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Krish Ashok On Debunking Meals Myths & Misinformation in His ‘Masala Lab’

Not having the ability to replicate his mom’s cooking led Chennai-based Krish Ashok to discover the science behind Indian cooking, culminating in his ebook ‘Masala Lab’. He additionally debunks meals myths and advocates for utilizing trendy know-how within the kitchen.

When my mom used to journey, she would jot down easy recipes like sambhar, rasam, primary sabzis, raitas, and curries. Regardless of our earnest efforts to copy them precisely as written, my father and I may by no means fairly match the style of amma’s cooking.

Take, as an illustration, the common-or-garden rasam — it appears easy however proves deceptively difficult to excellent. At its core, this tangy, comforting dish requires minimal substances: tamarind, tomatoes, and crucially, the precise rasam powder (which might make or break the dish!), all seasoned with spices and a beneficiant dollop of ghee.

So, then why does my rasam by no means measure as much as these made by the stalwarts of the family? Some may attribute it to ‘maa ka pyaar’ (mom’s love), and whereas that sentiment holds true, there’s additionally a scientific facet to it.

Krish Ashok launched into a mission to unravel this science and share it with the world. When he moved to the US for work, he found that his grandmother’s potato fry far outshone his personal. How does one obtain that elusive excellent crispness? Why do you add some spices after others and roast them for lesser occasions? It’s not simply because the recipe ebook says so. It’s as a result of chemical reactions that happen. The search behind these causes led to Ashok’s journey in the direction of turning into a kitchen alchemist!

Ashok with his parents
Ashok together with his dad and mom

The worldwide head for AI Cloud Advisory and Consulting at TCS (Tata Consultancy Providers), Ashok applies his coaching as an engineer to decode the science behind Indian cooking. Beginning with a humour weblog within the nineties, he wrote a ebook referred to as ‘Masala Lab’ in 2021.

Afterwards, his journey on social media started, sharing intriguing tidbits from his ebook. He ultimately took on prevalent scaremongering about sure substances and meals which are mentioned to hurt well being. The 46-year-old began myth-busting and explaining easy ideas, reminiscent of why it’s completely superb to make use of a microwave oven or air fryer, why storing meals within the fridge is secure, and why variations in salt varieties don’t considerably influence your well being.

His attribute wit and sass received over the web, providing a dose of sanity and science in an area crowded by folks on the lookout for two-minute fame with out substantiating their claims with info. 

Chemical engineering in a house lab

Rising up in a progressive family in Chennai, Krish Ashok was inspired by his father to experiment with numerous sorts of meals outdoors the house. He started cooking as a youngster, however his actual journey with cooking began when he moved to the US for work.

Myth busting with Krish Ashok

Earlier than transferring, he meticulously wrote down recipes from his mom, grandmother, and different older girls within the household. He discovered their approach of sharing recipes fascinatingly totally different from cookbook strategies. Their inherent information of the science of cooking, with out viewing it by a scientist’s or engineer’s lens, captivated Ashok and sparked his curiosity in meals science.

“My authentic curiosity in meals science occurred once I recognised that the way in which my grandmother or grand-aunt thought of meals was essentially totally different from how recipe books tended to consider it. It was evident that my grandmother was occupied with meals as heuristics and algorithms and in a really scientific approach,” Ashok tells The Higher India.

Moreover, when he referred to cookbooks, they missed out on this necessary tacit information. “Cookbooks don’t let you know why it’s essential to add two cups of water for rice. They don’t educate you how one can regulate for extra rice or how one can discover out if one thing is cooked. When is the precise time so as to add salt? This sensible information by first-hand expertise was lacking in cookbooks,” he provides.

Krish Ashok is the author of Masala Lab
Krish Ashok is the creator of Masala Lab: The Science of Indian Cooking

So on holidays again residence, he began observing them and realised that that is all sensible information, versus theoretical. Since science may clarify the hows, whats and whys, the creator began writing about it on X. His meals deconstruction posts and threads grew to become broadly common.

“I lived overseas for seven years. My engineering mindset made me have a look at cooking by the lens of science, fairly than by the lens of artwork and historical past. And I discovered that there was no ebook in regards to the science of Indian cooking,” he provides.

This led to him writing Masala Lab, which used his coaching as a software program engineer, because of which he may apply information, algorithms and patterns to clarify meals. By his ebook and movies on social media, he makes use of what he calls excessive school-level science to clarify what our moms and grandmothers do within the kitchen.

Ashok covers numerous scientific points of cooking, such because the science of stress cooking, the position of acids, microwaves, warmth, roasting, and extra. His purpose is to demystify cooking and dispel misconceptions, making the method extra approachable and understood.

“Our dad and mom and grandparents gained this information by years within the kitchen. We don’t have that point, so why not use know-how on your comfort? I hope that by explaining that it’s okay to make use of frozen meals or the fridge or microwaves and air fryers, the youthful era doesn’t proceed the foolish notion that meals will probably be scrumptious provided that you spend three hours making it,” he provides.

Forgot to soak your chana (chickpeas) at evening? Merely soak it in sizzling water for a couple of minutes.

The kitchen alchemist

Moreover sharing fascinating meals science tidbits, Ashok additionally delves into meals historical past, exploring the etymology of phrases like ‘calamari’ and the historical past of biryani, amongst different matters. Personally, what I take pleasure in most is how he debunks pseudoscientists with info, delivered together with his trademark humour and sarcasm, typically beginning with ‘Abey yaar’.

Fantasy busting with Krish Ashok:

  1. Leftover meals is okay, and frozen meals is totally superb.
  2. An air fryer or microwave isn’t going to offer you most cancers.
  3. Strain cooking doesn’t destroy vitamins.
  4. You can not detox simply by consuming or ingesting one thing.
  5. Palm oil is simply one other oil. Eat all oils moderately.

Edited by Pranita Bhat; Pictures Courtesy Krish Ashok

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