How Tech can make you a better cook
This handy selection of apps and gadgets can help you whip up a storm in a kitchen, regardless of your existing skill level.
BigOven (Android, iOS & Windows Phone) BigOven is a complete cooking tool. It features over 3,50,000 recipes — you can browse through them on the web or the app. You can even get details on a full menu selection for certain occasions. A free account lets you create a favourite recipe list, access your Facebook friend’s recipes and add your own recipes. Plus, you can enter three ingredients that you already have and the app will suggest something to make make with them.
Cookpad Recipes (iOS & Android) With this app, you become part of a community that continuously keeps adding and sharing recipes. Recipes are sorted under different headers (main dishes, desserts, side dishes etc.) and you can even search for recipes based on ingredients. There’s also an entire section dedicated to drinks and bartending. If something seems complicated, you can ask other members for help directly within the app.
Epicurious (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) Apart from access to a large selection of recipes from leading restaurants, top cookbooks and chefs, Epicurious stands apart from the others thanks to voice guided support. You can open a recipe and the app can read the process out for you so that you don't have to keep looking at the screen. You can also create a shopping list for ingredients from a recipe to pickup later. Create an account and recipes in the app are synced across devices automatically.
AllRecipes Dinner Spinner (Android & Windows Phone) Are you always in a bind about what cook? With the free Dinner Spinner app, you can now get quick suggestions and recipes for making dishes using the ingredients you have at hand. A handy shopping list section in the app can be updated from the app or the website and it can be accessed offline.
Save Recipes From the Web
Evernote Food (Android & iOS) If you’re on the lookout for an app where you can just store all the recipes you find on the web, checkout Evernote Food. The free app lets you document recipes and restaurant visits with photos, notes and location. You can even search for recipes from the apps database and share them with friends over social media.
Love Indian Cooking?
Sweet'N'Spicy (Android, iOS & Windows Phone) For the traditional chef, this app has over 12,000 Indian recipes and 1,500+ videos (you can choose to filter the recipes by vegetarian, non-vegetarian or vegan). There are often multiple ways to make the same dish and it can guide you (in case you don't like some of the ingredients). The app also offers health tips, allergy related information and there's a community section where you can ask questions.
Watch what you eat
With the free Calorie Counter by MyFitnessPal (iOS & Android), you can keep track of your daily calorie intake. The app has a database of over 40,00,000 food items to give you precise calculations of calories, fat, protein, carbs, fiber etc. for any food. You can save meals that you consume regularly and even add multiple items for a combined calorie count. In addition, the app also has a section on exercises to keep you fit.
Gadgets for the budding chef
OrangeChef Prep Pad ($150 + shipping, theorangechef.com) An entirely new concept in home cooking, the OrangeChef Prep Pad is a smart food scale that works in conjunction with its iOS app, Countertop. The Prep Pad precisely measures the weight of each food ingredient and transfers it over Bluetooth to your iPhone/iPad. The focus is on healthy eating and it helps you to track the number of calories (in each ingredient) you’re putting into a meal. You can set nutritional goals and monitor the amount of carbs vs proteins in the meal in real time. The app has a database of over 3,00,000 items which helps you track the nutritional value of your meal.
Food Thermometer ($5 including shipping from DX.com) Many recipes call for precise temperature measurements – not just of the surface but also inside (while cooking a whole chicken or cake, for instance). That’s why this inexpensive food probe thermometer is such a boon. The sharp probe is stainless steel and there’s a little LCD that can show you the temperature of your food item in Celsius or Fahrenheit (a range of -50 to 300 Degrees Celsius or 58 to 527 Fahrenheit). It’s powered by a replaceable LR44 button cell which should easily last several months.
Air Fryer (Rs 10,000 onwards) Low or no oil cooking features heavily in many households now. If you’re serious about reducing the fat content of your food, get yourself an air fryer. You can buy the one from Philips (shown here — Philips is the inventor of the technology) or from any of the other ‘me-too’ brands you’re comfortable with. The high speed circulation of hot air inside the enclosure quickly and evenly cooks items without your intervention. There are only two settings: temperature and a timer. Most of the store bought frozen foods (fries, nuggets, samosas, chicken popcorn) turn out great in 10 to 15 minutes. As a bonus, there are thousands of free air fryer-specific recipes online (with videos).
Special Tablet Stands (Rs 3,000 onwards) The iPad (or for that matter, any tablet) is a great cooking tool/assistant in the kitchen. You can use it follow along with a video of your favourite cooking show, watch thousands of videos on YouTube or just use one of the apps mentioned on this page. A good stand will keep the tablet away from the odd splash or two plus keep it at eye level for easy reading and access. A typical gooseneck tablet stand affixes on a counter top, can be angled any which way and supports all types of tablets between 7 to 10 inches (with or without a case).