Cooking without oil does not necessarily alter the taste of a dish. And it comes with a lot of health benefits attached!
I am often asked how can one enjoy good Indian food without high fat and high calorie intake. At the same time, I have observed that a lot of people shy away from ‘oil-less’ food because, according to them, it meant bland and uninteresting food. But there is no reason why oil-free food can’t be exciting and interesting while offering great taste too!
Lot of people worry that cooking Indian food without oil could take away the original taste of the dish. Let me assure you, it will not make much of a difference – but, yes, you would have to do without puri, pakora, samosa, kachori and the other deep fried goodies that form an integral part of any Indian menu.
Not all fats are bad. Healthy fats are concentrated source of energy; they provide vital building blocks for all the cells of the body. It is an important carrier for fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Fats also contain essential fatty acids — Omega 3 and 6 — that help the body to support and sustain natural growth.
Apart from this fats help in maintaining healthy skin, important immune functions, reproduction and developmental functions of the brain, as well as the visual systems. Wheat, pulses, vegetables, fruits, skimmed milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cloves, cinnamon, sesame seeds and even the miniscule single mustard seed all contain natural fats!
The no-oil concept helps to reduce calorie intake and further aids the cause to shed those extra kilos. Admittedly, oil has always been an important constituent of most cuisines, especially Indian cuisine. It serves not only as the medium of cooking but also adds to the taste. In olden days, when there were no refrigerators oil served as a preservative. But now any leftover can be easily preserved.
The thought of no-oil cooking might seem a little far fetched. But these recipes will help you discover a new methodology to cook as well as a must addition to your everyday menus. As long as you keep in mind some points while cooking without oil the end result will be very satisfactory.
Cook in non-stick cookware and keep the heat from medium to low while doing the preliminary cooking, like roasting spices or onions. This way your spices will still crackle while your onions will not burn. You can increase the heat once some liquid is added.
If the dish has yogurt or tomatoes, add that to the pan before adding the dry whole spices so that they do not burn and yet impart their flavours optimally. While adding dry powdered masala, mix them in a little water and add so that they do not burn.
Food always tastes best when served freshly cooked — especially, when it is food cooked without oil. Constant re-heating can cause the food to dry up. So keep these basic tips in mind and say hello to hale-and-hearty cooking ‘the no-oil’ way!
Article by: Chef Sanjeev Kapoor
Recipe Courtesy his book ‘No oil Cooking’