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Power cooking

THE microwave oven came as a lucky stroke to many. Gone were the long messy hours in the kitchen, as also ugly grease marks that clung to the sooty kitchen walls. But adapting this super oven to Indian cooking was not that easy. Unlike cooking asparagus and broccoli, cooking dhal and rice in a microwave oven required ingenuity. And that is where Vijayalakshmi Reddy comes in with her book Pleasures of Microwave Cooking.

The Introductory chapter gives one a quick run-through on the "do's and don'ts" of using the oven. A useful chapter where you learn what kind of utensils you can use and tips on when to use broad and shallow containers and how to lift the bowls out of the oven after cooking.

There are tables for standard measurements and a glossary thus ending your having to running around trying to find out whether one tablespoon is 15 gm or 10 gm. And the glossary puts you wise to names such as javithri and Karbuja ka dhana, (mace and melon seeds, in case you wanted to know.)

The chapter on "Basic Preparations" leaves you baffled as you search for the connection with the microwave oven. But there is no connection. It is just thrown in to make you more efficient in the kitchen. A mixture of pastes like Ginger-garlic, red chilli and pulps. There are explanations too that would make even the most inept cook wonder — "To shred vegetables — To cut into lengthy pieces" "Ginger shreds — Peel the skin and grate with grater." Surely these would be self-explanatory in the recipe itself?

A wide range of salads and soups that can be easily cooked come up next. Easy recipes and the cooking time is minimal, adding to its appeal. The rice recipes too are simple to make and interestingly adapted to the microwave oven. It is intriguing to see how lemon rice and khara pongal can be so easily made.

A variety of recipes for snacks too is welcome, with recipes of "Spicy Potato and Peanut Chat" and the "Mixed Vegetable Tikkies" to name a few.

There are recipes for various vegetarian dishes as well as non-vegetarian and also cakes, puddings and halvas.

All in all an interesting book that should take the load of your cooking time and also ensure a variety on your dining table.

NIMI KURIAN

Pleasures of Microwave Cooking, Vijayalakshmi Reddy, Vasan Publications, 2002, p. 131, Rs. 250.

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