Cooking Tips & Tricks

  1. While boiling potatoes, add a pinch of salt, it helps in peeling the skin easily.
  2. Dip paneer in warm salt water before adding it to the gravy. It softens the paneer and allows absorbing the gravy flavors easily.
  3. While making an Indian dish, cook ingredients in this order: Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Tomatoes, Spices. This is based upon the time required in cooking them.
  4. To retain the Green Colour of Peas, add a pinch of sugar before you are boiling Peas.
  5. Add a teaspoon of oil when cooking dals to prevent it from frothing and spilling all over.
  6. Use heavy bottom vessels to make upma, kheer, etc. to prevent burning.
  7. To make crispier puris, add a little rava to the wheat flour while kneading.
  8. Place rolled ‘puris’ in the fridge for 10 minutes before frying them. They will consume less oil and turn out crisper.
  9. To separate each string of noodles or anything pasta, run it under cold water immediately after boiling and draining the water.
  10. To revive day-old muffins, sprinkle them with water, place in a paper bag, and pop in a hot oven for five to ten seconds. The steam created by the water will restore moisture.
  11. When melting chocolate, add 1 – 2 teaspoon of canola oil (or usual cooking oil) before melting to keep it smooth and easy to dip or drizzle.
  12. 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.
  13. A lot of times the pudding tends to thicken too much and sticks to the vessel. To avoid that add a little water to the vessel, before putting the milk in. Use the deepest heaviest bottomed vessel, for preparing kheer, to make sure that it doesn’t boil over and fall out of the vessel.
  14. To make the dal more flavourful, roast the lentils before cooking them. The same goes for rava.
  15. When cooking pakoras, pooris, bhaturas, potato patties, and vadas or vegetable fritters, add some warm oil and half a tablespoon baking soda in the batter.
  16. While making potato tikkis or patties, make sure that the potatoes are boiled well. The mashed potato mixture can be refrigerated for some time, before frying the tikkis. This ensures that the patties are not gooey.
  17. 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.
  18. To make sure that your subzi is flavourful, heat the oil properly, before adding vegetables and seasonings.
  19. 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.
  20. Always fry the masala on a reduced flame, to ensure that the flavor is enhanced. The quality of spices and condiments can make or break gravies.
  21. When cooking meats for mutton curry or in biryani, make sure to slow cook it under a reduced flame to seal the flavor and the juices in and then increase the heat and cook it till it’s tender.
  22. 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.
  23. Partially frozen meats are 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.
  24. To prevent the rice from getting sticky, add a little bit of oil to it before cooking. A few drops of lemon also do the trick and the grains separate beautifully when cooked.
  25. For making softer idlis, add a little sago or sabudana or cooked rice, while making the batter.
  26. 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 it as required.
  27. 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.
  28. 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 cook until it is nearly falling apart.
  29. 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.
  30. The leftover whey after making paneer can be used to cook rice, dal or soups. It can also be used to knead the dough for Rotis.
  31. For the perfect tempering, always add spices to hot oil and transfer over the dish as soon as the mustard/cumin seeds have spluttered. Adding spices to cold oil will not carry the spice flavors into the dish.
  32. 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.
  33. 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 countertop before squeezing.
  34. To peel ginger, use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape out the skin.
  35. To get finely grated ginger every single time, freeze the peeled ginger and grate it whenever required. Storing it in the freezer makes sure it stays fresh for very long and you get very finely grated ginger too.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. Vegetables like potato, sweet potato, plantain, eggplant, etc. tend to discolor once cut, so immerse them in a bowl of water, until you are ready to cook with them.
  40. While preparing green chutney (mint and coriander), add a pinch of turmeric powder and lemon juice to retain the bright green color.
  41. In spinach based curries like palak paneer, to retain the bright green color, blanch spinach leaves in boiling water, drain hot water and then immediately dip spinach in refresh cold water before pureeing.
  42. 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 cooked rice can also be used for the same!
  43. To peel almonds, soak them in boiling hot water for 30 minutes. The skins will come off easily.
  44. To store coriander, cut off the roots and place in an airtight box or Ziploc lined with thick kitchen tissues. Do not stuff the box. Leave some breathing space for the leaves.
  45. Add a few cloves (the spice) to groceries like rice and dals or place dried neem leaves when storing them in airtight boxes to keep them free of insects.
