By Anushka Sahjwani
Everything we do, everything we are, boils down to food (no pun intended.) Ponder how each and every situation is about food. Someone is getting married, lets meet and greet over food. A funeral is in progress… after that food is served as prasaad. A first time blind date, well, we meet in a coffee shop and eat a couple of sandwiches while we suss each other out. A business meeting? Oh what a great idea to meet at the new restaurant and lock things down! Food is everywhere, in sickness and in health, for good or better, till death do us part.
Is it any wonder then that Chefs all over the world have come up with so many different ways to cook food? Gone are the days of “lets go and have Chinese” or “we must check out this new place which serves the best butter chicken.” Now –a- days you hear terms like… molecular gastronomy, or seared fish or cured meats, or souz vide, or drying. It can be pretty daunting for someone who is still living in the days of hakka noodles and tandoori chicken. I want to tell you this, I will simplify terms of cooking for you so that when someone says: “Oh I just send my son living abroad dehydrated food” you don’t gape at them in amazement. Here is a list of cooking methods I have learnt over the years. Even if you don’t ever use them, believe me, food knowledge is always a good thing to have!
A technique used to grill food over high flame till a golden crust is formed. Especially used for meats and fish, it locks the moisture in so that the meat or poultry is succulent.
Food that is subjected to fermentation or smoking. This method can include adding salt (like our home made achars) or nitrate or sugar and letting the moisture out.
The gentle heating of vegetables in a little oil or butter which results in tender soft translucent pieces.
Caramelization is a common cooking method. It simply means browning the food, and thereby browning the sugar in it, for its distinct flavor.
I know it sounds like hugging food, but its really a process whereby food is kept just below boiling point for quite a while to let it cook. The best example here would be coddled eggs.
A food dehydrator machine removes all the moisture from the food and in that process preserves it. When ready to eat, all you need to do is add water. This is one of the cooking methods that are popular these days what with moms wanting to send home food to their kids studying abroad.
7. Dum Pukht
This is one of the cooking methods where food is cooked at a very slow pace in sealed vessels, over a very low flame for very long hours. This technique came from the awadh region and is very popular in tandoor dishes.
8. Liquid Nitrogen
Would you believe of cooking methods that use liquid nitrogen? Well, this chemical composition is used to flash-freeze food and sometimes to shatter it so that you get these funky looking shards. Mostly used in 7 star restaurants it has not yet caught everywhere.
9. Molecular Cooking
This is one of the most unique cooking methods, also popular in Michelin starred restaurants. This method uses chemistry and uses food as a scientific experiment. Sometimes carbon dioxide is used for adding bubbles and sometimes liquid nitrogen is used for freezing. Maltodextin can turn high fat liquid into powder and chemicals are used to alter the size shape and state of food. Very exciting to look at and even more exciting to eat. Molecular gastronomy is a “must try” atleast once!
10. Air Frying
This is one fad that has caught on with the health conscious people really fast. Air fryers are so easy to come by now- a -days. It literally fries your food with hot air and the benefits of this type of food are plenty. Who would’ve ever thought you could eat French fries without guilt! It is one of the cooking methods fast catching up in urban households too!
I do hope you have enjoyed reading the various cooking methods. Ofcourse, there are many more, but these are by far the most used in every country. I also hope you will try more different types of cooking and learn to differentiate a simple bake from a souz vide dish. Life is a journey and if one can learn a little as we go along it always becomes more interesting.
About Anushka Sahjwani
Anushka Sahjwani is an avid reader and foodie. A professional writer for many smash hit television shows and tarot card reader turned online entrepreneur with her website www.tarotinfinity.com. Her most recent hobby is blogging. Her two favourite things in life are writing and eating, and when the two combine – blog posts are born.