Friday December 15, 2017

10 Cooking Hacks and Tricks to remember while Cooking Indian Dishes

From the tandoori to South Indian food; these hacks are all you need to excel in cooking all those perfect Indian dishes in no time

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An Indian Cuisine, Wikimedia

April 19, 2017: The global culinary world is being taken over by Indian cuisine. In America and Europe, more and more Indian restaurants and Indian food outlets are opening up, food lovers all across the globe are falling in love with the taste of authentic Indian curries and flatbreads. This is probably because of the heavy use of nutritious vegetables and meats cooked in varied spices that bring out an array of beautiful flavours. But as delicious as Indian food is, cooking perfect Indian food is no piece of cake! Here are a few general tips and tricks for you if you love cooking Indian dishes at home:

1. For making fluffy, soft Chapatis

Chapatis or wheat flat cakes go with all curries and gravies, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian and can be eaten for both lunch and dinner. To make dough for softer chapatis, add a little warm water and then some warm milk and knead the dough. Let it rest for 15 minutes before rolling it out for the chapatis. To make round chapatis, keep rotating the rolled out dough while rolling it with a rolling pin. This ensures that the rolled out dough gets an even thickness all over and the shape becomes round. But if that’s one of your pet peeves, then just place a small, clean and round stainless steel plate on top of the rolled out dough and just cut out the sides that are exposed to get a perfect round shape.

2. For making Kheer

Kheer is a milk rice pudding made in a variety of ways across India. Preparing kheer is a tedious and time consuming task. A lot of times the pudding tends to thicken too much and sticks to the vessel. Just add a little water to the vessel, before putting the milk in to avoid that fro happening. While preparing kheer, use the deepest most heavy bottomed vessel you have to make sure that it doesn’t boil over and fall out of the vessel.

3. For making dal

To make the dal more flavorful, before cooking, roast the lentils. The same goes for rava. The excess dal water can be used for making rasam, to be eaten with appams and idlis. You can even add the water to chapati dough to make it flavorful. You can also use the leftover dal to make delicious dal parathas.

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4. For fried foods

Fried foods like pooris, bhaturas, potato patties and vadas are popular everywhere across the country. When cooking pakoras or vegetable fritters, add some warm oil and half a tablespoon baking soda in the batter. While making potato tikkis or patties, make sure to boil the potatoes well. The mashed potato mix can be refrigerated for some time, before frying the tikkis. This ensures that the patties are not gooey. To make the pooris more crispy add a little rice flour to the wheat flour, while kneading the dough for the pooris. To make sure that your subzi is flavorful, heat the oil properly, before adding vegetables and seasonings.

5. For making gravies and curries

Curries are a signature preparation of Indian cuisine. For a tomato based gravy, always use only ripe red tomatoes, so as to retain the bright red color of the fruit. Discard the green parts before pureeing the tomatoes. To ensure that the flavor is enhanced, always fry the masla on a reduced flame. The quality of spices and condiments can make or break gravies. Make sure that you have all the adequate spices, that they are from a well known brand and make sure you know them well.

6. For cooking meats

When cooking meats for mutton curry or in biryani, make sure to slow cook it under reduced flame to seal the flavor and the juices in and then increase the heat. Cook it till it’s tender. If you have to store fish for over a day, rub it with salt, turmeric and just a dash of vinegar and then freeze it, to ensure that it stays fresh. Frozen meats are partially easier to cut and slice. But make sure you allow the meat to stand for some time before cooking. This ensures that the meat cooks faster.

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7. For cooking rice

Before cooking add a little bit of oil to the rice to prevent the rice from getting sticky. A few drops of lemon can also do the trick and the grains separate beautifully when cooked. You can always use the leftover rice for the meals next day. All you have to do is add a little bit of stir fried vegetables with some spices and fried onions, and you can make yourself a plate of delicious pulav.

8. For South Indian food

Idlis and Dosas are the most popular South Indian foods, and are enjoyed with spicy cooked lentil curry or sambhar and coconut chutney. For making softer idlis, add a little sago or sabudana or cooked rice while making the batter. A lot of coconut is used in South Indian food dishes, so store a good amount of grated coconut in the refrigerator, if you have to cook a lot of this particular cuisine. Make sure to use good quality sambhar powder for making the delicious curry. Stock up on common condiments used in South Indian foods, like curry leaves and asfoetida or heeng. Also ensure that the asfoetida is good in quality and potent.

9. For cooking with tandoor oven

The tandoor might be an archaic oven now, but it’s still very popular in North Indian villages, particularly in Punjab. The tandoori roti is an indispensable part of the Punjabi cuisine. The key to cooking with tandoor is marinating the breads or meats well. Add a little gram flour or besan to the marinade, before dipping your cottage cheese, vegetables or meats that you want to grill on the tandoor. The flour makes the marinade bind to the meat, making it more flavorful.

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10. For using leftovers

The best leftover fix is to use the mashed potatoes you used to make potato parathas or tikkis the night before, in making a vegetable toast for breakfast the next morning. You can also mix the brown discard left after making ghee at home, for making soft parathas by mixing it in the dough.

So get your ingredients ready and start cooking.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Love Hot Served Food? Caution: These 10 Foods May Turn Toxic Upon Reheating

Here is the rundown of 10 foods that you ought to abstain from reheating to keep its supplements rich

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Reheating some food may be dangerous to health. Pixabay

Sep 01, 2017: Food function as the fuel for your body and you should put every effort to have a robust and healthy food. The foods you devour include supplements, vitamins, fiber, protein, and minerals, which combine to help your body keep going.

