Saturday, April 18, 2015

Beginner's handbook to Kitchen Essentials

Beginner's handbook to Kitchen Essentials

A section for "Beginner's in the Kitchen" or "The confused Cooks" who are lost when it comes to understanding what are the essentials they need to buy for their kitchen. Trust me, a few essential items are all you really need to stock and yet, you can do plenty of cooking with them. You do not require fancy and expensive utensils, cookware, appliances, equipment and gadgets to be a good cook. Below, I have assembled some basic tips I hope will come handy as you bravely step up into the fascinating world of Cooking! :) 

You don't have to wait until you buy all that you require in your kitchen to start cooking! If you have the basic stuffs, then start gradually. You will realize most of your requirements or what you are missing in your kitchen as you gradually start cooking.

Basic shopping tips :

Before you go shopping, keep in mind the following :

1.      What is your cooking style.
2.      What is your kitchen size.
3.      What would your cooking needs be.

Save money :
If you have a low budget, then, before you eventually begin buying, just stroll through your favourite store, look around and learn. Go back to your kitchen and you will have a better idea as to what you genuinely require and what is actually available to buy. List down your basic requirements. I have put up a list below, that might come handy. Do refer.

Shop for quality over quantity :


For instance, if you come across a special offer pack of half a dozen of knives, do not pick it up instead of getting a good quality useful knife. Understand the use of it. A good quality knife will save you the cost of a knife sharpening stone as well and it will reduce your work with faster and better cutting and chopping.  

Invest smartly!!


Set your initial budget and only get regularly required items. Keep those once in a while required items for later.

Informed decision :

Before deciding on major investment always collect information. Your mother can give you a good feedback. Take advises from an aunt or family friend who is experienced. Or sometimes advise from a good salesman can help.

Focus on the long run usage :

Never make a mistake of buying small utensils or small cookware considering that you are a bachelor or that you are just married and it's only the two of you.  There will be additions to your family and do remember that in the future you will cook for guests as well. So, when time passes by and you realize your requirements, all the tiny pots and pans are sure to pile up behind your cabinet. Why let that happen??

Well, now that you have a rough idea, refer to the following list that would give you a basic idea on the bare minimum initial requirements for regular use in your kitchen. You can minus the ones you can do without.

Basic essentials for beginners:

1.  A Serrated knife
1) Helps cut thick skinned vegetables or fruits.
2) Is handy with peeling vegetables like onion or garlic.
3) Helps cut tender fruits or veggies like very ripe tomatoes, bananas, peaches etc without mashing them.
4) Helps neatly slice fruit cakes or any tender cakes.
5) Helps give a clean cut to hard crusted loafs or hard toasts.
6) Helps neatly cut steaks.

2.  An 8" and 10" Chef's knife, or either one initially
1) Helps slice, chop, mince, crush and cut.
2) Cuts through meats as well and through small bones of fish and chicken.

3.  Silicon spatula, straight spatula, whisk, basting brush
One of my best friends in the kitchen. If you have invested on some non-stick cookware, then always use a silicon spoon to sauté.  Your pans will remain in shape for longer. Do not substitute with wooden or melamine spoons. Won't serve the purpose.

4.  Stainless steel sieves
For me, this a multipurpose kitchen tool and I simply love it. I use it to sift flour or coco, as a colander to strain noodles, pasta, legumes even rice,  as a coconut milk extractor, purée extractor, to strain hot oil, to strain water from food, as a steamer etc etc.

5.  Metal measuring cups and spoons.
A very handy tool in your kitchen, especially if you are very new to cooking or you follow exact recipes for your cooking. Also a must when it comes to baking.

Other measuring cups/scales that will come handy.

Check list of other basic items :

Vegetable peeler
Steel tongs
Steel whisk
Can opener
Serving spoons
Steel ladle
Slightly angled wooden spatula
Tea strainer
Food processor

Cooking Utensils :

Heavy bottom, cast aluminium, non-stick 24cm Oven safe, Stock pot with glass lid. Will serve as a pot, skillet, cake pan, baking pan as well as a roasting pan.

A medium non-stick frying pan

A heavy bottom non-stick wok
This is my favourite cooking utensil. From stir fries to soups or deep frying or curry making etc. I make everything in this shallow sauté pan. The larger the better.  You can even omit a steel shallow pot or any simpler pans or pots if you have this one wok.

Sauce pans in 3 sizes, Large, Medium and Small all with lids.
Use this pot to cook rice, boil vegetables, or make a small batch of soup. 

A non-stick tawa.
Rolling pin

Wooden cutting board.
If properly used and maintained, it's the best cutting board. I personally do not like the plastic ones. Somehow I feel it unhygienic and unhealthy. I have a large one for cutting vegetables, a small one for cutting fruits and chopping nuts and a long one for cutting meat or fish.

Stainless steel mixing bowl

Plates/Bowls/Casseroles/Teacups/Glass/Cutlery/ Salt & Pepper shaker/Water Jug

Checklist of not so important, Optional items :

Mortar and pestle
Idili maker
Indian Spice dubba
Traditional Clay curry pot
Pressure cooker
Stainless steel mug
Lemon squeezer

That's all I can really think of now.. Just in case you realize something important that I may have omitted out, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Your feedback would be great! :)