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Cooking Terms


A complete guide to all the unfamiliar cooking terms. List below will shed light on what a particular term means and what it is used for?

Al denteCooked just enough to retain a somewhat firm texture.
BeatingMeans to mix foods thoroughly with a fork, spoon, whisk or an electric beater so as to incorporate air or to work the ingredients.
BlendingMeans beating OR combine ingredients with a fork, spoon or spatula.
BatterIs a mixture of flour and liquid that is stirred or beaten and can be poured.
BoilingMeans to heat a liquid until bubbles appear on the surface and vapor starts rising.
BastingBasting involves brushing or spooning moisture or fat onto the food before and during cooking. A bulb baster is useful.One can also say that basting is the moistening of meat or poultry with pan juices during roasting, baking, cooking – by dry heat in oven.
BlanchingTo briefly plunge food into boiling water, and then into cold water to stop cooking. Blanching is used to loosen skins of fruits and vegetables, or to prepare them for more cooking by another method. This applies primarily to vegetables so as to reduce their final cooking time. But blanching may be done to fish or meat as well.
BraisingA method in which food is first browned, and then cooked in a tightly-covered pan with a small amount of liquid. It is cooked at low heat for a long period of time. It can also be done at the top of the stove or in the oven.
BroilingTo cook food directly under a radiant heat source. While broiling remember that the food should be placed on the broiler pan in a single layer, browned on one side, then turned with tongs (not a fork) so that no juices are lost.
BindingAdding liquid, egg or melted fat to a dry mixture to hold it together.
BrowningSearing the outer surface of meat to seal in the juices.
BruiseRelease the flavor of foods, especially herbs and spices, by crushing them.
BakeCook in an oven. It’s usually called roasting. In grilling the heat is applied from above.
Bite-likeCooking the food partially but at the same time not keeping it raw. The feeling should be of teeth biting into food that offers some resistance before getting bit into.
BroilerThis is a term used for a young chicken; especially good for roasts, barbecues, etc.
Brush WithTo lightly apply melted fat, cream, etc., with a pastry brush on food.
CaramelizeTurn sugar into a golden brown syrup by melting over low heat. It can refer to plain sugar or to the natural sugar in other foods, such as onions.
CoddleTo pour boiling water over eggs, allowing them to stand briefly before removing.
CreamNot the dairy product, but a method of blending foods by mashing them together with a wooden spoon or a large fork/ a whisk or an electric beater against the sides of a bowl until smooth.
ChillCool food by placing it over ice or in a refrigerator.
ChoppingTo cut food into relatively uniform bite-size or smaller pieces.
CaramelizationAll meat and vegetables contain some sugar (in the form of carbohydrates). Under intense dry heat, as in roasting or sautéing, these sugars break down. The result is the brown color and rich flavor called caramelization.
ClarifySeparate solids from a liquid. The term most frequently refers to butter when the golden oil is poured off from the whey that has settled to the bottom when the butter is melted.
CubeTo cut food (such as meat or cheese) into uniform 1/2" cubes.
CurdleThe undesirable effect of overcooking. When a food (usually a dairy product based sauce or custard) becomes lumpy or separated and forms curds.
CombineTo mix two or more ingredients together.
Cook & StirCook rapidly in small amount of fat, stirring frequently.
CoolTake hot food or liquid off of heat to allow it to cool to room temperature.
Cut -inMix solid and dry ingredients together by cutting with pastry blender, using a rolling motion or cutting with two knives until particles are desired size.
CoatTo sprinkle food with, or dip it into flour, etc., until completely covered with the dip.
CrispFood cooked to a crunchy, easily breakable taste. The term is also used for leafy vegetables to be used in a salad.
DeglazeA process of adding liquid to a hot pan in order to collect the bits of food which stick to the pan during cooking. This is most common with sautéed and roasted foods. Wine, stock, and vinegar are common deglazing liquids.
DiceCut vegetables or meat into small cubes. Finely diced means to cut into about 1/8 - 1/4 inch cubes.
DissolveTo mix.
DoughA mixture of flour and water which is thick enough to knead or roll. Used for Puris, paranthas, samosas, chapatis etc.
