Cooking tips for Indian Homes

Some time ago we organised a contest on our facebook page for members to share their household tips. The response was very encouraging. We were left with a treasure of ideas not easily available but only passed from one generation to another, and hence are sharing the same with all of you to use and appreciate. The name of members contributing the tips is mentioned before the tips.Read, use and save. Cheers!
Charu Varmani Madan
1.             If bread is too dry to make good sandwiches, just hold it over steam of a pan of boiling water for a few seconds.
2.             Handy cubes- a) Grind cashew nuts with a little water and put the paste in ice trays and freeze cubes for later use especially for Shahi Paneer. b) Grind coarsely green chilies, add a squeeze of lime and freeze them as cubes for later use.
3.             If adding curd to masala, make sure it’s beaten well and added slowly, this avoids curdling too
4.             Keep lemons in hot water for 20 min before squeezing they will yield more juice.
5.             Alternatively you can microwave a lemon for 15 sec to extract double the amount of juice
Gautam Saluja:
1.           If knife is Sharp enough and you are chopping onion etc., there are 2 things one your hands are safe unless your mind is not elsewhere and your eyes won’t get wet with tears.
2.           Banana peel is full of potassium. It can be used to reduce wrinkles around the eyes. To reduce worry lines, rub a banana skin (yellow side out) under the eyes.
3.           Place rolled puris in the fridge for 10 minutes before frying them. They’ll consume less oil and turn out crispier.
4.           Do not add salt to rajma or urad dal while boiling. It will take half the time to boil.
5.           To make omelets more spongy and soft, add 2 – 3 spoons of milk to the egg batter n mix properly
6.           Place over ripe tomatoes in cold water and add some salt n keep them overnight, they’ll become firm n fresh.
7.           Put 2 – 3 cloves in the sugar to keep the ants away
8.           If you want to enjoy fat free Samosa, bake them rather than deep frying them.
9.           Fresh garlic turns soft n buttery when roasted
10.        To thicken the soup, instead of adding arrowroot or corn flour, add cooked pureed veg like carrots, onions.
11.        Save gas by boiling water in a tea kettle and then add to pot, tea kettle boils faster.
12.        To cook any boneless meat, pound to 1/4 inch, we can reduce the time of cooking.
13.        To make creamier raitas, add a little fresh cream. It will however make the dish richer and tastier.
14.        Use milk instead of water to knead puri dough. Puris will become soft and luscious.
15.        To make good crispy bhaturas, add two teaspoons of semolina two cups of refined flour while kneading the dough.
16.        Three-fourth teaspoon of hot oil added to one cup of batter will make bhajias, fritters, pakodas etc. crisper and also prevent them from soaking up too much oil.
17.        Add a few drops of salt water to banana chips while frying them as this will make the chips crisper.
18.        Coconut milk when kept overnight in the fridge forms a white layer on top. This layer can be used as fat instead of oil for frying mutton or chicken.
19.        Rather than using food colors, use a mixture of limewater and turmeric to get (almost) tandoori color.
20.        If you have forgotten to soak pulses like chana overnight, just put the chana in a flask full of boiling water for an hour. They are ready for cooking.
21.        Add a small piece of beetroot while making tomato puree, it will give it a bright red color
22.        The best way to clean cauliflower florets before cooking is to soak them in water mixed with a little vinegar for about fifteen minutes. This not only removes the dirt but also kills the insects. Rinse in fresh water and use for cooking. We can also add salt too instead of vinegar.
23.        Grate the rinds of lemon, grapefruit and orange and store in the freezer. They make excellent flavoring for muffins, cakes and frostings.
24.        Add a teaspoon of condensed milk while preparing the icing for a cake in order to prevent it from cracking
25.        If the potato chips you brought for your party turn soggy, simply pop them in microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. They will turn crispy again.
26.        If you add a carrot to tomatoes while making soup, it will not only reduce the sourness but also increase the nutrient value
27.        In winters, adding a little fruit salt to the idli batter helps it ferment faster and also makes idlis softer.
28.        You can make delicious ‘makki-ki-rotis’ without breaking them by adding some wheat flour while kneading the dough.
