How Important Is Maa Ke Haath Ka Khana, Really?!

I can't cook to save my life... errr... to be the "good mom" who can cook delicious food. But can't I be the mom who does other fun things?

I have a confession to make. I am a bad cook, always have been. No, it’s not like I can’t cook, I can prepare a decent meal for a small crowd of max 4 people, given time. But mind you, by decent, I don’t exactly mean delicious.

And that’s where the problem is.

Cooking does not belong to the feminine gender

Cooking I believe is a life skill, not gender specific at all. But then as a dialogue in the Malayalam movie Ustad Hotel goes, “Anyone can fill a stomach. A good cook can fill your heart.” Can’t agree more.

My mother is an excellent cook and she trained me alright, when I moved away for work and before marriage. I couldn’t master the pickles, sweets, or other delicacies, but I learned the basics. Honestly, I wasn’t all that interested.

The initial days after marriage were fine, we were young, we had fun, we cooked together, we ordered food, and we had all the time.

But ten years down the line, with a young kid, more stress at job, and little time, I realized I had lost all interest in cooking food. I never prided myself in my culinary skills, unlike many others, cooking was never my hobby or passion. They say cooking is therapeutic, but for me, whipping up a tasty meal was stressful.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying…

It wasn’t like I didn’t try, some of my senior colleagues made sure I did, by passing comments like, “Kya hai yeh Mareezon ka Khana? (Tastes like hospital food) You serve this to your husband and children as well?”

Sadly they weren’t totally wrong. And more than often, we would end up ordering a takeaway. Much as I tried, the taste just wasn’t there. Two days of having meals cooked by me and we would be craving for something better. I blamed it on the morning rush and the evening lethargy, so couldn’t I do better during the weekends? But weekends were the only time I got to unwind, why would I spend time on something I disliked?

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Maa ke haath ka khana – the roadblock to employing a cook!

But I did have the perfect solution, employ a cook. That’s easy, isn’t it? But no, it was easier said than done. And who stood in the way of me and taste? My close relatives.

“You will deny your child of Maa ke Haathon ka Khana?”

“Love is the main ingredient of mother’s food. Would a maid provide that?”

“Oil, salt, masala? Wouldn’t she overdo all that?”

“When other kids claim their mom is taste mein best, what would your son say?”

Trust me this was some of the gentlest advice I received. There was worse; I knew if I hired help, I would be branded lazy, irresponsible, in short, a bad mother.

But a cook was a necessity, so… here we are today!

Two more years of deliberation, and here I am today, into the third month of freedom. Finally, I employed a cook, regardless of all unwarranted opinions coming my way. And I can’t tell you how happy and right I feel about this.

Of course, I understand outside food on a regular basis is unhealthy. But now, I am providing my family with wholesome and delectable home-cooked food. With just the right amount of oil, salt, and masala. Meals now have a huge variety, in fact, we look forward to eating from home. And I now have plenty more of me-time, to read, write, study, practise my music lessons, to sit back and destress.

I am happier now, my family too. Lunch boxes don’t look boring and unpalatable anymore. I get to spend more quality time with my husband and son. The cook is happy too, as we really appreciate whatever she whips up for us.

If it is a win-win situation for all, and if I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings, then why would I bother about what a random relative thinks of me?

Perhaps not a ‘Mother who cooks Maa Ke Haath Ka Khana for her kids’, but I’m sure I am a lot more. And as of now, I am exploring more options, trying to find where my real passion lies.

I did it finally, and I am celebrating myself.

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