Cooking is an art. The thought that goes into the making of a recipe, is an amalgamation of the cook’s experience and creativity. A lot of time, care and work are put into the making of a dish. However, at times, a minor error too can spoil the entire recipe. Here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid an unpleasant recipe making experience.
1. Do Not Get Overly Creative: So you have this recipe, handed down since generations in the family. By now you think you can give this dish a twist to taste a little different, pleasantly. Pause for a moment and think about it. Make a small portion of that recipe with your twist. Taste to feel if that palatable twist, that you were thinking of, does anything at all to enhance the taste of the recipe at all. If that does not happen, then lay off that trick. It will only spoil a perfect recipe.
2. Choose You Base Oil Correctly: It is a perception that oils with neutral tastes are the best since they can be versatile. This is not true. Every recipe has influences like regional flavours, spice preference, expected texture etc. Oils like rice bran or mustard or even sesame are a must for some recipes. For instance, to make a recipe in line with the taste of Kerela, the use of curry leaves would be as important as choosing the right oil, or for cooking a Rajasthani Dish it would be as impertinent to use Oil as against Ghee unless replaced by a Sunflower oil.
3. Overcooking Kills: Every recipe would usually specify the cooking time. This should ideally be stuck to. If the instructions say that the oven is to be heated to a particular degree or the gas stove has to have the flame going on low, medium or high, stick to the instructions. The one sharing the recipe has perfected the dish on these specifications and therefore knows what overcooking or undercooking can do to that dish.
4. Choose the Ingredients with Caution: A recipe is not a connotation of sorts that is stewed on a pot over the fire. It is a dish made with specific ingredients, carefully included to complement each other, while the taste of the individual item needs to add to the flavour. Each of the ingredients also needs to be able to blend and merge with each others’ flavours to make the dish the best. Hence, take your time and choose the right ingredients. In case you have to replace an ingredient, be aware of the change that you would induce into the recipe.
5. Stick to the Cooking Process: Are you planning on a recipe made of pasta? Or maybe a batch of cookies? For the pasta, keep in mind that the pressure cooker is the last thing you need or deep frying in oil is the least you can do, to spoil a recipe of cookies. Every food has a defined limit till which it can be explored to, may it be boiling, sauté, blanching, frying etc. Just as a pasta cannot be pressure cooked or a batch of cookies, deep fried, other food items have limitations on experimentation too. Hence, stick to the cooking process, unless your experiments and experiences have taught you otherwise.
6. Keep The Measurements Right: Many a time when we ask the older generation about the amount of salt or sugar or about any of the other ingredients to be used, they would often say that they don’t have a measurement but rather an inkling of how much of which ingredient to use. Yet when you notice them working in the kitchen, they would use a particular spoon or a cup or a counted number of pinches of ingredients, nothing more or less than that. This is the essence of measurements. It gives a dish its perfect balance.
7. Know How Much To Stir or Flip Your Food: Some recipes need a constant stir, while some needs only to be flipped, some of the food need to be touched while cooking and some don’t need any stirring or touching at all. Do not tease the food when it is cooking, the wrong way. That is asking for the recipe to spoil itself.
8. Thaw Your Vegetables: Most of us use vegetables and other food items stored in the refrigerator. The cold inside the vegetables do not let them cook , evenly. It is, therefore, best to let the vegetables sit out till they come down to the normal temperature. This will ensure that the veggies are thoroughly cooked from inside out.
9. Do Not Sauté or Fry the Onions and Garlic To The Extreme: Onions and garlics are the base ingredients that go into the wok in most of the Indian cooking. Sautéing these need to be done with a lot of care. A burnt base is a sure shot at a spoilt recipe.
10. Pre Heat the over and Heat the Oil: While cooking on the stove, ensure that the oil is hot enough for the ingredients. If it is an oven that you are using, be sure about the preheating temperature. The correct temperature will help get the vegetables that crispy outer crust.
Conclusion: Recipes are work of passion. Many are handled down since generations and still used as it was handed down. Others have been modified, as each added a twist to it on individual preferences. Since food is one area, where the person cooking can be easily and tangibly judged, keep these tips in mind to avert a recipe disaster.