Cool Hacks for Indian Cooking

Mark Twain has said, “Part of secret of success in life is to eat what you like.” This cannot be more true, and food lovers or caterers will attest to it. Serving hot, scrumptious hygienic food is what makes up for happy and satisfied customers at any restaurant. Food culture is prevalent in corporate events, festivals etc. But, before relishing that delicious food or cuisine, most of the effort goes in preparing them. And if you have some cooking tips in handy, this whole scenario changes in a matter of minutes replenishing your taste buds.

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  • Salt sprinkling on Greens: Sprinkle some salt on green leafy vegetables, thus enhancing the veggies and keeping the nutrients intact even after you have chopped them finely.

  • Salt correction in curries: Most of the times, we add some salt to taste for the vegetables. But, sometimes although, the measurement differs and ruins the whole curry. Fear not, because you can simply add raw cut potato. Potato sucks in the excess salt and makes your curry back to tasty.

  • Color me right: Most Indian dishes look delicious and inviting because of its color. But what happens when you seem to have messed up the main highlight of your dish? These are 3 ingredients that will add the lost color to your dishes.

  • Add finely chopped coriander or simply and well ground coriander for GREEN.Half Boiled beet will bring back the orange / red tint to your stews.

  • Curd or cream will take away the extra hotness and restore a lighter color. Thus, even if your dish isn’t that hot but looks too dark, just add some curd to make it look right.

  • Make soft chapatis by adding warm water and some milk to the dough while kneading.
    If you want a certain consistency to your curry and it seems to be skimmed, add a spoonful of wheat flour and mix it up. This will instantly give you the desired consistency to the curry.

  • Apply a dash or oil before chopping ladies fingers or small gourds, so the sticky juices don’t stain your hands or chopping board.

  • Pureed Tomato can act as a worthy substitute if you run out of tomatoes at the 11th hour.

  • Peel off the skin of ginger, this will add to the taste wherein you prefer to add the hot gingery taste in your food.

  • Hold the nugget or stuffing that needs to be fried with long tongs for 5-6 mins over a hot pan of oil before deeply frying it. This will seal the exteriors and the stuffing with fried from the inside wholly.

  • Reheating leftover gravy or curry gets tedious on the next morning. This tip will save you from this frustrating scenario. Just pour the leftover gravy into ice trays, and reheat the next morning without any hassle.

  • When making masala, do not add iodized salt. Instead, add coarse sea salt, this will make your masalas even and finely ground to all ingredients.


O’Zara- The Taste of Health

Food is all about its intake and what it gives to the body. Apart from sufficing the hunger, food, needs to add the necessary energy needed for a healthy body. Eating anything or anyway is definitely not the way to achieve it. So, when a caterer tells that they bring out the best healthy lunch and dinner and packed with nutrition, most certainly, it means you have to pay extra bucks. Some minor studies show the statistics for healthy and nutritional foods to be greater than what we intend to actually pay. The competition of the cost for diners, restaurateur and food joints has always hampered our daily budget unintendedly. I, personally, find it very frustrating when I am on a tight budget, and only healthy food I can have is processed and packaged food (which I do not like at all). Moreover, I hardly doubt that it’d be healthy at all.

Therefore, while again I was on a budget (Month end does come every now and then), I started exploring my budget friendly healthy food options. When the scorching heat of sun tires you, having a cold soothing sherbet or cold coffee is all what you want. But, if you calculate your daily limit, it certainly doesn’t add up in your food regime. Because, first you would have to set aside your food money and add this extra expense in the same. Instead, I however, have a better option to it. Have a lunch or dinner, wherein this tall cold glass is included in your diet. It will suffice your hot day, your hunger pang and keep you on the budget leash without extra trouble. My Personal recommendation for this food choice, is the mini lunch at O’Zara. Commuting daily to work with absolutely nothing much of choice in the industrial zone of Chakan, my daily pitstop for a quick bite and refreshing drink is O’Zara. The mini lunch serves a refreshing glass of buttermilk, or the seasonal sherbet, depending on the day’s climate and a nutritional combo to go with it. So, there you have a budget food nutri choice all in one package.

