Cooking with spirits or alcoholic beverages as ingredients is quite uncommon in India. However, with changing times and our inclination towards exploring different cuisines, food or cooking styles now we have also started using alcoholic beverages as ingredients in various types of cooking. Myths are breaking as we have realised that when any alcoholic drink is brought in contact of heat the alcohol evaporates leaving the aroma and taste behind which in turns enhances the flavors of dish. Now when we have started to experiment with food, let’s see how we can use them. Well, they can be used in precooking process like marinating, as they are acidic so they can be used as flavor enhancer or a sweet and sour ingredient replacing vinegar or it can be used as meat tenderiser.
Tips for cooking with alcohol
- Whisky is ideal for cooking in stir fries or any Asian dish.
- As they are acidic, aromatic and flavourful ingredients, they make for an excellent marinade. Next time try adding some rum to your marinating chicken or meat, or wine to marinate the fish, and enjoy the softness and a different taste.
- It is a great fat substitute. When you reduce the fat from dishes, you usually need to add another ingredient to replace the lost moisture. For example instead of sautéing veggies in lots of butter or oil, you can add smaller amount of oil plus some wine for flavour and moisture.
- In Indian cooking, be very careful while balancing it with other spices. Remember this ingredient is very strong in flavour and aroma.
- Use them for fruity tangy sour flavours.
- They are excellent in chilled desserts.
- Items like Coffee Liqueurs and Irish Cream can enhance the flavor and texture of cold desserts and shakes or coffee.
- Beer is good rising agents so next time when you plan to make crispy fried onion rings or batter fried sea food use beer instead of water.
- When I started cooking with alcohol I decided not to stick to only wines but also use items like whiskey, vodka, rum etc., as ingredients and voila! I was quite successful in creating few dishes as fusion items.
Pineapple with Tequila and Mint Salad
1 ripe pineapple
Sugar to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
40 ml tequila
Fresh mint leaves, cut in tiny strips
Few mint sprigs for garnish
Chop off the top and bottom of the pineapple by using a sharp knife, and remove the outer skin.
Now cut in half, remove the core and then cut the flesh into chunks , which are one to one-and-half inches thick.
Take these pieces of pineapple in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, lemon juice, and 40 ml of tequila. You can increase the quantity of tequila as per your liking.
Toss the pineapple and other items to mix properly, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour to chill.
To serve, arrange on a serving plate, sprinkle with the mint strips and serve chilled.
(This tandoori chicken in inspired by North American cuisine, and is an excellent dish made with vodka)
6 chicken legs
90 ml vodka
½ cup orange juice and pulp
1 tbsp orange zest
Juice of 2 lemons
8 green chillies
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp cumin powder
5-6 garlic pods
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Make a few slits on the chicken pieces to let the marinade go into the meat. Mix the vodka, orange pulp and juice, lemon juice, green chillies, garlic pods, thyme, oregano, cumin powder, salt and oil in a food processor to make a smooth mixture.
Marinate the chicken with this, for at least an hour in refrigerator.
Grill or roast the marinated chicken in an oven at 1800C for 30-35 minutes, or sauté in a pan. For even cooking don’t forget to keep turning at regular intervals.
Cook the remaining marinade, by adding more vodka and little bit of orange pulp, and serve as dipping sauce with the chicken.
TIP: Roast the chicken on charcoal grill to get the best result
(Spaghetti All’Ubriaco means “drunken spaghetti” as it is cooked in
generous amount of red wine)
4 cups water
4¼ cups dry red wine
300 gm spaghetti
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
½ cup coriander or parsley, finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a saucepan, combine the water with four cups of wine and a pinch of salt and bring to boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, stirring, until al dente. Drain, reserving ¼th cup of the stock.
Heat some oil in a pan and add garlic, red pepper and season with salt. Cook over moderate heat for a minute. Add the remaining ¼th cup of wine and the reserved stock and simmer. Stir in the pasta and cook until the liquid is nearly absorbed. Add in the parsley, nuts, cheese and the remaining oil and toss.
Season the pasta with salt and pepper and garnish with grated cheese.
You can use butter garlic sautéed veggies such as yellow and green bell peppers, florets of broccoli, carrots etc. This will add more colours and flavors to the dish.