Excerpts from the book - Simplifying Indian Cuisine- Shakesh Singh
Dos and Don’ts for Marination
Aluminium dishes should never be used to marinate or keep marinated foods. Aluminium imparts an unpleasant metallic taste to the food. Non-metallic and lead-free ceramic dishes are ideal. Stainless steel is also popular today.
In meats, the acid causes the tissue to break down, allowing more moisture to be absorbed and giving a juicier end product. However, too much acid can be detrimental to the end product. A good marinade will have a delicate balance of spices, acids, and oil.
Prepared meats, tenderized and marinated, can be kept for two to three days in the fridge. In hot climates, it is best to put the dish in the fridge immediately after it has been marinated. Marinated food kept out will spoil. This is because bacterial action takes place at higher temperatures.
The food should be completely submerged and not removed until required.
If the marinated foods are to be kept for longer time, it should be turned over with a spoon time to time.
The food should be removed from its marinade just before cooking and drained well.
The food should be at room temperature before being put into the tandoor.
The addition of salt during marination needs special mention. For white meats and vegetables, salt can be added together with spices, etc., at the beginning. For red meats, salt should not be added in the first marinade, as the addition of salt releases water and juices from the meat, making it stringy. A certain amount of flavour is also lost. In these meats salt can be added to the marinade fifteen to twenty minutes before cooking.
There are a number of ready-made spicy salts available in the market, this helps in quick cooking and serves as short-cuts. But these are not substitute for the aroma of freshly ground spices.
Dry fruits are added to impart a distinctive flavour and texture to certain recipes. Sparingly used, they always raise a dish above the ordinary.
Ajwain is an herb with a very distinctive flavour and smell often used in tandoori cooking. The seeds are added in the marinade for vegetables, fishes and meats.
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends discarding used marinade that has been applied to raw meats. Meats, such as red meat, fish, and chicken, may contain unhealthful substances which may enter the marinade, according to health experts attributed by the AICR. These substances would become neutralized in the cooking process but using the same marinade later in preparation holds the risk of reapplication. If additional flavoring from the marinade is desired, prepare a new batch.