Friday, October 12, 2012

A few tips for budding cooks ...

For those who like cooking, the earlier trial and error episodes in the kitchen may later become fun memories... especially, if the poor guinea pigs (read parents, siblings, friends or husband ...) are good sports and take the hits and misses in their strides .... If not, cooking could also become a huge chore. These are a few things that I observed while doing my own experiments and now are a normal part of my cooking process..

Raw Rice -

  • If using the draining method, and you are using any kind of raw rice, top up with at least 2 inches of water above the rice level. Once the water comes to a boil, switch off and wait for 15 minutes, with the lid on. Most of the raw rice gets cooked. If the rice is not done, just bring the water to a boil again and then drain immediately. This is a good way to get perfectly cooked rice, and also save on gas. 

  • In a pressure cooker, for 1 measure of rice, add exactly double the amount of water. then remove 1 tbs of water from it. Switch off after three whistles. Once the pressure is off, open the lid and fluff up the rice. 

Dal/ lentils

  • Even the blandest dal curry tastes better with a few drops of lemon juice added after tempering.  

  • When you do the tempering / tadka, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of cumin seeds,dried red chillies (your choice of tadka) and switch off  the stove. Finally, add 1/2 tsp of finely chopped green chillies. 


  • Sauteing the ingredients properly is the key to any good curry. Before adding the powders and the masala, the aromatics - onion, garlic, ginger should be well sauteed and not raw. 

  • Mix the powders in just a bit of water to make a paste so they do not burn and go black. 

  • A pinch of sugar rounds off all the sharp edges in a curry. 

  • Bring the gravy to a boil and simmer it on a medium low flame to get best results. 


  • Marinating in lemon juice and /or curd for even a half hour can enhance the taste of most meats. 

  • Once the meat is put in the pan , and changes color on high heat, put a lid on, and cook on medium to get the best results. 


  • Before frying fish , heat the frying pan evenly, then add the oil and heat it , and finally add the fish. This ensures that the fish will not stick to the pan. When the first side is done, the oil in the fish will bubble up . This will show that it is time to turn and cook the other side. The second side takes much lesser time than the first . 

  • Cooking fish for a long time will not improve it's taste. Make sure the gravy is proportionate in taste, add the fish and cook for a maximum of 15 minutes. Lesser time, if the fish is small. Switch off, and the fish will cook more, in the curry. 

Hope this helps atleast a few of you out there...