It is essential for all food service professionals to know the basics of food
preparation. It ensures that they should know the product they are serving
like all good salespersons and second, they are able to explain dishes to
guests who are unfamiliar with menu items.
The preparation of the food stuffs for
consumption generally involves the selection,
measurement and combining of the raw
ingredients in an ordered fashion/ procedure to
achieve a desired product.
The preparation of food which involves
procedure for preventing the growth of bacteria,
fungi and other micro-organisms in food and also
retards the oxidation of fats that causes rancidity
in food items is called food preservation.
Combining food ingredients in
various ways with delicate
flavours, textures and flavours
which appeal to the senses are
some parts of food
Food consumed by a person
should be pleasing in
appearance and taste. A
person can fulfil the
nutritional need of the family
by food preparation.
Food is cooked to bring
changes in their appearance,
texture etc. Application of
heat is applying heat to the
food to make food digestible
and safe from different
microorganisms present in
Improves the taste and food quality: Natural flavour and texture of food are
improved by cooking. Cooked rice and roasting coffee seeds improve the
flavour of seeds.
Destruction of microorganisms: Protected from harmful microorganism
application is one of the best method by which food is protected by harmful
microorganisms. If pasteurized milk is cooked on right temperature at
required time it can destroy all microorganisms. Micro-organisms can be
useful and harmful to health. Some microorganisms are useful in making
cheese, bread curd. Some may be detrimental to health, Eg. Salmonella
Improves digestibility: Pulses, vegetables, fibres of cereals are soften by
cooking and it is also shortened the digestive period and make food
chewable. Cooking also helps in making digestibility easy and person can
enjoy the food eating according to their choice.
Increases variety: Cooking increases the variety in the food, person can
easily make different variety with on food items like rice. It can be served
as plain rice, pulav, veg and non-veg biryani, combination with pulses in
the form of khichri, idli etc.
Concentrates Nutrients: It occurs due to cooking procedure, removal of
moisture or using combination of foods.
Increases Consumption of Food: Increase in consumption of food by cooking
is another advantage as it improves the texture of food, make it easily
chewable and increase consumption of food help the person to fulfil the
nutritional requirement, which is very necessary for the human body.
Increase in Availability of Nutrients: Increase availability of nutrients are
very essential part of cooking. It helps the person to get maximum benefit of
the food to be eaten.
Increases Antioxidant value: Cooking food helps in increasing antioxidant
value, e.g., cooked tomatoes helps in health benefits compared to uncooked
because cooking process makes lycopene more easily absorbed by the body
and it also reduces the risk of certain diseases.
The main thing in cooking is heat. The movement of heat from one surface
to another determines the quality and presentation of the food.
There are two basic rules of heat:
i. Heat is energy and moves towards the direction of cold
ii. It will seek to reach equilibrium in temperature with the cold surface.
There are six ways that heat moves from one surface to another:
i. Conduction: Here one molecule passes heat to the adjacent
molecule throughout a conductor like electric wire
ii. Convection: Here the heat transfers through gas or liquids like
boiling water where the bottom gets heated and passes on the
heat to the cooled water above.
iii. Radiation: It is the process of giving out rays caused through the
electro-magnetic spectrum like infra-red rays, visible light,
ultraviolet light, and x-rays at the short wave-length
iv. Fusion: It is the energy needed to melt or freeze ice (Ice creams
use this method where heat of the ice cream is transferred to ice
that chills it around a container. Ice coated with salt does not
melt but becomes colder when heat is transferred to it or
maintains the cold temperature. The net result is that ice cream
goes from a liquid to a solid)
v. Vaporization: It is a heat transfer method like boiling water that
turns into steam that in turn is used to cook food
vi. Condensation: It is when liquid is solidified like condensed milk.
The various methods of cooking adopt these
principles. The cooking methods can be
categorized into four ways:
1. Water media (steaming, boiling, poaching,
2. Fat media (roasting, frying)
3. Heat media (grilling/broiling, baking)
4. Smoke media (smoking)
The method uses moist heat (steam or
water vapour) where heat is transferred
through convection. Steam under
pressure can reach very high
temperatures because there is no air
present. Too much pressure can damage
unprotected food. Therefore, steam
release mechanisms are used, like the
domestic pressure cooker, to ensure that
steam maintains a uniform pressure.
