12 food hacks that you must know about

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Every recipe has some ingredients that it just can’t do without, and when you run out of those– kitchen hell breaks loose! For such times - these little hacks, a simple understanding of flavours, a dash of this and a hint of that - is what really works. We tell you about 12 such brilliant ideas or food substitutes that’ll  save your day in the kitchen!

Baking powder – If you ever fall short of baking powder and still want a beautiful, light cake or cookie mix ½ a spoon of baking soda with ½ a teaspoon of corn starch for each spoon of baking powder that the recipe calls for.

Breadcrumbs – If you don’t have breadcrumbs on you just take a couple of slices of bread, toast them and then whizz in a food processor. You can even use crumbled biscuits or rusk instead of breadcrumbs. 

Lemongrass – Lemongrass contributes to much of the flavour in fragrant Thai curries and stir fries. If you can’t get your hands on it, use a combination of lemon rind and chai patti – yes fresh tea leaves. Both these flavours together are pretty close to the original.

Self-Raising Flour – There is no need to flip the page when you come across this ingredient in baking recipe because self-raising flour is nothing but refined flour with a little baking powder and salt mixed in it. You know what you need to do now.

Lemon Juice – There are several things you can do when life gives you lemons, but when it doesn’t use vinegar instead! You can also add in a spoon full of white wine.

Fresh and Dry – This is one of the most common queries we receive. Fresh and dry ingredients can easily be substituted for one and other. The thumb rule in the ratio for fresh: dry ingredients are 1:2. Since the flavour and aroma of dried herbs and spices or even yeast is more concentrated compared to their fresh counterparts.

Refined Flour – Refined flour is a really common ingredient in most kitchens these days. If you ever run out of it you can substitute it with whole wheat flour and corn flour. Almond and other nut flours are great to use in baking because of the beautiful nutty flavour they provides.

All Spice – You might have come across this name in many recipes, sauces and even spice mixes, but it’s not something you find stocked up in Indian kitchens. Mix equal quantities of cinnamon and clove powder along with a pinch of nutmeg powder to make this fragrant spice.

Cream Cheese – Cream cheese has a beautiful velvety texture and a rather high price tag attached to it. A simpler cheaper substitute is to use some good quality hung curd. Add in a few spoons of pureed cottage cheese and thick cream to get a homemade version of cream cheese.

Worcestershire sauce – This sauce is delicious to eat, but you are better off not trying to make the original at home. Instead mix 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice or tamarind paste a hint of sugar and a dash of hot sauce or tobasco to get that fab Worcestershire flavour in your food.

Fish Sauce – The intense flavour and aroma of fish sauce or really hard to replicate, but the closest you can get is by mixing a dash of Worcestershire sauce with some light soy and a pinch of salt.

Saffron – It is really hard to duplicate the fabulous flavour and colour of saffron. If you just need the colour and can make do without the aroma, then add in just a hint of turmeric powder.  Comes pretty close to the saffron hue – poor man’s saffron!

Liquid Glucose – It is a liquid sweetener which is often used to make candies and in cake icings. Available on in select supermarkets, liquid glucose can be substituted with corn syrup which is much easier to find. 

Gelatin – It helps set the dish you are preparing and gives it a beautiful jelly like consistency, but if you are vegetarian, gelatin is best avoided. Use agar agar instead, it’s vegetarian and easily available too. You can also use corn starch, but it won’t give you the same effect.

Rice – Rice isn’t something you really run out of, but there are several things you can eat instead of rice – for health reasons and also to have more fun meals. Use grains like quinoa, couscous, cornmeal or even finely chopped cauliflower instead of boring rice!

These simple hacks prove that when you really love cooking you always will find a way out! Read more such fun food info on SanjeevKapoor.com

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.