Culinary Science

Creating fine cusine is an art and science in itself. Acquiring theoretical knowledge and attempting to make a dish would improve your ability to create and perfect new recipes of your own.

Basic sciences.

Taste sensations are perceived at different areas of the tongue and also most importantly the nose.( If your nose is blocked due to secretions taste sensation would be greatly diminished).

Aromatic volatile oils are the main stimulants of the nerve endings inside the nose. These oils evaporate depending on the temperature. Spices retain its flavour better and longer when frozen or kept in the fridge. Same applies to the cooking process. If aromatic spices are added at the beginning of the cooking process most of it escapes with the heat inside the cooking vessel.

The aromatic oils with toxicity on bio-systems are produced by plants for a variety of reasons, but mainly to limit predation by insects and herbivores. Heating alters the compounds and neutralizes some of its effects. Thus raw foods and spices are poorly tolerated in large quantity.

For a fine tasting dish aim for a subtle blend of flavours with no single ingredient's flavour overpowering. Appearance, texture and smell adds to the excitement.

Add aromatic spices in small quantity at about 40- 50 degree C just before serving. Do not keep the dish at this or higher temperature longer than a minute.

Finally, presentation and ambience should not be ignored.

Flavours that are not volatile- Sugar, salt, sour, and bitter.

All other flavours tend to be altered by heat.

Try cooking a dish and create something new!

Take heed “Practise makes perfect”. Analyze what went wrong if your dish did not turn out right. Review and study the theory outlined above and experiment again.

Try following simple recipe which you can modify to your taste.

Preparation of gravy base.

1 chopped large onion + 1 chopped Tomato. + 2 table spoons of vegetable oil.

Heat the above ingredients together in a pan,stirring until the chopped tomato becomes almost liquid. Add a cup of cold water and liquidize in a mixer until it becomes a smooth gravy.

Add pre cooked hot Meat or Fish 200- 250 grams and 1 table spoon of mixed Meat or Fish masala. Boil on a low heat for couple of minutes. Garnish with corriander, curry leaves or parsley. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to your liking.

Serve it with rice or tapioca (Cassava)

Variation to the above recipe.

1. For'Meat Masala Fry'- Fry the meat and gravy mixture in another 2 table spoon of oil. When gravy is almost evaporated out remove from the hob. Mix a teaspoon of dry meat masala powder and garnish. Close the lid for 2 minutes for the flavours to infuse into the meat.

2. For fish curry- One can add garlic & ginger to onion and tomato at the start of gravy preparation for a different subtle flavour. Coconut milk may also be added at the last stage of the preparation.

The time taken for the entire dish depends on the boiling of Meat or Fish, for the latter 10- 15 minutes. For the meat- the time taken for the meat to soften by boiling.

For the fresh prawn curry- Timing is very critical. Over-cooking shrinks the fresh prawns and makes it rubbery.( Pre-cooked frozen prawns would not work well. Blast frozen fresh prawn gently thawed [ not in a microwave]would be better than pre-cooked. Be aware that under cooked fresh prawns could increase the risk of short colonic upsets in some people. Avoid prawns if you have known allergy to prawns or asthma )

Washing several times meat and fish to get rid of almost all traces of blood makes a better dish.

Prefer not to add the boiled water of fish or meat to the gravy except a small amount to get the thickness of the gravy to one's liking. The remaining liquid stock could be used in a soup.


Meat Thoran

Boil large pieces of beef ½ kg with salt in a pressure cooker for about 30 to 40 minutes or until medium soft.

Finely chop the pieces to 3-5 mm cube sizes.

A large onion-finely chopped fry the onion in 2-3 table spoonful of veg oil.

2 -3 inches of Ginger (finely chopped)

Green chillies 3-4 ( depends how hot you like)- finely chopped.

½ a coconut – grated.

Heat all the above items in a pan for a few minutes. Add enough salt to taste.

Serve with rice and natural yoghurt.


More of easy recipes to follow:-


An experience with Saxophone.

As a young child I had heard a short interlude of an instrument in a music on listening to Radio Ceylon. It took me several years to find out which musical instrument was heard on the radio. It was Tenor B flat Saxophone. On seeing the instrument on a live performance I felt the saxophone was not appropriate one for me. Among other instuments electric guitar appealed to me, particularly " The Shadows "playing 'Apache'.

In my first year at Medical College I bought an acoustic guitar with steel strings. Sure enough the finger tips became very painful after a few minutes of leaning to play. But over the course of a few weeks thick skin developed at the finger tips. During the final year at Medical College I played a guitar lead for a Hindi song in the Annual College Day.

A few years later I started taking lessons on Classical Spanish Guitar and I was comfortable playing a the piece called"Romance". However, I felt years of diligent regular practice would be required to play like John Williams, Julian Bream or flamingo guitarist, Paco Pena.

Eleven years ago, I fancied having a go at Saxophone. After researching on the Internet an Alto sax made by Trevor James company was bought. In a few weeks I was able to play Christmas carols and a year later I settled on Tenor Saxophone. Attending college of music in the evening once a week for a few months cleared up many queries and I learned to read written music for saxophone though playing by ear was a lot easier than following written music. Now I continue to play the Saxophone for a few minutes once or twice a week.

My recommendations to Saxophone students.

First and foremost you should enjoy listening to sax. Next thing is patience. Do not spend a fortune on the first instrument but go for a new one made by a reputable maker. Alto Sax is good to start with.

Buy synthetic soft reed which is resistant to squeaking, does not need pre-moistening and is longer lasting. Rest your sax on a stand and not inside in its case.

Play only for a few minutes at a time. Listen to the sound and learn to adjust your embouchure to produce the desired pitch. Learn short phrases and see whether you can bend the notes similar to soft strings on a guitar or other instruments.

Sax sound could annoy neighbours or others in the household. Therefore, be considerate and not overdo practising. Before playing check key pads are not stuck to tone holes by dried saliva. It would usually be G flat pad which needs release manually.

I could answer your specific questions regarding the instrument including the soprano sax which I had tried for a few months.

"All the Best "if you decide to have a go for a diversion from your usual activities.

Dr.Mathew Varghese