Simple ways to become a better cook

While eating out is the most popular activity, learning to cook does not seem to be so of late. In fact, it also does not seem to feature among the top-five resolutions. If you are among the health conscious, who plan to eat healthy this year, it is more effective if you learn to cook it yourself. It is no rocket-science. Just remember some things for a hassle-free, healthy cooking…

Make a commitment
Always remember that learning is a process and not just a single step. To become a good cook, you will require some time to master in it. It is much more than reading a recipe and following a set of instructions. Says food blogger Vidhi Ravjiani, “Often you may lose hope and just feel like ordering something from your neighbourhood restaurant, but try to remember your goal. Figure out what went wrong in the first dish you made and don’t repeat it the next time around.”

Pay attention
The first rule when you just start out cooking is to be attentive. Turn off your TV, don’t talk on the phone or don’t surf the internet while you are cooking. Be aware of what the food looks like or what it smells like etc. Paying attention to what you’re cooking, also saves you from unwanted disaster. For example, if you have put something on the stove and get busy talking on the phone, chances are that the dish could end up getting burnt as you are distracted.

Organise well
The trick to becoming a better cook is by keeping everything you need while cooking at hand. Since you are not used to the whole process of cooking, you may forget about having everything prepped and chopped before you begin. Before you start, make sure that you have all the ingredients you require for the dish so that you don’t have to do any last-minute running around.

Taste your food while you cook
Don’t wait for your cooking to get done completely. Flavour is built up in layers — when you taste the food in various stages of being cooked, you will get different flavours. For example if you are cooking with tomato, you will notice how the flavour of a tomato sauce deepens as it cooks or how a carrot goes from a simple vegetable to a rich and sweet dessert. Also when it comes to seasoning, always remember that there’s more to it than salty or sweet. Many dishes can also be fixed easily with a jolt of acidity.

Keep it simple
Just like you don’t become an excellent driver until you have spent a considerable amount of time on the road, similarly you won’t become a chef in a day. Begin by learning a few basics — a vegetable or chicken soup, an omelette, dal and chawal are a few. Repeat them until you are satisfied with the result. Move over to another dish only when you have mastered the simple ones.

Shop with care
As a beginner, you may feel that the real cooking starts in the kitchen, but you are wrong. It really starts in the market. Select the ripest of fruits, the deeply coloured vegetables or the fresh variety of meats. Devote an extra 10 minutes to choose the best ingredients as it will save you hours of cooking time.

Get the right equipment
There are a few essential equipment that you need to have. These include a skillet, woks, roasting pans, slow cookers, casserole dishes and salad bowls. Home baker Geeta Subodh says, “Besides these, a well-stocked kitchen includes a saucepan, cutting boards, one for meat and one for vegetables. Use a big cutting board — the bigger the board, the more room you will have for quickly prepping ingredients. You should also have a set of mixing bowls and measuring cups and spoons.”

Keep a well-stocked pantry
You shouldn’t think of your kitchen as just an ordinary kitchen. While you are making a shopping list, and as you cook and use the ingredients, keep your pantry in mind. Every time you reach the bottom of your ginger-garlic paste or vinegar bottle, always jot it down on your list, so that you won’t come up empty-handed the next time you are about to cook.

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