I have always emphasised on using Recipe books as reference points and try to recreate the recipe by understanding the process. Take olden times for example. Many scriptures didn’t have exact recipes with precise measurements. There were just references and the khansaamas and cooks of yore had to interpret it the best they could. Or an heirloom recipe from our grandmothers’ or mother’s kitchen; their cooking would be intuitive, both w.r.t ingredients and the process.
So..here are a few quick tips and tricks every cook in the kitchen must know.
1) Always keep space for residual cooking
Food keeps cooking even when it is taken off the flames. The same has to be kept in mind so as not to overcook any dish.
2) Always keep a spoon with you and taste as you go
Keep tasting your food at regular intervals for 2 reasons;
A) You can fix it before it goes horribly wrong.
B) If it comes out really good you will know at what stage you made the difference.
3) Try to avoid tea spoons/table spoons while adding ingredients
Our hands give the best estimate to cooking. Also, in a lot of recipes, quantity of spices simply can’t be multiplied by themselves but we gradually need to reduce the quantity per recipe for a consistent taste.
4) When in doubt, strain
Whether we are making sauces, soups, stocks and gravies, strain it. This allows for better texture and the cleaner flavour.
5) Oven temperatures are mere guidelines
There is always hot and cold parts in any oven; hence using baking temperature as the rule of the thumb generally adversely affects the products.
6) Cooking is not about speed, it’s about control
It is important to be on top of the cooking process all the time. If we can manage doing that, cooking five dishes or one is secondary.
7) Fresh is foremost
The ingredients that you use when you cook have to be the freshest possible at all times. Whether it’s the cut veggies or meat or pastes and powders. The fresher the better.
8) Be confident… Let it “be”
If you are looking, you are not cooking. This holds good especially for slow cooking and barbecue type foods. You have to be confident and let the food be. Let the heat do its job. If you keep opening the lid it’s only gonna delay and inversely affect the process.
9) In the end it’s about the palate
Food is as good or as bad as it tastes. Behind any complicated foreign recipe lies an inherent taste that the recipe brings . Feel that taste in your mind and start.
10) Enjoy it, own it..
Food is feelings transferred to the plate. So when you cook, try recreating your memories associated with the dish, or create your interpretation of it. And be a Happy Cook 🙂