Dry Vs Moist Cooking: Learning Methods To Serve Perfect Dishes

Author and popular food science expert Krish Ashok mentioned in his recently published book, ‘Masala Lab: The Science Of Indian Cooking’, that Indian cuisine is not only an art but also a craft. For ages, cooks and chefs have been using scientific techniques to perfect each Indian dish that we know today. Whether you broil or boil a particular ingredient in a recipe, all can be explained using science. One of the crucial aspects of Indian cooking is dry and moist cooking. 

Video Credit: Chef Ranveer Brar/ YouTube

Moist cooking uses water under 100°C to cook food, while dry cooking includes cooking at a temperature above 100°C so that all moisture evaporates. Each method has a few techniques defined under it that can help you master your kitchen and serve impeccably cooked dishes each time. 

Dry Cooking Methods


In roasting, you apply a low amount of heat for a longer period so that the food cooks slowly. It allows the ingredient to cook to perfection, therefore, roasting is often done using coal or a grill. Meat and potatoes when cooked using this method taste more flavour than cooked using any other technique.


The aim of frying any ingredient is to dehydrate it so that the exterior turns brown and crispy. The insides of the dish cook gently in this method. Hence, most finger foods are fried so that you can enjoy the crispy exterior and juicy interior. For example, French fries, potato bites, fish fries, and other dishes are deep-fried in oil.


If you have ever baked, you must have noticed that the food comes out dry, crispy, and flaky. For delicacies like cake, pastries, and others, enough water is added so that the consistency after baking is perfect and you can achieve a moist texture. The hot air inside the oven cooks the food while vaporising water in it. 


Sauteing is also a dry cooking technique in which you only add a few drops of water if there is a risk of burning food. It is done on high heat with a small amount of fat. Many Indo-Chinese dishes, including fried rice, chowmein, noodles, and dry manchurian are prepared using his technique.


Broiling is a cooking method that uses either heat from coal in a grill or infrared waves in the oven to cook food. This technique is applied when you want to cook thinner slices of vegetables and meat. For example, pork tenderloin medallions and butterflied chicken breasts can be cooked to perfection with this method.


This technique is used to cook food in hot or cold smoke by burning a variety of woods to add a distinct flavour to the recipe. If you have tried smoked salmon or smoked pork ribs, you can instantly recall the smoky flavour that enhances the dining experience.

Moist Cooking Methods


Poaching is a popular method under moist cooking to cook running eggs with a soft exterior. In this method, the temperature of the water should remain at 85°C so that it does not bubble, and you achieve the perfect eggs.


This method of cooking is often used to make sauces. You need to add just enough water so that the consistency of the dish remains thick but slightly runny. Whether you are making pasta or Indo-Chinese curry, braising is the right cooking technique to help you achieve the perfect texture.


In this, you add ingredients to boiling water, which is just short of vaporising. Boiling eggs, potatoes, and other vegetables is a common method in Indian kitchens. Except for eggs, the technique softens the ingredients, making it easier to mash them and follow the recipe.


Stewing, though similar to boiling, is an approach in which you subject the food to hot water simmering at low heat. It is the best method to tenderise tough meat pieces. For example, lamb tagine, chicken tagine, and sausage stew are cooked using this method.


Blanching is a moist cooking method used for ingredients that cannot sustain long and direct exposure to heat. It also softens the ingredients so that it takes less time to cook and absorb flavours in the further steps of the recipe. Usually, spinach and vegetables are blanched before adding them to curries.


This process cooks food in the water vapours. This process is considered healthy because it prevents ingredients from leaching their nutritional value. Rice and momos are often cooked using this method. If you drop momo in hot boiling water, they are likely to disintegrate, leaving you with shreds of vegetables and dough.


Simmering is a cooking technique in which you maintain the temperature of water between 90-95°C when it is bubbling but has not begun to boil. It allows you to expose ingredients to heat for a longer time, helping you to cook them to perfection. When you are making any curry and adding thick vegetables or meat to it, simmering helps to cook the ingredients without burning them. 

Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking also requires water so that you can cook food in an airtight container. The temperature inside it can go beyond 120°C, which is why it cooks food faster. Pulses, legumes, raw potatoes, and other such ingredients are often cooked in a pressure cooker to reduce the consumption of LPG.