29.        If cream does not whip properly, add some white of egg and it will beat up really fluffy. One egg white is enough for two cups of cream.
30.        If the curd has not set well place the bowl of curd in a bowl of warm water and it will set within fifteen minutes
31.         The best way to clean cauliflower florets before cooking is to soak them in water mixed with a little vinegar for about fifteen minutes. This not only removes the dirt but also kills the insects. Rinse in fresh water and use for cooking. We can also add salt too instead of vinegar.
32.         To keep the Green chilies fresh for longer duration, remove the stems before storing.
33.         Making a fruit salad, or planning to keep cut apple for long? Apply some lemon juice on the cut surface of the apple to avoid browning. They will look fresh for a longer time.
34.         To make rice whiter, add few drops of lemon juice in the water before boiling the rice.
Sneha Lata:
1.             While using curd for cooking, add a little flour to it.. this prevents it from curdling.
2.             If using dry coconut, soak for half an hour… you can now squeeze out the milk.
3.             If you do not have worcester sauce, make some at home with ginger, garlic, cinnamon and clove. Make a paste using a grinder, with vinegar, a little salt and sugar.
4.             Potato sliced lengthwise cooks better than cut crosswise.
5.             Frying onions in hot oil adds a flavor to the oil used for cooking.
6.             If lettuce loses its crispness, soak in iced water for 20 minutes. Adding a little sugar also helps.
7.             The astringent juice of fresh green papaya is an excellent meat tenderizer.
8.             The best way to singe (give tarka) is to heat oil till it starts to smoke and then add a little ghee.
9.             If the smell of turmeric gets too pronounced in any curry, heat a metal spoon to red hot and dip it in the curry.
10.         If lemon slices becomes dry, soak in hot water to get fresh lime juice from them.
11.         Vegetables like Aubergine, potato, raw banana, and sweet potato should be soaked in water after they are sliced (if they are not cooked immediately) so that they do not get discolored
Kapil R Singh:
1.             If there is excess salt in gravy, add a boiled potato and add it to the gravy. Extra salt will be absorbed by potato.
2.             Add a few grains of sugar to ensure dahi sets right
3.             Add some baking soda while cooking chholey, they turn out softer and add some leaker tea to get color
4.             To make dal makahni, soak the dal for some time and rub it well with mustard oil which is mixed with cinnamon the flavors will come out damn well.
Aalok Wadhwa:
1.             To cook Bolognese or chili, or jambalaya, use v8 vegetable juice for authentic results
2.             If you want authentic dhaba chicken in 5 minutes with no fuss, start with maggi bhuna masala. bhuno 500 gms of chicken in it, and then pressure cook it with knorr punjabi chicken masala. Great result assured every time.
3.             To make light (meaning diet) dal Makhni, boil urad and rajma, and then grind together some hung curds, ginger and green chilli, and mix it into the dal towards the end. Top it with freshly roasted kasoori methi.
Gaurav Mittal:
1.             To avoid watery eyes while chopping onions, refrigerate your onions for at least 30 minutes or chill them in cold water first. The lowered temperature reduces the sulfur compounds in your onions to minimum.
2.             For long term storage, crack-open the eggs and add individually to an ice cube tray. When completely frozen, put the egg cubes in a sealed freezer bag and use as needed.
3.             In order to make a robust tomato sauce which can then later be used for making pasta sauces or as gravy for Indian food, scar a few tomatoes with knife and put them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, remove and let stand until cool. Peel off the skin and puree, the resulting sauce is robust and pulpier.
4.             Take whole Garlic with skin on, rub with evoo and wrap in foil. Bake for about 20 minutes on 350 degrees. Once cooled down, take the garlic and just squeeze out the pulp. The cooked pulpy garlic is sensational in taste and can be used as a condiment.
5.             Rather than using food colors, use a mixture of lime water and turmeric to get the similar tandoori color.
6.             Keep bananas fresh for longer time- After bananas have ripened, store in the refrigerator to help slow down ripening. The skin will turn dark brown, but this does not damage the fruit inside.
7.             Potatoes rot quickly if stored near onions. To prevent potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.
