1. Measuring Cups and Spoons
For a long while, I would guesstimate the amount of salt and spices to add to my dishes. Most of the time I would get it right, but occasionally my guesstimates were off. Once I started using measuring spoons to accurately measure out my salt and spices, it has made my cooking much easier and I know the taste will be spot on. I often ask myself why I didn’t bother measuring things in the past!
I purchased my set of measuring spoons and cups from the dollar store in Canada when we visited a few years ago, but they can be purchased at any pound store, if you want better quality sets, try your local supermarkets or homeware stores. I found this lovely set on Amazon, and they’ve got lots of other wonderful styles – maybe time for an upgrade!
2. Twice The Rice
One rule that I follow when cooking rice is to add twice the amount of water as the rice. For example, to cook one cup of rice, I would add two cups of water. Simple to remember and it rarely lets me down. If your rice is still not fully cooked, add a little more water.
Bonus tip one for rice: My rice of choice is Basmati rice, as it is easier and quicker to cook than long grain rice, for example, and always tastes great.
Bonus tip two for rice: Before cooking the rice, soak it in cold water for approximately 30 minutes. Add the rice to a bowl, cover in cold water, and after ~30 minutes drain the water, pour cold over over the rice again to rinse the starch. This will leave you with rice that is quicker to cook and comes out fluffier 🙂
3. Low Heat Is Your Best Friend
To stop your food from burning/drying out, cook on the lowest flame/heat. Use the high flame for boiling or to dry off water, but if you’ll be leaving your dish to cook for a little while, leave it on a low/medium flame.
4. Water Is Your 2nd Best Friend
Another way to avoid burning/drying out your food that you have lovingly cooked, ensure that you have added enough water to give it a chance to cook. For example, if you are cooking a medium pan of chicken curry, add at least a cup of water as your curry simmers, otherwise it will dry out.
5. A Little Is Better Than A Lot
This is true especially for salt and spices. You an always add more salt or chilli powder, but it is much more difficult to save a dish which is too salty or spicy. Add a little bit of salt at a time, tasting as you go until you are happy with the taste. Generally, a dish for 2-3 people would need 1 teaspoon salt, and I usually add 1/2 tablespoon of salt to larger dishes (which would serve 4-6 people)
6. Cooking Times
If you want to ensure that you don’t get ill from eating under cooked meat, it is really important to consider cooking times (or how long to cook food for). To cook chicken, usually 30 minutes is long enough, and to cook red meat like lamb and beef, it will take around 45 minutes depending on how soft you want your meat. However long you cook your food, make sure you have added enough water to stop the food drying out (refer to Cooking Hack no. 4)
7. Boil Water In The Kettle
A cooking hack that will save you time is to boil water in the kettle. This is particularly useful when cooking rice or pasta. Once the water has boiled, add it to the pan as you would normally.
8. Cooking Pasta
Generally, when cooking pasta you just need enough water to cover the pasta. Pour water over the pasta and cook until the pasta is nice and soft.
9. It’s All About The Base
When I cook food, especially curries, the base is pretty much the same every time. It makes life much easier when I use the same spices, salt, garlic and ginger. For my dishes my base is as follows: 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin, Ground Coriander, Ground Turmeric, Garam Masala, 1/4 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder and 1 tablespoon Garlic & Ginger Paste. Also, 1/2 tablespoon Salt.
10. Add Salt To Rice & Pasta
Add a little salt when cooking rice and pasta to give it some flavour. I usually sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon Salt over 500g rice/pasta.
I hope these cooking hacks have helped you 😀