- Always preheat oven to the required temperature before placing the
cake in the oven.
- Prick with a knitting needle or skewer to check if done. The needle
should come out clean.
- Never keep the batter too thick. The cake will turn out hard and
- The cream used should always be chilled and beaten in sharp upward
strokes to incorporate air. Never overbeat.
- While making butter icings, beat the butter well to make it light
and fluffy. Then add sieved icing sugar and beat again. Add 2-3 drops
lemon juice & colour and essence as required, and beat again.
- Turn the cake tin around between baking if the oven is not distribution
even heat and the cake is baking unevenly.
- Always chill glasses before preparing the icecream in it. This way
it will stay stiff longer.
- Use aluminium containers instead of steel to set the icecream faster.
Also, place a thick plactic sheet or spread some salt under the container
to keep it from sticking to the floor of the freezer.
- Never try to refreeze icecream which has melted completely due to
reasons like electricity breakdown. The result will taste disastrous.
Instead, add you favourite flavour or fruit and run in a mixie to make
delicious milk shake.
- For simple but extravagant looking topping, take 2-3 healthy strawberries.
Make incisions vertically from tip to base, to form slices. But do not
cut fully. Stop just below the base. Now press sideways gently, to form
a fan shaped strawberry. Use as topping decor for cakes, icecreams,
- It is best to defrost the fridge before making icecream, so that
the base of the container is not jammed, as also the icecream will set
faster and better.
- Crush chikki coarsely and use as nougat over cakes and icecreams.
Use nuts of your choice.
Nans & Rotis
- A good thing about most rotis is that you can half roast and pile
them and do the final roast just before serving
- Puri may be rolled and place between well-rinsed wet muslin cloth
at least an hour ahead. Fry before serving.
- Store leftover dough and filling in freezer (properly packed) to
make fresh parathas when required. Take care to thaw the ingredients
- Leftover parathas eaten cold with hot tea taste good.
- To keep chappatis warm longer, cover the pile with two piece of clean
cloth above and below in a tight steel container. Leave on a griddle
that has been warmed first.
- Use the water drained from curdle milk to knead chappati dough. They
will turn out softer and whiter.
- If fish is to be stored for more than a day, clean it, rub with salt,
turmeric and if liked, a dash of vinegar before freezing.
|Pickles & Jams
- Always use glass, porcelain or china jars for picklings. Make sure
the lids can be secured tightly.
- Never use wet spoons, ladles etc. to remove or handle pickle. Moistures
paves way for rotting.
- Always press back remaining pickle with a rubber spatula or spoon
back making sure under the pickle is fully submerged the oil layer.
- Always sprinkle gelatine over the water. Never put in dry pan, then
add water and heat. Never boil gelatine. Only warm to dissolve. Safest
is to heat the container over a hot griddle (tawa). Stir always.
- While whipping cream never overdo it or butter will form . Always
whip over a tray of iced water or ice cubes. Whip in sharp upward strokes
till soft peaks form. Keep in refrigerator till used.
- You can top with any sauce of your choice, if you like while serving
or accompany it. Ideal sauces may be chocolate, custard, orange, grape,
caramel or just basic coloured sauce.
- Cadbury’s nutties & gems, gluced cherries, whipped cream, crumbled
biscuits, dry fruits used inside, coloured sugar etc. make excellent
decorations for party puddings.
- Day old bread slices can be substituted for cake if cake is not available
- Throw in a handful of soaked beans or sprouts to give the added nourishment,
as a combination in any raita.
- To make creamier raitas, add half a cup of fresh cream to one recipe
of raita. Makes the dish much more rich, though.
- If curds have become too sour to eat as is, tie for 3-4 hours, add
milk and use in raitas, curd rice, etc.
- If an onion is too sharp in taste, wash, drain and toss into some
beaten curd. Add a dash of salt and pepper, it becomes a tasty raita.
- Save the peel of apples, cucumbers and peaches. Grind them and add
to the ingredients of a green chutney (coriander leaves, green chillies,
ginger, coconut, salt and sugar). It makes a tasty and nutritious chutney
and when mixed with curd makes an unusual raita.
- Any salad tastes better and crisp if the vegetables have been
soaked in chilled water for a while.
- A little lime juice added to beetroot will make them a brilliant
- Simple sandwiches can be turned to attractive eats by decorating
with simple things like shredded cabbage, tomato slices, carrot juliennes,
thinly chopped salad leaves etc.
- If bread is too dry to make good sandwiches, just hold the bread
in the steam over a pan of boiling water for a few seconds.
- Spicy green chutneys, salsa dips, yogurt dips, etc. make very tasty
in between for sandwiches. A change from the same old bread and jam.
- Add a handful of rice flour to bhajia batter for crisper and less
- Drain and keep any extra channa dal aside after cooking. Chill and
then add chopped onions, chutneys, coriander, salt, chopped cucumber
and tomatoes. Serve chilled as bhel with cups of steaming hot tea.