Many of us indulge in the practice of reheating the food while eating. But few nourishments could transform into dangerous components in the wake of reheating. The reality will astound you, however, don’t stress.

Here is the rundown of 10 foods that you ought to abstain from reheating to keep its nutrients rich.

1. Rice

Rice. Pixabay

Most of you store rice in the wrong way, which in turn, can be toxic. The spores available in the raw rice can turn into bacteria, which multiply at the room temperature and may induce diarrhea and vomiting.

2. Potatoes

Potatoes. Pixabay

Potatoes are the favorite for many of us, but shockingly, potatoes lose their nutritional value when reheated. Toxic potatoes can breed illness, nausea, and induce food poisoning.

3. Spinach

Spinach. Pixabay

Just like any other green leafy vegetable, Spinach is rich in iron and nitrates. Upon reheating it, the nitrates turn into nitrites which can lead to cancer in living tissue.

4. Oils

Olive Oil. Pixabay

Some oils such as grape seed oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, hazelnut oil, and avocado oil have extremely low smoke limits.If you reheat them, they become unhealthy to devour.

Also Read: List of 8 Food Items to Battle Depression and Anxiety 

5. Egg

Egg. Pixabay

Reheating eggs at high temperature makes them poisonous and upon devouring them, your digestive system may fall sick.

6. Chicken

Fried Chicken. Pixabay

Chicken, the rich source of protein also create a negative impact after reheating. Eating such chicken may become a problem for you.

7. Turnips

Turnips. Pixabay

Turnips contain nitrates which can become toxic for health if reheated. Ordinarily, turnips are used in preparing soups.

8. Mushrooms

Mushrooms. Pixabay

Here is one thing about Mushroom, everyone should know: It should be utilized on the same day they are cooked, as they are a rich source of protein. Mushrooms upon reheating may change its structure which can be harmful to your body and causes severe heart problems.

9. Beets

Beetroot. Pixabay

Beets also include a high proportion of nitrates, which upon reheating can turn into nitrites and can prove to be problematic for your health.

10. Celery

Celery. Pixabay

Celery also carries a high rate of nitrate. It turns into nitrites after reheating, which increases the risk of methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder.


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“Regionality is What Sets Indian Food Apart” from the Cuisines Across the World, says MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan

Gary Mehigan carries back inspiration from India to his kitchen from his each visit

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MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan
MasterChef Australia Judge Gary Mehigan. Twitter
  • Gary Mehigan said that Indian food is gaining deserved attention globally
  • We have many Indian chefs like Manish Mehrotra, Sanjeev Kapoor
  • The Chef expressed that food the world over has seen enormous changes driven by social media

August 27, 2017: Globally renowned English-Australian chef, television show host and restaurateur Gary Mehigan says he believes that “regionality is what sets Indian food apart” from the cuisines across the world.

In an email interview with IANS from Melbourne, Mehigan said that Indian food is gaining deserved attention globally. “We’re close to seeing India explore its intellectual property, namely food, properly. We have many Indian chefs like Manish Mehrotra, Sanjeev Kapoor and many other names from all over the world infiltrating the food scene in a big way.”

 “People still sometimes see Indian food as a homogeneous chicken tikka, rogan josh, chicken vindaloo cuisine, when we know it is far from the truth. Regionality is what sets Indian food apart. Regionality is what the world is going to appreciate when it starts to learn about Indian food,” Mehigan explained.

“I hope I’m a part of those who bring great Indian food to Australia,” said the chef, who is now the face of Fox Life’s “Food @ 9: India Special with Gary Mehigan”.

“There’s quite a bit of Australian talent we’re trying to showcase through the series. These shows get addictive and help us travel vicariously through our television sets,” he stated.

ALSO READ: Indulge in Gluttony: 14 Surprising Facts that you never knew about Indian Food!

Mehigan, who will be setting foot in India for the seventh time this November, said he carries back inspiration from the country to his kitchen from each visit.

“I love the country – something about the color, the chaos, the diversity and the originality of the food, it all gets under your skin. I carry home a few recipes and ideas each time I visit. It’s certainly changed the way I cook at home,” he said.

Known popularly for shows like “Far Flung with Gary Mehigan”, and for his presence as a judge on “MasterChef Australia”, the Chef expressed that food the world over has seen enormous changes driven by social media.

“I’m loving where food is at the moment. Ideas are being shared so quickly through social media — whether it’s Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I can browse through my Instagram and look at what some of my most favorite restaurants in the world are serving for lunch.

“The frame of reference for younger cooks is much bigger. They are able to browse through how a matcha ice-cream is made in Tokyo, or how funky desserts are made in Parisian cafes,” Mehigan said.

All in all, it’s a great thing for food with awareness growing, he opined. “This global club of foodies is only expanding. It’s a great thing for food, our health, and our planet too if we care about where our food comes from.”

Social media is also one of his ways to keep reinventing his food, said the chef, who has been in the industry for nearly three decades.

“Social media is there to keep my imagination going. I’m food obsessed. I go on holidays because of food. I think I’ve never been in love with food more than I am now,” Mehigan said, signing off. (IANS)