Ask Nigel (the science bit)

One of the pleasures of the Sunday papers for me us Nigel Slater’s column in the Observer. The Internet allows me to create my own personal ‘best of’ Sunday paper, and not to have to get out of bed to read it (provided my laptop is in reach).

One of the things that they have added in the past year is a questions and answers section, where Nigel kindly answers reader’s queries. While I find his answers interesting, they are not sufficiently scientific for my liking, so I thought I would have a go and providing some alternative answers to the same questions. Here are Nigel’s original answers.

Q Nigel, for flavour and nutrition, is it better to crush or chop cloves of garlic? Many thanks.
For flavour, the more you disrupt the garlic cells, the more of their flavour you release. So for a subtle flavour, slice it thinly, for more oomph, chop finely (my personal choice) and for maximum flavour, or where you need something smooth (e.g. to add to mayonnaise for aioli) crush it with salt using the side of a knife. For nutritional purposes, unless you’re using bulbs and bulbs, whatever you do with the garlic is unlikely to affect the nutrition of the dish one way or another.

Q Is there a way to stop yogurt curdling and turning grainy when added to curry?
Yoghurt will curdle because the milk proteins denature – yoghurt is high in protein, and when heated too much, the protein molecules tangle with each other and form lumpy curds. This doesn’t happen with cream, because there is too much fat in the way, so using a full-fat or greek yoghurt will help. You can also stabilise the yoghurt by adding something else to interfere with coagulation – starch. Mixing a little yoghurt with some cornflour (say 1 tsp for a 4 person curry) will thicken the yoghurt slightly and provide stability. Finally, make sure you add the yoghurt at the end. Cook the curry all the way, turn off the heat and just stir through the yoghurt. It’s getting the yoghurt too hot that causes the curdling in the first place.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Published by

louise-marston

I’m Louise, and I’m a compulsive baker, cookbook hoarder and a bit of a food geek. I learnt to cook at home, and later at Tante Marie’s cooking school in San Francisco. With a science degree and a background in IT analysis, I like to understand why a recipe works, not just how to do it. Why the rules are there and when they can be broken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *