Half-baked Chef

My basic cooking lessons began way back, when I was in class 8 – the year 2010, to be precise. And to ensure I’ll learn quickly and stick through the entire ‘Basic Cooking Course’, Ma had entrusted me in my grandma’s care (Mamma, I’ve introduced her earlier to you all). So I spent my entire summer vacation of class 8 learning to cook. Mamma patiently taught me to cook – everything from assembling the pressure cooker to adding tadka to dal to rolling up chapatis.

And just to ensure I practically implemented my theory lessons, cooking lunch and dinner for those two months was entirely on me (I even got a stipend 😛 ). I wonder how my family put up with the food I cooked back then. Sometimes the food I’d cook would be barely edible, sometimes half-cooked, sometimes burnt, sometimes too salty (Unfortunately, salt still has an issue with me!). And though I would get a brutally honest daily feedback – whether the food was good, just edible or bad – from every member, they always appreciated the fact that I had finally managed to pick up some culinary skills. After all, the ‘baby’ of the house had learnt to take charge of the kitchen! 🙂

At present, my cooking skills are pretty good – not as good as my best friend’s though! The dear lady can whip up a proper three course meal for 25 people with lightening speed! I always pull her leg – “D, if you don’t figure out anything in your life, you can sure start off with your own catering business!”. And I know whom to approach when my home is crowded with a tonne of people – I won’t sit pulling out my hair, I’ll just call up D – the caterer 😛

I won’t say I love to cook, but over a period of time, I’ve come to like it. Cooking sometimes is fun.  But yes, depending on my mood, it can be soothing, therapeutic or plain annoying too!

After my rigorous cooking boot camp, I did start experimenting with some dishes on my own. According to my family, I make the world’s best Pav Bhaji (A statement I feel is exaggerated, but again, they are my world – so I guess what they say is fair! :P).
And after reading an article about how unhygienic roadside momos are, I decided I wouldn’t eat momos ever again outside ( I’m sure at this point Ma will be like – everything you eat outside is crap). But I couldn’t give up eating momos – what is life without momos? So I learnt to make momos – and people, they turn out pretty good, sometimes better than the momos-wala on FC road too!
Hakka noodles (from scratch – I make the noodles myself) is another specialty of mine. ❤

So along with the above three mentioned items, and our staple food – rice, dal, vegetables of all kinds and chapatis – that’s it, my knowledge of cooking ends right there. It’s not that I stopped learning, it’s just that I don’t want to learn anything more :P. So yeah, that’s me- The Half-baked Chef! 😛

Cooking in India is rigorous affair – and poor mom’s bear the brunt of handling the kitchen affairs every damned day. Cooking once in a while is really easy – you feel like you’re on the top of the world, like you’re a Master chef. But cooking every day? Like every single day? There are some who love whipping out delicacies for their families, but there is a humongous female population out there who would squeal with delight if they get out of cooking even a single meal in the day.

The sad part is, even today, we’re all modern in our thoughts, modern in our kitchen appliances, modern in our outlook and everything – yet, it’s assumed and understood that the responsibility of the kitchen lies solely in the hands of the woman in the house. Working women aren’t spared too. Not that I haven’t heard of men taking equal interest in sharing the kitchen duties along with their better halves – the percentage of people doing this is negligible, minuscule in front of the huge population of people who will want freshly cooked, warm food at the expense of the effort of the woman in the house.

Now let’s come to the good part of it –
During my entire cooking course, not once did Mamma or Ma utter the words,
“You have to learn to cook now itself, what will you do when you get married and go off to your husband’s house?

Instead they said,
Baccha, you better learn to cook now itself – what if you have to move out for higher studies or a job ? You should at least be able to take care of yourself, cook proper nutritious food for yourself”

At that moment, I may have not even paid attention to their words, to the way they put it forth– but sub-consciously, these words did play on my mind. The women I look up to every day of my life – they both didn’t make me feel like I have been born to get married and take care of the kitchen one day. They taught me to cook so that I would be able to sustain myself. They made it clear that I have the right to choose – whether I want to cook, or not is totally my choice. They didn’t bracket my dreams and future in the confines of the kitchen. They gave me a choice. They treated me like an individual with dreams, not like a girl, who will get married and take care of the kitchen.

And unfortunately, most of the girls – older to me, younger than me – still have to learn to cook not because they need to have cooking skills to survive, but because they will get married one fine day.

Sadly, it all begins here. We are brainwashed with these thoughts, which make us put our passions and interests on the backseat just to ensure we give our families every kind of comfort they need. Agreed there are a lot of them out there who love to do this, but don’t box us all in the same bandwagon.

Cooking in the house is masked under the tag ‘duty of the woman’. And this is really sad – it’s more of a shared responsibility, which unfortunately most men and boys don’t want to shoulder.

And to those superwomen – working or homemakers, who have dedicated their whole and soul to their families, do take some time off everyday and dedicate it only to yourself, to your passions, to the things you would love to do. 🙂

And to everyone who’s reading this post, just go into the kitchen today, send the weary lady out of the kitchen and whip up some delicacy for her. No matter how it turns out, she’ll be happy – not only to eat what you have cooked, but also to relish the time off she has got. 🙂

It’s high time we change – change to accommodate the modern woman, her dreams, her passions, her identity…

#BeTheChange ❤