If someday, however, you don’t feel like the cold glass or a nutritional food, you can skip the health regime and serve yourself with some proper Indian Junk food. But, even so, nothing will be too much harmful at all. The special kothimbirwadi or maaswadi in fact is a great way to restore your body fibers which in other circumstances we avoid anyhow. And if you are in no mood for junk food, or health food, the daily balanced diet of roti, sabzi, daal rice is what keeps these caterers going for better taste, better health and better finger licks in all places. All these are just better ways and means to avoid an impulse of lazy food thus paying double bucks to the doctors later. So, if you are on a budget, does not mean you need to eat whatever is put in front of you, how much ever unhealthy you might think it to be. Where there is a budget, there always will be a good choice for healthy and nutritious food.

What you eat should be the best

Travel dairies are loaded with self- describing journeys, the over helpful natives and how everyone needs a break from the real life every now and then. But, the worst nightmare that happens to turn true is the bland, tasteless and over cooked food sometimes you get during your travel. Oh No No! I am not at all talking about the food that you get in different parts once you reach your travel destinations; I am actually speaking about the part where you are actually travelling to reach the place. Street foods and travel snacks earlier used to be a fun part of it. But, now when you tell any one of these times, they quite wonder is this an ancient fable or the fantasy that I keep referring to. Although not so much keen about today’s street food, I do know certain industrial caterers that help me out for my travel dilemma in such times. Honestly, we like to call them as our magic beans and unlike others we never worry for this particular facet in travelling.

So back to the travel story; the travel wasn’t supposed to be a leisure trip but an industrial tour clubbed with some relaxation. And certainly, who doesn’t mix business with some pleasure. Recently, Pune as people talk has changed everyone’s perspective of the good time; from happening lifestyle to the workaholics of the Industrial spectrum, Pune has literally nailed its diversity. Here we were, boasting about Pune adding our food habits to the list of Pune Pride.

While we started with the travel, I realized my friend had packed some of the favorite foods from our usual caterer. Another friend that brought the usual packed foods from distant food arenas. Obviously, we chose the earlier as they were fresher, more hygienic and tastier. Being a regular diner at Adhik Resorts we always relied for travel foods to them. The freshness, the flavor and the feeling of home food is what makes us go back to them again and again. We quite do not understand the fuss that has been trending with the packaged foods or organic foods and the claims that these companies keep doing. Anytime, I would rather choose the freshly made food packed with nutrition, and hygiene. Navigating through the big bagpack of the food, I opened up my share and there it was my favorite dish of Maasvadi and the ever refreshing solkadi(one of their specials). Taking a small bit of it, I really wonder how they can manage to feed almost whole of the chakan industrial area with such a universal taste delivered to everyone. I sure appreciate their uniqueness in their work. So, when you are tired of packaged foods or wish to try the freshly made food, for a change experiment with the industrial caterer who also happens to be the best diner of Chakan industrial area.

Why so Diet

Of all the things we ought to follow from celebrity, we never just follow their diet plan or the exercise regime. We like to dress like them, style like them, shop like them but when it comes to fulfil the healthy routine its absurdly tedious. That’s because, whatever we read or see is only the half part of it. With the current trend of health consciousness and strict work outs, achieving the enjoyable and hermit able life isn’t that tough.

As much the salads might look bland and plain, ironically, they can taste equally good if you choose to. The secret lies in the dressings or as we Indians call it the chatni. What is actually a salad? It’s either a raita for North Indians, Koshimbir for Maharashtrians and South Indians call it Palya. But ultimately it acts as a cold refreshing nutrition anyways. The cold refreshments offered by Indians, or the salads that taste delicious rawness and the dried chatnis are a way for changing a healthy food lifestyle. Most of the industrial caterers have opted for compulsorily providing some sort of salad in their daily diet. Of the health consciousness, the salads do have a native touch of the cook who prepares it.

