OPOS: This cooking style is revolutionising Indian food, with just a pressure cooker
When I first spoke to Ramki (as he is fondly called), he said I shouldn’t attempt an article on OPOS cooking without having tried it. For the uninitiated, OPOS stands for One Pot One Shot, a cooking style developed by B Ramakrishnan from Chennai and his mini army of followers (from across the world) on Facebook.
So, I listened to him and made aviyal (a South Indian mix-veg delicacy) with just a pressure cooker and the recipe shared by him. The trick is to use the exact same quantities and follow the recipe to a T. The result: Quick and hassle-free cooking. It took me 15 minutes to make this dish, including all the chopping.
It isn’t surprising then that most of his followers are young mothers looking to fix a quick family meal. On the Facebook group – OPOS Support Group – photos of successful attempts are shared along with recipes, members encourage each other with hundreds of likes and comments and challenge to take up more complex recipes.
In short, OPOS promises a chicken biryani in 6 minutes, a mutton biryani in 12 minutes. Sounds impossible? Challenge the group with a laborious dish and they will prove you wrong.
How it started
Fifteen years ago, when Ramki moved to Bahrain, like many homesick Indians abroad, he missed Indian food. “I struggled to cook, recipe books and videos were a bit of a let down. So, I started looking for recipes that would work and it soon became an obsession,” he says. Soon, he sold his garment manufacturing company to focus on cooking full time. Ramki also runs Pizza Republic, a chain of restaurants in Chennai.
Armed with just a 2-litre pressure cooker, a stove, measuring spoons and cups and a weighing scale, he started his experiments. Ramki claims that OPOS is the greenest and the cleanest way to cook. Ingredients are layered in a pressure cooker and then flash-cooked with very little water on high heat. Each dish has a very specific recipe and steps to be followed.
To begin with, these experiments were tedious, because he had to work over and over again to understand the perfect amount of heat and amount of water needed. The biryani took at least 100 trials. But the learnings were game-changing, he says.
“In traditional Indian cooking, vegetables are cooked to death; they only need 5 minutes,” he says, adding, “High heat, no water and short time are the best ways to bring out the right colour, texture and flavour from most food.”
Instant cooking, Instant fame
Over the last four years, OPOS has achieved a cultish reputation. The OPOS support group has about 23,000 active members on FB, whereas the OPOS School has about 13,000. The rules of the group are pretty strict. If you don’t contribute, you’re kicked out. That’s the kind of dedication Ramki expects from his students.
While some have left the group on their own by mocking his methods, thousands remain as strong believers. If online testimonials are anything to go by, women have called OPOS “lifesaver”, “life changing” and “liberating”. Ramki says, “OPOS has changed life of many; it sets you free. You will never look at food the same way again.” Encouraged by OPOS’ popularity, Ramki has written OPOS Cookbook : 5 minute magic, an e-book with recipes and of the 221 customer reviews on Amazon, not a single one is rated below 5 stars.
But let’s come back to my aviyal attempt. Was it as good as my Pati’s (grandmother in Tamil) aviyal? Definitely not. Hers was the perfect amalgamation of spices and vegetables that were succulent with the yoghurt base. Mine? While the vegetables didn’t seem overcooked, they lacked the juiciness of my Pati’s recipe. But hers would take at least an hour and a half, while mine was made in minutes.
So, am I an OPOS convert yet? Maybe, I’ll wait to master a few more recipes till I can be sure. But my heart says that no recipe can come close to a dal bukhara slow-cooked for 48 hours, or a biryani cooked over charcoal for three hours. Slow-cooking can never go out of style.
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