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Cooking can be a great way to relax, express your culinary creativity, and nourish the people you love. As the COVID-19 pandemic confined many of us to our homes with little to do but work, eat and sleep, we were also given the opportunity to discover or reinvigorate our relationship with cooking. It was also a time for new cooks to whip up something quick and simple with the popularity of two or three-ingredient recipes and one-pot meals.

From baking out of boredom – read more – to finally trying out that new recipe, the pandemic may have given you a taste for all things delectable and inspired you to continue creating in the kitchen. However, with lockdowns lifting and life slowly resuming, you may find you have less time to spend on cooking and preparing meals for your family.

In this article, we will look at some simple ways you can continue to expand your cooking repertoire while still having enough time for the rest of your day.

Invest in Kitchen Tools

The right kitchen tools and utensils can work wonders in assisting you with your cooking. They can make your experience in the kitchen faster, more efficient and enjoyable, saving you time and unnecessary effort. It’s well worth investing in some of the essential kitchen equipment listed below to help you create great meals.

Knives

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Food preparation can be messy and laborious without a good knife. You only need three knives according to the experts: a paring knife, a serrated knife and a chef’s knife. To keep your knives in great condition, consider investing in a good quality knife sharpener.

Chopping Board

A plastic or wooden chopping board offers you a secure and solid surface on which to prepare your ingredients, preventing injuries while doing your prep. At least two chopping boards are recommended to prevent contamination between raw meats and vegetables.

Kitchen Thermometer

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It’s important to know whether meat or poultry dishes are adequately cooked before serving. A kitchen thermometer can eliminate the guesswork and let you know your food is ‘done’ as well as cooked to a safe temperature to destroy any dangerous bacteria. A kitchen thermometer is perfect for roasting and grilling meats. Click here to learn how to grill steakhouse quality meat every time.

Spoons

A wooden spoon is perfect for stirring hot food as it will not overheat or melt, unlike plastic or metal. A slotted spoon can act as a handy, mini-sieve to drain the liquid from foods such as spaghetti or noodles as well as from fried foods such as donuts or samosas.

Skillet

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A lightweight, non-stick skillet is an essential piece of kitchen equipment that is perfect for frying eggs, making omelets or cooking pancakes.

Cuisine From Other Cultures

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From Italian to Indian, Turkish to Thai, trying dishes from different parts of the world needn’t be reserved for times when you dine out. You can easily expand your cooking repertoire by experimenting with recipes from other cultures in your own kitchen.

Not only is this tantalizing for your taste buds, but it also teaches you different cooking techniques and methods of preparing food, while bringing some foreign flavors straight to your home.

Venture out of your culinary comfort zone by trying some recipes from different cultures like those at mahatmarice.com . Below are some simple dishes you can try:

  • Okonomiyaki – Japanese savory pancake
  • Chinese Lemon Chicken – Crispy chicken with a sweet and tangy lemon sauce
  • Spanish paella – Saffron-flavoured rice with meat, seafood and vegetables
  • Masoor dal -Red lentil curry from India
  • Shakshuka – Poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce from North Africa
  • Kimchi Bokkeumbap – Kimchi fried rice from Korea
  • Moussaka – Greek dish of layered aubergine, potato and meat dish

Once you start cooking different recipes and trying out new dishes you might decide to adapt them to suit your palette. This is one of the benefits of cooking at home as it allows you to experiment and create your own dishes.

Explore New Ingredients

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Another great way to expand your cooking repertoire is by trying new ingredients and exploring different herbs and spices. Click here for some essential herbs and spices to stock in your pantry.

Instead of buying the same meat and vegetables each time, try substituting them for something new. For instance, if you normally use potatoes for many of your dishes consider alternative ingredients such as yams, sweet potatoes or parsnips. You can even create dishes such as cauliflower mash or carrot fries and instead of pasta, why not try zucchini or butternut squash noodles?

If you are more of a baker than a cook, you can even play around with traditional recipes by adding unusual, yet healthy ingredients. Impress your friends and family by baking a delicious-tasting chocolate cake using beets, avocado or zucchini.

A wonderful way to sample the flavors of a different country is through your use of herbs and spices. Each part of the world has its own unique style of flavoring food and by stocking your pantry with the right seasonings you can easily create food that tastes as if it came from another land. Spices such as chili, turmeric, garam masala and cumin will transport your dishes to the Indian subcontinent while galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and garlic will add a Thai taste to your food.

Flavoring your meals with herbs and spices is not only a simple way of adding flavor to your food but it can also help to lower your salt intake by reducing your reliance on condiments and processed sauces such as mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce and salad dressings which are often full of salt as well as sugars and fats.

Cooking Methods

Rather than sticking to the same old cooking methods, why not broaden your abilities by trying different ways of cooking your food? Instead of boiling or frying your food, experiment with a wider range of methods such as grilling, steaming, sautéing, broiling, poaching, braising or roasting.

By incorporating some of the suggestions in this article, you will not only expand your culinary repertoire but will also discover your own style of cooking and hopefully have fun along the way!