How To’s and Tips

Here you’ll find tips and tricks and/or learnings from odd jobs around my kitchen. If it saves you time or comes in handy, I’ll be more than happy!

How To’s:


Because ground flax seeds turn rancid, it is best to use them fresh ground as needed. Always store leftover ground flax seeds in the refrigerator to prevent them from going rancid.

If a recipe calls for sautéing green chillies, always use them halved. When used whole, they pop or burst out violently.

Store green chillies with their stalk intact, they tend to spoil or turn moldy easily without the stalk.

If you have curry leaves that are dried up to begin with, do not wash them. Just wipe them with a dry cloth and use. When dried curry leaves are washed, they almost instantly lose aroma and tend to mold easily.
To keep your sharp knives from becoming dull, use wooden chopping boards and store them dry and flat in a draw or a knife block.

If you are a regular chapati/roti maker, it really helps to store extra flour for dusting in a flat square box. Dipping the dough in the box is easy and no need to hunt for small containers to store leftover dusting flour every time.
To keep soft nuts like walnut and pecans from going bad or rancid or off-tasting over a long time, store in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator.

Do not fret if honey is crystallized. Keep the bottle tightly sealed in a pan of very hot water or under a hot water tap, it should soon melt to its normal state.

To preserve the aroma of coffee as fresh as just ground and to get the most out of it, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Coffee without its aroma is just as good as dirt. Ditto for coffee beans.

To keep delicate flowers fresh, stash them in a ziploc bag and into the refrigerator; will remain good for a few days.

Contrary to popular assumption, did you know that you can keep a ripe banana from spoiling by storing it in the refrigerator? Its skin might turn dark brown, but the fruit inside will still remain good to eat.

If your cooking oil appears cloudy, it is most likely to be rancid, either discard or do not use for cooking

Do not discard cardamom skin, use it in lemonade or drop it in the simmering tea for a delicate flavor.

If you love cooking with herbs like thyme and rosemary but find the organic herb stash from the store too expensive for a couple of uses, plant some in your balcony instead, this summer. When they grow (soon), they are so convenient for use as much or as little as you need and just a walk across the room will do. (Thyme, mint, rosemary, parsley and chives grow in my balcony garden now)

For spices whole and ground to remain fresh longer, store them in air tight containers in the refrigerator if possible or at least no where near the hot stove (where they lose color and aroma at a faster rate). If the spice in the bottle appears clumpy, it is pretty much near the end of its story.

If curry leaves are turning black or wilting away sitting in your refrigerator, wash well, pat them dry and microwave for 30 secs or until dry and crisp and still a fresh green. Store in an airtight container for use later.For really well cooked chickpeas/garbanzo, kidney/rajma beans, pressure cook with a pinch of baking soda and salt.

To prevent a rubber gasket (of a pressure cooker  or mixer lid) from cracking or losing shape, rinse well, pat dry and store it in the freezer until the next use.

To get rid of the bitterness from bittergourd, sprinkle salt over chopped pieces, cover and set aside for 15-20 mins. Wash thoroughly and squeeze out the water before use/cooking.

To brighten your brass/copperware the natural way, just use tamarind and sea salt and scrub for shining ware (coarse-salt helps scrub)

Do not throw away used lemon/lime halves. Instead, collect them in a small airtight glass jar along with added salt each time. When the jar is nearly full, add the other ingredients and make pickle out of it.

To fix a salty dish, just add an appropriate amount of boiled potatoes or raw potatoes while cooking.

Instead of pan roasting for a longer time, microwave Rava (sooji/cream of wheat) spread on a (microwave safe) plate for about 2 to 2-1/2 mins in 30 sec intervals for the same dry roast result.

Instead of boiling, microwave a corn on the cob along with the husk for about 2 mins, let cool, remove the husk and silk and enjoy the bite!

