Fast, effortless and almost oil free healthy food is what makes Microwave, an essential appliance in every household. Did you buy microwave because your neighbor bought it, to display it on the Kitchen top and serve yummy snacks after reheating, telling the benefits of the microwave? Would you spend so much just to reheat? Think again, be smart and use the microwave, for something better.
Since its inception, the microwave has started gaining the popularity because it was best to reheat and defrost the frozen meat and leftover food within seconds. Thanks to Percy Spencer who invented this appliance which found a space in 90% of American Kitchens. Initially, it was considered unfit for traditional and conventional Indian cooking but it has slowly entered the Indian Kitchen too as the woman of the house has started spreading her wings outside the kitchen. So is it the symbol of liberation? Maybe – but it is definitely a symbol fast and effortless cooking where the home chefs do not have to stand in front of the microwave waiting for the pressure cooker to whistle and worry about stirring every now and then just to make sure that they are not going to serve the burnt food today.
“Just like cooking in a conventional way is an art, cooking in the microwave is also a knack which one has to master” – Says Mamta Dosi Jain who has been teaching about microwave cooking across India. She has conducted more than 200+ workshops and has taught approx. 4000 home chefs about easy, healthy and effortless cooking which can be done in the microwave.
Reheating and defrosting is still the biggest advantage of this humble appliance but Team Platter share wanted to explore it beyond this and thus enquired about it from well-known Microwave guru – Mamta Dosi Jain herself.
Picture: Mamta Dosi, in her Microwave cooking workshop, attending homechefs
- What is Microwave and how does it work?
High-frequency short length waves – Arrr, Let’s talk in foodies language, Microwaves are similar to (Not exactly) like TV and radio waves. When these waves spread inside the microwave appliance, they move the water content vigorously (every food has water content – food from plants have more water content as compared to food from animals) which heats up the water part and the same heat is transferred to rest of the food. Similar to the way when we rub our hands which cause friction and thus generates heat. The time taken to cook or heat the food in the microwave is almost 1/3 the time was taken to cook via the conventional method as the heating happens fast. It doesn’t waste energy in heating the container and so it more energy efficient. Also the nutrients epically Vitamin C and B which easily gets lost if you boil or cook remains intact in the microwave.
- How can one “Master Microwave Cooking”?
Microwave cooking is an art and you need to learn it which will come with practice over a period of time just like your conventional cooking. We have been seeing our mothers and grandmothers cooking since ages but when it comes to Microwave cooking we want to do things in one go and feel frustrated when it doesn’t give the same result as the conventional cooking and go back to the old method whereas if we show some patience then we can become pro and enjoy the effortless cooking which microwave can offer.
- Can everything be cooked in Microwave?
Not everything which is cooked in Microwave will give the same results. Again the simple rule, every cooking technique has its own charm and benefit so if we cook food using that method we get best results e.g. if we want to barbecue Chicken then the traditional charcoal method is the best but it takes a lot of time whereas Microwave can give similar if not the same results. Hence deep fried foods and food which needs extra browning like meat would not do well as in conventional oven (but nowadays Microwave have all the options of Conventional and grilling which can be used).
Initially, it was considered unfit for Indian cooking but it’s proved now that most of the Indian dishes can be prepared in the microwave and also with less or almost no oil.
- What one should remember while cooking in the microwave?
Cooking Time: This is the most important factor when we cook in the microwave, how much time each dish is going to cook? Well, it depends on various factors and property of the food itself.
- Quantity of food: if you are cooking for 4 people, which means the quantity of food is more, then it is going to take longer time as compared to when you are making it for 2 people. If the recipe book gives the timing for 2 people then the cooking time should be approximately increased to 1.5 times the time mentioned in the book and not just double. Keep checking the dish for doneness after this time and increase if required, that is why patience is the key for microwave cooking also.
- Density and size of the food: Thicker and bigger pieces take more time to cook as compared to thin and small pieces. Small cubes of potato would cook faster as compared to big cubes so it is advisable to put small cubes while preparing curries until unless it is necessary to keep the whole or big cubes like Dum aloo. It is also advisable to cut all the veggies/meat pieces going in the dish of equal size as it would give uniformity and evenly heating and hence fast cooking.
- Water content of the food: The food which has more water content like lady’s fingers will take lesser time to cook as compared to Daals /Lentils which do not have natural water content and water has to be added to it to make it. Meat takes longer time as compared to vegetables and fruits.
