What literally pulls your legs while making an Indian meal ?

Many a times, I have wondered what nowadays literally pulls one’s legs, usually that of the women, while or after cooking a typical Indian meal ?!?

No, I am not hinting at any Vitamin-D or/and Calcium deficiency due to our indoor lifestyle in this phase of post-modernity. πŸ™‚ Rather, I want to draw my readers’ attention towards the cooking of an Indian meal in a modular-kitchen deprived of any sitting arrangement so as to keep it maximally spacious or lend some aesthetic sense to it.

Notwithstanding other discoverers (if any) of the answer, I think I have found mine and here it goes…

According to western lifestyle, pre-processed or canned food-items are generally used to make a single dish. The cooking is usually done in microwave ovens or, marinated and barbecued. In most cases, Olive oil is mixed in or sprinkled or brushed atop the culinary content. Considering a staple diet, westerners eat such dishes with various types of Bread, Tortillas and Salads. Sometimes, it is as simple as warming a refrigerated or left-over Burger or a Sandwich. And they prefer to finish the meal with some Yoghurt or Fruits or hot-Chocolate or Juice or a Drink.

In this process, we can observe certain things in an ordinary routine western kitchen-

1. Food items are limited
2. Most of the constituents of a full meal are readily available
3. The cooking is usually taken care of by a programmed machine !

So, they hardly stand and do continuous mehnat (toilsome efforts) in the kitchen.

See what it takes to cook an average Indian meal, e.g. lunch for a family of (4+2) members-

1. Roti (Indian bread) – kneading the dough, then manually rolling-out 14-15 pieces and making it one-by-one i.e. manually and no parallel processing

2. Daal /Sambar /Chamthong (pulses /stew) – boiling and tempering (chaunk) it, sometimes with small coconut pieces i.e. manually including making the coconut pieces

4. One “side-item” like Bhajji (fries) – peeling the vegetable(s) and pan-frying it with mild spices over low-heat i.e. also manually. One should have patience…

5. An additional “side-item” may also be sought – Saag (e.g. spinach), Pakoras (deep-fried gram-flour dumplings), Momo (steamed refined-flour dumplings stuffed with fillings), Posto (light-fried poppyseed paste), etc., i.e. again a manual process- cleaning, rinsing the leaves, chopping it finely, then stir-frying it over low-heat; making the dumplings or paste i.e., again manually. One should have more patience…

6. One main curry – it could be anything including Ghanta (a vegetable medley which may need more than an hour of frequent stirring), Masala (gravy), Chadchaddee (sautΓ©ed mixed vegetables), Kofta curry, etc., i.e. first cut all the vegetables, ready the spices, fry the Kofta dumplings and then cook the curry. This means one has to slog in the kitchen; don’t even blink or rush to the dining area to quickly get refreshed under the fan or air-conditioner πŸ™‚

7. Salad /Rasam /Chutney /Tathu /Papadd /Raita, i.e., to have some more patience as it may require a bit of manual pre-processing of a vegetable(s) and adjusting the varied seasoning

8. A rice item like Pulaav, Fried-rice, Biryani, Bisi Bele Bhaat, Khichddee, Sawchair, etc. or Noodles type of dish is expected during weekends /holidays to not just push load the gastric-pouch but also blow the family to a truly sumptuous meal i.e. it requires one to remain tied-up with finely detailed preparations which may include roasting and the famous layered-cooking method of the Mughal era πŸ™‚

9. For lovers of Non-vegetarian foods (particularly Fish), its again tiresome multiple tasks right up to cleaning !!!

10. Last but not the least, on our list we have some of the wonderful smoked dishes of North-East India. Even if we manage to do it in a modular-kitchen, it is very inconvenient and difficult to clean !

Please note that all these tasks are after considering the available spices in malls but excluding automated vegetable peelers, juice-mixers or other such kitchen-tools. An Indian kitchen normally does not prize many automatic machines except the grinder. This is because the care-taker (host/hostess) wants to eliminate the tagged duty of cleaning the machine after use. πŸ™‚ And many Indian daily dishes cannot be suitably cooked in a microwave oven because the basic flavour is lost !

