17 Oct, 2006, 17:06 pm IST
Till about a couple of years ago, a microwave was only a heating appliance. Indeed many houses still use it as such – a useful appliance to heat up the leftover meal, make some fast popcorn and to roast the odd papad but today it is used for full-time cooking as well.
Depending on the model you buy, a microwave oven can:
• Brown, roast and grill foods like a conventional oven;
• Prepare specific recipes using a pre-programmed touch keypad;
• Cook entire meals without over-heating your kitchen;
• Automatically shut off when a sensor determines the food is done.
Now a new generation of microwaves combine speed with versatility and technology to create a smart kitchen appliance that takes a lot of the chore out of cooking.
Some factors you would consider before buying a microwave oven are:
You may already have a budget in mind as to how much you would like to spend. Microwaves range between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 34,990. The type of microwave you buy, its capacity and features will affect its price.
The capacity of a microwave oven defines the size of the oven and the amount of food that you can cook in it at one time. To decide the capacity that best suits your needs you must consider the following:
The number of people in your family will directly affect your capacity requirement. The larger the family, the more food you will need to cook at one time. Therefore, the larger the family, the larger the microwave oven you will require.
Whether you plan to use the microwave oven for actual cooking or to supplement your cooking, these factors will affect the size of the oven. If you only need a microwave oven to reheat and defrost food, a small size oven will suffice.
|Family Size||Usage|| Recommended capacity ||Price (Rs)|
|2||All cooking||Small – 17 to 20 litres||7,000 to 8,900|
|2|| Defrosting and heating||Small – 17 to 20 litres||3,000 to 7,000|
|4||All cooking||Medium – 21 to 30 litres||8,000 to 35,000|
|4||Defrosting and heating||Small – 15 to 20 Litres||4,000 to 9,000|
|6||All cooking||Large – 31 to 42 litres||11,000 to 34,000|
|6||Defrosting and heating||Medium – 25 to 30 litres||7,000 to 12,000|
TYPE OF MICROWAVES
There are three basic types that you could go for – Basic microwave, microwave with grill and microwave with grill and convection. As mentioned earlier the choice largely depends on your usage. So, if you are the kind who will only use it for it reheat leftovers or heat the occasional coffee then a basic microwave is ideal. However, if you want to try your hand at some baking and grilling then you need to go for the microwave with grill or with grill and convection. Heres a table to get a better idea.
|Type||Usage||Price Range (Rs)|
|Basic Microwave|| Only simple cooking, heating, defrosting||3,000 to 12,000|
|Microwave with grill|| Simple cooking, heating, defrosting and baking.||4,000 to 32,000|
|Microwave with grill and convection|| Simple cooking, heating, defrosting, baking and crisping.||8,000 to 35,000|
TYPE OF PROGRAMME PANELS
Programme panel is a control panel from which you will be controlling the functions of your microwave oven. There are various types of panel and here too you can choose the kind you are most comfortable with. For instance if you are used to jamming the buttons real hard on your other electronics then you shouldn’t go for a feather touch panel. The different panels you can choose from are:
This is good for heavy and rough usage. Also a good choice if your domestic help will be operating it.
Feather touch controls
Precise and accurate in readings as compared to the mechanical controls, but should be handled with care. Feather touch is much more common place among microwaves today.
Single touch rotary panel
This is similar to the mechanical controls, the only difference being that this can be operated smoothly and precisely to the required temperature or timing.
Thus has a microprocessor that sets cooking time and power levels automatically.
You can actually feel where the dial is in its rotation sequence. These have markings and are especially useful for people with vision impairment.
Child safety lock
A child safety lock is an electronic lock that prevents misuse or accidental operation of the microwave oven by children. There may be a code that has to be entered to unlock the microwave or an electronic command that prevents the oven from operating. This feature is worth the investment if you have young children in the house and if the microwave oven is accessible to them.
Do remember to check that the cookware you intend to regularly use in your microwave and check if it fits into it comfortably.
The new addition in microwave cooking is steaming. Microwaves were anyway considered healthier modes of cooking, as you are only required to use little oil for greasing purposes, but this new steaming features means you can completely do away with oil and have a healthy non-fat meal. At present there are only one or two models available with this feature, but its only a matter of time before this becomes a regular feature.