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Every one of us has often stood in front of an open fridge wondering – what do I cook for dinner today? Here is just such a rib tickling personal story!
It is early evening. I have just had my evening tea and my young one has run outside to play. Soon the sun will set and it will be time to light the lamps. And then I will ask myself the same question I have been asking for years – what do I cook for dinner today?
What, now you are shaking your head and muttering tch tch under your breath because you read the first few words of the title and thought: some serious intellectual or political or even emotional quandary women find themselves into? Well, I will have you know, that this one question is a huge intellectual, political and emotional problem rolled into one!
Now you’ll say what’s the big deal? There are so many dishes to choose from; just go ahead and choose one! And I would agree, only; my problem stems from this very variety of choices that are available to me!
Okay, then ask the family, you say. Fine. So I ask the man of the house what his preferences for dinner would be; and “anything” comes the reply. Hmmm, that went well.
So then I ask the young man of the house for his preference, and he tells me something that sounds something like you would order in a five-star restaurant or (more likely) something he has heard on one of those posh culinary shows on TV! That could work, I find myself thinking; after all, under all the fancy names and decorations, it is just another roti-sabji that is really well put together, isn’t it?
But that’s just the thing! You see, there is so much that can be done with a few vegetables and spices in the kitchen that everyone who enters the kitchen with the intent of making dinner finds themselves spoilt for choices!
With the same veggies and a bit of rice and some dal for example, you could make a simple salad and potato stir fry with some phulkas and say some jeera rice? Or maybe rustle up a salad to go with a healthy vegetable Pulav? Or maybe you could keep the salad, but add some whipped curd to it turning it into a raita and then make some paranthas to go with it? Or you could go all guns blazing and put up a spread of dal, rice, raita and paranthas.
Or maybe if you really want to keep it simple, you could make pasta. Maybe pasta in white sauce with all the veggies that your young ones (and maybe even the not-so-young ones) refuse to eat and even have that salad to go with it! But then you would need to toast the garlic bread too, as an option for your young ones who will hate the pasta the minute they know you are out to trick them!
So how about a simple khichdi for dinner, then? Dal, rice, veggies – all the good nutrition rolled into one – and an excellent mid-week relaxing meal! But even as you think that, you know your young ones will hate it!
And these are just a few options for you to consider. Plus, depending on how advanced your culinary skills are (and how “not lazy to cook” you are) you will find yourself being faced with this question with no answer in sight!
If you can cook a variety of dishes then you are a culinary genius! You’ve probably learnt a lot of traditional dishes from your mother and mother in law; and possibly even possess enhanced skills like baking yummy deserts. So you clearly have at your disposal a whole lot of interesting ideas that you can use to make a simple dinner. And yet, I am sure more often than not, you find yourself staring into your fridge and asking yourself, what do I cook for dinner today?
Now, if you are culinarily challenged though, with only dal-rice and maggi as your specialties, you may think you are spared this most difficult question. But no my friend, even you aren’t spared. After all, even you know there are only so many days one can eat dal-rice; and ordering for outside food, beyond a point, is neither economical nor interesting. So that brings you back to the same question; “what do I cook for dinner tonight?”
Okay, now you could also be someone who knows to cook a variety of dishes but are too lazy to cook them! Believe me, that happens. Sometimes, after a hard day at work, all you are looking forward to is a simple dinner and some relaxing time; but since you are the culinary expert in the house, your family doesn’t let you go so easily; and then you wish to choose something that you can rustle up quickly; and are faced with the same question: what do I cook for dinner tonight?
Okay, maybe you are not lazy, but a foodie! An enthusiast who loves to make and feed your family a variety of dishes that you are an expert at! Maybe the internet is your go to place for adventurous recipes or maybe you have a favourite cookbook; or you are one of those people who have loads of tried and tested grandma’s recipes going in the family! Do you think then, you would be spared this dilemma?
Well, not exactly; because if you are a foodie, chances are, your family is either equally crazy about food or isn’t. If they are foodies like you, then you are all spoilt for choice and facing the same question! And if they aren’t, well, then you need to simplify something down so your non-foodie family would be happy with what’s on the dinner table – bringing you back to the same question again – what do you make for dinner?
You see, there is really no one – no one – who hasn’t faced this question ever before. And yes, many of you may think there’s a simple solution to this problem: plan ahead for the meals of the week!
And I would agree with you too; but you see, even if you plan out the meals and order your veggies once a week to go as per the meal plan, what if at the last minute, on a day you have planned a simple dosa for dinner, you suddenly realise, you could actually make those dosas more nutritious by adding some shredded veggies and some multigrain flour to the batter? Or someday when you have planned an elaborate palak paneer with jeera rice and parathas, you are so tired after the day’s work that you prefer using the spinach for the salad and have a simple aloo stir fry with phulkas instead?
So you see, even after planning a week ahead, you could still find yourself asking yourself: what do I make for dinner tonight?
So as I see it, there is no real answer to this question. What about you? Have you faced this question before? I would love to know in the comments section how you solve this perpetual dilemma!
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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With over 200 published stories, Rashmi is a lawyer-turned-writer, who has always given
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