The other factor to be weighed is that nowadays, the city-dwellers live in a nuclear-family set-up. Hence, the spontaneous assistance of a joint-family system is completely eliminated. One has to manage everything single-handedly if no domestic help or/and cook is employed !

Going back to exploring the answer…

Our grand-mothers and mothers sat on a footstool or tuffet, prepared every detail and cooked. That’s why I believe that even after doing or managing all the chores of the house for years, they never grumbled the way most of us do at a young age now just after cooking a full meal in the kitchen. We Indians, have no doubt borrowed the western idea of modular-kitchen over night… but broadly, without changing our food habits to suit it !

Yes… even I would agree that it is difficult to change one’s food habits. And in that case, the footstool should move in back to the traditionally styled Indian kitchen ! πŸ™‚

Secondly, Indians observe many festivals when certain spices are barred in the kitchen. Many households en masse observe this. But there are a few where some family members with a relatively relaxed nod, may wish to have the usual course of a meal. That implies, double-duty for the person preparing the meals – one course for the festival and the other usual one !! πŸ™‚

Thirdly, some people (men and women), demand or request that special items (often tedious) be cooked for them – this is merely an attempt to show some form of dominance or seek attention in a large joint-family or due to health issues !

So, aamjunta, we gotto choose- ya toh khadde raho, pakaate raho aur khuud ke payaer pakadd ke Hajmola-ke-saath khana pachane ki koshish karte raho…ya phir purani bawarchi-khana pe wapas jao (either keep standing, cooking and attempting to digest the meal with the help of Hajmola digestive tablet and a self-massage to your legs…or return to the old style of Indian kitchen) ! πŸ™‚


28 Responses

  1. We have everything instant these days..
    Standing and getting the rottis done would kill ur time is what goes into our head. ..as each day passes by we are getting weak .. cos its not fresh and we have lot of preservatives.. good article.

  2. nice article

  3. Nice observations. I also felt the same when my mom complains of tiredness in modern kitchen. We need to rethink about the design of Indian kitchens.

  4. Lovely Article my Friend..Modernization is everywhere now a days so why our kitchen should be left behind is the mindset of everyone and In India cooking is a tiresome job and as you said even I make my dinner myself that to standing and I feel really tiresome sometimes..

  5. An article with completely different flavour πŸ™‚ true aamjunta types. I agree, we should not become a follower in all cases. Good one

  6. “ya toh khadde raho, pakaate raho aur khuud ke payaer pakadd ke Hajmola-ke-saath khana pachane ki koshish karte raho…ya phir purani bawarchi-khane pe wapas jao” – 10000% right

    Missing our old kitchen, mom and grand-mom types. But, I doubt whether our modern ladies will like those!! Nuclear family is mostly by choice. So, problem to ayega hi 😦

  7. Purane zamaaney mein fursat ke pal hote the aaj kal kis kambakht ke paas fursat hai πŸ™‚ maggi ka zamaana hai khana ab aise hi khaana hai 😦 Yes, of course miss those times but some changes are irreversible.

  8. You’ve said it right. The more the kitchen gets modern, the more quick meals are to be done where there’s no smoke or smell of the food that used to be cooked on firewood. Everything has to change by time and that’s what is happening.

  9. I may be of minority but I like nuclear family type instant meals. Spending whole day for cooking by women is injustice to women and injustice to the nation and productivity.

  10. That pride in preparing a great dish is universal.There are benefits and disadvantages to both styles of cooking. The home help versus the machines, for example, the time spent v the freshness of ingredients and nowadays, the challenge of growing your own veges organically – a must in Earthquake prone New Zealand. Wonder what unique systems and shortcuts Easterners settled in the west have come up with.

