Thursday, August 14, 2008


The microwave oven has revolutionized the way we cook. The fast cooking, fast clean up qualities of microwave cooking fit right into the life styles of today’s busy homemakers. Little wonder then that microwave ovens have now earned a place in thousands of Indian homes. So what is it that makes microwave cooking so special? First, of course, is the speed with which it heats and cooks food. So you cut down on cooking time and seal in the freshness as well.

Microwave cooking also tends to be low-fat and hence is good for calorie watchers. Finally, as you will learn from your own experience, the microwave oven provides a host of new shortcuts and problem solvers for chores such as roasting papads, blanching and steaming vegetables, making popcorn etc. Soggy and soft namkeens and nuts become crisp on microwaving for only a minute.

You will be surprised at the numbers of recipes on Indian food that can be made in the microwave. I would like to share some recipes with you so that you can also be adventurous with the microwave oven. You’ll realise that it goes much beyond the regular reheating of food.

Masala Peanuts

Preparation time: 5 minutes. Cooking time: 2 minutes. Makes 1 cup approx.

½ cup Unskinned and salted peanuts
½ cup Bengal gram flour (besan)
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp fennel (saunf) powder
1½ tsp black salt (sanchal)
1 tbsp oil
2 to 3 tbsp water

1.Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl ensuring the batter coats the peanuts evenly.
2.On a greased microwave safe plate drop each of the coated peanuts separately and microwave on HIGH for 1½ minutes.
3.Remove and cool. Store in an air-tight container.

Pineapple Kesari

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 9 minutes. Serves 2.

½ cup rawa(semolina)
½ cup pineapple purée
1 cup water
½ cup milk
5 tbsp sugar
a few strands saffron (kesar)
2 tsps ghee
¼ tsp cardamom (elaichi) powder

1In a microwave safe bowl mix together the pineapple purée and 1 tablespoon sugar and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.
2.Add the milk, water, remaining sugar and saffron and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.
3.In another microwave safe bowl mix together the semolina and ghee and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes, stirring after every 30 seconds.
4.Add the rawa to the pineapple mixture and microwave for 4 minutes on HIGH, stirring once after 2 minutes.
5.Add the cardamom powder, mix well and serve hot.

Spicy Pulao

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 13 minutes. Serves 4.

1 cup long grained rice
½ cup green peas
½ cup diced carrots
2 tbsp curds
a few mint leaves
2 tbsp ghee
salt to taste

To be ground into a chilli paste
6 Kashmiri chillies
3 cloves garlic (lehsun)
12 mm. (½”) piece ginger (adrak)
2 tsp coriander-cumin seed (dhania-jeera) powder

1. Clean and wash the rice. Soak in lukewarm water for about 10 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
2. In a glass bowl, combine the ghee and the chilli paste and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.
3. Add the rice, peas, carrots, curds and salt with 2½ cups of hot water. Microwave on HIGH for 12 minutes, stirring twice in between after every 4 minutes.
4. Add the mint leaves and toss lightly.
Serve hot.

Doodhi Muthia


Preparation time: 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time: 9 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

For the muthias
2 cups white pumpkin (lauki), grated
1 onion, grated (optional)
1 cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
¾ cup semolina (rawa)
½ cup Bengal gram flour (besan)
2 tablespoons green chilli-ginger paste
½ teaspoon turmeric (haldi) powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cumin (jeera) seeds
½ teaspoon fennel (saunf) seeds
juice of 1½ lemons
2 tablespoons sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
½ teaspoon soda bi-carb
½ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
4 tablespoons oil
salt to taste

For the tempering
2 teaspoons mustard (rai) seeds
1 tablespoon sesame (til) seeds
½ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
4 tablespoons oil

For the garnish
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 tablespoons grated coconut

For the muthias
1. Strain the liquid out of the grated pumpkin and onion, keeping the liquid aside to use if required to knead the dough.
2. Combine all the ingredients for the muthias in a bowl and knead into a very soft dough adding the strained vegetable liquid if required.
3. Using oiled palms, divide the mixture into 4 parts and roll out into cylindrical rolls approximately 200 mm. (8”) long and 25 mm. (1”) in diameter.
4. Place 2 cylindrical rolls in a greased shallow glass dish and cover with a lid.
5. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Allow to stand for 1 minute.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 to make 2 more rolls.
7. Cool and slice into 20 mm. (¾”) pieces and keep aside.

How to proceed
1. To prepare the tempering, heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds and sesame seeds. When they crackle, add the asafoetida.
2. Add the sliced muthias, toss well and stir over a medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Garnish with the coriander and coconut.
Serve hot with green chutney.

Handy Tip: To check if the muthias are done, insert a toothpick in the centre. If it comes out clean, the muthias are cooked.

Variation: You can use cabbage or fenugreek leaves instead of pumpkin.