Cooking in the times of Corona!

by Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti

Yesterday evening, I called up my cousin to check how is she doing and how the lockdown has been treating her. I started our conversation with the usual – “Or kya chal raha he?” She on the other side tells me “Enough now! I don’t know about the virus but If I don’t get my Cook back anytime soon, I am surely going to land up in a hospital due to eating food cooked by me!” I giggled and said “Come on, Cheer up! You are not that bad a Cook. “She reverts in a serious tone- “Bad, I am horrible, the other day while making falahari sabudana khichdi, I used cooking soda instead of rock salt, as I don’t know the difference between the two. Thankfully I realised my mistake on time and corrected it. I just wish my society folks allow maids soon. I don’t mind the cleaning work, but cooking is getting on my nerves now!

This lockdown has been a lot of work for all of us. As daughters and now bahus of the middle class and upper-middle-class sections of a country like India, we have been used to having house help around. If not for cooking at least for cleaning. For girls like me or my cousin who do not enjoy cooking at all, this has been tough. There are times when I video call my MIL or SIL to check if the gravy I have cooked is done or not. They somehow by looking at the colour & consistency confirm it to me yes, it’s done, or I need to simmer it for some more time. If only there was a smell option in video calls, I would have used that one as well.😉

Another concern which has come up is no outside food or home deliveries due to this stupid virus. As we can’t order a Domino’s Pizza or a Landmark’s Pau Bhaji, we are now cooking these items at home. Now there could be two reasons for why amateur cooks like us are taking the risk of cooking these fancy items – Firstly, it’s been more than three months of lockdown now, our guts have been used to eating such delicacies at least once in a fortnight if not a week and Secondly, the WhatsApp status of our contact list. I sometimes feel men and women are cooking different Indian or not so Indian cuisines at home like there is no tomorrow.🤷🏻‍♀️ Thankfully I am lucky here, after seven years of marriage my dear Indori husband understands my limited culinary skills and never comes up with statements like – “See this one has made such nice looking Dahi Bhallas, I wonder when are you ever going to cook this for me.“ I guess with time as couples we do learn the art of acknowledging if not understanding what our partner’s capabilities are in respect to different skills. Having said that I did try some of these fancy items, all thanks to everybody’s dear friend – The YouTube App.🙅🏻‍♀️

YouTube has been sensational and revolutionary if I may say so in these lockdown days. All you need to do is just type in the name of the dish and you will get hundreds of videos posted by experienced and not so experienced chefs. The best part is, these videos are even customised for the lockdown. For instance, one may find videos with title tag such as – “Bake a cake with minimal ingredients” here, the extremely helpful you tuber understands that his or her target audience is unable to go out for grocery shopping. Another interesting observation is I am surprised how our dearest Mommies are also recommending or using YouTube. The other day I called my Maa for the recipe of Kota special daal ki kachori, a local delicacy but instead of helping her dearest daughter she tells me – “How to explain a detailed recipe like this one on phone, why don’t you just youtube it.” I was speechless, a kindly refer to youtube statement coming from my Maa who doesn’t even like using the Internet. Anyways, I somehow managed the dish by being Atmanirbhar (self-dependent) and yeah! Just YouTubed it!😎

This lockdown period has provided us with interesting insights. While growing up, my Maa used to tell me and my brother that it’s ok if someone can’t cook big spread meals but one should know the basics of cooking. If comes a situation, one should be able to manage the food. She is right here, learning cooking basics with her then would have surely helped me in current Corona times. As always, we understand our parent’s advice or point of view better only when we face similar situations in life. It’s not just cooking, managing cooking, cleaning, work, kids and other household chores have been difficult for most of us. We have realised how important and crucial role our Dearest Didis (house help) play in running our homes, well that can be another post altogether. As far as cooking is concerned what have been your special lockdown experiences? Do Share! 🙂

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17 comments

Leo July 29, 2020 - 4:41 am

Hamare liye toh it YouTube all the way 😉

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 29, 2020 - 10:11 am

Not just tumhare liye….Hum sab ke liye YouTube has been a great support 🙂

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johri July 29, 2020 - 7:53 am

Good read shru! But i think being a rajasthani maadu cooking is inherent! Dont worry i am sure u will soon cook like aunty!

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 29, 2020 - 10:11 am

You do have some high hopes from me. Thanks 🙂

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Shreya July 29, 2020 - 10:19 am

Very well written Shruti! Its giving off LSR vibes!!

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 29, 2020 - 10:25 am

Thank you so much Shreya 🙂 and yayi.💃🏻 for the vibes!

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Vinayak Mathur July 29, 2020 - 4:33 pm

Very Well said! I like to cook but with work and all sometimes you just need some help especially if you are living alone far away from family.

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Chhavi July 29, 2020 - 6:52 pm

I related myself to the cousin that you mentioned about! Yea I think that’s me, haha!

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 30, 2020 - 7:14 pm

Yes it is you!😉

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Komal Parwal July 30, 2020 - 11:35 am

Very well written dear shruti

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 30, 2020 - 7:06 pm

Thanks a lot Komal Bhabhi 🙂

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AaratiG July 30, 2020 - 7:31 pm

Beautiful write up. So well written and so regular yet so extraordinarily awesome. What I’m trying to say is it may be ur day to day struggle and a common household story but yet the way it’s been expressed or rather spoken I should say commendable. You may be an amateur cook but definitely not as a writer. You’re born for this.. you go girl ! Keep up great work !! Love u more 😘

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 31, 2020 - 9:26 am

So sweet of you to write a beautiful message like this one. Thank you so much for always motivating me. As always love you too🥰

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Rupam Singhal July 30, 2020 - 8:47 pm

Superb Shruti!! I am sure everyone will relate to it!
Keep writing such good stuff!
Loved it totally!

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Shruti Jhanwar Lahoti July 31, 2020 - 9:20 am

Thank you Rupam 🙂
glad you liked it!

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Deepmala August 2, 2020 - 3:13 pm

Very well articulated Shruti 👍 Never knew this talent of yours, now that you have picked it up don’t put the pen down.
My two cents on the subject 😃 since every word resonates so well. Indeed this is ‘ kahani kahani ghar ghar ki’ where now cooking a Mughlai biryani or baking a cake or even making golgappas is so ‘ordinary’ as if ppl were waiting for corona to count 1,2,3 ..Go 🙄 and honestly I know ppl who are looking for ‘ tedhi ‘ (read not so common) recipes to be posted on whatsapp groups. Lockdown has pushed Indian houses in an invisible MasterChef challenge 😂😂😂 Good you picked it up 😁

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Isha Gupta August 2, 2020 - 5:21 pm

Excellent read Shru. Loved it. Very relatable. Look forward to more such interesting articles from you

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