The ultimate survival guide for a new cook

Hey, are you new in the kitchen? Have you just learnt to cook during the start of the pandemic last year? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This is the ultimate survival guide for a new cook.

I’ve started a new series on Instagram called #LearntoCookwithVania and I wanted to bring that series to the blog. What better way than this post, to do just that. So here you go, ‘The Ultimate Survival Guide for a New Cook’.

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THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR A NEW COOK

  1. You can experiment in the kitchen with whatever you got at hand and create a new dish every single time.
  2. You can refer to Youtube or Blogs or Instagram or even TikTok for new trendy ways to cook but always follow what you think works for you.
  3. If you think you’ve not got any fancy kitchen equipment then don’t worry, you can make a grilled cheese sandwich even with a normal iron which you’d normally only use to iron clothes. This is a perfect hack for those living in a hostel. All you need is some foil and a steam iron, of course the ingredients too.
  4. Pour yourself a drink before you start cooking. If you’re not eligible enough for one then maybe a glass of chilled lemonade would do the trick, and its super refreshing too. Check the recipe for homemade grape wine here.
  5. If you think you have to cook every single day, don’t worry you don’t. Meal prep and batch cook in advance.
  6. You can make some dishes in bulk so you don’t have to cook every day. We make dal enough for two or even three days. You can do that with soup and other curries too. If you’re Goan then some sorpotel too. Tastes better every extra day.
  7. But then again cook only for today and tomorrow, you’d probably get fed up of the same meal the third day.
  8. If you’ve got some leftover rice then there’s so many different things you can make with it- fried rice, rice pudding, etc. are just few options.
  9. Roast Chicken is also something which if leftover is the best thing you could have in your refrigerator, make a chicken sandwich with it or use it in your salads or pasta or even as a topping for some mini pizzas.
  10. Have oils like olive oil, vegetable oil, some spiced chilli or garlic oil, toasted sesame oil, etc. handy in your pantry. These are very versatile to use.
  11. The same goes with some sauces and vinegars. I normally always have some sriracha or chilli sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, malt vinegar, homemade Goan toddy vinegar, etc. stocked up in my pantry. They are always so useful to cook up a storm in the kitchen.
  12. If you are following a baking recipe then follow all the measurements accurately. Baking is like a scientific experiment. Use proper standard measuring cups, spoons and a scale.
  13. While cooking the above can be avoided as cooking is more like something you can do just by adjusting the quantity of ingredients like sweetness, sourness, spice, etc. according to your preference.
  14. When you start cooking, prep all your ingredients in advance and then begin the process. This makes cooking less overwhelming.
  15. If you do not know how a pressure cooker works then learn to use one before actually using it. Read about it or read a how to use manual. Always release the pressure from the cooker before taking off the lid.
  16. If cooking alone is a task for you then do it with your partner or kids. It can be a collective activity and is definitely more fun.
  17. Experimental cooking is the best kind of cook. Create and invent new dishes. Keep a note of whatever ingredients you’ve used as you might want to cook that dish again and again.
  18. If you are following any recipe then follow it but also add some extras if you feel like it and make the recipe your own giving due credits to the originally cook. At the end of the day, you’ll be the one eating it.
  19. Making your own jams, salad dressings, tomato sauce, chutneys, pickles, etc. is a brilliant idea. These can be prepped in large quantities and refrigerated for later use. Search for #thehomemadepickleseries under the recipe section of this blog for some amazing homemade pickle recipes.
  20. Cooking with frozen veggies, sweetcorn, peas, etc. won’t make you a bad cook. These are perfect to use when creating something quick and easy after a tiring day at work.
  21. A nice pasta dish can be created with just a few basics like pasta, cheese, olive oil, garlic and some seasoning. That’s all you need really. Try out this recipe here.
  22. If you are able to grow fresh herbs then nothing like using fresh herbs in your cooking, as garnishes and even in desserts. But, dried herbs work well too.
  23. Have a basic spice collection.But, if you are a lover of some Indian food then these are must-haves. Include powders like: Turmeric powder, Garam masala, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Red chilli powder, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, etc. to your spice collection. Also, some whole spices like Kashmiri red chillies, curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, bay leaves, etc.
  24. This is a tip I learnt from home. If you’ve got leftover cooked vegetable and do not see anyone finishing it, just make them into some veg cutlets and see them being devoured like nothing you’ve seen before.
  25. If you’ve got leftover bread then make some quick bread pudding from it. These two recipes are amazing: Bread pudding with five ingredients only and bread pudding.
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Always follow a recipe with proper measurements while baking.

I’ll update this post every now and then with some new tips and tricks. For now, these are a few of my thoughts which I thought of penning down for anyone new to cooking.

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