Many people think that the secret of making delicious dishes is the recipe, but it is the cooking method that makes the difference. If you have read a section of the Harry Potter books where they are describing how to prepare potion, that is how you do it. To fry a delicious dish, cooking is chemistry as well – the art of combining in the correct order and listening keenly.
The steps of adding the ingredients at the correct flame, the right time, & temperature at the right level, do not under or overcooking, etc., this what is most important.
The recipe will only name the quantity and the ingredients. Cook them improperly or Mix them up in the wrong sequence, that same dish will be unpalatable. For example, cooking mustard seeds in Indian, are often used, but mustard seeds are first added to hot oil & the mustard seed must not burn it should just crackle. Ginger and garlic must be fried until the rawness smell goes away.
Then we have personal preferences. A common feature that you will find in many people is that they use and treat turmeric as a coloring agent and not as a slice. Yes, its colors, and I sometimes add turmeric immediately to the lightly browned fried onion and not much later in the cooking. This will make the smell and taste of raw turmeric go away while you retain the color.
The most important element to getting the most delicious dishes is the freshness of the ingredients – no alternative. Poultry, meat, fish, paneer, eggs, veggies or whatever is your favorite. Do you need to make Garam masala? Prepare your own – so just roast the spices lightly & pound them (mixing is allowed but a mortar and pestle gives the best flavors)
Timing is key, if your recipe says “fry until the oil separates” then fry until you can see transparent oil at the edges – do not try to hurry. There must be a good reason: it removes the raw smells usually, & importantly it caramelizes the sugars from the dish – which gives it an appetizing color.
Choose the Right Oil
Groundnut or Peanut, rapeseed, and olive are all good. Just use oils which are pressed and not chemically extracted. They are usually neutral in flavor & will not overpower your food.
Fry Your Dishes in Small Batches
If you crowd the pan or fryer you risk lowering temperatures of the oil to less effective levels. If you cook below 212°C, food starts taking in oil fast & becomes greasy and unhealthy to eat. Below 266°C, the dish will brown at a slow rate, so by the time the coating has browned the dish will have to overcook.
Drain the Dish Well
Immediately the dish is removed from the pan or the fryer, then pour it on an absorbent kitchen paper to do away with any unwanted oil that just makes it feel greasy.
After Frying Season Food Quickly
Add salt or/and vinegar/ lemon as soon as you take it out of the pan or frying basket. Salt creates an even coating and sticks to the thin film of oil on the surface, while vinegar/ lemon is quickly absorbed into the coating so that it keeps the crisp texture.
Follow the Script
Never alter the steps and sequence in a recipe, at least until you have a personal experience of the wherefores’ and why’s. Never substitute or skip ingredients – unless you understand the effect on the food
Do not add all the salt when you are just beginning. Add the salt gradually, with little at the start then taste & adjust when nearing the end of your cooking. By doing this you also prevent the dish from being too salty or just bland.
Keep on tasting as you go along with your cooking. This gives you ample time and warning to make corrections needed.
When you are short of time, pressure cooking is perfectly fine. But cooking slow and low works magic in developing the best flavors every time.
Never approach cooking as a chore. Once you have that feeling, then forget about preparing a tasty dish. If you do not have your heart into cooking sometimes, just stop – go out and eat, or better still, go for take-away! That is just a call away.
I will tell you for a fact, food always tastes good when the tongue is confused- is it hot as in chilly, spicy, does it taste sweet & sour tinge tandemly, etc. The taste buds tend to like fats, but you must understand that too many fats are detrimental to your health also.
If you are looking to cook tasty dishes, then learn to enjoy and love cooking. Put your love in whatever you are cooking as the main ingredient. Be prepared to innovate and experiment. There are many learning platforms such as blogs, channels, websites where you can find good recipes that you can try out & follow. If your food is not up to the mark when you try the first time, do not give up. Practice & trying again until you get it right. Give a keen eye to the temperature, measurements, & other small details when cooking.