Living in a foreign land (embarrassed), I often make a statement – “If you want to strike a good conversation with an Indian start with Bollywood, cricket, and food!”.
It is true. We are crazy about these things. Bollywood and cricket stars are treated like gods! They have a huge fan following and very often we hear about crazy things fans do for their stars. Coming to food, Vikas khanna is as big a star as any cricketer or actor. When me and my friends meet, we talk about the food joints back in my home town. When me and my husband travel to India, our bucket list is all about food – “I want to eat pani puri”, “I want to eat masala dosa”, “I want my mother in law’s uppu huli dose” and the list is long. Now, my mouth in watering. I want food!
After this elaborate introduction about how much we love food, let me tell you the purpose of this post. Most of my non-Indian friends don’t understand why I spend so much time in the kitchen. Even when I was working, most of my colleagues would never consider cooking as a chore. Some of them would eat oats every day right in front of my eyes, some would exclaim how busy their weekend was as they were cooking for the entire week (as an Indian I gasp), and some buy frozen stuff, heat it up and eat it. I still can’t get my head around it.
This is how every household in India is when it comes to food –
We want a good breakfast. Sandwiches, oats are snack for us. They are not BREAKFAST! Breakfast for a south Indian is typically idli, varities of dosa, upma, poha, chapati, paratha, etc and trust me none of them is as easy as making a sandwich. When the main course takes so much time, our husbands/family members won’t even eat it without a side dish like chutney, rasam, sambhar, curry etc. So, every day my mom (now me) would wake up early prepare breakfast like dosa with chutney, then prepare afternoon’s lunch which is another elaborate time consuming dish like rice with rasam and palya. Not to forget the morning tea. After doing all the cooking, there is an entire kitchen utensils in the sink to be caressed with water.
All this needs to be done usually before 8.30 am because that’s when she would leave for work.
In the evening, she would come home around 5.30 pm and start with evening tea with some light snacks like podi, avalakki, chats etc. Around 6.30 pm she would water the plants for half an hour, then again back in the kitchen for an elaborate time consuming dinner like roti with some vegetable curry. We would all eat dinner together, then she would wash all the utensils, and grind the lentils and rice for the next day’s dosa!
This definitely sounds insane! I must admit I don’t cook as much but yeah, I am close.
When I look at my mom I realize that she never had any hobbies. Mostly because she had no time to cultivate one. It was all about cooking and washing utensils. Don’t even start me with festivals. All the cooking gets multiplied by at least 3 times. More number of dishes, desserts, and sometimes borrowed vessels for washing!
Our world revolves around eating. We can never cook on weekends for an entire week as our fridge won’t hold so much. And usually we don’t even eat two days old food! We want everything freshly cooked. It is not just about the taste. The aroma also matters a lot! No, if you are not an Indian I doubt you would understand how much we love our food. How much we love cooking. How much attention we pay on every small detail in cooking. And how much we love our spices! No, we can’t survive on one dish for two days or the same dish for breakfast every morning. We want variety. We want different taste to tingle our taste buds. We just don’t enjoy our food. We worship it!
I am sharing recipes of a few simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Have a look and decide why do we spend so much time in the kitchen. This is a simple meal plan with one main course and one side dish. Some people like my cousin prefers at least two side dishes every day with lunch and dinner. Some people cook desserts very often. Some people want fried things like papad with their lunch. So, It can get more elaborate. And yes, there are people who eat the same food for lunch and dinner (that’s usually me and my husband after our maid left!). But, yeah even I don’t like eating yesterday’s food!!!!
How about you cook these and enjoy a nice Indian dinner tonight?