Ten top cooking tips from great chefs

Cooking in the home kitchen and cooking in a restaurant kitchen are different experiences. The latter calls for training of the chefs so that the maximum is done keeping the fact that large quantities of food are cooked at one time in mind. There is a lot of co-ordination needed between different teams and efficiency becomes the most important thing.
Saving time and saving effort becomes crucial. Cooking well, knowing the science behind every activity that requires heat, becomes important. Here we have some cooking tips that chefs apply, day in day out, in commercial cooking, which are also suitable for the home cook.
  • Prepare for the cook out! Have everything measured, chopped, sifted. Keep the pans with lids ready. Also the implements needed for economy of movement.
  • Use the sharpest knife.
  • Taste as you cook step by step. It helps to produce the perfect dish.
  • Go easy on the salt in the beginning. You can always add to taste at the last step.
  • Your olfactory senses are a good guide. Learn to practice using them.
  • Cushion the cutting board by using some wet newspapers. If the board stays immobile, the cutting is faster and better.
  • While frying, best not to overcrowd the pan.
  • A recipe calls for butter? Add some oil too so that the butter does not smoke or burn.
  • While baking, use the measuring scale, cups or spoons. Always heat the oven before putting in the cakes. Do it while you are beating up the ingredients. Grease the inside of the tin, as well as the paper lining.
  • Clean up as you go.

 

 

 

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Hello from US

Back in New York after attending a friend’s daughters’s wedding in Montreal. It was a bit like Mumbai: partly cloudy and light rains. We had a really enjoyable time. Earlier in the week I had met up with Michael Psaltis. Michael has played an instrumental role in the making of my international recipe book How to Cook Indian, which is great hit in US, UK and Canada. It was lovely to see him again.
Last night took friends out for dinner. It was at the Red Farm restaurant at Hudson Street and it is well known for the using farm fresh ingredients in innovative Chinese preparations. Though the décor is rustic, the chefs gave baskets of dimsums that carry a clean fresh approach.
As planned, did have a get together for my college mates. It was great to see Saket Bimal again! He was in Mumbai early this month and we had a nice chat in my office. Meeting in NY again with Bhupesh Yadav, who came down to NY especially to see us. A bonus! We had a nice Thai lunch followed by a walk around Times Square.
It is going to be a busy time with meetings and other work till we prepare to leave for Singapore on Saturday. Plan to spend at least a day there and then flying back home on the 26th.

Till I write again,
Sanjeev Kapoor. 

 

 

 

How to maintain a check list for effective weight loss

There are those who seem to be able to lose weight as easily as a hot knife cuts through butter. Then there are those who are on weight loss, sincere and dedicated, but the needle on the weighing scale refuses to budge. There is a solution. No, not break the scale but follow some simple checks that can accelerate the loss.
  • Before you start any diet or weight loss program make sure you’ve seen a physician and he’s given you the go ahead.
  • Check your daily routine. Are you active enough? Do you do things like go for a walk or ride a bike for exercise? Anything that’s gets you away from TV or away from the computer screen is a good step!
  • Exercise. While any activity is good you should set aside 30 to 60 minutes at least three days a week for regular exercise. Some prefer aerobic training. If you are lifting weights or doing other exercises to build muscle mass you won’t be losing much weight. Muscle mass is dense and weighs more than fat. Aerobic training can help you cut down on body fat.
  • Measure your portions. Be sure that you are not eating too much. Portion management is one of the key elements of a successful weight loss program. Try to avoid seconds and say no to dessert or a thin slice of cake or pie.
  • Know the difference between right and wrong. Are you eating the right foods? Cutting down of food high in fats and processed carbohydrates will help jump start your weight loss.
  • The ‘five fruits and vegetables a day’ rule has to be followed. When we were told to eat up our vegetables when we were kids, mom probably knew something that we didn’t! That vegetables are healthy stuff and needed for proper functioning of the body.
  • Do not ignore water. Adequate water intake is needed by every body –  irrespective of the fact whether you want to or you don’t want to lose weight. Try to come as close as you can to 8 glasses day.
  • Keep realistic goals. Are you expecting too much too soon? Most health experts feel that half a kilogram to one kilogram a week is a safe goal. Trying to lose too much too quickly can cause serious health problems.

65 years of Indian independence…

To all my fans and readers, here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Independence Day a day later! India has gone a long way in achieving this freedom, in which we enjoy our lives today. And it’s never too late to remember all those heroes, some of them unsung, who had sacrificed their lives for the India that it is today…65 years is surely a long time! The office on August 14, 2012 had my entire team dressed in the tri colours and the HR had arranged for some sweets and the Indian flag badges to give that amazing feeling of independent India. I somehow couldn’t catch all this fun as I was busy shooting for an upcoming campaign of Sweekar Sunflower Oil in Kandivali East.

