Eight ways to fix cooking mistakes

Cooking is an expression of love and care. Having slaved over the stove, trying to churn out the perfect pasta or the lip-smacking Thai curry, if you find the Thai curry is too sour or the pasta is too salty, it could be soul crushing. If you have been in such situation and felt like tearing your hair out in despair, check out these quick fixes that can save your day.

18 Nov 2016

Food that is too salty or spicy

There are various ways to deal with salty or over spiced food and they are quite similar too. One quick fix while dealing with soups or curries is to add water or unsalted broth or stock and let it come to a boil. This will make a salty dish a bit bland and you can always add spices again to taste.Bulk up salads, stir-fries or pulaos by adding more veggies, rice, noodles or other grains. You may land up with more food than anticipated, but at least you won't have to waste the whole dish!

Dairy or ingredient such as cream, coconut milk, milk or plain curd can work wonders and enhance the taste of the dish. This works especially well with tomato-based dishes.Try to balance out the flavours by either adding acid or sugar. A pinch of sugar or splash of lemon juice or vinegar can cut down the saltiness and spiciness.

The oft-spoken about potato theory is considered one of the best ways to handle an over seasoning crisis. It simply consists of adding a whole raw potato with the skin to a soup or curry to soak up extra salt or spice. The starch released as it cooks also helps dilute the curry. Just remember to remove the potato before you serve the dish!

Food that is too sour

Accidentally put too much vinegar or lemon juice in your soup? Add more stock or water and the remaining ingredients including herbs, vegetables or chicken and spices. This might mean double the quantity of soup, but the flavors will be balanced. Adding a pinch (or more) of sugar or any other sweetener can also help counter the acidity.Turning up the heat is also a good way to balance the tartness. Think hot and sour soup? Sliced chillis, hot sauce, chilli flakes or even chilli powder pair well with vinegar.Another solution is to negate the acidity of vinegar through baking soda. Add a pinch of baking soda to the dish and you will see it fizz and bubble. Once it stops, stir the soup and taste it. Repeat the process if needed.

Gummy pasta

After boiling pasta you realise that it has turned out too gummy or sticky. This happens when you boil it in a pan that is too small or under salt the water. Drain the pasta in a colander and spread it out on a large tray or plate to dry, ensuring that they don't touch each other.

You could also sauté the pasta in olive oil or butter over medium heat till it becomes firm or toss it in a rich, creamy sauce to help mask the gummy texture. Adding crunchy vegetables to sautéed pasta such as bell peppers, blanched broccoli or even slightly cooked zucchini can provide a contrast. These also pair well with most cream and tomato-based sauces.

Mushy vegetables

Roasted vegetables can prove the perfect side for a variety of dishes, but overcooked, can remind you of baby food. Salvage the situation in three ways: Puree the veggies, throw some garlic in and add stock little by little to get a nutritious soup. You could even freeze this in an ice cube tray and use the cubes as veg bouillon for extra flavour in your curries or soups. Or mash the veggies with butter and voila, you have a delicious side ready. You could also transfer the vegetables to a baking dish, sprinkle cheese over it and brown the top to transform it into a crowd pleaser.

Soggy salad

Too much dressing can lead to soggy salad. Remove only the leaves and put them in a colander or salad spinner and shake to remove the excess dressing. Put them back in the salad bowl and add some fresh greens or lettuce leaves for extra crunch.

Overcooked chicken

Dry, stringy and chewy chicken can put off even the most passionate carnivores. A quick fix is to place the chicken in a deep dish and pour a hot liquid like chicken stock over it. Cover the dish and leave it for some time. Another trick is to top the pieces with a creamy sauce and serve.You could also give the chicken a makeover and serve it chopped in pasta, as salad or in tacos.

Greasy curry or soup

Most people tend to get put off by a layer of oil floating on top of gravies or soups. One remedy is to drop ice cubes into the pot. The fat will stick to the ice, however you will have to quickly remove the cubes before they start melting. If you have cooked a day before, you could refrigerate the dish overnight. The fat or oil will settle on top which can easily be skimmed off.

Buttermilk does not equal chaas

A mistake most amateurs make while baking: the buttermilk or chaas we drink has a different chemistry which can land up ruining your baked goodies. If you have already used chaas, throw the batter away. Make a fresh batch with buttermilk: mix a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with milk and leave it aside for around 10 minutes. This mixture is guaranteed to make your pound cake moist or even tenderize chicken before frying it.

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