Tag Archives: #hack

A Fresh Start: 30 Food Prep Shortcuts

Dig-In MealsA column highlighting Indian spices in recipes that take traditional Indian food and add a western twist!

The advent of a New Year harks new beginnings, a way to do things better, faster. Check out some tips and quick hacks—creating better habits around cooking more, saving more—to shift your behavior in the kitchen.  

  1. To preserve the color of your homemade ginger-garlic paste add some oil and salt to it.
  2. Make a big batch of fried onions in your air fryer or stovetop. Add mint while frying onions enhances their flavor. Use as a pizza topping, on biryani’s, pastas, etc.
  3. While grinding coriander chutney, add some ice cubes in the blender. This will help to reduce heat buildup and preserves the vivid green color of the chutney.
  4. Keep your unused avocado fresh. Take any Tupperware or a bowl filled with just enough water to submerge the exposed side of the fruit. Then, simply place the avocado half in the bowl, cut-side-down, and the next time you’re ready to use it, the avocado should look like it was just cut.
  5. To reduce the spice in any dish, add a few drops of lemon juice milk, or yogurt in the dish. 
  6. Perfect fluffy scrambled eggs: whisk them with whole milk before cooking 
  7. To achieve optimal firmness for your sautéed vegetables (eg: broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus) is to blanch or boil them briefly before sautéing
  8. To make a perfect batch of French toast soak your bread in an egg and cream mixture overnight in the refrigerator. This will keep the bread from falling apart, resulting in a rich and crispy toast when cooked.
  9. No more dry chicken: Brine your bird in salt and water (and lemon juice and herbs if you’d like the additional flavor) for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  10. Keep extra salad greens fresh and crisp by adding a few paper towels to the bag or container. Store in a tightly wrapped bag with just a little air.
  11. Recipe calls for onions? Chop, slice, or grind them and freeze in labeled freezer bags.
  12. At the end of the day, sprinkle some baking soda and vinegar in your sink. Take dishwashing liquid and coat the entire area. Leave the solution for half an hour, rinse to get a disinfected and clean sink!
  13. To remove the food smells from the kitchen, add the peels of lemons and oranges into a pan filled with water. Bring to a boil. As the water boils and releases the essential oils, it will neutralize the smells.
  14. Sharpen the blades of your blender by adding dry salt and whirring it for a couple of minutes.
  15. The stems of coriander and mint can be used in chutneys and stocks to flavor chicken/veggies.
  16. To increase the shelf life of fresh green chilis, remove the stem part of chilies before storing.
  17. Extra oil in your dish? Wrap a few ice cubes in a paper towel, then skim them across the top of your sauce/soup. The ice cubes will encourage excess fat to solidify, making it much easier to scoop out and discard! 
  18. While making paratha dough, adding milk helps softens the dough 
  19. To make gravies rich and creamy use beaten curd or a cashew past in lieu of cream.
  20. If you add extra salt to a dish, add a small ball of dough or drop a peeled potato into it, it will absorb the extra salt.
  21. Can’t seem to keep your potatoes from sprouting in storage? Just drop an apple in the bag or basket where you keep the potatoes
  22. Make your paneer last longer, store in water with few drops of vinegar in it.
  23. Want your butter to reach room temperature faster? Grate it. 
  24. While sautéing onions or aromatics for a curry/gravy, add a pinch of turmeric and salt. It speeds up the cooking process.
  25. Wrap the end of the banana bunch with plastic wrap. The skins won’t turn black and the fruit will remain fresh for longer.
  26. Freeze herbs like mint, thyme, rosemary, or coriander with melted butter or olive oil in an ice tray. Pop into any sauce.
  27. Microwaving whole garlic for around 20 seconds helps it to peel faster
  28. Use left-over whey after making paneer to make buttermilk for kadhi, add to gravies, or dough
  29. Everyday ingredients like eggs and potatoes can be boiled in advance and refrigerated for later use. Peel and quarter your potatoes before boiling or roasting them. The more surface area is exposed, the faster they’ll cook.
  30. Love lasagna but hate the long preparation time? Egg roll wrappers are a good substitute for lasagna sheets because they don’t need to be boiled. They come in small, easy to use squares

Perfectly Fluffy Basmati Rice in the Instant Pot

The ratio is 1 cup rice to 1.5 cups water. Close the lid. Valve to sealing position. Select pressure cook (high). Set time to 7 min. Once done, quick release the pressure after 10 min.

