This one is for those of you who hate cooking, my brothers and sisters and potential best friends. Those who imagine cooking to be something ‘therapeutic’, ‘fun’ or as dangerous as ‘passion’, may read on and have a laugh on our account. I don’t care. We’re a free country (at the time of writing) and hold the right to not feel guilty for being allergic to cooking. We kitchen-haters are the cult that exists outside the cult.
Unfortunately, even the most hateful of us must acknowledge the kitchen; you can’t just keep ignoring one entire room even if it’s dedicated to something as banal as food. Below is a start-up guide for everyone who dreads that room, compiled with helpful inputs by others of the same clan. I believe the great comedian Kenny Sebastian is one of us.
The bare minimum of utensils you need will include one frying pan (for the simplest of eggs) best if non-stick, one deep dish for boiling milk (and dal), one ladle, two spoons, one knife, one strainer (for multiple purposes), one plate, two glasses and definitely one mug that can hold coffee and beer both. Forks are optional. Pressure cookers recommended only for the courageous.
One gas cylinder and a stove, or you could go for an induction heater until you give up on it and return to the stove because there is only so much induction can do. You’ll miss being able to manipulate the boils in your chai and the fluffing of chapattis. A brilliant backup you definitely need is an electric kettle. If you must only get what is absolutely necessary, I say forget the toaster, this one will do more. On the day when your gas runs out or you simply don’t want it, the kettle will quickly heat enough water to be poured into cup noodles!
Always a toughie, to decide what the essential ingredients that one must keep stocked to avoid starvation are. Here’s what mothers usually recommend: sugar, salt, cumin seeds, red chillies, garam masala if you’re North Indian, mustard seeds if you’re from the South and pepper if you are feeling generous. Eggs are all-time awesomeness. Tomatoes are indispensable in every cuisine. Potatoes and onions are the other two that will create the happiest triangular dishes. Also get cornflakes or the grain of your choice and one kind of fruit for breakfast. Tea/coffee are fundamental. Rice/breads for main meals. Honey definitely helps make the kitchen seem friendlier.
Kenny said it—metal mesh, Pril, Scotch Brite, lighter and mops are needed to keep the kitchen functional and spanking new. A pack of tissues will go a long way in mopping up spilt oils and liquors. A book/poster/musical instrument to offset the kitchen-ness of the room will help too.
On days when the allergy is completely out of control, you will need something more than Maggi. This is where MTR steps in; not just the thick rajma-chawal variety but also a number of new brands that do it better with such magical products as heat-and-eat parathas and powdered dosa batter. Keep a chocolate or readymade gulab jamuns for surprise guests (and cravings!).