  46. Store ready to eat bananas in the fridge to prevent it from ripening further. The peel may blacken, but the bananas will be fresh.
  47. To ripen avocados fast, wrap each in a newspaper, and store along with the bananas in the fruit basket on the kitchen counter. Check every day if the avocado has softened (ripened) and place in the refrigerator once it has ripened or use immediately.
  48. Save a large number of fresh herbs by drying in the microwave. Spread washed and dried herbs in a single layer on a thick kitchen paper. Cover with another layer of paper. Microwave on high for 1 minute and then in 20-second bursts until you can see that they are dry. Cool for 5 minutes. In case of larger leaf herbs like basil/mint, crush and save in an airtight glass jar. Rosemary/thyme can be saved as it is.
  49. Fresh herbs like basil can also be ground into pesto with some garlic, olive oil, and toasted nuts, frozen in ice trays and used up for pasta, in sandwiches or as soup toppings.
  50. Buy a small number of spices or spice powders as they lose their flavor and freshness rapidly. Avoid placing in direct light or near the heat source. Grinding your own spice powders just before using in the recipe gives maximum flavor.
  51. If you tend to stock up on a variety of flours, they are best kept in sealed packets in the refrigerator especially Indian humid weather conditions. This prevents infestation and the flours from going rancid.
  52. Do not store honey in the refrigerator. Honey can stay indefinitely in your kitchen cabinet. If it gets crystallized, place in a pan of gently boiling water and stir through to break crystals.
  53. Store paneer or tofu in a box filled with lightly salted water. Change water every day. This will keep the cheese soft and fresh for 3-4 days.
  54. When you buy vegetables for the whole week, use them in the order in which they will spoil – for example, green leafy vegetables to be used first as they will wilt the fastest.
  55. If you have bought lots of fresh spinach, remove the stems, wash and clean the leaves. Blanch them in hot water, refresh in cold water. Squeeze out excess water, chop the spinach and store in the freezer for use in dals/ curries or pasta. This will save a lot of fridge space and you can use the spinach throughout the week.
  56. Bread is best not stored in the fridge as it loses its freshness and flavor. However, in humid conditions, it catches fungus when stored outside for more than 2-3 days. To avoid this, you can store bread in a sealed bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
  57. Store onions and potatoes in separate baskets in a cool dark place in the kitchen. Mixing up the two makes the potatoes rot faster.
  58. Roast semolina (rava) in the microwave for 2 minutes/stovetop in a Kadai for 5-6 minutes or in a moderate oven for 5 minutes. When cooled, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  59. Tomatoes are best left to ripen on the countertop in a basket. Use in cooking as and when they ripen. It is best not to refrigerate tomatoes as they lose flavor and acquire a not-so-pleasant floury texture.
  60. To revive biscuits or cookies that have lost their crunch, place on a paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds. Wait for it to cool and they would have turned crisper than they were to start with.
  61. Slightly stale (<12 hours old) chapatis can be refreshed by sprinkling a few drops of water over the muslin cloth they are wrapped in and microwaving this along with the cloth for 20 seconds.
  62. Fruits like chikoo or guava that are quite raw can be made to ripen speedily by burying them in the rice bin.
  63. When boiling milk, smear ghee on the edges of the vessel to prevent overflow.
  64. While making dosas, put two tbsps of cooked rice into the batter. The dosa will flip over easily and will be crisper.
  65. If you want to keep any salad fresh for an evening party, first chill the bowl or tray in which you intend to serve the salad.
  66. Store mushrooms in paper bags rather than plastic bags or trays. This stops them from becoming ‘slimy’ and prolongs their life.
  67. While boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the natural sweetness.
  68. While cooking cabbage, add a bay leaf. This will reduce the smell during cooking and also give a subtle flavor.
  69. While cooking mince, put a whole carrot in with the mince. The carrot will absorb the excess fat in the meat. Remove the carrot when cooked and cut up with other vegetables for soup or simply discard.
  70. To peel an orange or a tomato-less messily, dunk it in hot water for a minute or two and then in cold water for the same amount of time. You will have an easy to peel orange or tomato.
  71. To boil a cracked egg, add some vinegar to the water and place the egg in it. The eggshell will remain inside.
  72. To remove seeds from lemon, just roll it on a hard surface applying a little pressure from your palm. Now cut it, you will find all seeds coming out easily.
