Years ago, I fell in love with the microwave. Or rather, the idea of a machine that can cook in a jiffy. Or a cooking contraption that has a light bulb inside to easily display what's going on inside- unlike an OTG.
Lots of people lamented that they use their microwave only for re-heating. And yet others warned that Microwave cooking is actually harmful for the health.
Microwave was on top priority in my purchase list post marriage and the love affair has started since then.
The first few months I experimented rapidly- I baked cakes, I made carrot halwa, pasta, veggies, chicken, rice, masala peanuts. I experimented with browning, used various modes- convection, grill, micro.
Along with my microwave, I had got a Sanjeev Kapoor cook book and a free cooking class from not Sanjeev Kapoor. This lady went about saying - actually, it is trial and error everytime someone would ask a question on cooking methodology.
Well, I smirked at her and went about doing exactly what she said- Trial and not so many Errors before coming up with my own set of cheat rules for microwave cooking.
- Focus on Positives
The main advantage of microwaving is time saving and the main disadvantage is no browning. So I use this simple rule to decide my cooking mode- When time saving is required- like a caramel pudding that takes a looooong time to get baked in convection mode- I go for a 6 minute microwaving- quick and easy.
Whereas when browning is needed- I go for grill mode after a quick micro mode to "cook" the stuff fast.
- Never Ignore the Experts
I swear by the Sanjeev Kapoor cookbook as it is written for the users of my microwave brand. Whenever I am confused by what power or which mode or how much time, I refer the book and replicate the specifics and make adjustments according to the item I am cooking.
- Compare and Contrast
If it takes as much or more time to cook a particular dish in the microwave as compared to doing on the gas, I don't bother to microwave. Like daals, rajma/ chana/ chole family or rice.
Want to have the best of both worlds? The deep rich taste of kadahi masala and the baked notes of the oven- quickly fry the spices / onions in the kadahi and bung the rest of the ingredients with the fried masala into the micro- I often do that with my pasta when I want a combo of fried veggie taste and baked cheese.
- Non Veg
Yes- it cooks as well, sometimes even better in the microwave- I blindly trust the preset "roast chicken" mode for fish, chicken or mutton (keema is what I have tried).
- Cutting Down number of Steps
I really do not like cooking anything that requires too many stages and steps. Therefore the first thing I do when I look at a recipe is to cut down the steps required. Which is what I do when I look at the microwave recipes too. If the steps involved are taking too many dishes or pre cooking various ingredients in separate steps, I rather go for cooking on the gas and vice versa.
I have discovered a carrot halwa is easier to do in the microwave whereas a kheer is easier on the gas. But again, that's my own perception.
- Want a brown note?
Last evening I was making fish curry. I had two options- to deep fry and dip in the curry or just stew- Stew would be heathy but bland and deep fried would be very very delicious. I choose the best of both worlds- Ground all the usual ingredients, mixed them well with the fish, added a little oil and put the dish in my favourite chicken roast mode. The spices and the fish browned and gave me a pseudo fried feel without the overt oily sensation that lingers after eating fried fish - so healthy & tasty!
So who says Microwave is only good for heating?