Well, you can just microwave it all...

Well, you can just microwave it all...

No matter what kind of cooking you are looking for, your microwave oven can do it all, and in a much healthier way than your traditional appliances, reckons Mala Ashok.

Microwave ovens have been around for so long now that they are older than some of you, and you cannot imagine life without them. They have undergone a major transformation going from radar-ranges, to analogue, to digital, and are now so small and inexpensive that no home is complete without a microwave on its shelf. They may be small, but in today’s micro-apartments where space is a premium, even the sveltest microwave is taking up precious space.

Waves of doubt

So, what is this baby doing to earn its place? Granted it costs hardly a tenth of what it used to when it first hit the markets. But even that is not negligible if it is a glorified heater. It is really its versatility in the various methods of cooking that it has gained the life-saver status in every Indian kitchen.

I can see eyebrows rising and readers muttering, “But radiation from microwaves creates dangerous compounds in your food!” Is this true or just a myth? Say “radiation” and the image that comes to mind is that of nuclear plants and radioactivity, but this is simply not true. Radiation simply refers to energy that travels in waves and spreads out as it travels. Microwaves are no different from radio waves, and the energy waves that we see like light waves. 

Expert take

The microwaves used to cook foods are several times weaker than X-rays and Gamma-rays according to Dr Robert Brackett, a food safety expert. The types of changes that occur in microwaved food as it cooks are “from heat generated inside the food, not the microwaves themselves,” says Brackett. “Microwave cooking is really no different from any other cooking method that applies heat to food.” However, microwaving in some plastics does leach compounds into your food, so make sure you use only microwave-safe containers.

24X7 life-saver

Just about any food can be cooked in the microwave but it does take expertise. Let’s start with the most tempting of them: make potato chips! It's hard to believe anything can get as crispy as a potato chip in the microwave, but believe it! Thinly sliced potatoes crisp up beautifully in the microwave (see the recipe below) and since these crispy chips aren't fried, they're healthier for you, too, with around 8 grams less fat per serving than regular chips. Now, who wouldn’t want such healthy junk! Another simple use is to put garlic in the microwave for a few seconds and you can peel off the ‘skin’ (outer layer) with no difficulty.

You have been told that steaming is the healthiest form of cooking and the microwave can be used for this purpose. Have you ever started out to make a sweet and found your sugar or jaggery to be as hard as a rock? Put down your chisel, moisten some paper towels and place them on top of your brick of sugar. Microwave in 30-second increments and your sugar will loosen up. Crisis averted!

The funny thing about microwave usage is that the more you start using this appliance, the more its uses will become apparent. Enjoy this nifty appliance which gives you more time to spare and more healthy food!

Baked potato chips

Active time: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes | Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

You don't need a deep fryer to make crispy potato chips. We toss thinly sliced potatoes with just a touch of olive oil, pop them in the microwave and voilà! Crispy, crunchy homemade potato chips with 8 grams less fat per serving than regular chips.

Ingredients: ½ kg unpeeled potatoes, 2 teaspoons scrubbed olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt (or as per taste)

Method: 1. Slice potatoes into thin about 3mm (1/8-inch) rounds. Toss the slices in a medium bowl with oil and salt to coat evenly.

2. Coat a large microwave-proof plate with cooking spray. Arrange some potato slices in a single layer on the plate.

3. Microwave uncovered, on high until some slices start to brown, or upto 2-3 minutes (depending on potato thickness and microwave power).

4. Pause, and turn the slices over and continue microwaving until they start to crisp and brown around the edges for 2-4 minutes more.

5. Check frequently and rearrange slices as needed to prevent scorching.

6. Transfer the chips to another plate and allow to cool completely. They will crisp more as they cool.

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