Anita Sahgal:
1.             Bread if microwaved for just 10 seconds, will turn soft.
2.             In order to ripen Pineapple faster, put the leafy end down. Let it stand upside down. 
3.             In order to ripen banana, either put it in brown paper bag or add a tomato to it. Next day raw bananas will be ready to eat.
4.             Sour curd with lemon squeezed in it can be applied on hair. It keeps your hair conditioned for at least two days and prevents dandruff too.
5.             Mushrooms should never be washed but wiped with wet cloth for cleaning as it absorbs water.
6.             Potatoes and Eggs generally have cracks while you boil. Just add a pinch of salt to water while you boil to ensure they remain intact.
7.             Liquid over butter milk or curd (whey) should not be thrown its rich in protein can be used for making dough.
8.             Papaya is a good meat tenderizer.
9.             A few sugar crystals can be sprinkled on onions if you want to deep fry them for garnishing.
10.         Vinegar in a cup can be stored in the corner of the fridge. It will keep the food fresh and prevents the bad smell of food from spreading and keeps cockroaches away
Sharmin Assam Foodie:
1.             Use baking SODA as a meat tenderizer. Sprinkle (1/2 tsp soda per every 500 g of meat) baking soda all over the meat, rub it in, let it marinate for an hour in the refrigerator. Rinse meat before cooking to remove all the baking soda.
Nandini Rathore:
1.             If u r preparing kanji-vada, use a piece of beetroot for the wonderful color in kanji
1.             Add a spoonful of salt whiling boiling eggs for easy peeling of the shells
Neels Oberoi:
1.             Boiled and nicely mashed cauliflower can be used as boiled potatoes to make Paranthas or as a topping on a bake dish.
Some other tips:
1.             To get really soft chapatis, the trick lies in the kneading. The more you knead, the smoother the dough becomes and the smoother the dough is, the softer the Chapatis. Another secret to soft Chapatis is using fresh yoghurt or milk instead of water, to make the dough! When you’re done kneading the dough and it is smooth, wet your hand with water and run it all over the surface of the ball of dough. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for half an hour before using.
2.             To get rid of a strong poultry smell from chicken, put the chicken into a large non-metallic pot or bowl. Pour 1/2 a cup of white vinegar over the chicken and mix well to coat all the chicken. Leave aside for 4-5 minutes. Now wash the chicken thoroughly under running water and use as required. The chicken will no longer have a strong poultry smell!
3.             The next time you buy fresh coriander, keep it fresh for longer by chopping off the roots and then wrapping the leaves in a sheet of newspaper. Store in the crisper section of your refrigerator.
4.             If you’ve ever bought green leafy veggies like spinach, dill and fenugreek and had them wilt before you could get around to using them, this one’s for you. Trim roots and thicker stems and wash well. Boil a large pot of water and dip the leafy greens in it for 30 seconds and remove. Drain and press out all the excess water. Freeze and use within 2-3 weeks.
5.             If you cook Indian food, you are bound to get turmeric stains on your clothes at one time or another. The good news is they’re really easy to take out. Wash the stained clothes/kitchen linen immedeately in cool water and soap. Dry in the sun and the stain will fade to a very pale pink. Wash the article again and the stain will be gone!
6.             Instant Chapatis: Roll out a large batch of chapatis/ parathas/ pooris ahead of time and stack with a layer of cling wrap between each (uncooked) chapati paratha/ poori. Divide into portions as required and store in large, date labelled Ziploc bags in the freezer. When you are ready to eat them, heat a skillet and roast (for Chapatis), or pan-fry (for Parathas) or deep-fry (for Pooris). Do not thaw before cooking.
7.             If the Chapati is only a day old, simply heat a flat griddle or pan on a medium flame and reheat. Flip frequently to prevent scorching. If you’re lucky the Chapati will puff again! If the Chapati is more than a day old, sprinkle with a little water, wrap in a damp cloth and microwave on High for a minute. Remove from the microwave and unwrap. Now roast on a hot griddle or pan, making sure to flip occasionally.
8.             Eaten too much and feeling under the weather? Zap the nausea, burning sensation, acidity and general uneasiness with ingredients from your own kitchen!
