Dum laga ke haisha!

As Indians, we all love when our biryanis and certain authentic curries are done to perfection on dum! Dum is nothing but one of the ways that falls under the ‘slow cooking’ category. A cooking method that is back in vogue and people around the world are readily accepting it. Hyderabadi_Dum_Gosht_Biryani

Any kind of food preparing method that depends on low-heat usage for a long time can fall under the ‘slow cooking’ technique. As already stated, dum in Indian cooking is one of the best examples alongwith others like low-heat ovens, pit cooking, barbecues, etc., that are common worldwide.

So, why slow cooking is back, and that too with a bang!? Lies in the irony of our lives. The faster it became, the more we looked out for solutions that made life fuss-free. Gone are the days when we actually sit and ponder over what we want to eat in our meals (unless of course if it’s a weekend). By the time we reach home, our head doesn’t allow us to put in that extra effort to cook (even if the heart wants us to do that!).

Thus, the conclusion – speed of cooking inversely proportional to the speed of life! It’s as simple as that.

Hence, the idea of slow cooking does best for this fast paced life – take a cooking utensil, throw in the meats/veggies alongwith seasoning and spices and let it simmer on low heat. And by the time you freshen up and get back to eat, voila! You have a complete meal ready – hearty, nutritious and delicious! Plus you saved your time and energy that you can put-in on relishing the final dish! Cool, isn’t it?

Proves absolutely useful for bachelors and spinsters too – the ones who go weak on their knees even with the thought of cooking the simplest of meals! You can almost swear by this method to prep-up some great homemade dishes. What better can the feel be – it saves you from the guilt of feeding on fast-food or restaurant food daily!

Top 5 reasons to ‘slow-cook’

  1. Makes food extremely soft by breaking down the hard connective tissues. So, great for fibrous veggies and tough cuts of meats.

  2. Provides better results as flavours are infused with one another over time. Brings out the best.

  3. To achieve a uniform level of cooking of a huge quantity, without burning or drying.

  4. Want to dissolve your pastas, potatoes or beans into stews? Go for slow-cooking.

  5. Long-cooking times can automatically create a festive atmosphere with food being the centre of attraction. Use the slow-cooking method to create your unique dishes for that special gathering!

But just remember these few cons…

  1. Not a good option for caramelising certain food ingredients.

  2. You cannot expect to get crunchiness on food with this method. For obvious reasons!

  3. If you want to keep those burst of flavours distinct and avoid mixing of them with one another, you definitely shouldn’t be opting for slow cooking.

So, you already gotten yourselves to slow cooking? Well, master it with investing in the right type of gadgets as well – everything from the simple slow cooker, stock pot and casserole to the fancy high-end combi-oven and Sous Vide cookers are available in the market. You just need to decide on your preference, get one of these and use them whenever you plan to slow cook.

As I end, here’s a list of some of my favourite food that is slow cooked. These include not just the non-veg fare like a flavourful Paya Shorba, Dum Murgh, Hyderabadi Dum Gosht Biryani, Dum ki Kaliyan (I put it up on my restaurant, The Yellow Chilli’s menu too!) but even veg dishes like Qaabooli (a traditional Hyderabadi biryani with rice and Bengal gram), Lehsuni Tendli, Tinda Dum Tamatar, Dum Paneer Mitti Handi (done in earthenware to enhance the flavours all the more!), some international stews, one-pot meals, etc.

I would definitely recommend all to try these recipes out, the way they are supposed to be. Just log onto www.sanjeevkapoor.com and get going.

Happy slow cooking!

Popular sauces with Nutralite

Never out of fashion – a good luscious sauce can add plenty of oomph and dress up a dish instantly. We give you our top picks and also tell you how Nutralite makes these jazzier. The best thing about Nutralite is that it would taste just like the normal butter, but at the same time will be much healthier. While other spreads may contain harmful trans fats that increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood, Nutralite is one product that does not contain these fats. You may have loved these sauces till now, but you will love them more now when you’ll know that these are better in all ways.

Butterscotch makes things better

The quintessential ‘butterscotch’ is one of those sauces that has takers from all age groups – kids to mid-aged to old-aged. A simple ice cream gets dressed in the most amazing way when you drizzle a little of this one on top. The authentic recipe will have brown sugar, milk/cream and butter. Replace the brown sugar with normal sugar and you get a variation that’s Caramel. So, this time you make these sauces, substitute the butter with Nutralite and create a healthier version! And then use these as creatively as you can:

  • You might have had chocolate filled with butterscotch. How about some chocolate coated with butterscotch? An exciting reversal!

  • Try coating besan laddoos with butterscotch!

  • The good old Caramel Popcorn is always a favourite too.

  • Finish off a Trifle Pudding with it or pour it on hot Apple Pie, soft Muffins or drizzle it on freshly made cakes. Divine!

  • Sundaes will bask in the glory of butterscotch and you can splash some chocolate syrup too, they are allies!

