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 dry
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, puddings, etc.
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 before using.
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 at hand.
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 red colour.
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 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 remains.
If dried herbs are used in a recipe, crush them first to release their fragrance.
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 be cooked.
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 itself.
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 each other.
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.