- Initial temperature: Frozen items would take more time to cook as compared to food which is already at room temperature so it’s good to defrost or thaw the frozen food and bring it to room temperature before cooking.
- Arrangement of food – It is advisable to put bigger pieces at the outer part of the container and smaller at the inner part in the centre as a microwave would heat the outer pieces first and then the inner pieces get cooked by transferring if the heat. Always consider the standing time for any recipe which is nothing but time when a microwave is not on and yet the standing food is getting cooked.
Pots and Pans:- Just like you have specific pots and pans for conventional cooking, baking, and induction stove, you need to invest in proper pots and pan for the microwave too.
- Always buy pots and pan which have label “microwave safe”.
- Plastic – however good would wear out after several usages hence it is advisable to replace once you see the coating coming out of it.
- Aluminium pots, metal container, steel cookware, Chinaware with metal rims, Recycled papers or cups, non-microwaveable plastic (especially the one which we get for takeaway from the restaurant), Melamine should not be used for cooking. Accidents like spark or fire can occur if these cookwares are used or the chemical from these containers can easily leach into the food when used.
- Chinaware, earthenware, porcelain and pottery, Bone China can be used c only for warming provided it doesn’t have the metal rim.
- Use heavy glass – like Borosil, baking dishes which are easily available in the market.
- Microwave plastic wraps, wax paper, cooking bags, parchment paper, and white microwave-safe paper towels can be used for covering. Plastic wraps should not touch the food otherwise heat of the food can melt it.
- What , safety precautions should be considered while cooking?
While microwave is safe and the outer part of the appliance doesn’t get heated but it is always advisable to take precautions while working with microwave.
- Never cover the ventilation slots with cloth or plastic sheet (we tend to decorate by covering it with a beautiful cloth) which help the heat to come out of the microwave. Doing so may catch fire.
- Foods which have skin like egg yolks or potatoes should be pierced before using otherwise it might explode. As the heat and pressure generated inside doesn’t get a vent to come out.
- Do not bang the Microwave door if the dish is not as per your expectation J. Try again.
- Use of proper pots and pan is a must to avoid any damages, accidents like fire and sparks.
- if you find your microwave damaged in some way don’t experiment and repair on your own, call the expert.
- How should one take care of Microwave?
- Microwave cleaning is a must. While cooking food can spill and due to steam the vents can get blocked, one simple way is to heat ½ cup water in the microwave, steam will help to loosen the stuck food. You can add lemon juice to it to get the smell off.
- Do not use kitchen chemicals/cleaner to clean microwave as the particles of the chemical might react with the microwaves when used next time.
- Are there any handy tips and quick fixes of the microwave which makes our life much easier?
Few other magic of microwave other than cooking which can make your life easy are:
- If your kid wants to eat fruits lying in the Refrigerator, microwave it for 15 seconds.
- While heating Chapati, it is advisable to use the kitchen paper towel or tissue paper and sprinkle some water as the steam will help to soften the chapatti which otherwise might become hard.
- Steam you’re Veggies: microwave helps to steam and veggies and yet retain the color and texture of the vegetable: Check out this Video.
- Dry your herbs: Take fresh mint, coriander, parsley or fenugreek and put it in a glass dish and microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and crush lightly. Store it in air tight container.
- Clean your kitchen sponge: It is difficult to clean the sticky sponge which you use to clean the kitchen top. So put the sponge in a cup with water and microwave it for 2 minutes. Take it out, squeeze, your sponge will be bacteria free ready to use.
Here are few traditional Indian recipes which give excellent results when cooked in Microwave.
- Instant Khaman Dhokla: Here is the quick recipe for Instant Khaman Dhokla which you can make in the microwave when your guests are on the way.
- Baigan ka bharta: You would love it more as your Kitchen will not get spoiled after roasting the eggplant.
- Kadhi Pakoda: If this traditional recipe was always a challenge but not anymore.
- Orange Cake : Make easy orange cake in the microwave, You don’t have to be a Baker Chef to get this one.
- Gajar ka halwa : No Need to miss “Maa ke Haath Ka Gajar Ka Halwa” anymore as now you dont have to stand and stir for hours to make this delicacy.
So next time don’t just reheat …reuse your microwave for a better cooking and remind that you are ready to cook in a microwave and free yourself from gas cooking for some time.