Prevailing notions still hold that Indian men pretty much can’t cook. That’s almost as much of a cliché as the claim that men are superior to women in professional kitchens. While the former assumption was born in fact, the times they are indeed a-changin’. It used to be that the typical Indian male was about as adept at boiling an egg as his female counterpart was at operating a multi-channel home theatre system—which is to say, not very. But the continuing rise in the number of urban single men in the country means that all those hungry bandhas are going to have to figure out how to cook for themselves. The pervasiveness of food in media—social, cable, podcasts and more—has no doubt encouraged the once-daunted that they too can do more than burn water and slice off their fingertips.
In this column I’m going to shed some light on ways that this increasing breed is able to survive without rotting away from malnourishment.
As a member of the aforementioned tribe (single, not maladroit), my days include figuring out my sustenance options alongside my work activities. This usually involves some combination of ordering in, eating out and cooking for myself. Breakfast is the easiest, and most important, meal to me. Even when I was married I would mostly handle my morning feed. Lunch used to be leftovers, so that was an easy crossover too. The final meal of the day was the only real adjustment and I’ve found my way through that quite easily. Dinner being my lightest meal, it’s simple enough to cobble together something easy and nourishing.
I’ve long loved one-dish meals so that’s something I enjoying putting my hand to. Chunks of beef, bacon, sausage, carrot, mushroom and onion slow-stewed in stock (chicken or beef cubes do fine) and cheap red wine (Sula Madeira does the trick), soaked up with toasted brun pao makes for an easy way to feel good about yourself. Did I say light? Well, sometimes you need a little more.
Next time, what my dadi taught my mom who taught my ex-wife who taught me about upma.