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When travelling one has to make do with whatever cooking equipment is available. Typical deficiencies I've encountered are: thin saucepans and frying pans that have lost any non-stick coating (maybe only one of each), a hob with just one or two rings, unreliable ovens, a toaster but no grill, blunt knives, limiting working space, ....

My original question was overly broad, and asked for cooking techniques (rather than recipes) that are reliable even with poor equipment. In this edit, I'll ask just one specific question that's troubling me at the moment. Please assume that I can buy all the usual spices etc, but not cheaply. I don't want to buy very many, because they will all be duplicates of better quality ingredients I have back home.

How, if at all, given the constraints above, can one make a reasonable vegetarian curry using only one saucepan, and a small frying pan that's lost its non-stick coating?

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    I'm voting to close this as it is both broad and opinion based. Everyone has their favorite strategies and there is no right or wrong answer. – GdD Jan 11 at 14:02
  • I think there are a few good questions you could ask about this topic. But you might want to limit these to more specific situations to make them more answerable. The questions could have a form like: "How do you do [cooking technique] when your [piece of equipment] has [problem]". Like "How do you make crème brûlée when you can not trust your oven's thermostate" or "how do you make pancakes in a pan which lost almost all non-stick coating". – Philipp Jan 11 at 15:36
  • I've been in that situation a few times -- even had an electric stove once that wouldn't heat up unless you turned it all the way to high first (a trick I knew because of when my mom's went flaky). My best advice -- don't plan your food until you know what gear is available. – Joe Jan 12 at 1:57
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    I am still finding your edited question too broad. A reasonable curry could mean different things to different people for different curries. vegetable? chicken? meat? lentils? limited spices as in what exactly is available? you could take your own in small disposable packs. Coming from a south asian background i often cook my curries in only one pot/pan. If travelling to a reasonable distance, we pre-make, freeze, transport in an cooler box and then refrigerate at the holiday house. – Ess Kay Jan 14 at 12:56
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    If you knew what you were planning on making when you got there, why wouldn't you bring spices with you? Even if you're flying, they're small, lightweight, and don't require refrigeration. (how you're traveling starts to figure into things -- a 2 hr drive vs. a 6 hr flight vs. 6hr train; domestic (and what country) vs. international; etc). As it stands right now a can of coconut milk (no refrigeration needed), spices and some veg are all you need to transport. – Joe Jan 14 at 13:53
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The one thing that makes a big difference is the knife (and I say that as someone who doesn't look after mine very well). You may be able to take a small sharp knife with you (you can buy paring knifes with plastic sheaths, for example) though this depends how you're traveling and on thy knife laws where you are.

Then generally the idea is to cook simply. Simple doesn't have to mean boring, but dishes that don't use lots simultaneous cooking steps. Space can often make prepping everything in advance a challenge, but you can use cups, plates, and cereal bowls for anything you do prep (and put them on the dining table). Prepping at the dining table can also be a way to gain space, especially if you're sharing the kitchen facilities. Cutting up veg before meat to make better use of the only knife and chopping board is one simple way that does require prepping in a particular order.

Lack of non stick means using a bit more oil to fry, and keeping things moving. This may not be the time to try or your new recipe for homemade burgers, or other things that are prone to falling apart if handled roughly.

Most ovens should be up to most things, including baking cakes, but do you really need to? If you're only using the oven to roast, or make stews or jacket potatoes, you don't need precision, just too cook until done. This makes synchronising something cooked in the oven with something cooked on the hob a little tricky, but that's where simplicity comes in.

I go away with friends quite a bit, in holiday cottages, bunkhouses etc. and also have a campervan in which I like to cook proper if simple dishes, so face this quite often. Making a risotto in the van, for example, I kept the stock hot by putting it in a casserole dish on top of the pan in which I was cooking the rice, then used the pan from heating the stock to cook green beans. The beans were stored in the cold oven after trimming because I wanted to do that before cutting the onion and garlic with the same tools so as not to transfer flavour. My total food preparation surface there is about 40x50cm.

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To take one aspect of that – the knife...

Carrying knives is somewhat frowned upon in the UK, so I'd avoid anything larger than a pocket penknife; leaving you with a holiday rental full of cheap rubbish last sharpened at the factory... in 1982.

I wouldn't suggest this for anything other than an 'emergency' situation, but if you find 2 knives, one harder steel than the other, you can get a rough but sharp enough edge on one by dragging the blade of the softer one hard over the squared back of the harder one, at 30–45°... like a poor-man's pull-through sharpener. Because the steel is cheap & soft, it works remarkably well. It probably wouldn't work with a good knife.

It won't do either implement much good, but it will rip an edge onto the soft one, whilst leaving creases & dents in the back of the harder one. I've even done this when cooking at relatives' - though I tell them what I'm about to do & give them pick of the one I'm going to crease the back of ;)

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    You're right about UK knife law, but I often drive around with a full kitchen (my campervan is my only car) so can use the knife from that. Carrying a full picnic set (perhaps with the knife substituted for a better but still small one) is another good reason the have a sharp knife packed away in your vehicle if you're driving. Or you could carry a small diamond file - even a small piece of fine wet/dry paper will put an edge on a blunt knife – Chris H Jan 11 at 14:18
  • How does this answer the question? – Cindy Jan 11 at 14:45

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