12 cooking secrets that celebrity chefs usually keep to themselves... but now you know
Sanjeev Kapoor has a trick for keeping those dosas crunchy
When you’re in the midst of a maida storm, or desperately in need of cooking hacks to keep your dosa from turning into a goopy mess, don’t you just wish you could ask your favourite celebrity chef to step in and save the day?
Wonder out loud if you’re using too much butter and Nigella Lawson appears out of thin air, says there’s no such thing, and tosses in an extra stick or two. Maybe Sanjeev Kapoor peeps into the kitchen and explains why your rotis always end up being more leathery than your Bata shoes.
Until tech geniuses manage to figure out how we can use a hologram of Padma Lakshmi to salvage our kitchen disasters, here are a few cooking hacks that most professional chefs use but rarely reveal, and they can help you sail smoothly.
12 cooking hacks celebrity chefs use to prevent kitchen disasters
Wondering why your dosa is never as crispy as the paper dosa at your favourite south Indian haunt? Here is Kapoor’s expert tip to ensure that your masterpiece has everybody raving – Add a fist full of poha while grinding dosa batter to keep it crunchy , recommends the chef.
A soft-boiled egg is the perfect addition to any meal. Throw it on top of a steaming bowl of ramen or include it as an accompaniment with your beloved dal-chawal – it gives the meal the perfect comforting finishing touch.
Despite looking fairly harmless, it isn’t all that easy to crack making the perfect soft-boiled egg. Masterchef judge, and celebrity chef Calombaris shares a few of his tricks to ace that gooey centre that fills you with so much joy:
- Use eggs that are at room temperature, and not straight out of the fridge. The extreme change in temperature when adding cold eggs to boiling water could cause the shell to crack.
- Always wait for the water to boil before adding the eggs, otherwise the shell will end up sticking to the egg white when you try to peel it.
Chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen answers the question that plagues those of us who live alone and cook for one: “How can I have variety on my plate, without wasting food or toiling away in the kitchen for hours?”
Many would think portion control or cooking in bulk over the weekend is the answer, but Zacharias prefers going a different, less cumbersome route – “I cook for one too, but what I do is cook one dish a day, but enough to last me for three to four days,” he says.
So, cook dal today, rice tomorrow, chicken the day after, and a vegetable-based dish the day after that. This way you have a new addition to the menu everyday without spending hours in the kitchen, and it also ensures that nothing goes to waste because you don’t have to finish all of it in one go.
Every chef has that one moment in their lives, when they decide to take a chance, but end up overheating a sauce, and land up with a pot full of curdled mess. A broken sauce can prove to be the Achilles’ heel even for the best of the best. Not anymore though.
Chef Guarnaschelli of Butter in New York knows how to rescue a grainy chocolate or cream sauce. Don’t add more cream or butter, a mistake that most people end up making. Instead, stir in a few spoonfuls of warm water, this balances the excess fatty ingredients, and acts as the perfect quick fix.
If there is one person that you should be learning cooking hacks from, it is the scariest chef on television. If he ever ends up in your kitchen, it’s probably these hacks that will determine if you walk out victorious or ugly-crying.
Ramsay’s is a very simple yet super useful hack – it will help you get rid of that lingering sting on your fingers that refuses to go away after you’ve chopped some hot peppers.
If you don’t want to absentmindedly end up rubbing your eyes with pepper fingers, and then go about running around like a headless chicken, all you have to do is rinse your hands with fresh lemon juice, and you’ll be good to go.
Neha Deepak Shah
You know those times when you’ve invited people over, have put on your apron, and are all set to floor everyone with your cooking, only to realise that you don’t have one of the key ingredients that your recipe requires? Neha Deepak Shah of Masterchef India fame is here to rescue us from one such moment.
If you’re baking, and the recipe calls for buttermilk, but you can’t seem to find any, all you have to do is substitute it with regular milk, but after adding some lemon juice to it.
There are times when we try our hardest to ensure that our bread doesn’t go stale, and then there are days when a decadent dessert like bread pudding or maybe even a humble French toast requires us to use stale bread, and we just can’t seem to find any. Queen of indulgence, and all things potato, cream, and butter, Lawson has swooped in to save your desserts.
The easiest way is to slice the bread and leave it out overnight, but you if you don’t have enough time, just pop slices of bread into the oven at 220° F for 10 to 15 minutes, and you will be all set to whip up the dessert of the decade.
Oliver’s is probably the most satisfying of all these cooking hacks because it involves shopping. Oliver shares with us five things that all pantries should have at all points of time – olive oil to cook, extra virgin olive oil to use as dressing, and red-wine vinegar, sea salt and black pepper to add the right amount of kick. According to the chef, these non-perishables can make any dish under the sun more flavourful and wholesome.
Author, TV host and quarantine cooking queen, Padma Lakshmi knows what it’s like when your budget doesn’t quite stretch to meet your extravagant tastebuds. For the cash-crunched and the lazy shopper, Lakshmi likes to make the most of her freezer.
“Frozen veggies are often flash-frozen at the peak of freshness and will have the same nutritional content as fresh vegetables,” she says, recommending you use even the skins and peels to make nutrient-rich vegetable stock that can then be transformed into soups, pasta sauces, curries and more.
Make it in large batches and store in pint-sized containers for easy access. “If I’m serving something that has been frozen, I usually try to also serve something fresh with it, like a big salad with a variety of colours and textures, and perhaps a citrus vinaigrette for some brightness,” she explains.
“If I’m reheating something like a soup, I’ll try to add some chilli flakes for heat or fresh herbs for added flavour.” By changing up the manner in which you cook your frozen veggies — steamed with lemon juice, roasted with olive oil, pan-seared with soy sauce or hoisin sauce — you can stave off boredom.
Dhondy of SodaBottleOpenerWala in Gurgaon is here to ensure that our breakfast never disappoints. She offers a cooking hack that will ensure our omelette tastes and looks as fluffy and light as a cloud. “When making an omelette, add a little water after whisking the eggs,” suggests the chef.
Wondering why despite following the recipe perfectly, your chicken comes out of the oven drier that your skin in winters? It’s probably because your roasting pan is too big.
Teigen suggests that you don’t use a pan that is larger than your meal. The drippings then end up filling the length of the pan, and become too thin, leaving your meat dry. Pick a pan of the appropriate size, and if your pan is too big, increase the number of pieces, and maybe send a few food packages over to your friends.
Does prepping garlic take you longer than cooking the actual dish? Chef Lorena Garcia of Chica in Miami and Las Vegas has the perfect hack for you. Throw whole and unpeeled cloves of garlic into the microwave for 10 seconds. This makes the peels slip right off, and makes prep a whole lot simpler. Everyone’s like it hot when it comes to taking their clothes, off, even garlic.