Microwave Cooking Tips

  • Even cooking
    • For cut vegetables make sure pieces are of equal size for equal cooking.
    • If you are cooking an assortment of vegetables, arrange large or tougher vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli etc.) toward the outside of the plate and small or tender ones (peas, mushrooms, capsicum etc.) in the center so they finish cooking at the same time.
    • Never pile food one on top of the other. In a microwave food always cooks evenly when spaced apart.
    • Turning is necessary to ensure even distribution of microwaves through the food. Especially food such as large potatoes and cauliflower need to be turned over during cooking.
    • Round dishes give more even cooking results than squares or rectangles.
    • Ring shaped dishes are infact the best for cooking foods which cannot be stirred during microwave cooking. Improvise a ring shaped bowl by placing a small round bowl in the center of a large round dish.
    • An omelet is best cooked at 50% (medium). If cooked at 100% (high) the edges may be done before the center and become leathery by the time the whole omelet is done.
  • Standing time
    • Food continues to cook when removed from the microwave cooker, by the heat generated within it. So always take into account standing time. Large or dense vegetables and fruit need standing time rather than more microwave time.
    • If the food has been cooked with a cover leave it covered for the standing time. If it was cooked uncovered add a loose covering of foil to retain the heat.
  • Covering
    • A cover holds in the steam to tenderize the food, keep it moist and shorten cooking time.
    • A tight cover is ideal for foods that have little or no added water, like when steaming vegetables. Use a dish with a tight lid or cover with cling film.
    • For foods cooked in liquid, or which create a great deal of juice, make a gap in the cling film cover by rolling back one edge. This allows excess moisture to escape. Or use special microwave lids, which have slits in them.
    • Cover the dish with tissue paper while preparing “temper” or frying seeds like cumin, mustard etc. The tissue paper retains the seeds while allowing the moisture to escape.
    • While reheating patties, kachori or mathri, place absorbent kitchen paper underneath to prevent them from turning soggy. Absorbent paper stops fat splattering and absorbs excess moisture.
    • Not all cling films are micro-safe. If you are going to use cling film in the microwave be sure that it is marked as micro-safe.
  • Dos & Don’ts
    • Use a fork to pierce or prick whole vegetables, like potatoes and squash, which are cooked in their skins to allow excess steam to escape. If this is not done steam will build up inside, causing the skin to burst.
    • Avoid using alcohol in puddings, which have to be microcooked, since it may catch fire.
    • Season vegetables with salt after cooking them in microwave. Salting before hand could leave brown spots.
    • You cannot fry in the microwave, as cooking fat in large quantities is dangerous.
    • When cooking rice in the microwave don’t add all the water at one go, as it will boil over.
    • Milk based foods tend to boil over so use a larger and deeper container.
    • Keep half a glass of water next to the dish while cooking too small a quantity of food.
    • Increase microwave time in the same ratio as the amount of food to be cooked.
    • Always start off with the shortest cooking time listed in the recipe, this way vegetables will not be overcooked. You can always cook it for some more time if required.
  • Micro benefits
    • Melting chocolate in a microwave is so simple-it does away with the need for a double boiler. Microwave it at 50% (medium) for 2 ½ minutes.
    • Warming oranges for 1-2 minutes produces more juice when squeezed.
    • Microwave is very useful for steaming green leafy vegetables like spinach.
    • Clarify butter by heating cream (approx. 250 gm) on Micro 60 for 16 minutes.
    • Increase shelf life of Sooji, Dalia, Idli rawa and other nuts and pulses by microwaving them on Micro high for 2-3 minutes (approx. 500 gm) This helps remove the moisture from these food items thus increasing their shelf life, especially in damp weather conditions.
    • It is much easier to make sauces for Continental food in the Microwave, doing away with the endless stirring. Remember to cook the sauces on medium or medium low.
    • To effortlessly remove a coconut from its shell, heat it on Micro high for 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Blanch almonds by microwaving them with water for 3 minutes.
    • ‘Boil’ potatoes in a jiffy. Microwave them in a polythene bag. For 4 potatoes microwave for 5 minutes.
    • Sterilize jars for storing homemade jams and pickles.
    • ‘Cook’ your dishcloth in the microwave oven for 60 seconds to eliminate disease-causing microorganisms.
  • To use a conventional recipe in a microwave keep in mind the following points-
    For curries, stews, etc.

    • Use less water as there is less evaporation in the microwave.
    • Start with 2/3rd of the water given in the conventional recipe, than add more if required.
    • Cook on Micro High for about 5 minutes to bring to a boil and then simmer on lower power.
      For steaming
    • Remember to cover
    • Don’t cover
    • Remember there will be no browning, so to get a better look try using cocoa in the recipe.
    • Don’t beat too much otherwise the cake will collapse in the microwave.
    • Infact a cake in the microwave rises higher than in a conventional oven.
    • Add an extra 2 tbsp (approx.) of milk as the batter should be thinner than the ordinary batter. It should be of a pouring consistency.
    • Use powdered sugar otherwise the sugar will burn.
    • Use round dishes.
    • Fill dishes only half.
    • Cakes require standing time.
    • Microwave cakes taste best if eaten after a few hours.

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