A crash course in OPOS cooking

The hiss of multiple pressure cookers fills GG Mahal in Arumbakkam where B Rama Krishnan — Ramki, as he is called fondly — is conducting Chef in a Day, a crash course in cooking, revolving around the technique he pioneered — OPOS (One Pot One shot). Groups of women cluster around the multiple cooking stations — all equipped with said pressure cooker — and watch a range of eclectic dishes being prepared. Kurma and avial, rub shoulders with broccoli soup, carrot halwa, sundal and pickles — some of the dishes are singularly delicious, others are decent though not spectacular, one is simply too raw for my taste.

A crash course in OPOS cooking

I try my hand at making a simple vegetable poriyal, layering a couple of tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of oil, chopped vegetables and two green chillies. It takes less than six minutes for an almost indecently-orange coloured dish to emerge which I top with some pre-made tadka and fresh coconut before taking a bite. The carrot still holds a slightly-earthy flavour and nice crunch, the taste of the base vegetable set-off, not disguised by, the tempering. “People believe that the slower you cook, the tastier the food,” says Ramki who certainly doesn’t think so. “The best way to cook a vegetable is to cook it in its own juices at the highest possible heat, in the lowest possible time.” He calls this technique Pressure Baking — OPOS is created around 26 core techniques including this one — adding that he believes OPOS is the, “greenest, healthiest, tastiest way to cook.”

It is also highly standardised, almost scientific. Keep to a recipe, follow the instructions to the T and you will probably avoid most disasters. If they do occur, however, you have an incredible Facebook support group of over 50,000 people to help you along the way.

A crash course in OPOS cooking

One pot, one shot, one stop

It was the lack of standardisation in pre-existing recipes that lead to the creation of the technique in the first place. When Ramki, who had moved to West Asia for work began cooking, he found that, “the recipe books I referred to were very complicated and muddled.” So he decided to do something about it, researching recipes that would work, trying and fine-tuning them, armed with the OPOS essentials: a two-litre pressure cooker, measuring spoons, weighing scale and stove. The experiments soon lead to the creation of a social media cult that led to “reinventing the rules of cooking”.

Divya Ramakrishnan, who is part of this workshop, is vociferous in her praise for this style of cooking. “I have an infant at home and no support system,” says the young mother, who now completes her cooking in 40 minutes. “It has made my life a lot easier,” she says. For 63-year-old Uma Swaminathan, OPOS has changed not just her life but her health. Swaminathan, who is currently on a low carb, high fat diet, says that OPOS has made it easier to cook and stick to that diet. She adds that she dropped 16 kilos within six months.

As the workshop comes to an end, members stop by to take a selfie with Ramki and share an OPOS experience. And Ramki sees it getting bigger. “We have standardised 60-70 % of Indian cuisine and are working on the rest,” he says.

A crash course in OPOS cooking

Saffron, gold and brown

Thahseen Faizel is all set to open an OPOS-only biryani outlet in the city. She first came to know about it through a random Facebook group called United by Food. “Once I started experimenting with this technique in the kitchen, I was really hooked,” says Faizel who concentrates mostly on meat-based recipes. She loves being part of this larger OPOS community. “Everyone encourages me when I post a new recipe and I get positive feedback,” says Faizel, whose interest in food is multi-pronged. “My mother is an excellent cook and my husband is a foodie,” she laughs. Then there was the decade in Dubai where she spent many-a-weekend trying out different cuisines and “replicating it in my own kitchen,” she says. She also ran a small home-baking business where, “ I would supply cake to friends and relatives.” When she decided to settle in India last year with her husband, they got into the food business, starting with biryani. They conducted multiple surveys, benchmarking the flavours of some of the most popular biryanis in the market, with their own, finally arriving at the perfect recipe. Enter her pot of spice and meat-laden goodness, cooked quickly, OPOS style, with, “minimal oil.” With its strong focus on, “nutrition, quality and consistency,” the first outlet offering OPOS biryani will be open in a week or so at Siruseri.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 12:47:19 PM |

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