What to do when your domestic help bails out – a lazy bum’s guide to survival
My life took a rather tragic turn when my husband moved to Nagtalao (It’s a real place. Yes, in India). There is a real shortage of domestic help out here because well, it is nagfuckintalao, which means all my lazy hours had to be replaced by cooking hours. It’s not like I don’t enjoy cooking but I don’t like it everyday and I just like the middle part – where I walk in like a chef, find all the ingredients chopped and neatly arranged on the platform, assemble the dish and then have someone clean up after me. Since I am not one of those multitasking superwomen who can cook meals and handle my professional commitments at the same time, here’s what I have figured in my two months of minionless existence.
I now cook once or twice a week because I realized it’s more efficient and time-saving. If the NRIs can do it, so can we. You just have to get over your fixation for freshly cooked food because nutritionally speaking, it doesn’t make much of a difference.
1. Recycle leftovers a hell lot. Toss two old sabzis in the pan, get creative with seasonings and you have a brand new sabzi with almost zero effort. Don’t feel bad about feeding old food to your housemates as long as it’s not rotten. They usually won’t be able to tell.
2. I have always been a fan of one-pot meals, more so now, because they are the least messy to make, and packed with nutrition if you use the right ingredients. For example, here’s my secret recipe for Risotto – sauté an assortment of vegetables in a deep pan with garlic and onions, add leftover rice, make instant soup out of a packet, pour it in along with a fistful of cheese and stir. There you are – fancy risotto in five minutes or less. Feel free to add your choice of meats and seasonings to it. May I add that in this regard, a box of grated cheese lying around in the fridge is a thing of great utility?
3. If possible, get a fridge that has a larger freezer section because freezers are blessings and you can cook and store weeks worth of food in advance – curries, dals, chopped vegetables, biryani and what not. And if someone has a problem with not-freshly-cooked food, you can also freeze their corpse so that you don’t have to go all the way to the river to dispose it off.
4. The “bhuna masala”, which is the key component of most curry based dishes can be made in bulk and frozen in small packets or containers. Just make ginger-garlic and non ginger-garlic versions of the masala with no added spices or seasonings. You’ll be surprised how much time it can save you when you have to whip up a quick dish.
5. Some vegetables take well to the freezer. Store chopped carrots, cauliflower, capsicum, peas and corn in transparent zip-lock bags and toss them into rice, noodles and pasta whenever required.
6. Beg, borrow, steal maids once in a while. When your neighbour’s help has some time to spare, call her over with a smile, pay her generously and get her to make a huge stack of chapattis and parathas to be dumped in the freezer. When she’s done, treat her to a glass of rum and give her some of your old makeup. If you play your cards right, the desired attrition will happen in due time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in this – all the corporate HR people do it.
It’s only the lazy people that come up with the coolest life hacks, because we like to get the maximum work done, in the least possible time and minimum effort so that we can go back to watching TV shows in bed ASAP instead of slogging like plebians.
Do you use any sneaky tricks in the kitchen? Drop in your secrets in the comment box!
Shuchi is the author of two romantic comedies – ‘Done With Men’, and ‘I’m Big. So What!?’. She freelances as a writer, editor and blogger, and runs a writing firm called the Pixie Dust Writing Studio. When she’s not writing, Shuchi likes to travel, read and bake awesome cakes. Find out more at http://www.shuchikalra.com. You can also tweet to her @shuchikalra.