And now you must be feeling that I am drifting off from what this article is totally about. This article is not just about health consciousness, or nutrition or bland salads. Its about the food culture that prevails in whole of India and the hint of native touch it adds to the dish that familiarises different regions. For eg: When you travel south, use of coconut and jaggery is utmost in everything. So how will salads will be an exception to it. All the salads have a staple dressing of coconut oil or coconut milk in it. Pr0obably that’s the reason why the caterers from south have an infamous attitude for ruining the continental salads. But as they mark in continentals, they literally ace when it comes to any dressing, any chatni of the native herbs.

Coconut is highly rich in iron and essential vitamins. Therefore, having salads can not only benefit you weight management routine but is a perfect intake for good hair and good skin. So, achieving a celebrity look with green salads is a win-win for everything. Until recently people were unaware about yet another tasteful Smoothie. Although, not so much of an indian origin, however, smoothies have gained momentum in healthy food lists. So, if you are not a salad person, you definitely can try different health drinks or smoothies. Every single day breakfast or muesli or pancakes can be overwhelming because of the calorie consciousness. But, smoothie or health drinks are a rescue and Holy Grail for weight conscious people. While I was travelling with the locals, I saw that almost everyday consumption of coconut water has benefitted them with shining skin and healthy body. So adding the fresh ripe and slimy coconut into your smoothies will also be of significant importance to your health.

The Different Tastes of Diwali

This October marks yet another overwhelming start of the double trouble festival season. Usually, Diwali is more likely the mid pattern of nearing the year end. So from October, every month is a chance of every new festival that is influentially very significant and calls for a celebration in itself. However, the IT sector or the work pressure does not call for holiday or quits to indulge us with a bit of rest. Which specifically means, the industries are opened up, the caterers are supplying and we are eating just what we usually have. The difference lies only in the market that has lighted up with new merchandise and new spirits.

Amongst the cranked up markets, there are people still owing themselves to the corporate routine who need tiffin every 5 days a week. Amidst this routine, sometimes the caterers surprise you with a big dollop of basundi, or most certainly 3 balls of gulab jamun. And that’s how we know today is something special. Otherwise, festival does not bother us with any more special treatments. In this festive routine, there happens to be a rising hope for more balanced diet and nutritious delicacies with some of the caterers. The equal nutrition given through karanji, chakli, shev and ladoo is what makes the festival more special. Most prominently people end up eating too much of sweet in festive times, or gain weight through overeating. Any which ways calls for a controlling diet in the post festive season. Instead, what if we gave you an option for a low cal festive delicacies. Yes! There happens to be such a thing called low cal festive foods.

Paushtik/ Nutritious Ladoo:

So for starters let’s assume you like Laddoos. Just substitute the boondi/ rava/ besan Ladoo with paushtik Laddo. Paushtik Ladoo are made from different ingredients. There may be multigrain, or multi vitamin laddoos. Whatever you prefer, paushtik laddoo is the most nutritious guilty pleasure you can try this festive season.

Wheat Chakli/ Baked Chakli:

Chakli has been the favourite foods of Diwali. Earlier when the era of cooking prevailed all ladies did an Armstrong job while making chakli. The twirling circular food has made in the top three of Diwali foodstuff since long. But, along with the most wanted snack it has also added up to highest weight gainer snack for everyone. The oily and prickly snack can be your best friend if you alter some of the ingredients. Usually Chakli is made of a specific blend of flours, often called Bhajani. Instead of this blend you can use just the wheat flour and fry them. Or if you don’t like frying, you can bake them in microwave which taste exactly the same minus the extra calories they can put you up.

Diet Chivda:

This might bring the smirky look on you, but, yes, there is something called diet chivda. Although, chivda is just another snack that tastes good and is quick stomach feeling bite but since you are on the weight control regime why not practice it in full swing? So, diet chivda is nothing but a mixture of different crunchy ingredients that can make you feel light and strong even in the most awaited festival of Diwali. Ask your tiffin supplier for it, and you will know that he takes special order for such stuff.