Optional: You can add 1 tsp ghee and 1tsp salt to the raw rice and water mixture before closing with the lid to enhance the flavor.

PS: Don’t use the rice option. 

Perfectly Dried Herbs (mint, cilantro, parsley, basil)

Sprinkle on just about anything.

The key to drying herbs is to eliminate moisture content without burning the leaves. Too much moisture left behind can result in mold growth, while high heat can scorch your leaves. Always thoroughly wash and blot before setting it out to dry. You can air dry or use the oven (my preferred method).

Low heat is critical to prevent burning leaves to a crisp. Set the temperature on your oven to the lowest possible — at most 200°F. Evenly spread out leaves to ensure everything dries at the same pace. Don’t layer leaves atop one another.

Bake at low heat for approximately 20/30 minutes. Keep an eye on your herb to avoid burning it. 

After 20/30 mins, turn off your oven and leave the herb to continue drying overnight. After about 12 hours in the dry, warm oven you should have easy-to-crumble bits of your herb ready to store.


Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: mona@indiacurrents.com

How to Secure Your Startup Properly

It’s always hard to set up a new business. And it’s even harder to do so successfully in the middle of a pandemic. 

According to TechCrunch, in the current climate, 70 percent of Indian startups will face financial difficulties alongside the other issues inherent in launching a new venture. But India has one of the world’s most bustling startup ecosystems, a fact that gives an immense amount of hope to both the private and public sectors. 

Attending to cybersecurity is a key part of setting up any new business in 2020. Without the right tools and strategies in place, a startup is likelier to fall victim to cybercrime and suffer both financial and reputational losses.

India is the second most affected region worldwide when it comes to cybercrime, so to give your new company the very best chance of succeeding, it stands to reason that your venture needs to significantly invest in a solid cybersecurity strategy, here’s how:

Create a culture of cybersecurity

Whether your business has 200 staff members or you’re operating with a team of 5, make sure that cybersecurity forms a key role in your company’s ethos. Creating a culture of cybersecurity means ensuring that everyone in the business is aware of the risks and knows that security is everyone’s job, not just the IT people’s.

Staff training can go a long way towards a solid cybersecurity culture. Bring in experts to train the team on procedures if possible.

Have the right tools for the job

Gone are the days when an antivirus was all the protection your computer needed. Now, in today’s dynamic and ever-changing digital world, the threats are far more advanced. Your company should seriously consider investing in the following tools at the very minimum:

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

You might think VPNs are primarily tools for privacy. But what a VPN does is create a private network, which in the process encrypts any data in transmission, keeping it safe from prying eyes. Installing a VPN in the office’s router means all devices, including any IoT-enabled tools, are protected.

Anti Malware & antivirus

Get both to ensure as much protection as possible from both the threats of old and the more modern threats such as drive-by malware downloads.

Email scanners

The changing face of phishing means that it’s not always easy to detect fraudulent emails or outreach attempts, especially when the attack is planned by seasoned hackers. To help avoid any nasties being unwittingly opened by staff, invest in email scanning software.

Check for vulnerabilities and make a breach plan

Although it’s not nice to consider, it’s always best to plan for the worst-case scenario. If a breach occurs, what is your company’s plan, who do you need to report the breach to, and how will the business inform affected clients? These are the questions your breach plan needs to cover.

To help avoid the nightmarish breach plan being enacted, try and get a cybersecurity expert to check over your systems and find any vulnerabilities. 

Founding a new business is tough, and it’s tougher still when faced with the spate of cyber threats on the horizon. But following the three actionable steps above gives your startup a greater chance of making it through and becoming a success.


Brad Smith is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN, a non-profit promoting a safe and free internet for all. He writes about his dream for free internet and unravels the horror behind big techs.