  • Use the sauce to dress up a mocktail, milkshake or simply pour in spoonfuls in your cup of coffee. You do it once, you do it again and again!

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Go cheesy

Cheese makes everything better. The mild Cheese Sauce gives you plenty of room to have fun with flavours and spices, but we say keep the seasonings simple and play around with different types of cheese like stringy mozzarella or chunky cheddar! Just get your hands on the Nutralite and create this simple one: melt Nutralite in a pan, add a spoonful of refined flour and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Make sure that it doesn’t turn brown. Add milk, whisk making sure there are no lumps. Add plenty of cheese and mix well. Pass through a sieve to ensure lump free smoothness and use it as a delicious dip. Try a version by adding a hint of saffron and some chillies to it!

Hola! To Healthy Hollandaise

There is no denying the irresistibility of a perfectly made hollandaise sauce. The trick is to whisk the eggs constantly while pouring in a thin stream of butter till both these ingredients together create a luscious hollandaise. And with Nutralite too, you can achieve the same result. Its just going to be nicer and would be perfect with your eggs, poached fish and veggies! You can also use it as a spread for your sandwiches and burgers.

Another version to the Hollandaise would be a rich, aromatic Béarnaise Sauce that will be great with your grilled meats. Similar to the process with just an addition of a flavouring ingredient alongwith crushed peppercorns will give you this smooth sauce. Use Nutralite here as well!

For wine lovers

The simple Beurre blanc is the sauce! Infact, it is so quick to make that this sauce can be done as emergencies! The luxurious sauce made with butter and wine is a great pairing with fish and seafood. Just make sure to use chilled Nutralite while whipping this one up.

10 most expensive ingredients in the world – #9 – Saffron

It more than makes sense to put the ‘most expensive spice in the world’ at a decent number 5th position in this list after Kopi Luwak, Matsutake Mushroom, Yubari Melon and Caviar. Yes, it’s the saffron or zaffran a.k.a kesar in Hindi, which is easily termed as ‘Prada’ in the spice world!

Just to make things clearer, the expense quotient is directly proportional to either complexity to harvest or scarcity. And we give you reasons for this – saffron is prepared by drying the deep-hued stigmas of the crocus sativus flower and it takes 70,000-250,000 of these carefully hand-picked stigmas to make 1 pound! Also, there’s a time when these must be harvested – which should be just before sunrise to 10 am in the morning! Why so? Because if these are left in the plant for long, they will lose their aroma and colour! Too much of a work!

Saffron

#9 – Saffron

Saffron is expensive! Infact many feel that is pricier than gold because of the amount of labour that goes behind its harvest. Fortunately, one needn’t require large amounts to add that special touch in their dish, as adding too much might make your dish bitter besides being toxic. Some of the best produce comes from Kashmir in India besides Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Spain and Greece.

A culinary delight

The exotic saffron has its use in a variety of dishes, both national and international. Some of the culinary literature also defines its aroma from scent-like, subtle and flowery to earthy, spicy and even medicinal! We give you some trivia about certain cuisines/dishes in which saffron is used in abundance. Read on…

  • Foods like risotto and individual ingredients like potatoes, spinach, eggs, mushrooms and seafood are paired absolutely well with this spice.
  • We all know about the flavourful and aromatic Indian ‘Biryanis’ and mithais seldom of which are prepared without the use of saffron. Other international dishes like Spanish ‘Paella’ and ‘Sopas de Pescado,’ Persian ‘Pilaf,’ Moroccan Chicken and Lamb preps and French ‘Bouillabaisse’ also use it.
  • Quite a few Italian liqueurs and spirits, like ‘Strega Herbal Liqueur’ and ‘Fernet Branca’ use this as an ingredient in their making.

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Best way to use

To use saffron, either infuse a few threads in a cup of hot milk or water and add the coloured liquid towards the end of cooking or crumble the threads and add directly to the pot. Alternatively, dry roast, crumble and then steep the crumbled threads. Unlike other spices, a good pinch will suffice to add flavour and colour in most dishes.

Besides these you can try innovating authentic dishes with a dash of saffron in them. Some of my favourites include Saffron Seafood Bisque, Asparagus with Saffron chilli Cheese Sauce, Kesari Pulao, Kesari Phirni and Orange Caramel Custard with Saffron…the list can just go on and on!

These recipes and a lot more are waiting for you at www.sanjeevkapoor.com. Our YouTube channel sanjeevkapoorkhazana also has a long-list of exciting saffron recipes. Don’t forget to check them out too!

All you need to do now is to go get your pack of saffron (in case you haven’t till now!) and use it the way you want to. Just keep in mind not to overuse! And definitely don’t forget to share your kesar tales and recipes with us. We, as always, will be happy to receive them!

Till we decide on our next top expensive ingredient, do spread the knowledge by sharing and leave your valuable feedback for us!