Suffering from cooking burnouts due to pandemic? We feel you…

Cooking now seems like a chore to most of us. But did you know that it can have therapeutic effects? Chef Vikramjit Roy gives us some of his kitchen hacks to make cooking simple and hassle-free. By Makvika Agarwal

Suffering from cooking burnouts due to pandemic? We feel you...
Chef Vikramjit Roy

New Delhi: The lockdown has forced everyone to put on their chef’s hat and enter the kitchen in the absence of servants and cooks, including the millennials who only stepped into the kitchen to be a part of Instagram challenges like dalgona coffee, trending wraps etc. The last one year saw everyone getting dirty in dough. But, it now seems like a monotonous chore to dish out meals without any help. We spoke with one of India’s renowned chefs, Vikramjit Roy, co-founder of A Sirius Hospitality, who has a rhetoric for us: “how much can you cook in your home for a fixed set of people and with the same resources?” He adds, “there is no denying that it can be monotonous and people have become fed up of cooking sans help.”

“The trick is to create a balance of comfort with a little evolution and aspiration. Nutrition and deliciousness are two factors that should rule every kitchen. The food has to be first delicious and the need of the hour is nutrition,” he says while adding that cooking is not all about elaborate dishes and can be made really straightforward with a few hacks and techniques. “Do your prep once in 15 days,” the chef suggests while sharing two hacks that he use in his own kitchen.

Keep stocks and bases (tomato puree) handy

Keep a vegetable, chicken, mutton stock and tomato puree available at all times. Turn it into a soup, gravy or stew whenever you want. Simple, right? “Make a stock and freeze it in small batches. Using stock then becomes as simple as using a masala mix of instant noodles,” the chef says. “Stocks are the easiest way to get tasty food out of. Good stock makes a lot of difference by adding so much flavour, depth and nutrition to the dishes,” he adds.

Spice up your kitchen

The chef suggests to create our own spices out of whole spices for that missing flavour. “Get whole spices and create your own garam masala, jeera powder, bhaja masala etc. Work on the spices that you generally use,” Roy advises. “No packaged masala can ever give you the flavour that your own spices will add to the dishes,” he says and we agree. “Experiment with the permutation and combination of the spices for different flavours each time,” he tells you.

To change the entire flavour profile of the dishes, make your own spices once in every month. Get the kids of the house to help you roast and grind the spices and convert it into a fun activity.

Cooking made simple hacks:

Frozen chopped veggies and marinated chicken: Keep your veg and meat handy by freezing them in small batches. Just take it out of the freezer, defrost it and throw everything into a frying pan for a quick stir fry, fried rice, noodles or pasta.

One pot meal: How does a quick-to-do ramen bowl sound? Who said that a good meal needs to be an elaborate three course spread? Boil extra portions of noodles, pasta, rice and keep them handy in the refrigerator to whip up simple one pot meals.

Hoard jams, peanut butter and spreads for easy breakfast options. Always have eggs, frozen meats, yogurt, and bread stocked up in your refrigerator for simple, yet lavish and tasty breakfast without putting in much effort.

Organised kitchen helps in hassle-free cooking. Make a weekly or fortnightly cooking chart and stick to it. Plan in advance and take out one day in a month to organise your kitchen cabinets to save time in everyday cooking.

Increase oven cooking: Oven have timers. Put in your dish, set a timer and take a power nap while the food gets cooked. No standing and stirring while the dish is baking. Can it be any more simple?

All you have to keep in mind is that cooking can be made effortless if you plan in advance. Try not to think of cooking as a dreary and monotonous task. Involve children for some fun and bonding time because it is rightly said, “nothing brings people together like good food.” Do not complicate cooking and you shall be good to go.

(Malvika Agarwal)