There are two types of steaming-
indirect and direct. Indirect steaming is
achieved by sealing the food with cloth,
aluminium cloth or banana leaves and
immersing it in a perforated container
above a water boiler that generates
steam. The food does not get in with the
food directly. Direct steaming is a
process where food is in direct contact
with the steam.
It is ideal for weight-watchers and
those on medical diets as it does
not have any fat.
The food retains its basic qualities
and is very nourishing
There is no danger of overcooking
It takes a long time. It is not ideal for guests in a
The kitchen has to be equipped with steamers
to place such items on the menu.
The food has to be served immediately to enjoy
it. It may lose its freshness if kept in holding
The cook has to monitor the boiling water level
and steam levels so as to cook the food well and
maintain consistency throughout its cooking
Steam food would need sauces and
accompaniments to enrich flavours to the
steamed food is normally bland
This is a method in which food is cooked in boiling salt water (100°C) or
simmering stock. Green vegetables are immersed in boiling salt water to
retain its nourishment and flavour, while root vegetables are put in cold
salt water raised to a boiling temperature
It is ideal for weight-
watchers and those on
The resultant liquid known
as ‘Pot liquor’ can be used
as a substitute stock and
has a lot of nourishment
The food retains its original
qualities and is very
nourishing and therefore,
used in many hospital food
It is an inexpensive method
Vegetables lose their colour called “blanching”
The food while nutritious is very flavourless
In this method, food is cooked on shallow water,
e.g, poached eggs, poached fish, etc. The water is
allowed to simmer and not boil.
Being a water-based method, it is healthy and ideal for weight-
watchers and those on medical diet.
It is an inexpensive method of cooking
Food is tasteless and would need some seasoning or
sauce to give it flavour
This method is used to soften tough meats and joints. Meats and vegetables
are put into a utensil, and liquid which can be stock or water, is filled only
half to allow the remaining half of the meat to cook by steaming from the
vapours of the liquid. Herbs and spices are added to the liquid to give the
meats a flavour. The utensil is sealed throughout the cooking process. The
Irish Stew is famous in this category
In this method, Cheap cuts of meats can also be used for finer dishes. This ensures
the utilization of most of carcass.
This method tenderizes the food that otherwise would have been inedible.
It is a complete meal since it involves vegetables and meats, so it saves on
consumption of foods.
This dish retains all the nourishment of the ingredient work
It takes a long time to cook and therefore, has to be made well in
advance for instant service during food operations.
It has to ensure that the stew pot is kept at a simmering temperature.
Boiling temperature would ruin the stew.
It is a method where meat is browned quickly in fat, and then
cooked slowly in a covered pan with little liquid.
It is an ideal method for tough meats, inferior cuts and joints.
Meats are first roasted brown to seal off the pores so as to retain the
meat juices and flavour. The roasted meat is then placed on a bed of
vegetables, herbs, bacon and ham in a casserole. The casserole is
filled with stock and gravy to two thirds of the casserole with
flavourings and herbs. The casserole is sealed with a lid to prevent
evaporation and then placed in an oven or fire to cook very slowly.
Once the dish is finished, whole joints are glazed in the oven.
Ideal for tough meats and joints that otherwise would be inedible.
This method tenderises the meat to make them delectable.
It is fuel efficient as it uses low fires
It takes a long time to cook and would need a
sufficient lead time to serve.
Roasting is a method where food is cooked in direct contact with heat. Fat is
applied to the meat called “basting”. Pot-roasting, Oven-roasting, Spit-
Roasting and Tandoori-roasting are four traditional methods of roasting.
This is used in the absence of ovens,
for quality meats like small joints
and game birds, which are trussed
to retain their shape. It is browned
in a heavy-bottomed pot in melted
fat. Once the meat is browned, it is
removed and replaced again on
crossed rods at the bottom of the pot
to prevent the meat from sticking to
the bottom. The meat is basted
again. The pot is tightly sealed and
heated from below on a low fire.
Root vegetables are added to give
flavour. The meat is turned over for
even cooking. Once the roast is over,
stock is added to the drippings to
make a ‘Jus Roti’, gravy that goes
well with the roast.
This is the one in which good quality meats and poultry is basted and
poultry is basted and placed in a tray to be roasted at 300°F.
The meat is constantly basted and turned around to give it even colour
and cooking. Nowadays, cooks use aluminium foils to retain the juices
and flavours of the meat. They may enhance flavour with Matignon, a
marinade of two medium carrots, two onions, two sticks of celery
heart, ham thyme and bay leaf enclosed in the aluminium foil.
