Indian Microwave Cooking - In our metro life, time is very essential for cooking. With its intense time pressures do not allow the slow way of cooking practiced in earlier days. One device that has defied the clock in the Kitchen is the microwave oven.
A microwave oven, or a microwave, is a kitchen appliance that cooks or heats food by dielectric heating. This is accomplished by using microwave radiation to heat water and other polarized molecules within the food. This excitation is fairly uniform, leading to food being more evenly heated throughout (except in thick objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques. It not only cooks faster but is also healthier and convenient to use. Nowadays even conservative and strictly traditional homes have added it to their kitchens.
Basic microwave ovens heat food quickly and efficiently, but do not brown or bake food in the way conventional ovens do. This makes them unsuitable for cooking certain foods, or to achieve certain culinary effects. Additional kinds of heat sources can be added to microwave packaging, or into combination microwave ovens, to add these additional effects.
Microwaves are a form of electro-magnetic energy. Microwave ovens use various combinations of electrical circuits and mechanical devices to produce and control an output of microwave energy for heating and cooking. Microwaves are very short waves of electromagnetic energy that travel at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second). The microwave oven is designed to generate invisible electro-magnetic waves, which are contained in the cooking cavity.
The microwave energy is transmitted into a metal channel called a waveguide, which feeds the energy into the cooking area where it encounters the slowly revolving metal blades of the stirrer which scatter them evenly throughout the oven. Some models use a type of rotating antenna while others rotate the food through the waves of energy on a revolving carousel. In any case, the effect is to evenly disperse the microwave energy throughout all areas of the cooking compartment. Some waves go directly toward the food, others bounce off the metal walls and flooring, and, thanks to special metal screen, microwaves also reflect off the door. So. the microwave energy reaches all surfaces of the food from every direction.
All microwave energy remains inside the cooking cavity. Because the microwave energy is changed to heat as soon as it is absorbed by the food, it cannot make the food radioactive or contaminated. When the door is opened, or the timer reaches zero, the microwave energy stops. When the microwave energy is turned off and the food is removed from the oven, there is no residual radiation remaining in the food. In this regard, a microwave oven is much like an electric light that stops glowing when it is switched off.
To put it very simply, a microwave oven is a device in which food is cooked by the heat produced by the absorption of microwave energy by water molecules in the food. Microwave ovens operate by agitating the water molecules in the food, causing them to vibrate, which produces heat.
Microwaves possess three basic characteristics:
Microwaves pass right through some materials. Materials such as glass, paper, and plastic are transparent to and generally unaffected by microwaves.
Microwaves are reflected by metal surfaces, much as a ball would bounce off a wall. The metal walls of the cooking space actually form a cavity resonator. In other words, the
enclosure is designed to resonate the microwaves as they are radiated from the magnetron
Microwaves penetrate and are absorbed by some substances, primarily food products.
Microwaves act in three different ways:
Absorption - when the food is micro waved, the water molecules present in the food get stimulated and heated up and so the energy of the microwave is concentrated on cooking the food faster
Transmission - Microwaves are attached only to water molecules and so they ignore everything else except the food to be cooked.
Reflection - Microwaves are absorbed by food and pass through materials like glass, china, wood, paper and plastic, but they reflect on metal.
There are two types of microwave ovens: 1). Simple microwave oven 2) Microwave and convection oven
The simple microwave oven cooks food as well as re-heats it In the microwave cum convection oven, the convection system heats, browns and dries the surface of the food for crisping This type of combination cooking is best for tandoori dishes, while the convection system alone is best suited for cakes, and other pastry-based appetizers that need a flaky crust. But for microwave/convection combination cooking, the cookware should be both heatproof and micro safe for convection cooking, the cookware needs only to be heatproof.
Advantages of microwave cooking -
Food cooks evenly, quickly and efficiently in the microwave.
Also the nutrients are preserved and the actual taste of the food is retained to a higher degree.
Only a minimum amount of oil is required for cooking continental as well as traditional Indian dishes and so it seems desirable from the health point of view.
Also shorter and controlled cooking time means that the food does not get burnt or overcooked
Food may be cooked and served in the same dish.
Another major advantage is that food is cooked minus the smoke, grease and heat and so the kitchen remains neat and tidy always.
