Kitchen queries

Sometimes when we buy wheat or other food grains from the market they all seem okay from outside, but some may be infested with insects. Please tell us how we can be sure that the grains we have bought are perfectly fine for consumption.

Yes this is a real problem, as we might get fooled by appearances. Take a filter paper impregnated with Ninhydrin reagent (1 per cent in alcohol). Put some grains on it and fold the filter paper and crush the grains with a hammer. Spots of bluish purple colour indicate presence of hidden insect infestation.

Please tell us a few ways we can use “Hummus” in our recipes.

“Hummus” is traditionally made with chick peas. Chickpeas are known as a rich source of protein and fibre. This makes hummus a great source of plant-based protein for vegans and vegetarians. It can be used in a number of ways: as a dip with chips and veggies; in sandwiches; toss in a bowl of pasta or salad and enjoy the subtle flavour of hummus; on grilled, barbecued, or fried chicken; can also be enjoyed with pita bread. It can be eaten almost everyday as an accompaniment to our main meals in the day and at snack time too.

Traditionally “hummus” is made with chickpeas, but please tell us about some variations we can try at home.

The world of food is one where you can be creative and get lots of options for even the most simple dish. Most of us only know that hummus is made from chickpeas but in reality there are about 50 variations available around the world today. It can be made with avocado, black bean, cilantro, garbanzo beans, beetroot and even rajma. Some other common flavours are tomato, red pepper, basil pesto, harissa jalapeno and olive tapenade. Hummus on the whole has a rich and creamy flavour along with being healthy

Ihe latest controversy of a “samosa” being healthier or better than “burger” is getting the samosa lovers all excited. How much truth is in this statement and why?

Naturally we are all excited that we were better off eating our desisnack which was made with care and love rather than the burger which is an industrial product.

A samosa may be dense in calories, but is largely made of chemical-free ingredients such as refined flour, spices, boiled potatoes, peas, some dry fruits and oil or ghee.

The burger on the other hand contained “preservatives, acidity regulator, emulsifier, improver and antioxidant along with refined wheat flour, sugar, wheat gluten, vegetable oil, yeast, salt, soya flour, sesame seed, vegetables, mayonnaise, cheese or potato cutlet.

So we can say it has to be the chemicals, the preservatives, emulsifiers etc. which makes the burger less healthy otherwise, there is not much difference between the two dishes: both were made with potatoes encased in maida or refined flour.

How can we clean a burnt pot without it getting scratches?

If a pot has boiled dry, fill it with hot water and add a few squirts of dish liquid. Let simmer for 15-30 minutes, carefully loosening the burned bits with a silicon spatula as they soften. Empty the pot and scrub clean.

The hot weather drains us out, we‘ve tried all the normal summer coolers like aampanna, bel ka sherbet, various drinks with mint in combination with various ingredients. Can you suggest some new summer cooler to chill with?

Yes we get some relief from the unforgiving summer heat with our traditional coolers like aampanna, khus sherbet with lime, roohafza or bel ka sherbet.

For a unique experience you can try gulab and basil sherbet. Combine 50 gms hand crushed fresh rose petals, 30 gms dry rose petals, 40ml rose water, some saffron threads, 250 ml honey and 50 gms hand crushed basil or tulsi leaves in a large bowl filled with 2 litres of chilled water. Leave them to soak for about half an hour. Check for sweetness. Strain and serve chilled with crushed ice. You can also try lemon grass lemonade.


In the summer season we get tired of eating okra or lady’s finger off and on, but now we hear that it is a bag full of health benefits for us. Do elaborate.

Okra or bhindi has a gummy texture which shows that it is rich in soluble fibre. It is also rich in antioxidants,

B-complex vitamins and potassium. It helps in reducing sugar and lipids, in fact okra supplements are being manufactured to reduce insulin resistance.

The traditional ice-creamie the matka or stick or better known as kulfi has its own appeal, and is a welcome respite from the scorching heat of the summer season. Please tell us the difference between the ice-cream we get from the market and the kulfi.

Among the whole lot of things that Mughals gave us, kulfi will remain the most relished. The bliss of enjoying a kulfi on a hot summer day cannot be explained.Kulfi’s consistency is creamier and thicker as compared to ice-cream.

Unlike ice-cream, kulfi is not whipped. It is made by boiling the milk on medium heat while ice-cream is made with sugar, cream, milk and has air whipped into it during freezing.

– SavitaBhargava.