Cooking Terms

Al dente

Description: Pasta cooked "to the tooth", until it's ready-to-eat but slightly firm to the bite.


Description: When food is cooked in an oven.


Description: To moisturise (brush, spoon or pour liquid) food so that it does not dry when it's being cooked.


Description: Mix ingredients with quick movements, with a spoon or with a grinder.


Description: Immersing a food item in boiling water to partially cook, loosen the skin, etc. Timing is important (which is different for each item). E.g. if you blanch tomatoes, you cannot leave them in the hot water for more than a couple of minutes, as they will lose their firmness. Almonds on the other hand can be left till the water cools, as the skin will then come off easily.


Description: Mix two or more ingredients thoroughly.


Description: Bring water to 100 degree centigrade.


Description: A cooking technique in which meat or vegetables are first browned and then cooked slowly at a low heat for a long period of time in a small amount of liquid. This process adds flavour and tenderizes the food.


Description: Stir in sugar over low heat until it liquefies and become a clear caramel syrup that usually looks golden or dark brown in color.


Description: To blend or beat butter or margarine and sugar together together to a fluffy and creamy consistency.

Cutting in

Description: A term applied to a method of combining fat and flour when making some kind of pastry


Description: To remove browned bits of food from the bottom of a pan by pouring some liquid (like wine, water or stock) into it. After frying or sauteing food, you can heat the liquid alongwith the remaining drippings, and this often becomes a sort of gravy or sauce.


Description: The food is immersed in hot oil and cooked. This method of frying is used in India for pakoras and puris.


Description: The process of drying or dehydrating food, e.g. desiccated coconut.


Description: Usually applied to a method of cooking small joints, e.g. drum sticks of chicken. The food is highly seasoned and often marinated in a piquant sauce before frying or grilling.


Description: To finely chop.


Description: The name given to a foundation mixture of flour and liquid. Other ingredients are added according to the purpose of the dough.


Description: To coat food in flour or breadcrumbs or cornmeal prior to being fried or sauted. The coating helps to brown the food and provides a crunchy surface.


Description: To sprinkle with sugar or flour.

Egg wash

Description: To brush the top of a baked item, such as bread, lightly with a beaten egg.

Flambe a dish

Description: In a ladle (a deep spoon, large one which is used for serving soups or even a kadhchi) pour some alcohol - mostly rum or brandy. Heat this a little, light it and pour the flaming liquid over the dish. Usually it is heated and brought to the table and lit by a match, because it does not last long.

Fold in

Description: Combining ingredients by lifting and dropping a spoon, in order to incorporate air into the mixture. Eg, while making a sponge cake, you normally fold in the flour into the egg mixture.


Description: When food is cooked in fat or oil.


Description: To decorate food with something that adds color and flavour.


Description: To reduce a large piece of food to coarse or fine threads by rubbing it against a serrated surface or a grater.


Description: A thick sauce, usually made from pan drippings and other liquid, plus flour.


Description: Food is placed on a grid iron over a fire, or in an electric grill. The grill bars are brushed with oil.


Description: To cut food into tiny particles by pushing through a food grinder, or by crushing with a mortar and pestle. Also can be accomplished in a food processor.


Description: To extract flavor by steeping - herbs and vegetables are heated slowly in stock or milk to be used for some sauces in order to draw out the flavour. For sweet dishes, milk can be flavored by infusing a vanilla pod, piece of cinnamon stick, bay leaf, or lemon peel in the milk.


Description: A term used to indicate a method of cutting vegetables and other food into thin strips about the length of a matchstick and 1/8 inch wide. Also used as a garnish gently cooked in butter.


Description: To mix and press dough to make it elastic in consistency.


Description: Allow chicken or meat or vegetables to stand in a flavored liquid, for a considerable length of time - to add flavor or to tenderize.


Description: A mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and granulated sugar, often used as a garnish when browned in the oven. It can also be made into small cakes and filled with cream.


Description: To cut or chop into very small pieces.


Description: A mirepoix is a mixture of diced vegetables, carrots, onions and celery (sometimes with ham or bacon), usually sauteed in butter. Mirepoix is used to flavor stews, soups, stocks, etc. The usual mixture is 50 per cent onions, and 25 per cent each carrots and celery


Description: To combine ingredients in any way that evenly distributes them.


Description: It is an oven-toaster-grill. It performs all these functions. A microwave oven does not toast or grill unless it has dual functions, in which case it works like an oven when you put it on convection mode.


Description: ounce


Description: To boil vegetables until partially cooked


Description: Small, inexact amounts that basically add up to "to taste."


Description: Cooking food that is partially or completely covered by a liquid, that is maintained at a temperature just below boiling point.


Description: To set the temperature and heat the oven well before putting in the food to cook.

Punch down

Description: A term used in working with yeast-risen products. After letting the dough rise, one flattens it forcefully in the bowl before turning it out onto a floured board.


Description: In bread-making, to let the dough sit a few minutes before kneading more.


Description: In bread-making, to leave the dough in a warm place and allow to double in volume.


Description: To cook uncovered in an oven without adding any liquid.

Rubbing in

Description: Rubbing fat or butter with finger tips into flour. Normally you rub till the mixture till it looks like breadcrumbs.


Description: Quickly fry vegetables or meat in a small amount of fat over moderate heat.


Description: To heat a liquid just below boiling point.


Description: To seal in the juices of meat by quickly browning or charring the outside of meat at a high temperature.

Shallow-fat frying

Description: Fry food in very little oil. Usually used for pre-cooked food, or food that contains fat in itself (like bacon) or food that cooks quickly, likely omeletes.


Description: To slice finely.


Description: To put dry ingredients through a fine sieve.


Description: To cook liquid below or just at the boiling point. You can see the bubbles rise to the surface.

Sprouting Lentils

Description: Soak whole lentils over night. The next day, drain out the water and transfer into a wide mouthed jar and tie a muslin cloth over it. Keep the jar at an angle, mouth side down,in a container. Pour water into jar and drain, at least three times a day, keeping jar back at an angle. Continue till they are of desired size.


Description: To simmer in a liquid.