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#CookAtEase: 20 smart tips to follow

By Deepshikha Punj
Last updated on: September 09, 2016 19:16 IST
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Are you a working mom who barely gets time to cook? These tips will help you gain speed in the kitchen. 

Padma Lakshmi

IMAGE: 46 year old model mom Padma Lakshmi is fond of cooking. Photograph: Kind courtesy Padma Lakshmi/Instagram

As working mothers, we often juggle between managing our jobs, children, homes and even marriages. With all the running around, getting the perfect dinner menu on the table becomes a difficult task. If cooking was once your favourite hobby, it'd have now become an arduous task.

In fact, when we get back home from office, our priority is to rustle up a quick meal as opposed to an elaborate one that many home chefs may prefer.

I personally like a quick, light meal before I hit the bed. If you like that kind of meal too, you'll love these easy yet smart hacks that will make Indian cooking much easier.

Let's begin.

1. Moisten the base of the vessel with water before boiling milk. This will reduce the chances of the milk sticking to the bottom.

2. Just add half teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate to milk while boiling it. This will prevent it from churning even if you forget to put in the fridge.

3. If you want to prevent milk from spilling, just keep a wooden spoon on top of the vessel. This will prevent the milk from spilling over and also indicates when it reaches the boiling point.

4. Preparing soft rotis usually does not take much time. However, if you are not expert at kneading a soft dough, here's a trick.
Knead the dough with milk to make it soft. It also keeps it fresh for longer.

5. Keep puris (deep fried Indian bread) in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes before frying. This will ensure that the puris flare up without absorbing too much oil.

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6. If you are preparing sooji ka halwa (semolina pudding), just add half teaspoon of besan (gram flour). This will enhance its flavour and even the colour of the dish.

7. Watching your weight but cannot resist eating potato wedges? Don't worry. Simply boil the potatoes before you fry them. This will ensure that they cook faster and consume less oil.

8. Peeling potatoes can be a task, especially if they are just taken out of the refrigerator. But if you boil them first, you can solve this problem. Boiling potatoes will moisten the skin, making it easy to peel them.

9. Grind some common salt in your mixer/grinder. This will ensure that their blades are sharp and run efficiently for a longer time.

10. If you have added too much salt in your food, fret not.
Just add a few spoons of milk to the preparation. This will neutralise the dish. If you feel that a dish (like dal or even rice) has too much water, just add some potatoes. It will absorb all the excess water.

11. If you like cooking mutton, just add some mashed raw papaya into the marinade to soften mutton.

12. If you are preparing bhindi (ladies finger), and if you notice it sticking together, then just add a few drops of lemon to the preparation. The same hold true for rice.

13. We have all struggled with caramelising onions. The trick to getting them perfectly caramelised is to add a pinch of baking soda. This fastens the process, making them perfectly brown in no time.

14. Do not store potatoes and onions together. Potatoes will rot very soon if the two are kept together. Make sure you have separate storage jars or bags for each.

15. While preparing noodles, boil them well and then immediately add them to cold water. This will prevent them from getting soggy and sticking together.

17. In order to prevent fungus from accumulating in the pickle jar, burn a small amount of hing (asafetida) over coal or gas. Now invert the empty jar on it for sometime and then fill the jar with pickle.

18. While preventing insects while storing rice, place a small paper packet of boric powder or mint leaves in the container. This will keep insects and moths at bay.

19. While storing sugar, make sure that you add two to three cloves in the container. This will prevent ants from entering the jar or even getting attracted to the smell of sugar.

20. Place overripe tomatoes in cold water and add some salt in the vessel. This will make them fresh and firm the next morning. You can then peel the tomatoes by placing them in warm water for 5-10 minutes.

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Deepshikha Punj Mumbai