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  • Writer's pictureSanah Alban

Cooking Methods

This week I shared a recipe for a baked samosa pie. One of my goals for this journey of exploring vegan Pakistani food is to develop ways we can enjoy our cultural foods without negatively impacting our health. Deep fried foods are a large part of the cuisine, think samosas, pakoras, kebabs, kofte, puris, sev, papri etc. They taste so good but having them regularly isn’t ideal! This is why I’m experimenting with alternative cooking methods.

Deep frying vs Baking or Air Frying

As you probably already know, more oil will seep into the food and stay on the surface when deep frying. The advantage of baking or air frying is the ability to control the amount of oil. Just to give an idea, when I bake samosas I brush them each with less than a teaspoon of oil, whereas if I shallow or deep fry it’s obviously a lot more. I urge you to be more experimental with your oven or air fryer! Anything you’d normally fry, try baking or air frying!

Health implications of other cooking methods

This got me thinking about other cooking methods and their health implications:

  • No cooking and raw foods: Heat can break down and destroy 15 to 20% of some vitamins in vegetables, especially vitamin C, folate and potassium. Some methods are more detrimental than others, depending on the food. Cutting out cooking and eating food raw can maintain its nutritional value but note that some foods like carrots, spinach and tomatoes benefit from cooking as heat facilitates the release of antioxidants by breaking cell walls.

  • Microwaving: I was surprised to find that microwaving food is the healthiest because of its short cooking time resulting in less nutrient destruction.

  • Boiling: I thought that boiling food would be healthy but the high temperature and large volume of water can dissolve and wash away water soluble vitamins and minerals of certain vegetables. But research actually suggests boiling could be the best way to preserve nutrients in carrots, zucchini, and broccoli (when compared to steaming, frying, or eating raw).

  • Steaming or poaching: the lower heat and water content involved with steaming and poaching may be a better option than boiling for certain foods.

  • Slow cooking: this is also a great option as it has a lower temperature and the nutrients remain more stable.

I’m no expert so please do your own research too! Find what works best for you and the food you are preparing.

Check out my recipe for a baked vegan samosa pie!

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