COVID-19 essentials: Tips from ITC Hotel's Corporate Chef Manisha Bhasin on keeping kitchens clean
Every day, we expose ourselves to seemingly benign conditions, which, might be the breeding ground for Coronavirus. And the biggest threat lies in the kitchen. Though we take measures to ensure safety while in the over-crowded markets, utmost care must be taken of the raw vegetables and groceries that we buy and let in our homes. As a part of ITC Hotel's initiative, Food For Thought, Manisha Bhasin, Corporate Chef, ITC Hotels shares a few simple tips on Kitchen Essentials that can be easily followed at home during these testing times.
These activities are easy to do, constructive and beneficial.
Here you go:
* In current times when procuring vegetables, ensure that it's prewashed and then sprayed with a solution of one cup of White Vinegar mixed with four cups of clean water. Put this solution into a spray bottle and use on prewashed vegetables,
* Any packed food item received should be immediately taken out from the packaging. For example, bread to be transferred to the bread box, carefully discarding the wrapping while ensuring you do not touch the food with the same hands
* Washing your hands with soap solution under running water for 20 seconds each time one handles the packaged product which is not sanitised.
* Keeping clean hands before initiating in any food handling process is essential. Washing hands properly when you are going to touch raw foods after using the kitchen bin significantly helps in reducing the spread of several types of harmful bacteria.
* After every use, wipe out your oven/gas range using a cloth and warm water.
* At least once each day, wipe down the sink as part of your kitchen hygiene rules. Every week, disinfect it by filling it up with either hot or warm water plus a small quantity of bleach. After cooking, keeping a clean kitchen is very important. Damp kitchen sponges and washing brushes are known bacteria heavens. Washing your kitchen and wiping down your equipment with good hygiene products greatly reduces cross-contamination risk dramatically.
* Empty your bin on a daily basis as the food leftovers may start to decompose and bacteria will grow very fast in your kitchen.
* Boil and sanitise the kitchen cloth on daily basis by adding soap suds in the boiling water and later rinsing it with a chlorine solution. This will get rid of grease and microorganisms.
•Try to air-dry the washed utensils as much as possible, avoid wiping the vessels.
•At least once a week take out the fridge shelves and compartments and have them washed with warm water and soap. Wipe the fridge interiors with a mixture of water and bicarbonate of soda and also wipe down the fridge exterior, particularly the handle.
Storage of vegetables and herbs
* All green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, coriander and herbs should be washed and drained well before packing it in tissue paper and storing in the refrigerator.
* If you have extra herbs in stock, shade dry it and store in an airtight container.
* Remove the green chillies stems, carrots tops, cauliflower stalks before keeping in the refrigerator, it not only ensures that you use less storage space in the fridge but also gives ample trimmings for stocks etc which can be used over a period.
* Store tubers and root vegetables like potato, colocasia (arbi) garlic in well ventilated dark places.
* If you are unable to use the vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, peas or beans for some reason and feel that it is going to get spoilt in a day or two, the best option is to process and freeze it. Start with trimming and cut it to your requirement and blanch in hot water before packing in zip lock bags and freezing
* Do not store fruits and vegetables together as fruits give off ethylene which is a ripening agent when stored with vegetables it would deteriorate vegetables faster.
* You can store apples, orange, pomegranates etc at ambient temperature and avoid bananas from further ripening, cover the stem end of the banana with cling film.
Making good with fewer ingredients
To make sure the vegetables go a long way, use the peels and trimmings in the stock in curries and gravies or even as a starter for the packet soup.
Make sure you only make food sufficient for a meal so as to minimise overproduction which also ensures that you have fresh food on the table for each meal period.
Try to use lentils and other dry produce (which you can buy in one visit to the market and stock up your pantry ) in various preparations so as to avoid monotony. For example, your meal need not have rice and dal, you can make a dal pancake, topped up with a western-style tossed up veggies and make into a wrap or alternately use dal and vegetables to make a great soup with a handful of ready to eat noodles thrown in. There are no definite recipes of what you can do in the kitchen, it depends on what you have at hand and think of a creative way to make exciting meals.
Keep the dishes uncomplicated and make one flavour star of the dish. This will not only result in less consumption of other material but the simplicity of flavour shall shine through. For example, if you are using, fresh coriander in the dish, then do not complicate it by adding garam masala and other strong spices, the delicate coriander flavour is sufficient for the dish to stand out.
To start with one must have a good knife set which includes an 8-inch blade Chefs knife and a small three-inch knife, a bread knife along with a good quality peeler. Keep the knife sharpened as this will not only save time but will also help in great cuts and fewer wastages.
A great skillet (with a good quality frying spatula) which is multi-purpose to be used for making breakfast eggs, to grilled sandwiches to pancakes, avoid buying a non-stick and go for heavy-duty cast iron instead. However, make sure you do not use a harsh scrubber as that would damage the seasoned surface. Use a sponge and soapy solution to clean it instead.
A flat strainer is a must for straining of boiled of rice, to use for washing of vegetables to use as a steamer. Its versatility makes it a must for the kitchen.
A measuring cup, preferably the pyrex one which can measure large quantities is a great support while following recipes, especially which involve baking.
A pressure cooker with compartments not only saves time but gas too. When cooking small quantities try to use the pressure cooker separators for dal and rice.
And for deep frying recommend a small or medium size kadhai (if you do not use the air fryer which is my personal favourite) as it will substantially reduce the oil consumption.