Healthy living is as much of a fad these days, as it is a necessity. With the ever-growing tribe of health-conscious folks, it isn’t surprising to witness a number of cooking appliances and techniques to ensure that the fat content in the food remains minimal. Oil sprays available at hypermarket stores allow you to add only that much oil as is required for the dish, while appliances like the Philips AirFryer review make use of air instead of oil to fry ingredients. Traditional cooking techniques like boiling, which have been around since ages, only received their due in recent times after the diet craze began, and new cooking methods continue to be developed to cater healthy food to those who wish to keep their waistlines and cholesterol levels in check. We speak to city chefs to know the cooking techniques and appliances they make use of to keep their food healthy.
Executive sous chef of Hyatt Recency Pune, Pradipt Sinha, says that chefs at the hotel often cook dishes using the sous-vide technique. “This is a great way of keeping your food low-fat. The ingredients you wish to cook, be it meat or vegetables, are marinated and vacuum packed. They are then cooked for long hours at constant temperatures,” says chef Pradipt, adding that if you have meats like duck, they lose their juices if you roast them. In food cooked using the sous-vide technique, meats and vegetables retain their nutritious juices, and it is also very healthy because no extra fat is utilised to cook it.
Traditional methods of healthy cooking like boiling are what Arindam Bhattacharya, executive chef of Oakwood Premier Pune, swears by. At the hotel, though, Arindam uses this technique called searing to keep food healthy. “We have sophisticated grills, which sear foods at very high temperatures. The technique retains nutrients in the ingredients, whilst making them crisp and fragrant,” says chef Arindam, adding that it is only heat that is the cooking agent here, not fat. The mechanism is similar to that of the Chinese wok, and while you can’t make gravy dishes using the searing method, meats can certainly be cooked this way and gravies added later.
Arindam also says that you get special grills in the market, which aren’t completely flat, but instead are angled, so that the excess fat drains off while food is being cooked. “One way of consuming healthier food is by cooking them using zero-transfat and monosaturated oils. We only use these oils at Oakwood Premier,” he states. Eating excessive salt isn’t very good for the health either and Arindam dismisses the notion that food without generous amounts of salt and fat isn’t appetising. “Adding a lot of herbs and spices to the food, like thyme, mint, ginger and others, can make food quite delicious, despite using little salt,” Arindam sates.
Ista hotel’s executive chef Anthony En Yuan Huang advocates the traditional method of steaming, which is the most widely used technique at the hotel’s Asian cuisine restaurant Baan Tao. “Asian food features a lot of steamed food. The cuisine itself is quite healthy since it mostly incorporates methods like stir frying with minimal oil and cooking using high fire. We use the high-pressure Shanghai Steamer to steam our fish and dimsums,” says chef Anthony, adding that steaming is the healthiest method of cooking, and nothing could be better for fitness freaks than a meal comprising steamed food. As far as products like oil sprays are concerned, chef Anthony thinks they’re more of a convenience than a fad. “They’re quite handy, and help you glaze your salads properly,” he says. The chef further adds that techniques like sous-vide, which are fast catching up in terms of popularity are great, but tried and tested traditional methods of healthy cooking will always remain the most convenient and popular.