- Food and Cooking
How to Create Your Own Delicious Recipes
If you’re someone who loves to cook at home and try out new flavours, you may be at the stage where you’d like to start creating some of your own recipes. Whether you’re into Italian food, Mexican food, Indian curries, or anything else, starting on your own creations can be very rewarding. It also gives you the opportunity to make your perfect dish, combining everything you love into one perfect meal.
Creating your own recipes also allows you to be more health-conscious, as you can omit/add ingredients to make the dish better for you. You can also show off your creations to your friends and amaze them with your skills and creativity!
Deciding on Your Base
Every dish has a “base” – the essential ingredients that everything else is added to in order to make the full meal. For a burger, for instance, the base is the beef patty and the bun. You then add other flavours to this base to make a full dish (such as putting salad and sauce on the burger), with lots of different ways of presenting it. With that base, for instance, you could make a cheeseburger, a bacon burger, or even a special gourmet burger with flavours inside the patty and expensive ingredients.
You could, for example, choose chicken and rice as your base. From here, you could end up with all manner of dishes, from an Indian Chicken Tikka with Lemon Rice, to Mexican chicken kebabs with peppers, onions and chilli with rice on the side. The point is to choose just a couple of basic ingredients that can be added to in order to create a full, delicious meal.
When you are choosing your base ingredients, choose one “main focus” (like the chicken or burger patty in the examples above) and then one or two sides, like rice, pasta, or a couple of vegetables. These could be inspired by dishes you’ve had before, or they could be your own combinations.
How to Cook Your Base Ingredients
The next step is deciding how to cook the base ingredients. This has a massive effect on the resulting dish. In our example of chicken and rice, for example, are you going to roast the chicken and carve it up, or are you going to grill the breast of the chicken? There are many different options and they will all result in different flavours and textures. The nice thing about this is that there are lots of ways of cooking the same ingredients – it gives you lots of room to play around, experiment and unleash your creativity.
This is where we go from a simple group of ingredients to really making a full meal. Now you’ve got your base sorted, you want to pick additional flavours to go with it. These could be herbs such as garlic and rosemary, spices such as chilli powder and cumin, or other flavours from vegetables like tomatoes or carrots.
Get inspiration from your favourite recipes – what flavours to you really enjoy? I personally love onions and tomatoes, so I would add these. I’d then look at some herbs and spices I could add. I’d smell the herb/spice to see if it would go with the flavours I’ve already got – does it smell good with the rest of the ingredients? If yes, go ahead and add it! If no, forget it and try another.
For my chicken and rice dish, for instance, let’s say I’d decided to fry chicken breast chunks and boil the rice. Then I’d decide to add tomatoes and onions, so I could chop those up and add them in with the chicken. How about adding some cumin and some coriander to the pan? I remember seeing a recipe in which turmeric was added to the rice water to make yellow rice – how about trying that?
Or, I could decide to roast the chicken instead. I could roast it with some garlic cloves to give extra flavour. How about putting some carrots into the pan too? I could then use the roasting juices to make a gravy… maybe I could put some balsamic vinegar into the gravy to give it a little kick, then break up the roast chicken pieces, chop up the roasted carrots and serve it all on a bed of rice. This would make an entirely different dish to the first one.
You can see how just experimenting with your base ingredients and adding a few extras can result in some great flavours. This is all about having fun experimenting – don’t think you have to do anything clever or complicated; just stick to the techniques you know and don’t be afraid to try out some new flavour combinations.
Mixing it Up
Now you’ve got your basics sorted and you’ve got an idea for your first original dish, how about mixing things up? You could change cooking times, or add different ingredients for new effects (like sea salt on the roast chicken skin for extra crispiness). This is all about combining things you already know in new ways, so that you end up with something different. Don’t be afraid to “copy” other people’s recipes – just make a few changes and mix things up a little and before you know it you’ll have something original.
For the first example above, how about lightly softening the onions in the pan before adding the chicken (instead of after), to make them extra soft and flavoursome? Simply changing the order of cooking here will make a small but important difference to the final dish, and refine what you’ve already created.
By now you should have a good idea of how to create your own recipes and dishes at home – try it out and have fun. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, and don’t be scared to try new, different things that you may not have come across before – after all, it’s your recipe, so being original is what it’s all about!
So get in the kitchen and get creating!