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The Art of Barbeque

A barbeque grill is a device for cooking food by applying heat directly from below. These grills can be either charcoal based or gas-fueled. Charcoal grills add an earthy flavour to the food, which is preferred by most chefs. These grills use either charcoal briquettes or all-natural lump charcoal as their fuel source. The charcoal, when burned, will transform into embers radiating the heat necessary to cook food.

Users of charcoal briquettes emphasise the uniformity in size, burn rate, heat creation, and quality exemplified by briquettes. On the other hand, all-natural lump charcoal adds a subtle smoky aroma and produces high heat.

How to set up a Charcoal Barbeque
  • To get charcoal or wood to light, use a pile of small sticks and some dry newspaper. You can also buy firelighters or lighter fluid, or small bags of charcoal bundled in bags that have been pre-soaked with lighter fluid.
  • Pile the charcoal in the barbeque with the lighting aid you are using, and light it. The coal will catch fire and burn with a flame for about half an hour. If it dies down quickly, try fanning it with a newspaper to feed the fire with oxygen.
  • When the flames have died down and the coals are glowing red, the grill is ready to cook on. Spread the coals out across the barbeque. Pile them high on one side and low on the other to give you two different temperature levels; really hot and slightly cooler. That way, you can sear stuff like sausages and steaks on the hot side, then move them to the warm side to cook through.
  • Lay the metal grill over the top of the coals. Let it heat for a few minutes and then place the food to cook. You would generally use pre-marinated meats and vegetables, brushed with adequate oil or butter to enable cooking.
Barbeque top tips

    What can you barbecue?

  • The simple answer is everything! Fish, shellfish, vegetables, breads, fruits and all types of meat and poultry can be barbequed. However, different things need to be cooked in different ways and at different heat levels. Smaller cuts of meat and poultry like steak or chicken breast, can go straight on to the barbecue and will cook fairly quickly, whereas larger cuts like a leg of lamb or a rack of ribs should be covered with tin foil and cooked almost all the way through in the oven, then transferred to the barbeque to crisp up and finish off.
  • Think of your barbeque as another heat source, like your oven or hob. Vegetables are best cooked in foil parcels with a little olive oil and seasoning and then steaming them over the barbeque or baking them on the coals. You can do the same with fruit and a knob of butter.
  • Try making your own flatbreads and cook them on the hot side of the barbeque. If you have some fresh bread to serve with your food, warm it through over the relatively cooler side of the barbeque.
  • If you've got a barbeque with a lid, you can create an oven out of it, ideal for roasting. This will also make the food cook quickly and more evenly.
Cooking tips
  • You can add extra flavour to meat by using a simple marinade or a spice rub. Marinades are moist like a sauce and contain oil and acid, such as lemon juice or vinega and seasoning such as pepper, herbs, garlic or ginger. Rubs are dry and they consist of just spices, salt and dried herbs.
  • Try different combinations of herbs and spices with oil and seasoning, rub generously into the meat and leave for at least 30 minutes up to 8 hours.
  • You should also remember to baste the marinade over the meat pieces mid-way during grilling to get moist and intense flavours.
  • You can make delicious kebabs by chopping fish or meat into smaller pieces and skewering them with vegetables before grilling. If you are using wooden skewers, remember to soak them in a tray of cold water first so they don't burn too much.
While you're cooking
  • When fat drips from meat and touches the coal below, it can flare up into flames. These flames will char the food from outside, without really cooking it through.
  • If you're cooking vegetables directly on the barbeque grills, try to keep a section of the grill specifically for them, or clean the bars with a stiff wire brush after cooking meat or fish. This is to avoid cross-contamination. Similarly, if you want to barbeque fruit, make sure you thoroughly clean the grill before starting. There's nothing worse than meaty-tasting fruit!

Chef Sandeep Kalra
shares his tips for a perfect barbeque.

Chef Sandeep Kalra is the Executive Chef at Trident, Gurgaon and runs the award winning all day dining restaurant, Cilantro and the Indian restaurant, Saffron.

For Chef Kalra, good food is one that touches the soul. He believes in using the best ingredients, keeping the flavours simple and authentic and follows highest standards of presentation. Each dish, for him, has to be a work of art.


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