board will not slip and you will be able to roll faster.
Mint pulao will be tastier if you sauté mint leaves in a teaspoon of butter or oil before cooking with the rice.
Add a pinch of soda-bicarbonate to spinach while blanching to retain its bright green colour. Also never overcook greens as they will lose their colour, taste and vital nutrients.
Any wada mixture should be beaten well with hand prior to frying, to incorporate air in the batter and make it light.
To obtain soft and luscious paranthas add ghee instead of oil to the flour while kneading the dough.
To make aloo tikkis crisp add two teaspoons of roasted semolina to the potato mixture.
While whipping cream never overdo it or butter will form. Always whip over a tray of iced water or ice cubes. Whip in sharp upward strokes till soft peak form. Keep in refrigerator till used.
Puris may be rolled and placed between damp muslin cloth at least an hour ahead. Fry just before serving.
Use any of the leftover salads to make a filling for a tasty sandwich. Spread some green chutney on the slices before putting the filling.
Rub slices of onion on dosa tawa (griddle) before spreading dosas. This will avoid the dosa from stubbornly sticking to the griddle or tawa.
To keep the cottage cheese soft and luscious after deep frying, dip it in lukewarm water to which a pinch of turmeric powder is added.
When whipping cream, add sugar when the cream is almost whipped for it will help the cream whip to a higher volume. Adding sugar at the beginning results in lower volume.
A few drops of lemon juice added to the rice while it`s boiling will keep the grains separate and make the rice whiter.
While sautéing vegetables or any meat dish add a small amount of sugar, honey or any fruit juice near the end of the cooking time. This gives glaze, additional flavour and a golden sheen to the finished dish.
When using curds in gravy, add salt only after curd is cooked so that it does not curdle.
If using nutmeg, add freshly grated nutmeg only at the end of cooking as heat diminishes the flavour.
Lettuce when cut with a knife get discoloured along the edges so they should always be torn by hand.
Before barbecuing food apply a little oil over it. This will prevent it from sticking. Also grease the barbecue, skewers and tongs for the same reason.
Ideally scrambled eggs should be served immediately after cooking. However if you need to hold them for some time, before serving cover them and place over a pan of hot water rather than over direct heat.
If sauce acquires a lumpy texture instead of velvety smooth, do not discard it, put it in a food processor and run it for a minute. It will become smooth again.
If soup turns salty, rectify it by immersing potato quarters which will absorb a proportion of salt then discard the potatoes.
Air bubbles in cake batter can be avoided by pouring the batter into the tin with the help of a slotted spoon.
To prevent your chocolate cake from having white streaks on the brown crusts, dust greased cake pans with cocoa instead of flour.
A teaspoon of vinegar added to fat when frying doughnuts will keep them from absorbing too much fat.
To prevent pancakes from sticking to the griddle, rub it with half peeled potato instead of grease. Cut off a slice of the potato for each batch of pancake, so that the rubbing is always done with a freshly cut side.
Although a seemingly easy task, great care should be taken when melting chocolate. Be careful not to let any stray drops of water, fall into the chocolate or it will seize or stiffen and solidify.
If the vegetables are not fresh, soak them in cold water to which a little lemon juice has been added. They will become fresh again.
Always salt the water for boiling vegetables, this enhances their natural flavour and diminishes the need to add salt to the table.
Grated lemon, lime or orange zest can be added to sauces or marinades for a hint of citrus tang.
When pureeing soups and sauces with a good deal of liquid, the solid ingredients should be drained and pureed separately, the liquid is then stirred back into the puree until it is smooth.
Whole eggs or egg yolks mixed with a little water, form an excellent golden glaze for breads and pastries.
Mash about six garlic cloves into ½ cup butter, add chopped chives or parsley. Form into logs, wrap in plastic and freeze. Slice as needed to melt into meats, vegetables or use as a spread.
When blanching vegetables they should remain in the water just long enough to slightly soften. Place them in cold water immediately after cooking to ensure a crisp texture.
Do not add saffron directly to a dish, infuse threads in a little hot water for atleast 5 minutes before blending in a dish to bring out flavour and ensure even colouring.
Never fry saffron in hot oil or butter, this will ruin the flavour.
While stirring milk for making custards or kheer, lower the flame after it boils and stir firmly, with preferably a wooden spoon, making a figure of "8" for even mixing.
For making a clear thin soup, where you add egg whites for clarification cook on high flame till it begins to boil stirring all the time so that the egg whites do not get stuck to the base. Then lower the flame and cook without stirring. Strain through a muslin cloth only after the raft (solids floating on top) settles down.
Covering the food while it is being cooked on griller will hasten the cooking process in addition to retaining the moisture / juices which otherwise would have evaporated.
When you are cooking in butter, to avoid it from burning always add little oil to it.
While cooking meat / chicken by dry heat methods (roasting, grilling, frying etc.) keep in mind that big pieces (size) will cook properly at low temperatures for longer duration and vice-versa.
Beans, peas and cabbage will cook to tender perfection if it is cooked without salt. Salt can be added after the vegetables are cooked, while serving or while re-heating before serving.
To boil eggs add them to boiling water and lower heat. This way it will also avoid agitation and thus prevent cracking of shells.
To retain the colour of green vegetable add them to boiling water, do not cover and wash in cold water when cooked.
To avoid discoloration of cut apples and such fruits, coat them with sugar syrup or lime juice.
To avoid watering of eyes while handling onions, keep them in water for a while after peeling.
When making kheer, add sugar only in the end, after the rice is cooked. Else, the rice will remain under done and the cooking process will lengthen.
For rectifying curdled mayonnaise, add a spoonful of boiling water and mix.
Add a little lime juice to half cooked rice, to make the rice whiter.
For crispy french fries, cut and deep-fry (half done). Cool and then store covered in freezer for 5-6 hours. Fry in hot oil at the time of service.
While boiling pasta and noodles, use some oil in the water to avoid sticking.
To get flavour of methi in gravy, take a small ball of dough and roll on methi seeds. Fry this in plain oil. Remove when it browns. Throw away the methi ball and use the oil.
If accidentally more salt is added to a curry, stir in two teaspoons of whipped cream.
Green bananas will ripen quickly if kept in a paper bag in a dark place.
Do not discard the outer green leaves of lettuce. Use them in salads as they contain more vitamin A than the leaves inside.
To remove bitterness from fenugreek leaves add a teaspoon of sugar when the vegetable is almost cooked.
First Published: Friday, August 26, 2011, 14:10