Microwave papad smeared with drop or two of oil on either sides – tastes as good as fried, saves frying time and precious calories
Instead of trashing your fridge-freezer baking soda box after due date, throw it in the food disposal with a bunch of ice cubes and run it for an instantly clean and odor-free disposal.

To easily skin a boiled potato, skin it when hot and do not run it under cold water as it makes the skin stick

Compost used tea leaves/teabags instead of throwing away, your pot garden will thank you

Always place lentils in the bottom-most container of the pressure cooker for consistently well-cooked lentils.

For tear free chopping, cut onion in half and rinse under running water before chopping.

Whisk through the pressure cooked lentils for a uniform nicely mashed consistency

For a refreshing taste, add ground cinnamon or cloves and ginger to the boiling tea

Use baking soda to effectively clean leafy greens; it is natural and food safe

Thaw frozen grated coconut in the microwave for 20-30 secs, ready for chutneys and pastes just as freshly grated

Store a lemon size tamarind in a bowl of water in the refrigerator; microwave for 30 secs and ready to use when needed

15 thoughts on “How To’s and Tips

  1. Shilpa says:

    I find 2 tips I couldn’t agree with. Washing the cut onion looses the water soluble vitamins. Green chillies stay longer without spoiling when stored without the green stalk, because the green stalk starts to rot first.

    • Shama says:

      I personally feel that the freshness of the green chillies matters the most, although my mom always stores them without the stalk just as you mentioned – I have tried both approaches and neither one seems better. Lately, I have started freezing my chillies in freezer safe bags when I buy more than what I can use in a week.

  2. Manu says:

    Great tips. It is very generous of you to share hard-earned lessons in the kitchen!
    I appreciate it.

    However I was disappointed to see your heavy endorsement of the microwave, especially considering that you are becoming more health-conscious.
    According to ayurveda, microwaving food kills the ‘prana’ in them and makes them less nutritious.
    Even modern research seems to support that view.

    I was surprised to see you advocating microwaving a corn – steaming is one of the healthiest ways of cooking as it makes the food more bio-available for our bodies.
    I don’t expect you to take my words at face value of course — I hope you will research into this more deeply & thoroughly and come to a healthier conclusion for yourself 🙂


    • Radhika @ Just Homemade says:

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment Manu. I really appreciate such honest communication. And, I’m glad that you felt I should know.
      It is true that I am trying to be more conscious in whatever I eat. If it has come across as an “endorsement of microwave”, that was not intentional.
      Also, I am aware of the Ayurveda point of view. At this point, I do want to tell you that I’d like to see myself steering away from the use of microwave someday.
      Thanks again and hope to see you around for such thoughtful inputs.

  3. Hellopalz says:

    Really valuable tips, i love this section on ur blog…quite unique!
    I see some pointer that we south-indians follow, mom taught tips, and others adapted cooking with modern improvements!

  4. Vaishali Sheth says:

    Do not throw away used lemon skin… put it in the pressure cooker when you have something else to cook…. and the pressure cooker will be like new ’cause of the acid from lemon.

  5. cooking rookie says:

    Great tips, especially the baking soda ones :-).
    I am a bit surprised about corn. I always bake mine, leaves and all, wrapped in an aluminum paper. It’s delish, but takes an hour to bake. Now I am very curious what it would taste like in a microwave. WIll try next time I get corn. 2 minutes sounds very tempting 🙂 Thanks!

  6. RATNA AUNTY says:

    hi radhika….neevani chadvanu taravata choosanu …… naaku chaala istaam aindee……..recipe’s chaala simple ga undee taravata ruchi ruchi ga undee……kotaga pelli aainn waal ki taravata emi raani waala ki ……he site chaala useful ga untundi !!!!!…..chaala santosham aaindee ne vantalu choosi !!!!

    • Radhika says:

      Thanks so much Atta! (& Ujjwala for typing??). So pleasantly surprised to see you here..
      Very happy to know you liked everything, especially being an excellent cook yourself!

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