My minimalist kitchen

Minimalist kitchen

…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!

My minimalist kitchen blog post, our 2 cooking pots and small frying pan with kitchen utensils, including wooden spoon, plastic ladle and plastic slotted spoon. on my bench in Tehran, Iran.
Our minimalist kitchen, pots and cooking utensils. This is it.

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.

kitchen areas
A closeup of where all the action takes place.

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.

My minimalist kitchen blog post, a panorama of our kitchen in Tehran, Iran showing all the main cooking areas and the two sofa chairs we moved from the living room to the kitchen area.
Our Iranian kitchen in all it’s glory. We moved two sofa chairs in here and still think it’s the best thing ever.

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
Our Minimalist Kitchen, from Strainer and chopping board as minimalist additions.
Our multi-purpose strainer and mini chopping board

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!


2 thoughts on “My minimalist kitchen

  1. Hey straggler, nice to read your posts! I share your experience of a succession of minimalistic kitchen fit outs. My on-mission staple meals include: pizza, quiche, dahl, and bread. Each of these have few ingredients which are highly likely to be in the market, and each can be adapted to a variety of local ingredients. It means packing bread tins (and usually dried yeast), but these don’t damage easily, and home made is so much better than sugary white bread. However, an oven is needed for 3 out 4 recipes. Also, because of my addictive habits, I also pack coffee beans, a grinder and an aeropress coffee maker.

    1. Hey Mike! Totally on board with the coffee and Aeropress habit, but i’m a bit lazy to grind the beans myself 😉
      I admire your motivation to make homemade bread! I’m sticking to gluten free at the moment, which limits my choices a bit but so much easier to make the homemade bread and pizza bases. No yeast required, although it does mean I have bags of flour with me. Tapioca, almond, coconut and chickpea are my staples. I’ll try to post some recipes soon!

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