Amongst other things – there’s travel on racks by the end of this month for an event in Chennai. Also, a day off in the weekday is always a relief amidst the hectic day-to-day schedule. As it was, yesterday, a great day at home with family celebrating the joy of Independence. Also, August 15 is my dear friend and partner Harsha’s birthday. Had a good get-together, Happy Birthday Harsha!

Reached Singapore this morning, on my way to US for a business cum pleasure trip. Alyona is accompanying me.

In the office, there’s a frenzy of activities happening with the Youtube shoot and the trials for the upcoming book on Pregnant Women. Nutritionist Seema Goel was here this morning, to educate my team and give them some basic guidelines on cooking for pregnant women. It was a great session as the team learnt quite a bit from her. Also, a session on Communication Skills by Rajeev Matta is being lined up for August 18, 2012. All in all, a totally informative and educational weekend this time!

As I wrap up, let me share some recipes that will go perfect with the Independence Day mood…

Tricolour Sandwiches
Tricolour Raita
Tiranga Paneer Tikka


Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.

What makes a vegetable biryani so yummy!

What makes many people attracted to Indian cuisine is the repertoire of veg recipes that it represents! Another popular dish that makes Indian food stand out is its repertoire of biryani recipes. Though it is more common to link up any biryani with meat or chicken, it is a great revelation that Indian veg recipes, or Indian biryani veg recipes are not uncommon at all.

Let us see why and how. Vegetables add their beautiful flavour to aromatic rice and with a variety of spices and sometimes with a drizzle of fragrant ghee, a lovely dish is turned out. There are many variations and we will very quickly go through a simple one here.

 

Methi Makai Biryani: Cook 1½ cups basmati rice. Fry two sliced onions and set aside.  Make a paste of  two boiled onions, ½ cup grated coconut, 1½ inches ginger, 4 garlic cloves, 1 green chilli, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds,  1 teaspoon poppy seeds. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a thick-bottomed pan; add 1 bay leaf, 4 cloves, 7-8 peppercorns and 1 black cardamom and sauté till fragrant. Add the ground paste and sauté till golden brown. Add ¾ cup sour yogurt, salt, ½ cup chopped fenugreek leaves and ½ cup boiled corn and mix well. Add one cup of water if the mixture is too thick. Spread half the cooked rice in a layer in a thick-bottomed pan. Spread half the fenugreek-corn masala and sprinkle ½ tsp garam masala powder on top. Repeat the layers once more and top with the browned onions. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and place it on a hot tawa. Cook over low heat for about ten minutes.  Uncover the pan just before serving and garnish with ginger strips and fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with raita and papad.

For more ideas click on Kaikari BiryaniChole Biryani.

 

 

 

The secret of making a good biryani is a simple formula actually. Instead of plain water to cook the rice, uses some aromatics like nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cloves, green and black cardamoms, fennel seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns tied up in a bundle. Or simply make saffron-flavoured rice. Deep fried onions are a must addition. And also mint or coriander or fenugreek. Some like to add pockets of flavour with a drizzle of saffron milk or screwpine essence in the layers. Sealing the cooking pot is best done in the traditional Indian way: using dough. Apply the dough around the rim of the vessel and close the lid. You could also use thick aluminum foil to tightly cover the vessel though. To avoid the biryani from burning when being cooked in a handi, place a tawa (griddle) underneath.

Trips ahead…

It’s my darling daughter Rachita’s 18th birthday today for which I am travelling to Pune to celebrate the occasion. Late evening I need to be back as I’ve got an early morning flight tomorrow to the city of pearls, Hyderabad where I have an interesting presentation at the Indian School of Business (ISB) to a select crowd of 40 future world leaders from all over the world.
My topic is the ‘Magic of Indian Cooking’, and I’m going to make it interesting by doing a cooking demo too, besides an exciting presentation. This presentation will be followed by a formal dinner at Taj Falaknuma, where I will try to taste my favourite delicacies of Hyderabadi cuisine – authentic biryani and salan goes without saying!
Will have to catch up with the sleep as I have an early morning flight on Friday to New Delhi, for an important 10 a.m. meeting. Same evening I will be back in Mumbai.
In the office, there’s a frenzy of activity as photoshoot happening today for a client. I must say that my team is getting excellent exposure to the latest in the food photography techniques and food styling with all such activities.
More to come on my travel schedules, but for now let me share some delectable Hyderabadi dishes with you all. Enjoy…

Bidari Parantha
Murgh Zafrani do Pyaza
Khubani ka Mitha

Till I write again
Sanjeev Kapoor.