Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking

This Cooking Tips series is all about making cooking easier- right from buying and storing groceries / produce to kitchen hacks, time saving shortcuts and tips to make your life easier in the kitchen. This post rounds up some of the useful tricks to have up your sleeve for Indian cooking!

Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
  1. Coconut is an essential garnish and a part of many fresh masalas in Tamil and Malayalam cooking. Grate/scrape the entire coconut, freeze the grated coconut in an ice cube tray. Once frozen save these grated coconut cubes in a sealable bag in a freezer and use as required. One cube is the perfect quantity to garnish a poriyal dish.
    Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
  2. For softer chapatis, add a teaspoon oil to the flour and knead the dough with warm water. Rest the dough in a covered bowl for at least 15 minutes. [Watch: How to make the perfect phulka]
  3. To cook rice for pulao or biryani, add a few drops of lemon juice, salt and oil to the rice while cooking to get each grain separate and fluffy.
  4. While cooking dals or beans for dal fry or rajma masala or chole, do not add salt to the water while pressure cooking. This will ensure that the dal/ beans cooks until it is nearly falling apart.
    Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
  5. Dal cooks faster if you add a few drops of oil and a pinch of turmeric powder to the water. Add some extra water to dal so the dal-water can be used to prepare a light rasam or used as a stock for soup.
  6. The leftover whey after making paneer can be used to cook rice, dal or in soups. It can also be used to knead dough for rotis.
  7. For the perfect tempering, always add spices to hot oil and transfer over dish as soon as the mustard / cumin seeds have spluttered. Adding spices to cold oil will not carry the spice flavours into the dish.
  8. Always soak beans overnight and any kind of lentils for at least 30 minutes before cooking, for quicker cooking and to negate the effect of phytates.
  9. Before squeezing a lemon, microwave it whole for 10 seconds to get maximum juice out of it. This trick works for oranges too. No microwave? Roll the lemon firmly on the chopping board or kitchen counter top before squeezing.
  10. Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
    To peel ginger, use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape out the skin.
  11. To get finely grated ginger every single time, freeze the peeled ginger and grate it whenever required. Storing it in freezer makes sure it stays fresh for very long and you get very finely grated ginger too.
  12. Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
    If you need just one boiled potato for a chaat, sandwich or poha, cut it in half. Place in a microwave safe box or bowl with a lid with 2 tablespoons of water, cut side facing up. Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes (depending on size). Cool for 2 minutes, peel and use.
  13. To prevent millets from clumping up after cooking, fluff them up and remove them to a casserole. Keeping it in the pressure cooker or the vessel in which it is cooked makes it clump up.
  14. To ensure pickles last longer, always use a clean, dry spoon, or better still, heat the spoon over a flame before using it to dip into the bottle.
  15. Vegetables like potato, sweet potato, plantain, eggplant etc. tend to discolour once cut, so immerse them in a bowl of water, until you are ready to cook with them.
  16. While preparing green chutney (mint and coriander), add a pinch of turmeric powder and lemon juice to retain the bright green colour.
  17. Tips and tricks to help you with Indian cooking
    In spinach based curries like palak paneer, to retain the bright green colour, blanche spinach leaves in boiling water in refresh in cold water before pureeing.
  18. If a dal or curry has become over salted, add half a peeled raw potato and simmer for a few minutes. The potato will absorb the excess salt. A tightly pressed ball of rice can also be used for the same.
  19. To peel almonds, soak them in boiling hot water for 30 minutes. The skins will come off easily.

[This list will be updated regularly, so do bookmark it for easy reference.]

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