Can't Cook? From Sambar to Vanilla Cake, 14 Easy Recipes for Beginners

There's a time in all our lives when we have to set foot in the kitchen. Unfortunately, cooking is not as simple as throwing things together in a vessel and heating them. If you are someone who cannot tell cumin from mustard, you've come to the right place. Here are 14 basic recipes you need in your repertoire to master the art of cooking. From Poached Eggs to Sambar To Spaghetti To Rajma Chawal, we got you covered. Get cooking!


By: Times Foodie

Updated Jun 23, 2022 | 16:27 IST

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There's no shame in admitting you can't cook... as long as you intend to learn. Cooking is an essential life skill; you realise how important it is when you start living on your own. Eating out frequently can leave a dent in your savings and cause health problems in the long run. Whereas, cooking can help you meet your nutritional needs, make healthier food choices, beat stress, save money, be more creative and spread love!
You don't have to be a Michelin-star chef, but you sure need to know how to boil an egg. Speaking of which, we have a list of recipes that every new cook should master. Don't worry! You got this.
1. Poached Egg
Poached egg is a thing of great simplicity, but there's a lot of technique that goes behind it. It's also one of the healthiest ways to eat eggs. Poached eggs are also quite versatile. They can be eaten with avocado toast, added to a spicy gravy for a poached-egg curry or even served on top of a crispy salad. When you feel confident, you can try your hand at Eggs Benedict.
2. Tomato Soup
There will be days when nothing but a big bowl of Tomato Soup will do. Mastering this basic tomato soup recipe will give you the confidence to make any vegetable soup of your choice. Zesty and tangy, tomato soup is best served with a side of buttered croutons and a swirl of fresh cream.
3. Sambar
If you can master the Sambar, it's a serious flex. The basic recipe calls for a lentil base, spiced with coriander; flavoured with tamarind pulp; cooked with a variety of vegetables and tempered with mustard, cumin, curry leaves, red chillies and asafoetida. You can always switch up the vegetables and use toor, moong or masoor dal for the base. This lentil curry has wide applications, from idli to vada to dosa to rice! Here's a basic recipe you can follow.
4. Idli
What is sambar without Idli? This quintessential Indian breakfast is healthy and delicious. It is as easy to make as it is healthy. Team it with a spicy chutney or sambar. You could also chop them up and shallow fry them with spices, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Try this simple recipe for idli.
5. Rava Upma
Upma is another breakfast favourite that you can master in no time. Rava or semolina is so easy to cook that you won't ever get it wrong. This basic recipe for upma can be spiced up or spiced down depending on your flavour preferences. If you like it a bit tangy, add some tomatoes.
6. Puri and Sabzi
A perfect brunch dish, Poori Subzi is a North Indian favourite. Deep-fried wheat puris served with a spice-tangy vegetable curry -- what's not to love? For many, aloo poori is a comfort food that reminds them of simpler times with family. Try this easy recipe and treat your friends to an impromptu aloo poori brunch.
7. Gobi Paratha
Don't fret. Parathas may look intimidating, but they are quite easy to prepare. This basic stuffed paratha with gobi or cauliflower can be adapted to your tastes. If you don't like gobi you can also use potatoes, fenugreek leaves, peas, cabbage, mushroom, paneer or carrot as a filling. Parathas can be very rich and are best served for breakfast or lunch.
8. Rajma
If there is an ideal companion to rice, it is Rajma or red kidney beans. This Punjabi favourite is a staple in many North Indian households. However, you can't prepare rajma without planning ahead. The beans have to be soaked for hours before you cook them.
9. Chicken Curry
There are a million ways to make Chicken Curry and each is delicious. This home-style recipe is so simple you can make it with one hand tied behind. It pairs well with rice, rotis and neer dosas. Eventually, you can swap the chicken for prawns, eggs, paneer or any protein of your choice!
10. Sabudana Khichdi
Vrat or no vrat, Sabudana Khichdi for breakfast will put an instant smile on your face. This high-carb food is commonly consumed during the vrat or fasting season. It's perfect for people following a grain-free, gluten-free diet. Sabudana khichdi is also quite easy to put together if you follow the steps correctly.
11. Poha
Poha is a light and healthy snack made of beaten rice spiced with turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves and coriander leaves. There are two varieties of poha -- kanda poha (with onions) and batata poha (with potatoes). The famed Indore version of poha is serve with sev and piping hot tea.
12. Hakka Noodles
The one Indo-Chinese delicacy you should be mastering is the Hakka Noodles. It is a basic "Chinese" dish with stir-fried noodles and veggies. You can dress it up or down with sauces, proteins and veggies of your choice.
13. Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
If you want to add Italian food to your repertoire, learn the Spaghetti Aglio Olio recipe. Al dente pasta is cooked in a basic "sauce" of olive oil, red chilli flakes and a generous amount of garlic. This is a gateway dish to mastering Alfredo or Arrabbiata pasta.
14. Vanilla Cake
Baking is the ultimate test of your cooking skills. You need to be very precise and missteps can be unforgiving. While it's always easier to buy cake from the bakery, there is something innately satisfying about whipping up one in your kitchen. This basic Vanilla Cake recipe will give you all the confidence you need to take up baking more seriously.

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