A popular cooking method seen in West movies or
The whole meat is skewered on a rod and cooked in its
own fat over direct flames. The meat is constantly
basted with fat and rotated to get even colour and
An Indian concept where meat is marinated with spices and curd
and skewered on rods and placed in mud ovens heated from
This method is used to make tandoori breads that go well with
tandoori meats. The tandoori chicken tikka is a famous dish made
from this method.
It is ideal for quality meats and poultry
As the pores are sealed with heat the meats
retain their juices.
It is the best way to cook whole animals and
poultry like suckling pig, duck, chicken or lamb
Roasts can be preserved for longer durations.
Once tandoori ovens are fired to the desired
temperature then cooking is quick and items
can be cooked at the same time they are
It is time consuming and has to be prepared
well ahead of actual service.
Tandoori ovens need time to fire to reach the
The cook must ensure even browning
periodically to ensure equal cooking especially
of whole meats.
Frying is a method where food is brought into direct contact with hot fat.
Saute, shallow frying and deep fat frying are the three methods
Sauté Shallow frying
Deep fat frying
The term literally means “to jump”.
This is done on very slow fire to tenderise items and
partially cook them.
The food is in small quantity in relation to the pan in
which it is sautéed so that it can be tossed or flipped.
The food is also cut into small pieces so that the surface
area of the pieces is greatest. A little fat is added to
avoid the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
The purpose of sauté is to cook quickly in order to
minimise water loss and vitamin destruction.
Vegetables are sautéed to retain their colour and serve
as accompaniments to pre-plated meat dishes. Most
sautéed items are partially cooked.
It is a complete cooking done with minimum fat.
This method is used for pre-cooked foods like
sausages and bacon
This is achieved when food is completely immersed in oil and
cooked at temperatures of 325°- 400°F, as in Fried Chicken or
The food is completely surrounded with oil, the food is evenly
browned. At these high temperatures, food browning and
cooking is done at an accelerated pace.
It is ideal method of cooking for coated foods as it ensures
Food tastes good
It takes very little time and can be processed at
the time of order from the guest
Fried foods can be stored and reheated
A method for both sweets and savouries.
Stable fats can serve deep frying for a 100
It is definitely not the ideal method for weight
watchers or those on medical diets.
It is an expensive method as more fat is used.
Oil used for deep frying needs time to heat to the
desired temperature. The temperature must be
kept constant consistent during the cooking.
Special attention is required to ensure that the fat
is not overheated as this spoils the food and the fat
which decomposes at high temperature.
This is a quick method of cooking on grid iron exposed to dry heat
from below or above either with fire or gas or electric means.
The term broiling is the American term of grilling.
It is ideal for expensive ones like meat and poultry.
The meat is marinated before cooking and never pricked while
cooking as the juices would flow out.
It is a method where iron
grills are coated with fat
and meats raw or
marinated, are placed on
them and cooked from
below with charcoal fire or
The charring of meat is
essential to get the best
taste out of this cooking.
Care must be taken to cook
the food evenly on both
This kind of cooking is
ideal for outdoor cooking.
Grill houses specializes in
It is done when foods are exposed to dry heat from above.
Expensive meats may be cooked in the salamander on grid rods
Vegetables may be cooked in trays
Au gratin (a dish cooked with topping of crumbs, cheese or cream sauce) items are browned
from above before service.
It is also used to glaze (giving a glossy top to finish to food with sugar syrup or reduced stock)
Mediterranean countries like Greece and Lebanon use vertical salamanders to cook dona kebabs
and shewarmas. Skewered meats are vertically rotated to ensure even cooking
It is a cooking method which ensures uniform
cooking and does not require flipping the meat
over to obtain uniformity
It reduces cooking time dramatically through
It uses microwave to cook food.
Quick and efficient method to cook food
Waves used by microwaves are closest in length to radio waves. The
waves used oscillate rapidly, the net effect is the reversal of the
electromagnetic field surrounding the food at a rate of many times
It is an alternate cooking method for weight-
watchers as very little fat or no fat is used.
It is quick and can be done at the time of
ordering grilled items by guests
The grilling can be modified to guests
preferences e.g., steaks that can be cooked rare,
medium rare or rare
It can be very personalised way of cooking as
done at barbeques.
It needs the constant attention of the cook
during cooking to ensure even cooking