If you’ve looked lustily at how television chefs chop, shred and slice ingredients, and bemoaned your lack of dexterity, here are few tricks to brush up your skills. Go, chop chop.
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If you’ve looked lustily at how television chefs chop, shred and slice ingredients, and bemoaned your lack of dexterity, here are few tricks to brush up your skills. Go, chop chop.

Bread: For those perfect slices from a loaf, make sure the knife has a sharp blade. Preferably, opt for a small wavy edge knife. Pour some boiling water on the blade. In a sawing motion, run the hot blade into the loaf of bread (which should be at room temperature). Viola! clean slices for your sandwich!

Lemon: It is often quite a task to juice the small round lemon that is most commonly available to us. Depending on the purpose, you can cut a lemon in various ways. If you need slices for garnishing, start slicing around the lemon, lengthwise (vertically) to get delicate thin slices. To juice, cut the lemon from top to bottom or lengthwise. This can produce more juice than cutting it the regular way, which is slicing it at the belly horizontally. The main reason for doing this is to leave the pulp more exposed which will help you extract more juice from the lemon.

Watermelon: For me, this fruit screams summer with the amazing sweet water content, which in fact, is the problem when it comes to cutting it into pieces. If not done properly your counter will be a tiny pool of sweet watermelon juice. To avoid all this mess to get my watermelon cubes, I’ve been following a technique that has a few simple steps. Cut the watermelon into a half, then quarter. You have a boat-shaped melon. Make horizontal and vertical lines on the red flesh of the fruit. You will get cubes to chomp up. Chew the seeds, they’re rich in vitamin B and great food for your skin. Do not slice all the way through the bottom of the melon.

Capsicum: A growing staple in various cuisines, cutting a Capsicum can be tricky because a large chunk of this vegetable is seeds. So, first you have to slice off the crown of the capsicum which will help you use your fingers to pull out the seeds and innards. Once the messy part is done, slice the pepper in half. Lay the pepper flat on the chopping board, with the cut top down, and slice right through the middle and then slice off the strips lengthwise. Depending on how you’re planning to use them, make the strips thick or thin. Continue slicing until the entire half-pepper is in strips. Line up the strips, it is okay if you take few strips at a time. Line them up together and simply cut across to make even squares. You’re ready to use them in any dish you want or you can refrigerate it in an air-tight box for later use.

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Kiwi: Rather than using a peeler and losing out the pulp, halve the fruit down the middle. With the help of a spoon, scoop out the entire pulp and use it wherever desired.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes can get squishy while slicing because of the high water content but we can’t really do without them in our Indian dishes or even in our salads. While adding them in gravies, it doesn’t really matter the shape in which you cut them but when serving them in a salad, you need to get the perfect round slices. To get these perfect round slices, place the tomato on its side. Always make the slices from the inside which means making parallel cuts towards the bottom of the tomato. How thick or thin you want your slices to be is up to you!

Shrimp: You can either use a pointed knife or a deveiner to peel off the shrimp shell. Run the deveiner till the back of the shrimp, making a slit. Pinch the tail and pull it down. You can now pull out the digestive tract out in one go.

Mango: Being a pulpy and juicy fruit with a hard core, cutting bite-sized pieces can be quite messy. One should work around the large, flat seed that runs down the middle. Firstly, you will have to position the knife to one side of the center stem and slice straight down. Then, turn the mango and slice off the other cheek. Using a sharp knife, make long cuts down the length of the mango without slicing through the skin. Repeat with perpendicular cuts to form cubes. Give a slight push to the back of the mango to invert the fruit. Then gently slice the cubes away from the skin and into the bowl. These symmetric cubes can be refrigerated for several days or can be even frozen to use in your dishes.

These tips will indeed make your cooking easy! Thank us later.

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(With inputs from Rakhee Vaswani)

Image coutesy: Shutterstock

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