Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why cooking Basics ?

Sounds strange that someone is writing about the very basics of cooking, amidst the sea of chefs and cooks?

Yeah!! Strange but True. I've been getting queries and questions about such basic stuff on cooking, so I thought might as well make a journal of all basic stuff and give them the link when they ask.

Indian Style - Coffee & Tea

In India, Filter coffee is the most common style prepared with the coffee extract (commonly termed as decoction) & milk.

Making Filter Coffee
Boil water. Prepare coffee filter by adding 2-3 tbsp of coffee powder into it. Pour boiling water into the top section where you filled coffee powder. Let it filter. The thick decoction collects in the bottom jar of the filter.

Add 1-2 Tbsps of the decoction (as needed for stronger coffee)
1/2 cup hot milk
1-2 tsp sugar (as needed)
Mix well. Serve hot.

Making Tea
Tea is also extracted and mixed with milk as a common method in India. Tea can be as leaves, crushed or dust tea.
If you are using tea leaves use less and while using dust tea use more to prepare the tea extract.

Approximate quantity of tea required to make tea for two.
1 -2 tsp (tea leaves)
2-3 tsp (crushed/granules)
3-4 tsp (dust tea)

Boil little water enough to dissolve the tea powder. Add tea powder while water is boiling. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes. Add milk and let milk to come near boil. Take it of the stove, strain and add sugar as required.

Another way is to boil milk and add the tea powder to it and then strain.

Additions to tea
1. We can add crushed cardamom along with boiling teapowder.
2. Add dried ginger crushed along with boiling teapowder.
3. Add lemon extract to plain tea extract & add sugar.(Best for those who avoid milk)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cooking Basics - Beginners

Boiling Milk
Always use a heavy bottomed vessel. Otherwise clean up will be hard work. Fill upto 3/4th of the vessel. Keep flame at low or sim to boil milk on stove top.Stay near the stove to see that milk doesnt not over boil and spill.

To boil milk in microwave
Use microwaveable ceramic or corningware vessels. Same way fill only 3/4th of the vessel. Set High for 4 mins for 34 Oz(1Ltr) and let set for a minute inside the microwave and then remove it.

Making Curd
Boil the milk and let it cool. Do not try to make curd while the milk is hot. Forming curds in USA especially in the colder regions needs 24+ hours. So if you need more of them, prepare ahead.

Option 1
Get some curd from a friend or from store and use the culture to start making curd. Add atleast 2-3 tbsp of curd to the milk (34 oz)
Option 2
Take one lime and squeeze out the juice and add to a 1 cup boiled milk after it becomes warm. This will serve as a starter culture to make good curd. Initially this curd will not taste good, but use it as a starter to make perfect curd. The next cycle will be good.

Curd Making Tip
For colder places add curds to the milk while milk is warm to the touch. For tropical climates add curds after the milk cools down, because the curd will turn sour soon due to the hot temperatures.Allow curd to set for atleast 6-8 hours in tropical temperatures and atleast 12-14 hours in cold temperatures.

Cooking Rice
Long grain rice(Riceland/Blue Ribbon/similar brands of raw rice)
For every cup of rice - add 2 cups of water to pressure cook.

Basmati Rice
For every cup of rice - add 1.5 cups of water to pressure cook so that you get a fluffy non sticky output.

Sona Masoori
For every cup of rice - add 2.5 cups of water to pressure cook.

Important Tips
1. Never add sugar to milk in the stove while boiling. The milk will go bad. Always add sugar to milk after it has been taken off the stove.
2. Never add salt to uncooked rice. The rice will not cook properly.
3. Never add jaggery/brownsugar to uncooked rice. Even if you keep for 10-15 whistles the rice will not cook.
4. While cooking lentils(dals) like channa, black channa, rajma etc. Pressure cook them with a pinch of turmeric but do not add salt.
5. Do not open the pressure cooker while the steam is still brewing in it. Always remove the whistle and then let it cool to open.
6. Turmeric has medicinal properties. Always limit the use of turmeric to a pinch or 1/4 of a tsp. Overuse is not a good thing as it changes the flavor of the recipe.
7. When you are new to cooking, reduce the salt you add, required according to the recipe. Finish the recipe, taste it and then fine tune it.
8. Spice and salt can be added later but it is difficult to reduce salt & spice in a dish with too much of it.
9. Try all new recipes in small quantities and multiply the quantities to make bigger batches if it works out correctly.
10. It is best suggested to keep all the ingredients ready, measured, cut and in order to make cooking easier.

Note: All Oz used in the posts are US fl.oz. 1 Cup = 8 fl.Oz

Sweet Corn Soup

1 Cup/Can - Fresh corn taken of the cob/Canned sweet corn
1 cup - water
1 tbsp - unsalted butter
1/4 cup - very finely sliced red onions
Few - mint, cilantro & rosemary leaves very finely chopped
1 tbsp - Fresh cream (optional)
Salt to taste
Black pepper, croutons as per taste

Wash and finely grind the corn before you cook it. Take a heavy bottomed vessel and let corn cook with water. Add salt to taste. Let it cook well on medium flame. Saute' onions in a little butter until translucent. Remove from fire when the aroma comes and add it to the cooking mixture. Let the onion cook & blend well into this. Add butter to thicken the soup. Adding butter gives soups a rich creamy texture even if we dont add fresh cream. Finally when the contents start to thicken, remove from stove top. Add fresh cream to it and blend it in.

Pour into soup bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh leaves and croutons.

French Bread - Bite size pizza

We bought french bread and lo ! I was wondering what to make out of it other than the usual french toast. So came up with a quick idea to use up the bread. Here is the recipe.


1 Loaf - French Bread

Fine sliced to 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup - Green Bell Peppers/Capsicum
1/2 cup - Sweet Red Onions
1/2 cup - Firm ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup - Pineapple slices

1/2 bottle - Tomato - Basil Spagetti sauce (Or the 7 herb variety)
1 tsp - Herb mix (Oregano/Thyme/Rosemary) if you have one or from the spice rack grab these & have them ready.
1 cup - Grated Parmesan/Mozarella cheese

Preheat oven to 225 F.

Cut bread into 1/2 inch slices diagonally to get a sizable portion.(For those who havent experienced french bread - It is a long breadstick kind of firm bread. It dries up very quickly if not used fresh).

Spoon 1-2 tsp of spagetti sauce on each slice and then top with green peppers, onions, tomatoes and pineapples as we top a pizza and sprinkly the herbs if your spagetti sauce is a plain one. Otherwise the sauce will do. There is no need to add herbs.

Sprinkle cheese on top and bake in oven for 10 mins or until the cheese melts. Serve hot as Appetizer or Entree. Goes best with salad and soup.

Alternative toppings
1. Shallow cook peas and corn. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Use this as exclusive topping or as an addition to the usual veggies.
2. Soak chikpeas, black beans and pressure cook with a pinch of turmeric. Add salt later and boil until salt gets in them. Drain them and use as topping instead of veggies.

Try them and let me know how it was!

Back again!!

Sounds like absconding!! True..but now am back and writing again. A winter freeze kind of break I should say. Lazy to sit and write. working on something seriously, that I couldnt get back to blogging!!

Meanwhile, lots of recipes have been cooked, tried and invented!! yeah!! In the following posts am adding some of the recent ones I made.

Try em.