Rigged and Rigmaroled

As We Journey Through the Daily Grind

The Cook who Cooks (for you)

Posted by Rani on December 18, 2009

Nothing beats having someone handle the cooking for you. I feel lucky and truly blessed that I finally have a cook – the cooking sessions after work were getting too much to handle!

And oddly, I didn’t feel more relaxed. Over a month, I realized a few do’s and dont’s when it comes to that new found happy addition in your life (ahem):

1. Basic supplies can be bought in bulk (of the 1-person kind) – cooking oil, condiments, masalas, rice, atta (for chappattis), riceflour etc, semolina etc, and a reasonable quantity of onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and garlic.

2. You’re safer off not buying veggies in bulk – it breaks your heart to see any go bad (since most Indian cooking needs the veggies listed in point 1, bulk-ish buying is often warranted there – but not for the rest!). The ideal is purchasing everyday, if you have a store close on by. This is especially true for curry leaves, and chillies. And  coriander leaves never last even a day, and no, I don’t trust Tupperware ‘air sealed containers’ to take care of that for me. If there’s no friendly neighborhood store, buy every three days.

3. YOU do the veg shopping. Trustworthy as they may be, the help is not going to care if the tomatoes aren’t firm. Even if you don’t care, at least do the shopping at the start, till things get into a routine.

4. Give them a menu, so they know exactly what is expected. Be very clear on how much, especially if they come in every day. You don’t want a weekload of sambar in your fridge! And now, don’t tell them how to make the dishes. Let them be, not just to give them space but also for you to not have to still end up in the kitchen. Duhhh. Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to check in on them once in a way, at least initially.

5. At least in the first month, it helped for me to list each day’s menu. I didn’t plan except on a daily basis (and that’s gotta be done the previous night, btw) but I did keep the list so I could revisit it any time.

6. If you’re working, its best to have them come in before you leave for work. That leaves my evenings free, and all the cooking gets done in the morning itself. I’m not a fan of having them in the house when I’m not there, but to each their own. Keep in mind that if you’re going to be away when the cook is in, it might be good to hand-hold the transition for the first one week at the least.

7. Have enough utensils! The basics might cover one saucepan, one or two frying pans, at least one pressure cooker, a cutting board, rolling pin and board, dish-specific tools (like an idli rack), and then the usual suspects — spoons, knives, ladles etc.

Remember – wooden spoons for teflon-coated dishes (my favorite kind). Also have tongs, and pot holders or mittens for the poor cook’s fingers. Them paper bits hardly work.

8. Any cook will subtly (or not) tell you how to buy a better saucepan, a new mixer, a new oven…the works. Handle subtly, and with due respect. You don’t want too much salt in your food, just to spite you (!!). But act with prudence – buy or change only what you know is really necessary.

Just like with any other change, even of the good kind, a little planning and a little thinking go a long way.


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