…and how I managed to make it work.
Last month, my husband and I arrived to our new (short-term) home in Iran. We had no idea what to expect, but kept an open mind and low expectations, which is always a good idea. As a bit of a foodie and with plenty of time ahead of me for cooking experiments, I was particularly looking forward to stepping into our ‘fully equipped’ kitchen.
Although we tried to keep our expectations mostly low, they may have edged a little too high where the kitchen was concerned.
This is what we found:
- 1 big pot
- 1 medium pot
- 1 shallow pot and frying pan
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 plastic ladle and slotted spoon
- 1 chopping knife
- The usual cutlery, bowls and plates. Strangely, we had two sets of knives; one set of smallish knives and another set of slightly larger sized knives.
Oh and of course, there was a tea set!
We also had a mini fridge, and a freezer the same size, a two-burner stove top and a small kettle. I spent a bit of time looking for the oven, before I realised we didn’t actually have one. Don’t be deceived by the number of cupboards, they were mostly empty.
First of all, let me say that the kitchen was well-equipped by some standards, however for someone who loves to cook it was a bit disappointing. And also surprising, especially when you consider the effort that goes into making your typical Iranian dishes. I think most other Iranians would agree that the kitchen was lightly equipped. Besides the Global Knives we always travel with, and a couple of tupperware containers, we had brought nothing in the way of kitchen equipment with us.
After a brief moment of despair, we both took it as a challenge. We would only be here for two months anyway. We could easily live off one-pot meals for that long. We did buy a few extras to supplement our fully equipped kitchen including:
- a metal strainer
- a wooden chopping board. I went for the small size, as I couldn’t read numbers in Farsi at the time and had no idea how much it cost. I do sometimes wish it was a touch bigger, but I make do.
- A couple of coffee mugs
- A couple of tea towels
You’ll be amazed at how versatile all these items can be. I amazed myself!
I use the strainer to wash vegetables, beans or grains, but also as a steamer and obviously, a plain old strainer as well.
Some real mixing bowls would have been nice, but not essential. I use the pots as both mixing bowls, serving bowls and cooking pots.
I thought about getting a peeler, but decided we would either buy only vegetables that didn’t require peeling, or just not peel them at all. Our little Global paring knife works just as well, once you get the hang of it. As it turns out, a peeler is a ‘nice to have’ but not an essential kitchen item.
What about a grater? Also not essential. I’ve basically avoided any recipes that require grated ingredients. If absolutely necessary, I just slice things finely instead.
I also had little patience for buying the full spectrum of herbs and spices and having to chop for hours, so I stuck to the basics. Salt, pepper, fresh parsley, coriander (aka cilantro) and lots of garlic.
Just over two months later, I’ve developed a small portfolio of delicious one-pot recipes. My one-pot wonders. Most of them cook for hours, which makes up for the lack of food processor or blender, but they are super easy and require minimal supervision (recipes coming soon!).
I also discovered that it’s quite liberating to cook with such limited options. No more elaborate meals and much less cleaning up afterwards!
Calling all foodies and amateur chefs out there! Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Having to make do with the very basics. Share your story in the comments below!