9.             Mix the juice from half a lime and 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger juice in a glass of hot water and drink thrice a day.
10.         Chew a teaspoon of aniseed/fennel seeds.
11.         Grind 1 tsp each of coriander seeds, caraway seeds and cardamom seeds and grind into a powder. Take a teaspoonful with water, before each meal.
12.         A lot of Indian dishes call for onions to be sauteed or browned. Some even require that you grind he onions to a paste and then brown the paste. This makes for delicious, rich tasting, thick gravies. Onion paste has a tendency to soak up a lot of cooking oil though, when browned. To avoid using too much oil in your food, the best way around this is to finely chop the amount of onions called for in your dish. Sauté these chopped onions till golden brown. Now grind the lot into a paste (with a tablespoon or two of warm water) in your food processor and you’re all set to use the paste as required! 
13.         Add some boiled rice while grinding for Dosa, this will give soft Dosas!
14.         If you don’t have any cream to add in the soup or gravy, add a mixture of butter and milk!
15.         Keep boiled eggs in cold water for 5 minutes, this will make removal of the shell easier!
16.         Store Sambar powder and Rasam powder in the deep freezer. This will keep the fresh aroma for a longer time!
17.         Always soak cut egg plants (brinjal) in water otherwise it will turn black!
18.         Never use stainless steel spoons for pickles, this will react with the acids in the pickle!
19.         For spongy egg scramble add 3 tsp of milk while beating!
20.         While cooking smelly foods, soak a cloth towel and let it dry in the cooking area. It will absorb the smell of cooking and keep the room fresh!
21.         Always fry onions in a little oil and then grind. Raw onion paste will turn bitter immediately!
22.         Cut the top of the carrot and store in air tight bag. This will keep it fresh for a longer period!
23.         Put the bananas in a black plastic bag before keeping it in the refrigerator – skin will not turn black and they will come out yellow even after a week!
24.         Lemon juice added to carrot cooking water will help keep the color bright!
25.         Reduce the burning sensation after cutting green chillies by keeping the fingers in a bowl of cold milk added with some sugar!
26.         Never use metallic bowls to marinate meat – the acids (vinegar or lemon) can react with the metal bowls!
27.         Add a small amount of sugar when cooking carrots, peas, beets or corn – this will keep the flavour!
28.         Add a pinch of salt while frying Puris or Pakoras – this will help absorb less oil!
29.         Keep the Karela in water and add a pinch of salt in it for 1/2 hour to remove the bitterness of it!
30.         Add a piece of coconut shell to a mutton dish while it is getting cooked, the meat remains tender and gets cooked much faster!
31.         For soft idlies like a sponge do not stir the batter after it has got fermented. Pour the batter as it is!
32.         Cleaning your grater after shredding cheese can be made easy by grating a raw potato after the cheese. The potato clears the gummy cheese out of the holes!
33.         Placing Potatoes in salt water for 15 minutes before baking make them bake quickly. Salt also adds taste!
34.         Do not fry paneer, immerse it in boiling water to make it soft and spongy!
35.         When the noodles are boiled, drain all the hot water and add cold water. This way all the noodles will get separated!
36.         Add a pinch of sugar while cooking spinach and green leafy vegetables, it will retain its green colour!
37.         A bay leaf added to the flour container will keep the flour free from moisture!
38.         Never cook mushrooms in aluminum pans because the mushrooms will darken!
39.         Never store an apple near a banana unless you want to ripen the banana in a short period of time!
40.         While frying Onions, add a little milk – this will help retain a rich color and prevent them from burning!
41.         Fat can be removed from hot soup by floating a large lettuce leaf on the surface!
42.         Sprinkle a bit of salt in the frying pan before adding chicken. It will cut down on the amount of grease splattering!
43.         To restore color and shine to an aluminum pan, boil some apple peels in it for a few minutes, then rinse and dry!
44.         Add a tea spoon full of vinegar in water while boiling eggs. Even if they crack content will not come out!
45.         To get rid of the smell of eggs in the cakes, add one tablespoon honey to the cake batter while beating it!
46.         To keep cauliflower white while cooking -add a little milk to the water!
47.         Avoid eggplant (brinjal) turning black by putting the cut pieces in a bowl of water mixed with a spoon of milk!
