OPOS© – One Pot One Shot (Cook Free, Cook Unchained and Oppose the drudgery!)

OPOS© Techniques – Marinated Vegetables, Dehydrated Dal, Bottled Tadka
Were you wondering where I was all these days? I was busy learning a new technique in cooking. I was immersed in whipping up dishes at a minute’s notice that I didn’t realize it’s been a few weeks since I posted on this space. 
So, what happened during this time? We had our first snow. Little T was so tired to go to Taekwando classes that we decided to give her a break. So no more arguments, planning and coaxing to make her go.
And ofcourse the big thing was learning OPOS© (One Pot One Shot). OPOS© is copyrighted by Mr.Ramakrishnan. He has videos on YouTube, coaches through a closed Facebook group called OPOS© School and just yesterday he created a new public group for anyone interested in OPOS©. To top it all, he has a book slated to be released in month or so. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Till now, baking was known to be a science and cooking an art. Well, not anymore. OPOS© makes cooking a science to deliver consistent results based on tried and tested techniques originating from food science. Anyone who wants to learn OPOS© can view the videos on YouTube by OPOS© chef and/or join the Facebook groups. The Facebook groups have a pinned post with lessons, which must be followed to a T. Practice makes a person perfect. In this case, discipline makes practice perfect. 
OPOS© has 26 techniques like Aatalysis, Bottled Tadka, Controlled Evaporation, Dum Cooking, Emulsification, Flash Cooking, Hydrodistillation, Sugar Syrup hack, Very Long Marination, to name a few.
All you would need to start OPOS© is a 2L whistling pressure cooker, a blender, a stove, kitchen scale, knife, peeler and grater, a weighing scale and a hand blender. Follow the lessons on the Facebook pinned post and you are well on your way to cooking healthy and finger licking good food.

With OPOS©, you do not sauté. There is no need to sauté onions or tomatoes or anything for that matter. And it is not a dump and cook technique either. Like an artist, each ingredient is layered and cooked to perfection. Most recipes need only a few minutes of cooking time. The environment provided by a pressure cooker which lets off steam and the layering technique work in tandem to eliminate the need to sauté any ingredient separately and yet achieve the perfectly sautéed flavor. 
Note that this can be achieved only by a whistling stove atop pressure cooker and not by Instant Pot. I own and use Instant Pots but caramelization can be perfected only on a stove top whistling pressure cooker.

On nutrition and health benefits, Mr.Ramakrishnan says
“#Cook_Free : The OPOS way of cooking food

OPOS seeks to maximise colour, texture, flavour and nutrition.
Here’s how we do it:

OPOS advocates cooking starches by absorption, with little or no water. It is a myth that starches should be cooked with excess water, which should then be drained away. This method just wastes water, fuel and food. In OPOS, we follow the absorption method to cook most starches like rice, noodles & pasta to ensure texture is maintained. Overcooking starches, with excess water makes them mushy. They are no less nutritious when mushy, but not very appealing to see or taste. Starches cooked with no added water have the maximum flavour and texture. OPOS No water biriyanis & No water pasta made possible gourmet level dishes not easily achievable with conventional cooking methods.

Animal protein:
OPOS advocates cooking meat at high heat for a short time, with little or no water. This promotes caramelisation and ensures meats remain juicy. Marination is used to tenderise tough meats instead of increased cooking time.

Vegetable protein (Dals):
OPOS advocates extended high heat cooking of dals to make them more nutritious. Anti nutrients like phytic acid or toxins like lectin (especially in kidney beans) are used by plants to discourage animals from eating their seeds. The high heat, prolonged cooking denatures these toxins. Extended, high heat cooking has little or no effect on their nutrients.

OPOS advocates using precooked (refrigerated/ frozen)  dal to prevent overcooking of vegetables dal & vegetables are cooked together. There is no appreciable nutrition loss when dal is refrigerated/ frozen.

Micro nutrients (Vegetables)
OPOS advocates the high heat, no water, minimal cooking of almost all vegetables. Cooking breaks down cell walls and fibers, allowing our body to absorb their nutrients. Overcooking reduces most vegetables to a colourless, tasteless, flavourless mush. Cooking vegetables with water leaches out their nutrients. Pressure does not have an appreciable effect on micro nutrients. Only heat does. It is important to note that the duration of heat matters more than the intensity of heat. Slow & low heat cooking destroys micro nutrients. Short, high heat cooking ensures most of them are retained. The colour of cooked vegetables is a reliable indicator of the level of micro nutrients retained.

OPOS advocates cooking spinach just like any other vegetable. The myth that spinach has ‘volatile acids’ that need to be cooked out has been busted.

Most OPOS recipes are built on this core cooking method.

OPOS advocates using whole tomatoes/ deseeded tomatoes to ensure caramelisation.Tomato puree/ chopped tomatoes are almost never used as they leak water and prevent complex flavours from developing.

OPOS advocates use of roasted and ground spices, cooked ginger- garlic paste, caramelised onions & tomatoes for maximum flavour. As sealed cooking intensifies flavours, we use less than half the quantity of spices and salt as compared to the traditional versions.

OPOS advocates use of little or no oil in most dishes. Instead we use bottled tadka to infuse flavour & emulsification to ensure creaminess. OPOS advocates bottled tadka to increase flavour, cut down mess, oil consumption, time and labour.

OPOS advocates controlled evaporation of sugar to precisely control the consistency of sugar syrup.

Yogurt/ Coconut milk
OPOS advocates minimal/ no cooking of yogurt/ coconut milk. These are usually mixed in after opening and left to cook in retained heat, to minimise curdling.

Using Masalas:

Traditional cooking places enormous emphasis on the right amount of oil, the right tadka, the right combination of spices, the right order of adding them, the right way to grind them and the right amount of cooking them.

In traditional cooking, vegetables get overcooked, lose their flavour, colour, taste and texture. This loss needs to be compensated by the masala. This masala needs to be different for different dishes. Otherwise everything would taste the same.
So you have a different recipe for drumstick sambar, a different recipe for brinjal sambar and so on.
We bypass most of these steps in OPOS. In OPOS, we rely on enhancing the inherent taste of vegetables. The vegetables are the star – not the masala. We minimise the use of oil, salt and spices to let the vegetable shine through.
Each vegetable, by nature, has a different flavour, colour, texture and taste. This is retained by flash cooking. So each dish, by default, tastes different, even if the same masala is used !
In OPOS, we work with nature. She has already done most of our work for us.”

What did I cook all these days, you ask? Or rather what was I OPOSing? Or how was I opposing the traditional way of cooking?
I made a whole lot of recipes varying from sambar, vegetable curries, sweets like carrot halwa to staples like dehydrated dal, ginger garlic paste, tamarind paste, green chilly paste, caramelized onions and tomatoes, meat pickles.. the list goes on…
In the upcoming days, I will be posting recipes made the OPOS© way. I can tell you one thing though. OPOS© has made cooking way too easy all the while greatly enhancing the flavors. Kudos and heartfelt thanks to Mr.Rama Krishnan!

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