What the heck does “mindset” have to do in the kitchen?

Cooking tips for success in the kitchen

 There are two ways of living, either with awareness or without awareness.

Just like with anything in life, you can tackle life as it comes. You can deal with things as they arise, and just DO them.

OR, better still you can proactively set an intention. You can think about what you want to do and be mindful of the way you approach things. Challenge your thoughts and perspectives to purposefully put yourself in a frame of mind where you can only achieve experiences and successes.

 Read on to see how you can set the intention for success in the kitchen (and other areas in life). So here are my top 10 tips!

 1) Ditch the Pizza!!!

Ask any university student living the dorm life, how excited they feel about, ordering in again. Chances are they will be so fed up, by the end of the second or even first year for that matter- they will be willing to try anything for a simple home-cooked meal. If you're tired of eating out, simple home-cooked comfort foods (sometimes, from your childhood) can do wonders for your spirit and soul, not to mention…….. your body. You can cook, and it doesn’t have to be difficult!

 2) Jump right in

Are you a food network chef in your dreams?

Have you memorized all the episodes of “Chopped” and all cooking competitions?  Do you feel you’ve learned everything, only to actually boil eggs again for lunch? Seeing so many different techniques, and at such different levels of cooking (often advanced) leaves one feeling perplexed about what to do or where to start.

 Pick a simple, easy recipe and follow as is. Do not intermingle too many different recipes or techniques (from different episodes). Roll your sleeves, and jump right in!

 3) Master your basics

“You have to be able to master something good, before you can make something great” Katie King Rumford…..

Start with easy recipes, which aren’t too complicated and preferably aren't too time-consuming either. Mastering your basics, with simple techniques, allow you to build more complex flavors and recipes over time. For example, simple stir-frying chicken or boiling chicken will allow you to build many flavorful dishes, which incorporate these techniques. Developing your skill set will allow you to build the confidence and experience necessary to progress, as well as to enjoy cooking!

 4) Set yourself up for success….

 Always read through a recipe from beginning to end, preferably more than once (read twice, cook once J).  Being familiar with the ingredients, the equipment and utensils necessary; as well as the steps of the recipe, makes all the difference here. Having a grocery list (often a quick screenshot of your recipe) will ensure that you have your list at hand whenever you go shopping. When it’s time to cook, being prepared saves a lot of chaos and confusion through the actual cooking process.

 5) Ingredients don’t have to be intimidating

 Do you know your difference between your sugar and your salt?

Your coriander and your cumin?

 Once you have decided on a recipe, make sure you know what the ingredients are and what you will be shopping for. If you’re not familiar with the ingredients, look it up in the spices/ ingredients guide towards the back of the The Pakistani Palate book series. For many of the traditional ingredients, I highly suggest shopping at a South Asian grocery store. Not only will everything be easily available, you’ll be able to inquire about ingredients from the salespeople, and won’t risk buying the wrong items.

 6) Stock the Staples

 Certain spices show up in many recipes, (so get friendly with them- and introduce yourselves)

 Once you’re ready to start experimenting and learn cooking it is definitely worth stocking up on some staple spices. Often many basic spices will be used in numerous recipes.

Many Pakistani and Indian recipes call for a list of spices. Once you have your kitchen stocked, it’s as simple as measuring them out and adding them to your recipe.  Knowing that you already have the necessary spices, will definitely remove the intimidation from your recipe’s spice list.

7) Trust the tried and tested

Is your Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook flooded with delicious looking food and recipes? Do you look at them all day, several times a day and think ok I’ll get around to it sometime?

 Having a comprehensive and trustworthy source at your fingertips trumps a million websites.  In the form of a book or an ebook you will have a collection at hand rather than browsing on the net for hours. Especially in the case of ethnic cooking, this cookbook series will ensure you have all your ingredient information at hand to ensure a smooth cooking experience.

 The Pakistani Palate cookbook series has been tried and tested extensively. The recipes have been written and edited professionally so you’re more likely to get the delicious results you’re looking for.

 8) Get your Prep On…..

 Imagine a camera crew showing up at your door about to film you make a recipe? Get all your ingredients ready and within reach, and allow your best angle to shine.

 Wash and chop anything that requires it. Take out your cooking utensils, pots, and pans, oil, etc.  The more you prepare yourself at this stage, easier and smoother the recipe will flow, and the better you’ll look.

 9) Persistence Prevails 

 There are many factors involved in cooking. From the quality of your ingredients to your foods' cooked temperature, the level of your cooking skills, your cooking experience, to all the steps in between.

 Especially if you are a new cook, I would like to stress the importance of making a recipe more than once.  It is possible, that due to the many variables above, the recipe doesn’t turn out as it is meant to. Make alterations you like to suit you. Make notes and observations as you follow a recipe, and that will give you something to reflect on when making the same dish again. Above, all develop your own style and make the recipes your own!

 You don’t have to give up on a recipe because you didn’t get it the first time.

 10) Get your Chef on……

The greatest cooks get there by practice, practice, practice.

 “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good, It’s the thing you do that makes you good” ……Malcolm Gladwell

 There is no substitute for practice. Cooking, just like any skill needs to be practiced and improved upon. Be willing to work at it, put in the effort, just as you would in any other skill. In no time you will develop your own style, preferences, and shortcuts. The more you practice the better you will become. However, be mindful to choose recipes according to your skill level and the time you have. Keeping the above in mind, be ready for some delicious adventures in your kitchen!

 So there you have it! With the right mind set you can conquer anything, and cooking is no exception.