By Anushka Sahjwani
This story dates back to when there were no mobiles, no apps and no KFCs or McDonald’s. I’ll bet today’s kids will call it the prehistoric times.
A resident of Kuwait, I came to Mumbai to settle down and get married. Back in Kuwait, my mom was a teacher and dad was an engineer; and as for myself, I was working at a law firm. Our meals in Kuwait were always what you could rustle up quickly, or order takeaway since none of us had the time to do the grocery shopping or indulge in expansive cooking. In fact, I never quite got introduced to cooking back then.
After I got married and moved to Mumbai, I was lucky to be in a family that had two cooks taking care of our meals! Again, I did not feel the need to learn anything about cooking or what goes on in the kitchen.
Then came the day that we all rue! Suddenly the 2 cooks had to go to their native place simultaneously. Oh boy! It was chaos. Add to that, my mother-in-law had been hospitalized the same time. My husband and I dearly missed both the cooks but I volunteered to take care of what everyone was going to eat when they got back home every evening. My husband and father-in-law used to get back at 9 pm and I used to put up on the dining table whatever I could muster with my limited cooking skills, embarrassingly so! Sometimes it was ridiculously watery dal with half fried potatoes and sometimes it used to be extra thick gravies with half cooked, extra salty vegetables. Slowly over the years, by trial and error, I learnt how to do things correctly in the kitchen. Not that I can boast of being a fantastic cook even today, but yes, now I know better than watching meat being cooked in an ordinary pan for 2 hours (I now use a pressure cooker!)
Today, however, things are different and there are so many options you have if you are a single parent, or a bachelor or even just lazy. I am going to list a few options I have tried which are not an embarrassment to serve or eat and which are primarily “almost ready to eat” types of food available in the market. Now, much like myself, you too can come to terms with a life without having to fear the kitchen.
- When all else fails… there’s always MAGGI. Maggi noodles has by far saved many a collegian from starvation. Just add water, the sachet mix and you are ready to eat it. It says two minutes on the pack but I suggest four minutes of cooking for an optimum taste! To make it a healthier option; do what I do: add sprouts and vegetables into it. And to make it absolutely 100 percent “super good for you”, get the wheat noodles. Even your mom won’t have a problem with these! ?
- Cheesy Alfredo Pasta Kit. Yes, you heard right. Alfredo pasta in minutes. It comes in a box with pre packed salt, pasta sauce and condiments. All you have to do boil the pasta and add the contents given inside step by step. If you have guests and want to show off a bit, garnish it with salami, pepperoni, vegetables or olives. Easy-peasy and tasty! It can be bought online or a grocery store.
- Okay, so you are not a fan of the boxed stuff. How about eggs? Everyone I know can boil an egg. But how to make it interesting… Well, here it is, an egg-citing secret. Available in almost all stores are ready-to-eat gravies. They come in a soup like packing. If you want your eggs to be interesting all you have to do is get the egg curry packet, add water and dunk boiled eggs in it. Garnish with coriander and you can serve it to anyone and they will think you have taken specialized cooking lessons and learned to make the best egg curry ever!
- Similar food gravies are also available in many other brands. You can get butter chicken paste, or bhuna mutton paste, or paneer makhanwala paste. The options are endless. All you have to do is add water, meat or vegetables of your choice and cook it. If you still don’t get it, the instructions are given on the back of each gravy. Just follow the steps to the T and you will never go wrong!
- Okay, you are on a diet. You want to eat healthy and you want a no-muss- no-fuss type of meal. Oh wow, we have quick-fix oats nowadays. Open a packet, add water, add sachet and you have yourself one heck of a healthy meal. Not even your doctor can scold you for that one! Plus its super tasty and comes in many flavors.
- So you don’t like gravies and you don’t like vegetables? You are a carnivore like me! Have I got an answer for you too! Nowadays you get pre-marinated chicken or meat and all you have to do is pressure cook it with a little water for about 8 to 10 minutes and no one will ever be able to tell that it’s not from a restaurant. All you need are plating skills! Available in the market are Murg Aachari, Bhuna Gosht, Tikka Marinated, Chicken Lollipop and many more variants. Go online and order from a grocery service or walk into your neighborhood gourmet store.
- Now if all this fails… there is always websites like Holachef that can deliver a reasonable quantity at a reasonable price. It is super delicious and super clean and super fast. What else does one need? There are so many things we take for granted, and all these conveniences are just one of them.
Like I said, I came to Mumbai at a time when there were no mobiles, no apps, no gravy sachets, no Maggi noodles and no oats sachets either. So cooking was time consuming and especially for me, a big chore! Things are easier today and anyone can make a meal. If I can, then you certainly can. So wish you happy quick-cooking and happy yummy-eating!