- If batter of any bhajias tends to become too thin, wet a slice or
two of bread, press out all excess water, and mash it into the batter.
This will help greatly in thickening the batter.
- Paneer crumbs, bread crumbs and some melted butter, tossed together
form an excellent topping if you run short of cheese, for any baked
- Use tissue papers for reheating fried snacks. Eg. samosa, vada, kachori,
bhajji, etc. The paper will absorb the excess oil and moisture and keep
the snack crisp. Reheat on high for 1-1 1/2 minute.
- Always use the back of a perforated spoon to make the frying puris
puff up. Use the non-puffed ones to make chaat, bhel, etc.
- To pep leftover farsan which is not getting over, add finely chopped
onions, coriander, green chilli and salt, lemon juice, chaat masala.
Toss and serve with afternoon tea as a spicy muchy.
- Always use a clean pair of kitchen scissors to trim edges of
bread. Much neater and less messy edges as compared to those trimmed
with a knife.
- Always keep a couple of boiled potatoes (skins intact) handy in the
fridge. They are very useful when in a hurry. Either bake them, or make
a quick curry, or fry them. Eat them in a sandwich, or just plain with
salt and pepper. Stir fry and add spices or make a quick paratha.
- Use a pizza cutter to cut rounds into strips for fried noodles, instead
of a knife. It is faster and less messy.
- For a quick chaat, fry leftover pieces of bread in ghee till crisp.
Arrange the pieces in a plate. Pour curds, salt, red chilli and cumin
powders, coriander leaves and green chillies on them. Top with tamarind
and jaggery chutney.
- To make whiter and crisper potato wafers add some alum crystals and
salt to the water in which you drop the wafers for soaking.
- To make samosas crisper add some cornflour to the maida for dough.
- Use cornflakes as a substitute for sev or papdis. It is available
everywhere and give the same crunchiness to a dish, eg. bhel.
- If garlic bread is not available, crush a few cloves of garlic to
a fine paste, cream it well into some butter. Spread this on slices
of bread and toast it. Serve with piping hot soup.
- Always add cornflower to any recipe by first making a thin paste
in cold water. Cornflower is an excellent thickening agent to add body
to any soup. If not available maida can also be used, similarly. Only
the transparency of clear soups will not be there.
- Never over-boil soups as they lose their colour and body.
- Do not throw away the green tender stalks of cauliflower base. Chop
fine and use in soups like other vegetables. You will be adding fibre
to your soup.
- Dehydrate leftover rice in an oven or sundry, till brittle. Puff
up some by deep frying as required, add to soups as rice crispies.
- Toast a few slices of bread till crisp. Grind into fine bread crumbs.
Store in a tight glass jar. Use as a handy thickener for gravies, soups,
etc., if they feel too watery.
South Indian Dishes
- Use thick short grained rice for dosa and idli batter where ordinary
rice is asked for. This will give a netter texture than using long grained
- If the idli sagoo tends to get too watery, add a tbsp. of fine breadcrumbs
or 1 tsp. cornflour mixed in 1/4 cup water. Stir well till gravy thickens.
- Excess batter may be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days without turning
sour. Do not add salt to that batter beforehand, and cover with a plaintain
leaf. Add salt and mix a few hours before using.
- Never beat idli batter too much just before spooning into moulds.
Just spoon as is. The air already incorporated while rising is lost
and idlis may not be as soft as they should be.
- Grate excess fresh coconut, fill in clean freezer bags, and freeze.
After thawing for use, wash with water 2-3 times, for coconut as good
- Add a cupful of soaked poha to 5 cupfuls of rice soaked for idlis
and grind with the rice for softer and lighter idlis.
- To break open the coconuts easily (the brown ones..), place them
in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. This would seperate the shell
- If your griddle is large enough make many teeny weeny dosas instead
of one big one. Top them with a bit of chutney and sandwich them.
- Make dosas a little less crisp. Roll in any desired filling like
a frankie. Add chutney or jam if desired. Make very tasty rolls.
- For those who do not care for a spicy taste, you can sprinkle some
grated cheese on the dosa while shallowfrying. Eat with sauce instead
of chutney. This will suit the taste of those who are used to bland
- Dehydrate the residue of coconut used for coconut milk by drying
the sun. This dried flaked coconut can be used in dry chutneys, sweets,
- Add a few drops of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. ghee while steaming long
grain rice (basmati) to make the it whiter and keep the grain unbroken.
- Add a tiny piece of crushed ginger to tea, while boiling, for the
extra zing especially during the winter.
- Warm garlic flakes a little either in a microwave or on griddle before
peeling, to make the skin come off easily.
- Sprinkle salt in tamarind before storing, to keep away the worms.
Dry well in sun till a little stiff, cool indoors for few hours and
then add salt. 1 fistful to a kilogram of tamarind. Store in airtight
plastic or glass container.