48.         While cooking okra (ladyfingers) add a few drops of lemon juice or a spoonful of yogurt to avoid becoming sticky.
49.         To remove the coffee stain in the cup, fill it with any kind of soda for 3 hours!
50.         If you drop an egg on the floor, cover it with salt and leave it for a couple of minutes. Cleaning the mess will be easy with a paper towel!
51.         Store tomatoes with stems pointed down and they will stay fresher, longer!
52.         If you happen to bite a chili in your food take a sip of cold milk to sustain the heat!
53.         Never keep greens in plastics, it will rot quickly!
54.         To avoid refrigerator stinking throw a piece of lemon!
55.         When boiling vegetables, cook them whole and then cut them into pieces. This reduces the loss of proteins and soluble carbohydrates!
56.         To keep lemon fresh put them in water and store in refrigerator.
57.         While frying onions add salt to it so that it will be cooked very fast!
58.         To Peel Garlic, fry on hot pan for few seconds peel will come out very easily!
59.         Before beating eggs, rinse the container with water. The mixture will not stick to the sides of the vessel.
60.         To peel the almonds easily, keep them covered in boiling hot water for five minutes!
61.         Rub a little oil on the rim of the container, the milk won’t overspill while boiling!
62.         To avoid rice sticking, add a tsp of oil and a tsp of lemon juice while cooking!
63.         To avoid milk sticking to bottom of utensils while boiling, add sugar into it!
64.         To store chili powder longer, keep a piece of asafoetida in the same container!
65.         To get rid of the burn smell, when you have burned your dal or vegetables, immediately transfer the dal or vegetables to another (uncovered) dish and place that dish over a pot of cold water.
66.         Make sure not to reuse oil to avoid any mixing of flavors. Oil absorbs the flavor of whatever you are cooking. This is especially true if you frying foods using gram flour or spices.
67.         Use a skimmer when you are frying as the holes that help in draining excess oil.
68.         To boil up to six cups of milk, use a glass or corning dish and microwave. This will prevent the milk from boiling over and burning from the bottom.
69.         When cutting vegetables to cook, make sure to cut them in equal and bite sized pieces. This allows for the vegetables to be flavored and cooked evenly.
70.         Rub the surface of a chopping board with a halved lemon to get rid of onion, garlic or fish smell. It works for the hands too. Or Rub it with a paste of baking soda and water.
71.         When using curds in gravy, add salt only after curd is cooked so that it does not curdle.
72.         One teaspoon of vinegar added to oil while deep frying foods will prevent them from absorbing too much oil.
73.         For crispy French fries, cut and deep-fry (half done). Cool and then store covered in freezer for 5-6 hours. Fry in hot oil at the time of service.
74.         Clean your grater- Cleaning your grater after shredding cheese? Try grating a raw potato after the cheese. The potato clears the gummy cheese out of the holes.
75.         Free flowing salt- Add a few rice grains in the salt shaker to prevent it from becoming lumpy in humid climate.
                Compiled by Pawan Soni

Food Critic and a Marketing Wizz who had a high profile career with leading MNC’s like HSBC, GE Capital etc, Pawan Soni comes across as a quintessential corporate employee. He left behind his successful career as the Vice President of a MNC... all for his love for food. He a WSET Level II wine connoisseur and a foodie who loves to eat anything under the sun. Besides being a food and travel writer for various food forums and magazines, he is the Founder and CEO of Indian Food Freak. As one of the initial bloggers who started his blog almost a decade ago, his website is currently one of the biggest food and travel blogs in. Pawan also conducts highly successful restaurant awards and recently concluded the fifth edition of The Big F restaurant awards. Apart from that he has recently launched a gourmet app that gets its members huge benefits in participating restaurants and hotels besides giving those venues a huge traction.

  1. Great tips .manythanks….two off the top of my head. If red wine spilt. Just liberally cover with salt and leave over night…comes off easily and no stains remain!
    For bread crumbs cut the crust off a slice of bread .break into pieces and whizz in a blender…wonderful crumbs!