Sweating To Grilling, 7 Hacks To Reduce Oil Use While Cooking
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Ask any nutritionist or health expert how much oil you should be consuming in a month to be able to lead a healthy lifestyle, and the answer you will get is generally around 500ml per person per month. But ask anybody who loves to cook at home, especially if they are Indian, how much oil they consume in a month, and you are quite likely to be utterly flabbergasted by how high the numbers are. This is because Indian food, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, and home cooking depend on a variety of cooking oils which most of us stock at home. 

This practice of using excessive amounts of oil to make everything from vegetable fry to sabjis and pulaos can actually lead to a lot of harm to our health in the long run. The reasons behind this are many and proved by studies from across the world. Oil is a concentrated source of fat, and certain types, like saturated and trans fats, can be detrimental to health when consumed in excess. By reducing oil in cooking, you can decrease your overall fat intake, particularly unhealthy fats that can contribute to cardiovascular diseases and other health conditions. 

Oil is also very calorie-dense, with approximately 120 calories per tablespoon. By reducing the amount of oil used in cooking, you can significantly lower your calorie intake, which can help with weight loss and weight management. What’s more, reducing oil in cooking allows you to focus on the natural flavors of the ingredients and promotes the use of alternative flavor-enhancing techniques. By relying on herbs, spices, citrus juices, and other seasonings, you can enhance the taste of your dishes without relying solely on added oils. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana

So clearly, reducing the amount of oil used in cooking can benefit you in myriads of ways. If you are wondering how to reduce oil in cooking, then there are quite a few easy hacks you can try out. Here are some of the easiest hacks to reduce oil in cooking. 

Sweat The Veggies

Most vegetables contain plenty of water, and as you cook, these waters are released. So, an easy and flavourful way to reduce oil for cooking would be to let the vegetables sweat until they release their water gradually. You can also add other ingredients that sweat well, like fresh herbs, lean chicken pieces, mushrooms, etc.  

Use Non-Stick Cookware

Non-stick cookware reduces the need for excessive oil when cooking. Its non-stick surface allows you to cook with minimal oil or even without oil altogether, preventing food from sticking and making it easier to clean the pan. However, if you are worried about the health repercussions of overusing non-stick cookware, then use well-seasoned cast iron pans. 

Try Parcel Cooking

Whether you are cooking fish, chicken or meat, or veggies, this method works for them all. Try placing all your ingredients with flavourings like salt, spices, herbs, lemon, etc in an aluminium foil or parchment paper parcel. You can also try a turmeric or banana leaf for the parcel wrap. This will ensure that the ingredients cook in their own juices without any need for oil. 

Use Broths To Steam Saute 

Instead of using oil for sautéing vegetables or protein, use vegetable broth or stock as a flavorful alternative. Heat the broth or stock in a pan and cook the ingredients until they soften and develop flavor. Steam sautéing is a method where you use a small amount of water or broth in a pan to cook your ingredients. Add a small amount of liquid to the pan, then add your vegetables or protein and cook until they're tender. The liquid evaporates, leaving the food cooked and flavorful without the need for oil. 

Bake or Roast Instead of Frying 

Instead of deep-frying or pan-frying, opt for baking or roasting methods. Coat food items with a light mist of oil or use a brush to apply a thin layer. Baking or roasting allows the food to cook and develop a crispy texture with minimal oil. 

Try Searing  

Searing involves cooking food at high heat in a skillet or pan until a browned crust forms on the surface. By searing the food, you can achieve a delicious caramelized exterior without relying on excessive oil. A non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can further reduce the need for additional oil. 

Grilling Works!

Grilling is another great way to minimize the use of oil in cooking. When you grill food, it is cooked directly over an open flame or heat source. The high heat quickly cooks the food, resulting in a charred exterior and moist interior. Grilling allows excess fats to drip away from the food, reducing the overall oil content. You can brush a minimal amount of oil on the food to prevent sticking, enhance flavor, or promote a crispy texture, but it is not necessary for the cooking process itself.