Cooking good-tasting, healthy food sounds like a daunting task, especially if you’re a student and don’t have a lot of time during the day. Takeaway or junk food is often used as a meal instead of a healthier option. But, too much junk will undoubtedly cause you to become unhealthy, sluggish, affect your sleep, and drain your wallet. When you live away from family, every student misses “maa ke haath ka khana.” What if I told you that even you can cook like your mother?
In the long term, learning to cook fast, easy, affordable, and healthy food will save you a lot of time and money. So, even though it’s tempting to keep on ordering delivery, invest in your health and wealth by learning how to cook on your own.
We all know that Maggi is delicious, easy, and fast, and is the staple food for Indian students living in universities or by themselves. However, it does not provide all the nutrients required to stay healthy. Of course, you can treat yourself every so often, but it’s important to have a balanced diet, especially when you’re living away from family.
The first question many students face when learning to cook independently is, “Where do I even begin?” Investing an hour a week in a cooking class can help you learn what you need to know to become the master of your kitchen.
With an on-demand, virtual class, you can easily find a teacher who can fit a lesson into your schedule. And, because you are using your own kitchen to learn, you will know exactly how to use the supplies you own for your recipes.
Your teacher can also help you figure out what types of foods are the best for you to learn. Do you need more foods that can be packed in a box for later, or do you usually get to eat it fresh? Do you require certain dietary restrictions? With a teacher you select, you can have them help you meet all your requirements for your schedule and lifestyle.
How to Prepare Your Kitchen
It won’t be easy to cook without the right equipment. Ensure you have the basics in your arsenal:
- stove or hot plate
- a shallow cooking pan
- a cooking pot, cooking spoons
- a knife for chopping and slicing
- a cutting board
- any other special equipment for your favorite dishes (like a rice-cooker or idli mould, for example)
Next, you will need to gather the staple ingredients used in almost every recipe:
- Chili powder
- Garam Masala
- Coriander powder
- Cumin Seeds
- Mustard Seeds
Clear a space for you to be able to prepare the items on your cutting board and in bowls as needed. Make sure you also have a safe place to put your laptop or phone if you are using it for a recipe or taking a virtual lesson.
Be aware to not set anything on fire and you are ready to start cooking!
Gather Easy, Healthy Recipes for Students
An easy step to take to prepare for your illustrious home chef career is to learn how to cook easy recipes for yourself. You can do this even before you take classes, so your cooking teacher can spend more time teaching you the things you have trouble with.
Here is a great recipe to help you get started:
- 2 Cup dried chickpeas (white chana/chole)
- ½ Cup onion, roughly chopped
- 5 – 6 garlic cloves or to taste
- 1 – 2 green chili
- ¼ Cup spring onion (greens), roughly chopped
- ½ Cup fresh coriander or cilantro or parsley
- 2 tablespoon all purpose flour (maida)
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder (jeera powder)
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder or red paprika
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (white til)
- 2 Cup vegetable oil, for pan or shallow frying
- Start by cooking the dried chickpeas in water for 5 – 6 hours. Once chickpeas are bigger after soaking, drain all the water and transfer them to a colander.
- Add soaked chickpeas, onion, garlic, green chili, fresh herbs, spices, and salt in a food processor with a blade attachment. Use the PULSE function without using any water, scraping down the sides of the processor if needed to grind the ingredients but at the same time keep the texture coarse and not a smooth paste.
- Transfer the falafel mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add sesame seeds and mix nicely. Keep in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes or until ready to use.
- Heat oil in a frying pan to shallow or pan fry the falafel.
- Meanwhile, shape the falafel into a round disc of ¼ inch thickness. Arrange the shaped falafel in a plate.
- Pan Fry the falafel in small batches until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with an oil absorbent paper.
- Preheat oven at 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a baking sheet with oil. Arrange falafel at an equal distance on the greased baking sheet. Spray or brush them with cooking oil.
- Bake falafel for 15 – 20 minutes on each side. Flip and bake for the same time from the other side. Baking time may vary depending upon the size and setting of the oven.
- Baked falafel is less crispy, soft, and pale brown in color. But the taste is exactly the same as fried ones.
- Serve Falafel warm with pita bread and hummus.
Learn and Understand Your Cooking Style
With the help of your cooking class and by experimenting on your own, you’ll soon discover the types of dishes that make you shine. Spend more time making the foods you like and the dishes you have the most fun with. With practice, you’ll have a handful of recipes you can confidently call your specialties.
As an added bonus, you’ll become faster and more efficient at cooking these certain dishes, and then you will be able to learn even more as you get more comfortable cooking. You’ll be able to cook things that are a little more difficult and become the envy of all your batchmates with your delicious home-cooked food.
It’s also possible to learn with different teachers as needed to learn different cooking techniques. Maybe one month you learn from a native Ethiopian how to make injera, and the next you’re learning fattoush salad from a Lebanese teacher!
Commit To Your Craft: Understanding Your Cooking Style
It may seem counterintuitive to add another thing to your already busy student schedule, but it’s important to remember that you are learning to cook because it will make your life better from now onwards. Life skills are just that: skills for life! While you learn academics for your professional life, you can also learn practical skills for your home life.
Over time, you’ll be amazed that you used to wonder, “how can a student start cooking?” because you’ll be a natural.
Make sure you continue with your commitment to keeping yourself healthy and wealthy by incorporating cooking into your daily or weekly schedule. Meal prepping can be a great way to use your free time to set you up for the days when you don’t have time to cook.
Another great way to stay interested is to share with friends. Maybe you can have food swaps with your fellow students, where everyone brings a different dish and you all get to go home with portions that last through the week. That way you get a variety of foods while you only had to cook one dish. And, you get to have fun and connect over a common interest.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Finally, recognize that you have achieved something great by putting in all the time and effort in the kitchen. You don’t have to be a professional chef to cook well, and it’s a skill that will always be appreciated by you, your friends, and your loved ones. You’ll thank yourself for taking such good care of your health during your student days.
Best YouTube Channels for Easy Recipes
YouTube is one of the best places to learn recipes and techniques. It shows you exactly what ingredients you need, how to prepare them, and what the final dish will look like when you are done. Check out these channels for some inspiration and instruction!
- Veggie Recipe House 481K Subscribers
- Rainbow Plant Life 790K Subscribers
- Veg Village Food 5.44K Subscribers
- Get Curried 2.42M Subscribers
- Vijaya Selvaraju 160K Subscribers
Cooking is an essential skill, and everyone should know how to cook at least a little bit. Every master was a beginner once, every chef had to pick up a knife for the first time.
Who knows, maybe someday you can teach what you know to a new batch of students?
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