Event At Horizon, Mallika Badrinath made microwave cooking seem effortless

First came the tips. How to reduce time spent in the kitchen. How to peel garlic and almonds easily. How to reheat idlis and chapattis without drying them out. Considering it was kitchen queen Mallika Badrinath holding forth on the subject of microwave cooking, everyone listened intently.

Mallika, who has been using the microwave for 20 years now, admits she learnt by trial and error. That showed in her interaction as she dealt with questions and doubts even before the audience could ask. Only because, she had the very same doubts when she started off.

Since this was a session to introduce participants — college students and members of SHGs and Deaf Leaders — to the microwave, she stuck to one-dish recipes that did not call for too much preparation.

First up was coffee walnut halwa, a recipe that took just 10 minutes to make. She used milk, sugar, cornflour and a mix of instant coffee powder and cinnamon to make a glistening halwa garnished with walnuts. There was a tip here too: to save time, make an indention in the centre of the mixture and drop some ghee and walnuts into it before microwaving again. Even as the halwa cooks, the walnut will roast. The coffee can be replaced with coco or even tinned pineapple, she said.

Next, she made a veggie-filled broccoli dip to be eaten with chips. Velvet soup, rich with tomatoes, carrot, beetroot ginger and garlic, was the third recipe. Then came stuffed brinjal curry, dhariwala (a side dish to go with chappati) and orange oats muffin.

Later, she spoke to the students of catering science about the ingredients of success. “Passion for cooking, combined with qualification, is a winning combo,” she said.

The stand-outs in the event were the handy tips. Place garlic pearls in a kitchen towel and microwave for 20 seconds. The skin will come off easily. Place almonds in a bowl of water and heat for 30 seconds. Drop them in cold water. It becomes easy to skin. Dunk cold idlis in water before reheating them. They will taste as if freshly made. Fold rotis in a kitchen towel and reheat for 30 seconds. They will stay soft.

Microwave cooking requires very little salt and spices. If a dish calls for both oil and water (like upma), add the oil in moderation. Else, the food will be unevenly cooked.