Deep-fryingInvolves more oil and higher temperatures. If the food becomes brown immediately means that the oil is too hot & if the food sinks,means the oil is not hot enough, So too hot oil is required for deep frying.
Dressing1. Sauce for a salad.
Dressing2. Stuffing for meat or poultry.
DustingSprinkling lightly with flour, sugar, spice or seasoning
DockTo pierce pastry dough before baking to allow steam to escape and prevent blistering of the dough.
DicingPeel the potatoes, cut it, lengthwise. After this cut them into small pieces.
DumDum is the other name for Steaming . A type of slow cooking process.
DotTo spread spots of butter, clarified butter or margarine, over the surface of food.
DrainRemove extra fat or liquid from cooked food or raw vegetables.
DredgeTo cover or coat food, as with flour.
EmulsifyTo completely blend together an oil with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice. This term is usually used while making salad dressings.
Fold-inTo combine one mixture with another through repeated gentle turning-over motions -- not beating or stirring. A rubber spatula is generally used.
FryCook food in boiling ghee or oil till brown.
FreezingSolidifying or preserving food by chilling and storing it at 0 degrees C (32 degrees F).
FilletA boneless, lean piece of fish or meat.
GratingRub food into small shreds or pieces with a grater.
GrindingMaking paste.
GlazeA glossy finish given to food by brushing with beaten egg, milk, sugar syrup or jelly after cooking.
GrillingCooking directly under a flame or heating in an oven.
Gravy1. Juice exuded by roasted meat or poultry.
Gravy2. A sauce made from these juices by boiling with stock or wine and sometimes thickened with flour.
Gravy3. Thick liquid made by adding water to vegetables or masala.
GriddleFlat metal plate used to bake breads and cakes on the top of the stove.
GreaseTo rub a surface with fat, to prevent food from sticking. It is done with a pastry brush, paper or fingers.
JulienneTo cut into match sticks about 1/8 inch across by 2 inches long.
Kneading Means to work the dough thoroughly by pressing and pounding with the hands.
LukewarmA mild, tepid temperature of approximately 95 degree F.
MarinateEnhancing and often tenderizing the flavor of certain foods (generally meats) by immersing them in a seasoned liquid for several hours or longer so that they will absorb flavor and become tender. Acids such as lemon juice, vinegar and wine do the tenderizing.
MincingTo chop very very finely.The terms "finely chopped" and "minced" are interchangeable.
MeltingHeat the ingredients till they are changed from solid to liquid.
MixTo stir different ingredients together.
Make a WellWhile kneading the dough make a heap of the dry ingredients by creating hollow space in the center to pour the liquid. Work it in a round motion, taking in the flour, little by little, till all of it is blended.
MashPound the food and crush it into pulp.
PureeTo mash foods into a paste with a masher or in a blender.
PoachingIs a particularly effective method for cooking fish. Because it involves partially or completely submerging the food in a gently simmering liquid usually water, stock or wine.
ParboilingCooking in water for a few minutes to tenderize slightly such as onions, green peppers or cabbage for stuffing.
Pulp1. Soft, fleshy tissue of fruit or vegetables.
Pulp2. To reduce food to a soft mass by crushing or boiling.
Pan broilInstead of broiling under heat, a heavy, oiled, preheated skillet is used to fry foods. The results are similar.
PinchJust that--the tiny amount of seasoning that can be held between your thumb and forefinger; an immeasurably small amount.
PicklingAlso known as Balchao.
Pat(as in: pat of butter) Portion of ingredient shaped into a small, flat, usually square shape. Approximately 1 Tablespoon.
PeelRemove skin.
Pitted / SeedTo remove seeds from fruit or vegetable.
Pan FryFry with very little fat in the pan.
Pot RoastCooking large pieces of meat or poultry by braising (stewing and roasting the food by placing it in a small amount of liquid in a covered vessel and cooked slowly).
ReduceTo thicken and intensify the flavor of a liquid by evaporating it through boiling.
RollPlace a small ball of dough on a flat wooden board and roll it out into any shape.
