Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cook cook hota hai

I have a cook. She’s incredibly bad. She meets the brief though, as the only thing I asked her before hiring was, “Do you know how to cook?”

Now we all know that knowing ‘how to cook’ doth not a cook make. But she puts something edible-looking on the table and absolves me of the dirty work (peeling, chopping, stirring, frying, mixing, grinding...yawn).

The husband has his moments, but they seldom surface in the kitchen, apart from ordering more Bisleri or kitchen towels or knives or wine openers or pepper mills... you get the drift.As far as ‘what do we do for dinner?’ goes, he has just one solution. Cheese burst pizzas from Domino's. And though I frequently delegate a bit of chopping here and there to him, it takes so much supervising that I’d rather do it on my own.

The ‘cook’ has no issues with auto-piloting daal, roti, sabzi, salad/soup on a daily basis and has a pleasant demeanour (and we all know how much that is worth) so it works for me. At least that’s what I thought.

Now I am a good cook (okay, modesty doesn’t look good on me) and one might wonder why I would deploy the services of someone (and less than mediocre at that) for something that I do incredibly well. It’s simple. Cooking consumes a huge amount of creative energy, and when you are trying to write and raise an infant, it just gets in the way. Too much distraction. Too much passion. Too addictive.

So I decided for a while to lower my benchmarks and just eat what she put on the table. It worked for a few weeks, and then I found my way back to the place where I feel like a goddess.

I started with trying to salvage a section of what she made. Now the problem with food is, you can’t delete, you can only add. So, although ‘less is more’ is my culinary philosophy, I end up doing the exact opposite for the sake of palate sanity. Like adding lemon to balance fieriness, or jaggery to offset tartiness.

It struck me that salvaging someone’s cooking as opposed to cooking from scratch is the difference between marriage and motherhood. When you marry a man, there are all these ingredients that have been there before you. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Good girlfriends. Weird girlfriends. Good friends. Weird friends. Randoms. More randoms. And they have done stuff to the man you married. Like stirred when he had to be left alone. Or left to char when required to stir. Or fried when he had to be sautéed. Or boiled when he had to be steamed. The result? A recipe that still needs to be worked upon.

With motherhood, it’s easy. You do what comes instinctively to you, you add the ingredients you think work, you mash some, steam some, sing some, hum some, and more often than not, the result is exactly what you want it to be.

I still have a good 18-20 years before another woman has issues with my work in progress.Bon Appetit!


  1. hahahahaha..i absolutely loved your comparison of cooking/enhancing-already-cooked-food with marriage/bringing-up-a-kid! :) :)

  2. I love your writing... I'm a Bombay girl too, but I live in England now. It feels wonderful falling into the landscape of your mosaic, while outside the daffodils wave in the weak April sun.

  3. Loved this one. Stumbled on to your blog from Mad Momma and have been hooked. LOVE your writing style.

  4. thanks laksh. welcome here. happy re-stumbling!
    and quaintkal, shaista.. i don't know how i missed replying to you, but from my state-of-being at that time, you can reckon that balancing motherhood and a bad cook can be tough. will be more prompt in future