We’ve all been there. Getting distracted by something else while cooking and realising towards the end that there’s too much salt. Or adding salt twice because you forgot about the first time you added it. A little taste test, and you gag. You wonder if you should throw away the dish and start all over again.
Over-salting a dish is something that happens to all of us. But the next time it happens, don’t panic. I’ve put together some expert advice on how you can fix this tragedy, and not let it turn your day into a bad one.
Add more ingredients to the dish
This is the first and the simplest thing to do when you’ve added too much salt. Increase the quantity of the main ingredient without adding any more salt. This will ensure that the excess salt is absorbed and the flavours balance out. For instance, if you are making Gobhi Aloo, blanche a few extra florets of Gobhi or Cauliflower and add them to the dish, and then cook for a few minutes till the flavours are absorbed. While taking this route, make sure that you add cooked ingredients or some parts of your dish will end up getting overcooked.
Add flour dumplings
Here in India, most of us have some kind of dough or atta lying in the fridge. The next time you over season a dish, roll the dough into small balls and add them to your dish. Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes and the dumplings will absorb most of the salt. If you don’t have ready dough, just make a firm dough by quickly kneading together whole wheat flour and water. Sometimes I even let the dumplings remain in the dish because they taste quite nice after they soak up some of the flavor and add some more depth to the dish.
Add raw potato
This is probably the oldest trick in the book and one that my mum taught me. Just peel and chop one or two potatoes and add them to your dish. As the potato cooks, it’ll also absorb some of that saltiness. If it’s a meaty curry, you may want to cook the potato till it’s done and leave it in the curry too. Potatoes can also be subbed with rice, but that depends on what you are cooking.
Add a touch of sweet and sour
Sometimes fixing an over salted dish is just about balancing the flavours. So start by adding a little bit of sugar if sweet notes are acceptable in the dish, or a bit of vinegar/lemon juice if the dish will benefit from sourness. Taste and adjust the quantity till you feel that the saltiness has been minimised.
Add some dairy
If the dish allows it, add some dairy to it. This could be yogurt, milk, cream or even coconut milk if you are looking for a lactose free version. The choice of dairy will depend on the dish at hand. Dairy helps cut both the spice and salt, without diluting the dish too much, and can also add a wonderful creaminess to the dish.
While these are great ways to fix excess salt, it’s best if you season a dish as you go. Salt is that one factor that can take an okay dish to great if done right. So adding salt little by little and tasting as you go will always ensure perfect seasoning.
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