Before the advent of drive in joints, we were used to food being freshly made, tasty and nutritious. Today, fast food has ruined not just our taste buds and health, but our expectations from meals as well. However, across the globe, there are burgeoning movements that focus on healthier eating and better cooking. One of these, the slow cooking movement, caught our attention this month.
Slow and steady wins the taste race
What is slow cooking?
Well, simply put, it’s the process of letting food be cooked through its own juices and steam, over a long period of time, at lower temperatures.
Slow cooking has been around for years, especially when meat was consumed, as it was an ideal way to make it tender. For vegans and vegetarians, slow cooking is an ideal way to cook not just root crops and lentils, but also truly bring out the flavours of the spices and vegetables.
Historically, Awadhi and Nawabi cuisine has practised a variant of slow cooking known as dum pukht, where the ingredients are sealed in an earthen pot and left to cook through their own steam. In the US, the Crock Pot, a slow cooker, was introduced and marketed to working women as an easy, healthy way to feed their families at night.
How is a pressure cooker different?
A pressure cooker cooks ingredients fast, using the heat inside a sealed space to cook ingredients at high temperatures. In India, pressure cookers are preferred due to their efficacy in cooking root veggies or lentils as well as their fuel efficiency. A pressure cooker, with a different lid, can also be used as a slow cooker.
Both have their uses, but given that we’re all trying to balance our traditional diets with modern dishes, both have their place in the kitchen.
What can you make via slow cooking? Stews, soups, boiled dinners, rice dishes, curries – the range is limited to your imagination. Food in slow cooking is cooked with the least amount of oil, thereby being less fatty.
Water aids the cooking process – ideally, the amount of liquid should be just about enough to cover the food, especially if rice is involved.
It’s almost impossible to burn food through this method, which is great for those with busy schedules. You can also assemble ingredients in the pot the night before and just turn it on in the morning before you leave for work. Leaving the lid on helps food cook better and ensure lessens the amount of nutrient loss, especially when compared to normal cooking processes.
I Say Organic tips:
- Soak lentils and raw beans overnight for better and safer cooking
- Try not to remove the lid; this hampers the process and allows evaporation