- Roast cumin seeds on a warm griddle before dry grinding. They will
give a better flavour and grind faster.
- To keep salt from becoming lumpy in moist climate, add a dash of
rice flour to it. Add a few rice grains in the salt shaker.
- Microwave fresh mint till dry and crisp. Crush coarsely, mix some
salt and chilli powder and chaat masala. Sprinkle over freshly fried
papads for that extra tang.
- Quickest way to extract pure ginger juice, is to either pound or
grate fresh ginger, sprinkle a wee bit of water, and put in a clean
muslin cloth. Press out juice with thumb and fingers till only fibre
- If dried herbs are used in a recipe, crush them first to release
- Adding a little dry rice to sugar while grinding it, will keep it
from becoming lumpy.
- Always mash potatoes when they are still quite hot. They mash more
easily and can be finely mashed too.
- To clean the surface of vegetables like potato, radish, sweetpotato,
carrots, etc. use a separate plastic scrubber or toothbrush kept for
the purpose. Hold under running water and scrub.
- When very finely chopped greens or chillies etc. are required in
a recipe, use a pair of sharp Scissors instead of a knife. The job will
be made faster, more efficient and safe to cut.
- Add a few tsps. of milk to cauliflower while boiling to rid it of
the raw smell. Drain and wash before adding to the recipe.
- Always hold fresh vegetables under running water for a minute, after
boiling and draining, to enhance their colour, eg. carrots, greens,
peas, etc. Hold in a colander or strainer so that the water passes through.
- Add a pinch of soda bicarb to green vegetables while steaming or
boiling or cooking in the microwave to retain the fresh green colour.
- For use of green like sarson ki bhaji out of season, microwave to
dehydrate till crisp. Soak in hot water for half an hour, before proceeding
as for fresh bhaji.
- Store chopped vegetables in airtight plastic containers in the fridge
to keep from browning and drying up.
- Add some salt or vinegar drops while washing vegetables and greens
to make them clean and germ free, eg. cauliflower, spinach, etc.
- Place tomatoes in hot water for 5-7 minutes, before using for easier
peeling and better taste in any recipe where tomatoes are required to
- Add a pinch of turmeric powder to the oil before adding green vegetables.
The vegetables will retain their greenness better even after cooking.
- Blanch green leafy vegetables ( fenugreek, spinach, etc.) in boiling
water for 2 minutes. Hold under cold running water, press out excess
water, store in freezer for about 2 weeks without spoiling.
- If there is a lot of leftover paneer crumbs, dry in a warm oven.
Fry till crisp and store in the fridge. Soften in boiling water, drain
and add to thicken gravies of any vegetables and curries.
- Wrap potatoes etc. which you may want to bake in the coals, in foil,
to retain moisture and also to avoid becoming sooty black.
- To bake potatoes crisp and brown, soak the peeled potatoes in hot
water for a while, pat dry and pierce all over with a fork before placing
them in hot fat along with the roast.
- Always soak cauliflower in warm salted water for some time to get
rid of the tiny insects sometimes present deep inside the florets and
not visible to the eye.
- Use chilli oil instead of the ordinary oil, if you want to
make the dish spicier.
- If you happen to put excess salt in the curry, cut a raw potato into
about 10 pieces and drop them into the curry & leave for 15 min.
They will absorb the excess salt. Remove the pieces before serving.
- To make thick gravy for mutton, chicken or vegetables, grate the
onions, squeeze out their juice and brown the onions and the masala.
Add the juice as stock, after the onions are brown. The onion flavour
is not lost and you don’t have to add water to make the gravy.
- Add a few methi (fenugreek) seeds to toor dal while pressure cooking.
This makes the dal easier to digest.
- Use a steel knife instead of iron to cut brinjals, plantains, ladies-fingers
and mangoes to avoid blackening.
- Pressure cook lots of tomatoes, with adding water to them. Make puree
in blender. Strain, cool, freeze in icetrays. When set, remove and fill
in freezer polybags. Use cubes as required in recipes.
- Grease the grated on both sides with oil before grating sticky items
like cheese or boiled potatoes, to allow for smoother grating.
- Always hold silver foil with edges, invert over the dish. Never attempt
to hold with hand. It will stick to the fingers. If small bits are required,
cut folded in paper and then apply as above. Smoothen out with the paper
- Place a tsp. of soda bicarb in a corner of the fridge in a small
crucible. This will keep smells of foods in the fridge from permeating
- To allow free flow of sauce from a sauce bottle to a pourer,
insert a drinking straw half way, into the bottle and hold it there
lightly with one hand while pouring with the other.
- To prevent moulding of papads during monsoons, slip in a piece
of blotting paper under the papads in the container.
- To keep coriander and other leafy greens fresh longer, wrap in newspaper
and place in a perforated container in the fridge.
- Insert a hairpin into grapes to deseed them without cutting.
- If the milk begins to boilover, quickly sprinkle a little cold water
over it and the overflow will subside.