RoastingTo cook food uncovered in a hot oven.It is often done in large ovens over a high temperature. This method is more commonly used in restaurants rather than regular households.
RenderCook fatty meats, such as bacon, until the fat melts.
RefrigeratePlace food in refrigerator to chill or store.
Rolling boilHeat until vapor bubbles form rapidly and break on the surface of liquid.
Rub inAdd fat to flour and rub them together to mix.
RestA term mostly used for dough or batters that need fermentation. That means When the dough needs to be set it is kept aside for a certain period of time.
SautéTo cook food in fat (such as butter or oil) until brown on all sides, using a skillet or a saucepan. When chopped items are cooked, the pan is left uncovered and the mixture inside is stirred until brown on all sides. When larger pieces, like chops or Chicken , are sautéed, they are cooked uncovered until brown on both sides. Then the heat is lowered, the pan is sometimes covered, and the meat is cooked to the desired doneness.
SteamingTo cook with a small amount of liquid at high heat, in the steam produced.Steaming is a very healthy way of cooking, since it does not use any oil and foods keeps their nutrients.
StirringMeans to mix ingredients thoroughly in a circular motion with a wooden spoon or spatula.
SeasoningsDry herbs and spices used to enhance the taste and appearance of food.
ShreddingCut food into small, long and narrow strips.
SimmeringCook food just below the boiling point.
SoakDip food with liquid.
SqueezingDrain out the liquid from the food by crushing.
StewingStews are meat cooked in itself together with herbs and spices. For variety, some also choose to add vegetable chunks. Traditionally, stews are usually cooked in an earthenware pot, over a slow charcoal fire for a very long time. It is cooked until the meat is very tender in texture.
Stir-fryingIt involves quick cooking over high heat in a small amount of oil, tossing and turning the food during the cooking. With this method, meats stay juicy and tender and vegetables come out slightly crisp with all their vitamins intact. Since stir-frying is a last-minute operation, don't plan more than two stir-fry dishes in one meal.
SkewerMetal or wooden pin used to hold meat, poultry or fish in shape during cooking.
StrainingSeparating liquids from solids by passing them through a sieve or through muslin.
SyrupA thick sweet liquid made by boiling sugar with water or fruit juice.
ScaldBringing a liquid, usually milk, to just below the boiling point.
ScoreAnother way to tenderize meat or vegetables by cutting shallow slits at regular intervals; it also keeps them flat during cooking.
SearCook at very high heat for a little while. Scortch.
SweatSteeping hydrates the food and brings out its flavor.
Shallow FryTo fry food in little boiling ghee or oil till brown.
SiftTo separate coarse pieces from flour, sugar etc by shaking through a sieve.
SmokingAlso known as Dhuanaar 
SmokingGlowing charcoal is placed in a small katori, or bowl, cooked meats are placed around this. Dry spices and ghee are poured on top of the coals and a lid is quickly placed over the meat. This smoking adds a delicate flavour to the prepared meats.
SkimRemove fat or foam from surface of liquid with a spoon.
SoftenAllow cold margarine or butter to remain at room temperature until soft and easily blended.
SteepSoak in a liquid at a temperature just under the boiling point to soften or extract an essence.
ScrapeRemove skin by using the scrapper.
Skin TomatoesTo peel the tomato skin by immersing them for two minutes in boiled water.
Tempering OR TadkaAlso known as Baghar .
Tempering OR TadkaSpices and herbs are added one at a time to hot oil and this tempering is either done as the first step in the cooking process, before adding the vegetables for example, or as the last, pouring the tempered oil over dal. The oil extracts and retains all the sharp flavours of the rai, kadipatta, jeera, hing, etc and coats the entire dish being prepared.Also known as tadka or chonk.
TearBreak into pieces, using your fingers.
TenderizeLay meat out on level surface and continuously pound with flat, spiked utensil.
ToastLightly brown food in oven or toaster.
TossTumble ingredients lightly with two utensils using a lifting, fluffing motion.
WhiskingMeans to incorporate air, usually in eggs.
WhippingBeating an ingredient until frothy and thick.

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