Eight different ways to become ‘Captain Cook’!
Whether you bake or boil, each cooking method has its uniqueness, says Naini Setalvad
The ongoing pandemic has had us cooped up at home for a long time now, compelling us to think of different ways to pass the time. And, oh my, have we picked up a few new vocations! I have numerous clients who sauntered into the kitchen to explore cooking and ended up mastering the culinary art. I am sure, you too have discovered different cooking styles. So, let me help you further by suggesting ways to help retain nutrition while keeping the food tasty.
The easiest and the quickest way to eat food is the way Mother Nature has provided for us. Thus, produce from the plant kingdom
are most ideal for this method. Raw food requires no heat, but one needs to pay attention to the way it is cut. Using a blunt knife and fine chopping leads to nutrient loss and early decay. Raw foods are beneficial to consume as they keep all the nutrients intact. Fermented foods like pickles can also be eaten raw.
Sautéing involves using a small amount of good quality fat like cow’s ghee or any cold-pressed oil. Healing herbs and spices are added for additional flavours. Add the fat and spices to the vegetables in a pan, sauté, cover with a lid, pour a little water on the lid, and allow the food to cook on a low flame. This method cooks food slowly, thus preventing overcooking. The texture and flavour of the food are mildly enhanced and mostly preserved, as are a large number of nutrients.
From dhoklas to dimsum, the healthiest cooking method—steaming entails boiling water in a utensil, placing the food in a sieve, and putting this sieve in the utensil, without it coming in contact with the water. Cover it with a lid, and voila! The steam cooks your food giving it a moist texture. This method is beneficial as it prevents the leaching of nutrients into the water and keeps the glycaemic index (GI) of the foods lower than other cooking methods. Foods with a lower GI (55 or less) are digested, absorbed, and metabolised more slowly, thus raising the blood sugar levels and insulin gradually. The lower the GI, the less hungry you feel, thus eating fewer calories, as this food keeps you fuller for a longer time. Fats, herbs, and spices are added as a tempering after the food is steamed for the added phytochemical kick.
To boil food, chop it and let it cook in boiling water till it becomes tender. This method may preserve the nutrition to a certain extent as the water which is used for boiling can also be used as stock.
I always say, “Anything that can be fried can be baked”. Any fried food, from vadas to samosas to French fries should be put in the oven to cook if you want to make it crispy and delectable. It is imperative to mention that when the duration required to cook is longer even at moderate temperatures during baking, it can increase the glycaemic index of certain foods.
Paniyaram uses a minimal amount of oil for greasing the pan for cooking and can replace deep-frying. The best thing about paniyaram cooking is that the nutrients do not leach out of the vegetables. Everything is intact in the batter.
I have observed that the Indian kitchen, today, is incomplete without the pressure cooker. The high pressure creates temperatures above 120°C, cooking food at lightning speed. Besides annihilating bacteria and removing chemicals, it also increases the digestibility of foods. Although, the bio-availability of minerals is enhanced, a small amount of vitamins may be lost as the cooking temperatures go above 100° C.
Microwaving is the quickest way to heat food in the modern kitchen. When used for small amounts of time, it may preserve nutrients. Use microwave-safe cookware.
Each cooking method has a flip-side. In baking, though cooking time is long the glycaemic index rises. While in steaming, the glycaemic index doesn’t rise even though the cooking time is long. Whereas, in pressure cooking, the high temperature may increase glycemic index but enhances the bio-availability of minerals. Therefore, a variety of cooking methods ensures optimum nutrient absorption and great health. I encourage you to try raw food and steaming, as in the hustle and bustle of our lives, we have forgotten the simplest forms of cooking.
100 gm beaten rice(poha), preferably unpolished brown poha
200 gm cucumbers, finely chopped
250 gm tomatoes, finely chopped
4 tbsp date chutney(recipe below)
6 tbsp green chutney (recipe below)
50 gm raw mango, finely chopped (optional)
4 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
2 tbsp raw peanuts, finely chopped
1 tbsp coconut, grated
rock salt to taste
lemon juice to taste.
• Soak the poha for 30 minutes.
Drain out the excess water, and keep it aside for 10 minutes for the water to drain out completely.
• Transfer the poha to a bowl.
Add tomato, cucumber, coriander, raw mango, peanuts, chutneys, lemon juice, and salt to the bowl.
• Mix well.
• Garnish with coriander and grated coconut, and serve.
• GREEN CHUTNEY
50 gm coriander
4 green chillies
½ lemon, squeezed and juiced
1 tbsp water
salt to taste
• Add all ingredients into a blender.
• Blend them together.
• Add water to gain the desired consistency.
50 gm dates (khajur)
10 gm tamarind (imli)
1 tbsp jaggery
½ tsp red chilli powder
water as required
salt to taste
1. Soak the khajur, imli, and jaggery in an equal amount of water for one hour.
2. Add salt and red chilli powder.
3. Blend all the ingredients together.
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