Why is it so hard to learn to cook?

It isn't really difficult but unless you actually go to college and learn it as a profession, it's a step by step process. It involves patience, care and attention while you are doing it. Basically what the previous answer from George says. Ideally to start with buy a basic cookbook, but you can also find all kind of recipes, including easy ones, on the internet.

One thing which I used to do in my 20s was to buy packet mixes for recipes. For example, a packet mix for spaghetti bolognese with directions on the packet, and the other ingredients you need. The other ingredients you needed were: spaghetti, oil, onion & maybe garlic, beef mince and tinned or fresh tomatoes, or passata. In fact all the packet contained was a powder mix of herbs and spices and 98% of the ingredients had to be added. After a while I stopped buying the packets and switched to using dried herbs and a beef stock/bouillon cube instead of the packet mix, which are standard ingredients in my kitchen cupboard nowadays. Also the packet mix contains things like emulgators, and flavour enhancers. Ok so do stock cubes but at least it's my choice now. The same for potato and broccoli gratin mix - just add potatoes, broccoli and milk and butter. If you learn how to make a basic bechamel - flour and milk - you can skip the packet mix. And so on, but it is a process which takes years. It certainly isn't difficult but it takes time & patience.

The other aspect is temperature control, especially when frying meat. Many people who had little idea of cooking tried frying a chicken leg or wings, and after 10 minutes on medium to high heat they thought it was ready because the outside looked done, tried eating it only to bite into raw meat, and promptly threw the lot away, and reverted to eating ready meals. Chicken should be shallow fried on lowest heat, for around 30 or 40 minutes depending on the size of the pieces. My first attempts too were not perfect but I persevered, learnt from my mistakes, and now I can fry chicken to perfection.

So cooking isn't difficult but it is a process of trial and error, and learning from mistakes. Of course you have to really want to do it, otherwise you won't get anywhere.

Cooking is an art and you cannot force art with a deadline (I know advertising guy does but let us not get into that).

That said, it is not a tough thing to learn.

1) You can start with easy recepies which just involve putting ingredient in a specified ratio or amount and then putting it on stove for a specified time (example: Khichdi, Rice, Daal).

2) Then you can try stir frying vegetables (Keep low flame add oil and fry any veg you like). You have learned cooking rice and stir fried vegetables, a bachelor can survive on that. So now you can migrate to where ever you want.

3) For chappati you can dependent upon bread. Learn to boil potatoes and preparing a stuffing out of them you can have potato sandwich.

Meanwhile just concentrate on learning one curry vegetable. Just one. If you can make one you can make a thousand of them.

Edit:Thanks to Gurudutt Mallapur for punctuations.

A) Mangalore style cooking uses 2 simple categories of vegetable preparations :
1) Talasani (stir fried vegetables) Just put different types of tadka (tempering spices in hot oil) I.e. jeera based or garlic based tadka with beans/other vegetables. This is done on an initial high flame for tadka and stirfrying followed by simmering over low flame till vegetables are cooked.
2) Upakari (similar to initial tadka) but uses more steaming with lid on vessel during sim cooking on low flame.

These 2 categories are life savers if you know how to cook rice and dal. Curd rice and pickles are super easy too.

B) Reduce Cooking

My friend a naturopathy/fruitarian guy was at ease as he just needed to eat salads, vegetables, dry-fruits and fresh fruits. You can incorporate these as snacks or starters to reduce amount of cooking.

C) One of the key things is to know the proportion of ingredients I.e. how much water to rice/flour. There are simple rules of thumb like
a) add washed rice in vessel and add as water till it is 1.5 to 2 inches above the rice. More water for old rice less for new rice. Soft rice requires more water then chewy rice.
b) add 2 measure of water to dal. In case of dal water should not be less as one can always drain the water or make soupy dal. It takes more time to boil dal than rice.
c) Cooking time depends on hardness/dryness water content of ingredient. Don't forget to reduce the flame and keep watch of time to avoid burnt food. Use a kitchen timer.
d) Understand and remember the consistency of proper batter with fingers/ladle I.e. runny for thin dosa, thicker for thick dosa.
e) Learn the Technique There's a technique for everything like getting evenly cooked and crisp dosa. Add oil on pan to avoid sticking. Avoid high flame for very long I.e. oil starts to smoke. Use a lid to cover the pan to steam cook the thicker dosa's top layer.
f) Incorrect taste consistency (proportion of ingredients) can normally be adjusted/corrected by adding rava (semolina) for crispness, maida(refined flour) for thickness, boiled potato/bread crumbs to absorb excess salt, milk/cream/sour/potato to reduce spiciness or moderate rate in general.

These are tips which somehow are normally not shared in recipe books. However, they are critical to getting edible, palatable food on the table.

Always taste, inspect consistency visually or with fingers before cooking mixtures.

After some time you'll know at a glance what is missing!!

See more tips here :

g) Trial and error with little adjusting technique can help teach more than always requiring instructions from recipes.
h) Always phone back home to learn from mother/elders. Years of cooking with lots of love, care and attention has made them experts at the smallest details than any chef can match. They may not be able to put it in logical flowchart but they have an intuitive logic of their own I.e. measuring with the hand and eye.

You'll learn to appreciate and understand the years of love you've got from mother after this experience!!

Note : Bread may contain egg so ensure its pure veg before buying.

