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Cooking apps that help you whip up magic in the kitchen

From sharing recipes to cooking hacks and keeping a tab on calories consumed, AI-powered apps act like your personal kitchen assistant  

If a home cook is multi-tasking, the voice assistant feature walks them through recipes. (Photo: Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash)

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Snigdha Ghosh looked at the vegetables in her fridge for the umpteenth time. One medium cauliflower, two carrots and some shelled peas. She wracked her brain to think of an interesting recipe other than same old gobhi matar. “I was venting to my friend about this when she recommended Tiny Chef,” says the Delhi resident. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor created this artificial intelligence (AI) platform as an app for everything related to home cooking: Be it searching for recipes, planning meals, calculating nutrition, or preventing food wastage. Soon enough Ghosh was using the ‘boring vegetables’ in her fridge to make a bowl of exotic Mexican cauliflower rice with carrots and peas.

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Tiny Chef was launched in the pandemic due to the surge in food technology and home cooking. Pune-based chef and culinary consultant Ajeet Kalbag says, “AI is not only supporting restaurants and chefs to manage inventory and sales, but also helping novice home cooks to organise recipes and ingredients. There are apps that map calorie intake and manage your diet as well. It’s like having a personal assistant and nutritionist in the comfort of your kitchen.” If a home cook is multi-tasking, the voice assistant feature walks them through the recipes.

There are several AI-powered apps teaching home cooks to rustle up magic in the kitchen. Copenhagen-based PlantJammer is all about improvisation in the kitchen. Using flavour mapping technology, the platform allows users to select complementary ingredients based on what they have in their kitchen. For example, if you are stuck with potatoes, the app would use its AI-driven platform to suggest complementary flavours that could turn this boring tuber into something delicious. Likewise, the app Foodpairing uses machine learning to create a sensory map to ascertain which foods taste good together. For example, sage and tomato is a win-win, spinach and thyme is not. These apps also teach you small hacks that will save you a lot of time in the kitchen.

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Apps like Ordermate tracks the most frequently used items and automatically adds to the user’s purchase list. It follows how often one orders these items and where they are bought from. It sets up a process known as ‘Ordermation’ and ships the grocery items on a fixed weekly/bi-weekly, or, on a monthly, bi-monthly schedule. Such automated purchases makes sure that one never runs out of regular supply and it saves a lot of hassle. It’s your personal Jeeves.

So, no idea what to cook? Let PixFood help you. This smart AI companion understands that if you open the app at say 3 pm on a Wednesday, you need a quick-fix snack to tide over the hunger pangs till dinner-time. And it will suggest something accordingly. Encouraged by her foray into AI-powered recipe apps, Ghosh wants to try other options for the novelty factor and to discover more recipes. “A cousin in Mumbai recently tried Cookd. Similar to Tiny Chef, it allows you to browse for recipes with ingredients you have at home. It also suggests meals as per the time of the day and season. I can’t wait to see what adventure it will take me on with some left-over cottage cheese and sweet corn I have sitting in the fridge,” she says.

Kalbag is ‘super excited’ to see how AI will evolve in the days to come: “Maybe we will soon have AI-controlled cooking ranges and ovens. The possibilities are endless.”

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