  11. Modern Indian Kitchens are some time necessary in the changing scenario. Else, time will be wasted only. However, standing for a long time in the kitchen is not good and painful. I think eating less and making items more innovative than the the traditional way of cooking is required. Not sure whether others will agree, but my husband agrees to it πŸ™‚

  12. Making Indian meals — yes the number of items we prepare and type of items we prepare will make the person cooking tired. Hats off to our moms and grandmoms.

    By the way, good article.

  13. No I dont agree that western food culture is the best. I think our food structure has been designed to suit our body rather then our taste buds and it is very profound. The ancient books have always taught us that body is a temple and we should maintain it thus

  14. Brilliantly described and thorough :). A part of a joint family, non vegetarian, Β may I add, I can totally relate to what u say. Its not only choice of food but also health constraints of the older members of the family that have to be kept in mind. That does increase the number of dishes. But the satisfaction of making and taste of traditional preparations cannot match the instants. As far as induction and microwave cooking are concerned….with growing LPG prices…its a choice between paying for gas or electricity. Old style cooking in a new kitchen? How about that? πŸ™‚

  15. The purane zamaney ka bawarchikhana is a dream today, my kitchen has only enough space for one person to stand at a time, even if my kids want to pass by and get something I have to move out of the way. But after reading this, I have made up my mind that when ever I build my own home, I will take these points into consideration.

  16. Nice Post, But you have to pay lot of price for space Nowadays. . . πŸ™‚

  17. Everything else is manageable but the ever rising prices of the concerned ingredients!!

  18. Well analysed article… I am sure it must have taken thorough observations and probably your hands are also tried in a modular-kitchen for making an Indian meal, a few times at least ! πŸ™‚

    True, a modular-kitchen best suits western lifestyle. As one cannot completely change one’s food habits, it is better that we go back to our “bawarchi-khana”, may be a bit modified one – that way we shall do justice both to our stomach and legs πŸ™‚

  19. Cooking an Indian meal is truly tiresome but ready to cook stuff is also not a healthy alternative.In fact even the fresh vegetables we get in the market are nothing compared to home grown ones.If you taste them once you cannot forget the difference.

  20. Indian food is great, so also the age old cooking system. In the name of modernization and ultra modernization, we have changed our age old kitchens; problems are bound to come. As we become older, we feel the heat 😦

    Well articulated article, touched almost all areas of the problem and food types we have in India.

    Just to add – we can’t make our Indian sweets – Rasgulla, Chhenapoda, Rabdi, Gulab Jamun with present set up; I tried several times but found it very tough !

  21. No mention of Odia Pakhala πŸ™‚

    I wonder why people are crazy about the modern kitchens? We can never use wood and Charkol or Coal in these type of kitchens also. Old is God, but with little bit of modernization.

    Well analysed.

  22. Balle Balle!! Jai hao aamjunta πŸ™‚

    No Typical Punjabi food can be made in these modern and ultra modern kitchens. We need Chullahs for that. Very neatly managed to bring many interesting points about Indian khana khajanas and age old kitchens of India.

  23. Hi, I like your blog very much and hence would like to pass you the ABC award. Please collect it here.


  24. Wow!! ABC award! Congratulations!!!

    By the way your articles are very well written I have gone through 4/5 articles today and I really appreciate you for your thought process and articles.

    Particularly, this post is a good one and your portrayed the thought process of all Indian cooks – mom, grandmom, wife, sister, brother, father, daughter-in-law and many more.

    Will remember this while making my own home in a small village in West Bengal.

  25. Lovely article

  26. Well, we certainly need some thing different from what Western kitchens are offering us. I agree with the author here. Indian food, especially South Indian foods certainly do not require this kind of kitchen. It is bit hectic to work on these kind of kitchens.

  27. When we adopt something, we have to adopt it fully. Else this is what will happen. Nice analysis πŸ™‚

  28. A really feel good article. The main problem with our generation is in following the west blindly most of the times! I hope that when we plan/renovate our new/old house, we all return to do the things which suit our needs πŸ™‚

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