See also :

Gurudutt Mallapur's answer to Why are South Indian dishes which are prepared by North Indians more tasty than dishes prepared by South Indian restaurants?

I am assuming that you mean ‘LEARN' to cook.

It's not hard. It's just that you have to ( MUST ) take small steps first and then work your way up the ladder.

First of all buy a really elementary cookbook - like a "Betty Crocker" cookbook or something similar.


BOIL WATER in a pan ( make it 3/4's full )

Now, hard boil an egg. Place the whole egg in the shell into the boiling water - let it boil for about a minute and a half ( 90 seconds ) put a lid on the pan and wait a full 10 minutes. The egg will be hard-boiled.

Make soup from a can.

Using a skillet and a bit of butter or oil fry an egg. If you want it over easy than wait until the white of the egg is solid and gently flip it over with a spatula. Just for a second then put it on a plate - That's a fried egg.

Cook bacon in the same skillet. Keep an eye on it as it can burn easily. Flip it over frequently to watch how it is cooking. How do you like your bacon ? ... not fully crisp ? Crispy ? When it looks like it is the way you like your bacon cooked remove it and place it on several paper towels to drain off some of the grease.

Using frozen vegetables cook them in boiling water as per the directions.

Fry a hamburger - cook it on one side for 60 seconds and then flip it over to judge how the hamburger is cooking then push down on the upper surface of the patty - is it soft ? - does it give a bit ? ( then it is still not well- done ) if you want it pink on the inside wait until there is a bit of ‘give' and remove it - look carefully at the juices flowing from the meat - are they pinkish ? ( rare to medium done ) are they clear - well-done.

Now for something a bit more serious - bake a potato in the microwave. Take a good sized Russet potato or a yam or a sweet potato and scrub it well. Then pierce it with a fork or knife on all the sides and the end. Sometimes it's difficult to get any depth but just stab away - do not break it in half. Put it in the microwave for 9 minutes and when it is finished feel it gently is it soft ? Then it's done. It's not soft ? Then microwave it for a couple more minutes.

Now at the market but a package of pork chops or chicken breasts. a box or container of PANKO break crumbs, a package of the extra long aluminum foil, a container of rosemary herb, salt & pepper and a jar of mayonnaise, You'll need a cookie sheet too.

When you're ready get two bowls roughly the same size and put at least a cup full of mayo in one bowl and the PANKO in the other. Toss in a tablespoon of rosemary into the mayo and mix it well. Do the same with the PANKO.

Dredge the pork chop or a chicken breast into the mayo and then in the PANKO and then place it on the foil covered cookie sheet.

Put this into a 350 degree heated oven and let bake for 45 minutes.

Now you've got a baked potato - cooked vegs and a pork chop or chicken breast.

That's dinner or a good lunch and NOW you can cook.

Follow the recipes in the cook book and you'll get better.

Practice, practice, practice.

I can't remember if it was an old New Yorker cartoon or a joke my Mother made, but two older ladies were passing a French couple with their children. One of the women turned to the other and said "Look how smart those children are, they can already speak a foreign language!"

Cooking is not hard to learn. That doesn't mean that everyone will learn it ‘as a second language' as easily. I know folks that have lived in the U.S. for decades without learning much English at all. That's okay with me, as I like languages and can communicate in several of them. That there is so much controversy over people ‘not learning English' doesn't take people's different abilities into account.

Cooking can be as easy as learning to boil water and make pasta topped with sauce from a jar or as difficult as making wonderful souffles. It depends on your abilities and, as with the French children, much depends on your exposure to cooking and how open your mind is.

I never excelled at math, which is a politically correct way of saying that I stink at it. I can do the basics okay (usually with a calculator) but I'm totally baffled by anything more difficult. I've been told that in the era when I grew up girls weren't expected to be good at math. Well, I've tried to be open minded but I still can't remember a sequence of numbers to save my soul.

So people learn to cook to their own level. If you find it hard, perhaps it would be better to master a few quick, easy meals and leave it at that. You don't need to cook like a professional. That can be pretty hard for most people, and it's said that the popularity of food competitions on TV has discouraged more people than it's encouraged. Cooking is a skill with a heaping helping of a particular talent.

The best way to learn cooking is to find a real human, in person, that can teach you some things. The plethora of food shows aren't very helpful in teaching all the basics. Nothing is, really.

It's also very helpful to decide on a specialty. One of the pleasures of cooking for me is that I never run out of things to learn. That's not for everyone. Think of your favorite foods to eat and focus on learning to cook them perfectly. No matter what they are, mastering them will teach you a lot about cooking other foods. With one goal in mind you can seek our shows and tips that will help you.

Let's say you love hamburgers with potato salad. If you really concentrate, you will learn about cuts of meat and their properties, boiling water, grilling, knife work, pots and pans, saucing and seasoning. Now you can apply these skills to other foods, if you want to. Take all the time you need and keep perfecting the dish.

Even if you can only make one, beloved meal, you can be a good cook.

Hi.. I'm also sailing in almost same boat as yours... Would like to share my moms suggestion with you regarding cooking... Major ingredient for food to taste good is salt, chilly n tamarind.. If u learn to use proper proportionate of these ingredients then u are done with cooking.. Keep in mind that any ingredient if used less than required won't spoil the dish compared to using more than required. So, always use comparitively less quantity initially.. Try your normal reciepe by keeping this in mind and I guess it'll help u as it has helped me.. Good luck cooking:)
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