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Kitchen troubleshooting: How to salvage cooking disasters


Cooking - Nicole AbaldeOne of the easiest ways to prevent imbalance in flavours is to taste every time you stir in an ingredient. Source: Nicole Abalde

Despite making a dish several times, kitchen disasters are unavoidable sometimes. You may add a touch too much salt, or read the instructions wrong and add a tablespoon of chili powder instead of a teaspoon. However, the kitchen is a wonderful place and more often than not, you will find you have just the ingredient to salvage a dish and prevent wastage. Here’s a look at some of the most common cooking mistakes and how to overcome them:

One of the most common things that can go wrong with a meal is oversalting. Readjusting the proportions is the easiest way to fix this, which is also why you should always taste food after adding an ingredient. For a soup or gravy-based dish, add some fresh, unsalted broth after you’ve poured out some of the soup or gravy. Adding a bit of vinegar or sugar also helps bring down the saltiness.

Curry - Colin CharlesAdd some wheat-flour and water mixture to thicken runny gravies. Source: Colin Charles/Flickr

Tomatoes and onions are vegetables that tend to sweat a lot and can make your gravy or curry really watery. An easy way to achieve a sauce-like consistency is to add some whole wheat flour. Simply take an adequate proportion of whole wheat flour – usually two to three tablespoons of flour for a pot of curry – add water, mix well to make a smooth slurry-like paste without any lumps. Add to the curry and stir well.

chili - Sage TyrtleToo much chilli? Keep some buttermilk handy to add to the dish to balance the heat. Source: Sage Tyrtle/Flickr

If you have added too much chilli to a dish, you have dairy products to the rescue. Curd, buttermilk, yoghurt and sour cream bind with the heat-giving capsaicin molecules in chillis and bring down the heat. Stir in a few spoonfuls of curd if your curries or dals have become a tad too spicy.

Too much oil floating on top of your soup or gravy? Stir in some ice cubes for a quick-fix. The oil will stick to the ice cubes and you can quickly scoop them out. Just make sure to remove the ice cubes before they begin to melt.

If you’re making bhajias at home but can’t seem to get them crunchy, use coarse gram flour or besan. If the besan is too fine, separate the batter into batches and add in a bit of rawa while using each batch. The rawa provides roughage and will help make the bhajias crisp.

scrambled egg - KatieTake eggs off the heat once they’re slightly runny, to get perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs. Source: Katie/Flickr

Scrambled eggs always turn out rubbery and dry? Stop mixing the eggs first. Add some oil to the pan, crack the eggs in and cook on medium heat, use a wooden spoon to stir. Remove from heat and continue stirring to break the egg. Return pan to gas and cook until eggs are almost done. Remove from heat immediately to stop the cooking process as the heat retained will cook the eggs just fine.

If your tomato soup is too sour, add some milk and cook for a couple of minutes. The milk will not only balance out the flavours but also add a rich, creamy consistency.