Aha! I got your attention, didn’t I? πŸ™‚

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.Β 

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

14 Thoughts on “I Took the Plunge

  1. That’s a smart title, Rachna!

    I can totally understand what you say. After managing a home by myself for 8 odd years, I finally hired a help last October. Not having to wash the utensils or sweep or mop has been liberating. Thankfully I got a nice lady who understands my quirks and my OCD. At one point I was exhausted with cooking too, so I even hired a cook. But, after 4 days I had to let her go. We are very particular about food and eat a lot of salads, soups and stirfrys. We weren’t finding anyone who could cook us that. So cooking is still in my kitty! I love cooking and am a good cook, so we’re fine for now. But yeah, there are times I so badly crave a nice homecooked meal cooked by someone else instead of me.

    • I totally get you. The first cook we kept, we had to let her go after about a month because somehow she could not adapt to our kind of food. The second cook fitted like a glove. He was a quick learner and immediately understood what and how I wanted my food to be cooked. The lady here is also quite decent. She is Bengali and cooks such amazing fish and chicken. Salads I do make myself and a lot of continental stuff too. I mostly do that over the weekend when I have more time. Your last line is exactly what I feel. Any day, I would take someone else cooking hot and decent food and serving it to me. That is such a blessing!

  2. I am not at all fond of cooking but have to do the regular cooking. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just that I could do other, more interesting things than make sabji, roti, dal, chawal. πŸ™‚ However, I am blessed to have a husband who is a fantastic cook, and is extremely passionate about cooking. So, he takes over the kitchen on most weekends and I chill, or do some other saaf-safai. I do play the role of a sous-chef, and cut and chop veggies, or clean up after he finishes cooking.
    However, after all these years of cleaning, I have realised it’s an absolute waste of time and energy and you don’t get even a tiny bit of credit for slogging to keep the home spick n span! I used to do the sweeping and swabbing till last year when I decided I would hire a help for that job. My back had been complaining. It is such a relief! My time is saved as is my energy. So, I can very well understand how you must feel having a cook. πŸ™‚

    • Exactly Shilpa. I don’t know why we just keep slogging instead of getting a hired help especially when the reason is not financial. We don’t realise but our days and minds are so cluttered and full. Any little help goes a long way. I am happy that you got the help for cleaning. Really, these chores we do to keep the household running and in good shape are all thankless. No one cares unless something breaks down.

  3. A helping hand at home is good (especially on those days when you don’t feel like cooking)

  4. I am not a passionate cook. I cook to eat. That’s all. Here in the US, you can’t hire help, especially, the one that can cook Indian meals. My back pain forced me to take it slow the last couple of months and I did the bare minimum – cooking and cleaning. I delegate tasks to my husband and kids, but I have to constantly tell them what to do. I would love to eat without breaking my back in the kitchen for an hour.
    Absolutely agree with you that cooking is a life skill. I tell my husband and kids – no matter what gender you are, what status you have, in which part of the world you are living, how much you are earning, you must know to feed yourself, clean your mess (your surroundings), and take care of your mental and physical health (make yourself a priority).
    I wish I could hire someone to clean my house and cook regular meals for us. But I am thankful that I am able to maintain a balance and keep going.

    • Indian meals can get really tiresome when we are the only ones taking care of the cooking. If you can prep over the weekend, it would help you a lot. Eg. make curry masala and freeze for the week. Chop veggies. Plan for lentils. If possible get ready-to-cook rotis and dosa batters etc. My sons are learning cooking from me. My husband can cook well, but he hardly cooks anything as the cook is there and the rest of the time I do the cooking. But yes, he manages everything when I travel or am not at home.

  5. Damyanti Biswas on June 3, 2022 at 6:12 pm said:

    I like how you have described cooking, but yes the chores that follow after can be quite exhausting!

  6. Getting a help in India is a necessity, else the household chores pretty much eat away all the time leaving you exhausted and frustrated. I can’t get a help here so my husband and I manage among ourselves. I have changed my style of cooking so that it is quick and nutritious. Also experimenting with different cuisines saves my time. I love your recipes and the air fryers ones are super hit. I am glad you are able to find someone who can match your style of cooking

    • I completely agree. Even if one can do all the chores, it really adds up and leaves no spare time for anything. I am glad that we can still afford helps at home. Truly! Yes matching my style of cooking was a bit tough. I had to let go of a few who could not.

  7. Tulika on June 5, 2022 at 8:39 pm said:

    I get what you’re saying. Routine cooking can be overwhelming not to say terribly boring. We’ve always had help at home though my grandmom and mom did the cooking till my mom started full-time work. I am not particularly fond of cooking either and have always had a cook. I do restrict it it to once a day so I need to get together one meal only and do all the experimenting I want. That has worked well for me.

    • Yes, I am doing something similar now. Get cooking done for one meal and prep done for the other. Weekends I do cook to make some special dishes. I enjoy cooking but love to have the freedom to choose when to cook. That is something I am really grateful for now.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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