My kitchen has seen a lot of activity over the last few days. I have been pulling out all my domestic skills and dishing out 2-3 desi meals a day. I know, I know that is mostly the standard in Indian homes and shouldn’t be a big deal at all. But the thing is around here, my cooking is usually sporadic during the week. I cook in bulk a few times of the week for the husbadoo and myself, and am often only cooking small bits for Bandar on a daily basis. And I usually have Thai, Italian or Mexican in the rotation to keep us excited. But my father in law is visiting us for a few weeks and as usual I am on mission to impress. Not sure why this is particularly important for me considering we have been married for over five years now, but maybe I just generally strive for appreciation in life.
Related little anecdote to help you understand what makes me tick! Our friend has two beautiful dogs – B and L. Both are mixed breeds and apart from being medium sized black doggies, they are as different as can be. When we spent an evening with them a few years ago, L was eager to show of all her tricks, begged for little treats, allowed herself to be petted endlessly. B on the other hand, could care less that visitors were around. After a courtesy look in our direction he went about his ambling around the house and snoozing. Sometimes he watched L play with us, from the corner of his eye but did not budge from his lazy spot under the table to play along. Their owner told us this was typical and that L was the “pleaser”. So that is how some of us in this world function. We aim to please, appreciation drives us and we spend a lot of our time making plans to please others.
So the food aspect of my FIL’s trip more than any other element, and more specifically – “What the hell do I cook everyday for a month?” drove me to extreme planning measures the weeks leading up to his trip. I drew up a schedule with basic vegetable and lentil dishes that worked together. This menu if executed will absolutely be a highlight in my domestic career as it pushes the limits of my 6 year Indian food cooking experience. I am only about 4-5 days into the plan and can already see it takes the daily thought out of cooking and saves me time as I just have to prep and cook according to it. A few of my friends have already asked me for this schedule and I might just patent it at the end of this month! Of course , its early yet and I shouldn’t jinx myself here. The only huge problem in the current scenario as my FIL is extremely nice and non demanding but taciturn, and his non-committal looks on food dished out might not necessarily mean disapproval or disappointment .But of course , I take it to be. And spend more time revisiting the menu and tweaking dishes, replacing some evening with surprise snacks and things that he might like and giving him options.
Getting back to the cooking, I am learning more everyday. A huge lesson here is learning to cook just enough for a meal or two and not copious amounts. The only improvement is it’s now a few spoons of leftovers, instead of a container full and I am disposing of most of it by consuming it at the end of the day. So that usually means that you will find me in the kitchen as I clean up for the night, hurriedly scoping some palak dal or bhindi subji up with a rye cracker or slice of bread and stuffing my mouth. It’s easier than finding a tiny container with lid to refrigerate it. I also learnt to become extremely efficient in the kitchen. I use my time wisely and multitask even better than before. My vegetable chopping happens for the next day as my milk is boiling for curd setting , my dish washer is unloaded in the morning as the tea boils. My electric cooker and its settings have been mastered for Indian cooking. So overall it will be a huge month for self-improvement and learning if nothing else.
The husbadoo hates to see me stressed out about any of this and is constantly reminding me that we are married now and that impressions don’t matter a hoot. He offers to help in any way possible to lessen the load but given my obsession to impress, I refuse help and I am even paranoid about him being spotted with so much as a knife or a cutting board in the kitchen. On the other hand though, he is blown away by the quality of the food in the last few days, or maybe the poor guy is finally getting some fresh homely food daily, and he is dishing out the praise in tons. He relishes every single thing made so far and let me know, largely making up for my FIL’s lack of food commentary. This in turn is making me feel all soft and mushy towards the husbadoo in general and we have shared many a quick but passionate kiss in the few nooks and crannies of our little apartment and I am less critical of his non shaven look , hours of cricket playing and longer-than-my-liking hair style in these last few days. So my little domestic world is fine with atleast two happy campers.