Eating outside everyday is a treat here

Pune; mostly known as the Oxford of the east is a home to many aspiring students. However, in recent years, apart from students many workaholics have also made Pune their living dream. As the IT culture crept in, many people who were in search for professional opportunities have made Pune their work town. As the population has increased, the rise of Tiffin system or industrial catering has also been phenomenal. From being an educational hub to the most influential work place, the city has been on the professional rise since industries added themselves. Depending on the demography and the taste of people from different areas, industrial caterers have provided different options that have indulged people to experiment with food and universal tastes. It’s a known fact that south Indian and North Indian dishes are so much omnipresent that people blindly enter any eatery and you get these two options in food anyhow. But, until recently Maharashtrian food has also entered the competition of making their mark. The factors might be many but the end result is people have adapted themselves to the workplace like their own, they most certainly have selected their food style as well.

To get a clear idea of the current food style in Pune, few trends have come up in focus-

Love for spices

Its a known fact that although Indian food might be universally considered as a blend of many different spices, still regional foods have had their unique styles. No two regional foods will be prepared in similar manner. Just like they say that language changes its course ever 20 kms, so does the cooking style. Even in Maharashtrian food you will find variety of making styles that just adds to the tanginess, crispiness and deliciousness of every dish.

Affordable Options

When it comes to eating outside, everyone nowadays thinks about the pocket value that is going to be discharged. Eating everyday in some restaurant is definitely a big No-No considering the economical options. The use of raw materials used by any smallest restaurant also puts up the person into weird position after a course of time. This has indeed acted on people choosing to eat in dining hall, mess or caterers; All the more reasons for the rise of industrial caterers.

Flow of Hygiene

Most prominent reason why there is a difference in the home cooked food and outside food is the cleanliness. Every family has a mom who has extensive OCD for her kitchen. This very habit has made food healthier the one that is put on the table. But, you definitely cannot expect this loyalty from people you don’t know who are cooking. Caterers know the importance of hygiene and comply with the utmost measures in keeping their inventory clean and healthy.

Keeping up with what customers want

Time and again does it happen that people tend to get bored with the same tastes and same flavours? The key for any caterer is to know what their customers want. Industrial caterers are somewhere lagging behind in this regard. However there are somehow take extra effort in knowing what variety do their customers want and indulge in change of tastes periodically.

From Kitchen to Office desk

There has been a long standing argument of home-cooked meals and the outside eateries’ menu. For people who come far off from their native place, having a decent meal is like an impossible event. Of course, the companies have their pantries and kitchens well-stocked but there is still the missing factor to their foods. So, where to go hunting for home cooked meal or do we simply settle for outside over spicy meals.  The most trending food places that have emerged in recent years are the traditional thali system restaurants. But seldom people know what is it and how does it work. So I have tried to pen down for people like you who yearn for a good meal every once in a while and don’t know where to look for.

What is it?

Anciently known as dining halls but they have taken tastes and Indian culture to different level. You will not get a menu card or a waiter narrating different dishes but you can see what all is it there in today’s serving. People generally relate it with mess or dining halls but here, restaurateurs take extra care for the hospitality and creating the right ambience for their guests.

What more is it?

Other than giving a pleasant experience along with a fulfilling meal, some of the restaurateurs indulge in corporate catering services or industrial tiffin system that enhances their guests even at work place to have their bargain of decent meal at all times. Mostly such places are in the heart of the city but some like Adhik resorts have expanded themselves to chakan industrial estates.

What can you expect?

If you are fan of hygienic meals that will appetize your stomach in just the right amounts of nutrition and tastes, trying your hand on such restaurants can give you a lifetime experience. May it be a family gathering or corporate event, just fill in your guests with the satisfied tummy and a decent ambience to go by.

Does it work like any other restaurant?

Some of the places boast about any other restaurants but don’t get fooled by it. You actually wanted something different, something new so why to compare with other restaurants. In addition, some of these places give you a better experience that any restaurant; its a decent meal blended with the experience of a hotel or a dining hall.

So, lets not judge it by what has it been in the recent past, but, go with the positives of its evolution these industrial caterers who have filled us with hygienic, nutritious and scrumptious meals.