  73. When you prepare butter at home, you get buttermilk as a by-product. Boil this buttermilk at medium heat, and you will get paneer at no extra cost.
  74. Sprinkle some salt in a frying pan to prevent oil from splashing.
  75. Do not add salt to ‘rajma’ and ‘urad dal’ while boiling. It will take half the time to boil when salt is subtracted.
  76. While steaming fish, place a piece of cheesecloth at the bottom of the pan. The fish can be lifted out without breaking.
  77. Add a little sugar while frying onions; they will turn pink or brown faster.
  78. To make your omelets spongier and soft, add two-three spoons of milk to the egg batter and mix properly.
  79. If oil used for frying turns dark, add a teaspoon of white vinegar, cover with a lid and keep on slow flame. When the spluttering stops, remove the lid; the oil will have cleared and it can be strained and re-used.
  80. Soak two slices of bread in a cup of coconut-water and with half a tablespoon of sugar. Then blend and use the mix in your ‘idli’ or hoppers batter to ferment it.
  81. If you sauté sliced onions without oil, the moisture content in the onions will be reduced faster. You can then add a little oil to sauté the onions. This way, you tend to use less oil and your sautéing is faster.
  82. For tasty and fluffy omelets – Add a little milk or a tbsp of water when beating eggs.
  83. Retain the white-collar of cauliflower – Add a tbsp of milk while cooking cauliflower
  84. How to preserve lemon juice – When you have excess lemons, freeze lemon juice in ice cube trays and use it whenever needed in your recipes. It stays good for 15-20 days.
  85. To break coconut exactly into 2 equal halves – wet the coconut and draw an imaginary line around the midriff of the coconut with your fingers and then try breaking it. You will be surprised to find the coconut in an exact 2 halves. I follow this tip every time I break coconuts.
  86. To get fluffy rice – Add a tbsp of fresh lemon juice when cooking rice to get fluffy and whiter grains.
  87. Fried onions for biryanis, pulao – Add a pinch of sugar while frying onions for garnishing biryanis and pulaos, so that they will brown faster.
  88. To prevent dal from frothing – Add a tsp of oil when cooking dals to prevent it from frothing and spilling all over. Another trick is to place a wooden ladle over the top of the pan to prevent water from boiling over.
  89. To thicken gravies with onion tomato base – Grind 5-6 soaked cashew nuts or blanched almonds to a fine paste and add it to gravies. Then cook for a few minutes.
  90. How to fix excess water in gravies – Roast 11/2 tbsp of poppy seeds and grind it to a paste. Add it to the watery gravy and boil it on medium flame.
  91. Roast 1 tbsp of groundnuts and 1 tbsp sesame seeds, grind it to a paste and add it to thicken gravies.
  92. To make crispier pooris – When kneading wheat flour dough for making pooris, add a tbsp of rava or a little rice flour to the wheat flour.
  93. For crispy bhindi fry – add a tbsp of curd or lemon juice when frying the bhindis. This also prevents stickiness.
  94. To sprout legumes – Wash and soak them overnight. The next day, rinse, drain the water and tie loosely in a cloth and keep it in a casserole. Leave it undisturbed for 10 hours. It will sprout well. You can store the sprouts in a container and use it as required.
  95. Grinding for idli using mixie – Soak rice in hot water for 5-6 hours.
  96. Storing leftover chapati dough – Store leftover chapati dough in the refrigerator in an airtight container after applying a little oil over it to prevent it from drying.
  97. No more tears while chopping onions – Cut off both the ends, peel the onions and wash the onions under cold water.
  98. To make paneer softer – Dip them in warm salt water before adding it to any gravy or curry.
  99. To preserve ginger garlic paste for a longer duration – Add a tbsp of hot cooking oil to ginger-garlic paste, mix well and store it in the refrigerator.
  100. Reheating leftover rice– Sprinkle water over the rice and then reheat it to get softer rice.
  101. Extract more juice from lemons and lime – Roll lemon on the countertop before cutting and juicing to extract more juice from the lemons.
  102. Microwaving the lemon for 15 seconds also helps. Extract juice after it cools.
  103. To get soft chapatis – Use a little warm milk along with warm water to knead the dough.
  104. To retain the green color of peas – Add a pinch of sugar when boiling green peas to retain their green color.
  105. For soft pakoras – Add 2 tsp of hot oil to the batter before frying.
  106. For crispier pakoras – Add a little cornflour to the batter.