Aha! I got your attention, didn’t I? 🙂
In January 2021, after struggling through months of doing all household chores during 2020, I finally took the plunge. I decided to hire a cook. In India having a hired cook is pretty common.
But, I had been cooking all family meals for 20 years. It had nothing to do with the financial aspect of hiring help but more to do with the emotional one.
In a conversation recently, my sister reminded me how I was at best average in cooking and did not have much interest in cooking either when I was newly married. I could cook a few dishes decently, but perhaps if I had continued to live in India, cooking would have stayed on the periphery of my interests and life.
I started my marital life in the US when I had time on my hands and wasn’t working professionally. It was then I started watching Food Network avidly. We only had Khana Khazana kind of cooking shows in India back then not channels.
Add to that, I could source ingredients from various cuisines and try them out at home. Most importantly, eating Indian food outside sucked. They made it horribly. It was some Americanised version which no one in self-respecting Indian homes would regularly eat. It was also so expensive.
Hence, cooking became a necessity too. Then I started reading more about nutrition. That was the game changer. I wanted to be in control of what kind of food my family ate. That’s why I continued to cook even when back in India. Routine cooking is no fun, but I kept at it.
It wasn’t easy especially when the kids were young, and I was so tired and tied up all the time. But I slaved on.
The family loved what I cooked, and I really enjoyed experimenting with various cuisines and methods. That led to an understanding of the cooking processes. That spiralled onto a food blog, a career and now writing my second cookbook .
Anyway, like I said, it was getting to be very tiresome when all members of the family were cooped up at home during the pandemic. I had to cook even more than I would regularly. Reluctantly, I decided that I will give hired help a try. I hired a cook for preparing one meal in a day.
It was one of the best decisions I ever took. It freed up so much of my productive time in the morning for my professional work. I also got larger batches of the lentils or curry cooked so that we could have the leftovers for dinner.
The recipes I wanted to cook myself, I got all the prep done including chopping, making curry and dry roasting the spice mixes. And yes, they made rotis too.
Since Indian meals are more elaborate especially the dal, chawal, roti, sabzi ones, this was a nice change. Yes, it took some time to customise their cooking to our tastes, the convenience of it was so nice.
If you haven’t seen it till now, watch The Great Indian Kitchen movie to understand how and why Indian women are moving away from cooking. And why it is such a staggering chore.
So this happiness was a bit short lived as second wave hit India in March 2021. I was again without house helps for a few months. But once it was safe, I hired my helps back without any hesitation.
Even after moving to the new place, I have hired another cook. It is liberating to be freed from the grind.
Now there is harmony. I am actually enjoying having hot food ready to eat, food that is tailored to my taste and health preferences. I still do end up cooking a fair bit, recipe testing for the blog, cooking over the weekend for the family and making treats that the kids cajole me for. But, I am happy to have outsourced a big chunk of the daily work. It is so helpful when friends or family visit.
I hope the pandemic made all of us value these helps we can still afford in India. Needless to say, please learn basic cooking. It is a life skill. It helps you survive and eat healthy. Now more than ever, there are so many resources available online including food blogs and videos that there is absolutely no excuse to not cook.
It gives you a sense of freedom because you know you will never go hungry and also there is no better way to impress someone than to cook them a tasty meal.
Men, you really have to experience this! 🙂
Would love to know what you feel about cooking?
PS: This post was lying in my drafts. I must have written it a few months ago. So here I made it live. 🙂