The world of cooking instructions is unimaginably vast. Terms related to cooking meat could fill a book in themselves. And don't even get us started on baking jargon. But for most of us, working knowledge of a few basic terms should ensure that we're able to follow cookbooks without running for the dictionary. Here are 15 terms you should definitely know, if you want to be a kitchen whiz.
They've obviously mastered all the cooking terms
An Italian term used to describe the ideal texture of pasta. It literally translates to 'to the tooth'. When a recipe calls for pasta to be cooked al dente, cook it until it's just about firm, or easy to bite into.
To blanch is to immerse in boiling water and cook a little. You might have to blanch tomatoes, in order to de-skin them, or spinach leaves, as preparation for palak paneer.
A useful term to know if you enjoy your meat tender. Braising involves cooking meat in oil until brown, then soaking it in some liquid (stock or such) and slow-cooking under a covered pan.
Caramelising is simply cooking sugar until it becomes a golden, syrupy liquid. You can caramelise onions or just about anything by adding sugar and slow-cooking.
Does the cake recipe ask you to dust icing sugar on top? That simply means you have to sprinkle the powder lightly and evenly, covering the entire cake.
A term used in baking, folding is a slightly complicated process. The basic aim is to blend a light mixture like cream or beaten egg whites into something heavier like cake batter without releasing air bubbles. You do this by using a cutting motion over and under, until both ingredients have been blended.
Julienne is to cut into long, thin strips. Most commonly, you might have to julienne carrots or ginger.
Marinade may be dry or liquid but usually consists of seasonings, herbs and spices.
This is a term you might have encountered in cocktail recipes. Muddle is to press fruits or herbs against the inside of a glass to help them release their juices, which are then imbued into the cocktail.
It's not just eggs that are poached. You can poach anything by cooking it gently in hot liquid that's just short of boiling. Try it with pears and wine for a delicious dessert.
To puree is to run any food item through a grinder or mash by hand, to make it fully smooth and paste-like.
The process of making a liquid thicker in consistency by boiling and letting water content evaporate is called reduction.
To saute vegetables, you cook them on a pan or skillet using very little oil/fat. It is one of the healthier forms of cooking.
When you cover the pan and allow any liquid dish to cook slowly with small bubbles rising to the surface, you are essentially simmering the dish.
Some recipes call for the use of stock. To prepare, boil bones, meat or vegetables in water along with desired spices and herbs. The liquid left after draining the meat or vegetables is stock.