Microwave has multifarious uses like de-frosting, re-heating, etc
INDIAN MICROWAVE COOKING Tips on using a microwave oven:
Position of food - Food must be placed off-center as the microwave energy disperses more to the corners and sidewalls. Items like idlis should be arranged in a circle with space among them. Chops should be arranged with the thinner areas pointing to the middle of the utensils.
Cooking utensils - Ovenware treated for high-intensity heat such as bowls, cake dishes and also bags, film, paper towels, practically any material can be used except metal. But metal can be used for the convection mode. Metallic dishes should not be used in the combination mode. Pottery and plastic ware declared microwave-safe could be used in the common microwave oven.
Ceramic wares can also be used but make sure that they donot have any metallic rim as they may cause arcing. Food items containing high proportion of fat and sugar should not be used in glass utensils.
Melmoware and melamme wares are to be avoided, paper towels, greaseproof paper and cardboard can also be used provided they donot have any staple pins in them Wood items can be used in the micro-oven but not for a long time.
Container shapes - This is an important factor to be noted. Dishes must be "A or % filled depending on the liquid content of the food. If the dish is too small, the food will boil over and if the dish is too large the thick curry will spread out and overcook. Shallow vessels make cooking faster Cakes, chicken, meat and rice dishes cook well in large bottomed vessels while round dishes are ideal for cooking vegetables and curry dishes.
The microwave oven door should not be subject to any rough use Any misalignment may cause leakage of the microwaves.
Small quantities of food with low moisture content can burn, spark, or catch fire if re-heated for long.
Do not operate an empty oven as it can cause damage to the oven.
Keep at least five cms space between the back of the oven and the wall immediately near it as it allows the exhaust air to escape.
Do not install the oven near gas burners or near radios or TVs.
Do not deep fry in the oven as it is not possible to control the temperature of the oil and it may result in catching fire easily.
If food catches fire turn off the oven and remove the plug, but do not open the door of the oven.
Keep the interior of the oven clean as small specks of food particles inside can reduce its efficiency.
Do not cook eggs with the shells as they explode. Do not heat food or liquids in bottles with lids closed.
Do not warm bottles with lids on for babies. Milk or any food for kids must be heated on simmer mode only.
Before cooking them, pierce vegetables and fruits with tight skin to prevent them from bursting.
USEFUL TIPS FOR COOKING DISHES IN MICROWAVE Cooking Potatoes - Place some 5 potatoes in a micro-safe dish with half water Cover and cook in High mode for around 9 minutes and then allow it to stand for some time. Then drain and peel.
Cooking popcorns - Place a handful of corn in a micro-safe dish and cover it. Then cook on high mode for 5 minutes and then transfer it to a paper packet.
Cooking curry - In a micro-safe dish put one tablespoon of oil, one tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste and cook on high mode for 4 minutes. Then add some chopped tomatoes and the required masala for the flavor desired and cook on high mode for another 4 minutes adding some water to the mixture.
Roasting of nuts - Spread the nuts on a ceramic plate adding salt or any other masala to taste and cook high for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve after 5 minutes.
Cooking custard - Mix well one-cup milk, two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of custard powder thoroughly and cook on high mode for 2 minutes and serve after cooled.
Preparing Pizza topping - Place one-tablespoon oil. one-cup tomato puree, one-cup tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste in a micro-safe dish and cook on High for about 6 minutes.
Cooking vegetables - In a micro safe dish put about 250 grams of vegetables desired with salt to taste and about two cups water and cook on High for 16 minutes.
To make bread crumbs - Cook bread in the oven on High mode for 2 to 3 minutes and then crush it.
Chapatti - Wrap the chapattis in a napkin or in a paper towel and heat on high mode for 2 to 3 minutes.
To crisp biscuits, etc. - Place the biscuits, nuts or chips on a plate and .heat on high for 1 minute and allow it to stand for 5 minutes.
To prepare finger bowl - Micro High a small bowl with two tablespoons water and juice of one lemon It can also be placed in rooms to absorb any strong odours.
Preparing chicken stock - Take two pieces of chicken, one onion, one potato chopped and salt and pepper to taste with two cups water and cook on high for 14 minutes at power level of 60. Drain and keep the stock aside.
Preparing vegetable stock - Take the vegetables, onion and chopped, potato and salt and cook on micro 60 for 12 minutes