Although restaurants have opened, people are still wary of eating out as they are not sure about safety rules being followed by service staff. Many have used the enforced confinement to hone their culinary skills, posting pictures of their efforts on WhatsApp groups. While I applaud their creativity, I am still not motivated enough to do the same.
As soon as the first lockdown was announced my siblings rejoiced as they were sure that I would now be forced to enter the kitchen and cook my own meals. They were very helpful, offering recipes which they swore were easy and required little time to prepare.
But I stood my ground. I would rely on the lunch box that was delivered at my doorstep. But there was the fear that these delivery men would be stopped by police and prevented from moving around. My faith was rewarded and my meals continued to be delivered.
Although I have had to be content with eating vegetarian food, I have friends and family who come to the rescue of my carnivore side and send me non-vegetarian dishes every now and then which are treated with the utmost respect and gratitude
I wonder what a phobia of cooking is called. Fortunately I have been able to survive years of eating food prepared by someone else. I am often asked whether I get tired of eating food from outside but if the alternative is having to do it myself, then I know what I would prefer.
I have been lucky with the provider of meals through the years. In Dubai, I found a housewife who was willing to give me home-made meals.
She was a good cook and her operation wasn’t done on a commercial scale. I was her only customer. The only inconvenience was that I had to pick up the food on my way to work but, luckily for me, she lived a stone’s throw away.
Then I came home to India for good. The thought of cooking for myself weighed me down. But then I got lucky once again. Through one of my WhatsApp groups, I heard about a catering business that delivered meals and I knew many of the people who vouched for the quality of the service and food. There’s been no looking back since.
A twinge of envy
While friends and family send me pictures of all the dishes they have prepared during the lockdown, I admit to a feeling a twinge of envy but it is short-lived.
They seem to be in overdrive, baking bread and whipping up complicated desserts. I look at all the pictures, make appropriate sounds of encouragement and wait for my humble meal on wheels.
WhatsApp groups have saved the day for many bachelors and students during the lockdown. Many women decided to cash in on the demand for food that tastes just like what their mother made.
These home cooks are supplying simple meals comprising dal (lentils) and vegetables with rice and rotis. It’s not just about convenience but comfort and nostalgia.
Some of them have also been providing meals for special occasions such as Father’s Day. Initially, delivery of meals was a problem until Uber started pickup services.
I have been told that cooking at home is much less expensive but I am willing to pay extra for the convenience of not having to wake up every morning only to find that I need to run down to the nearest grocery store for essential items that I hadn’t realised needed replenishing.
Although I have had to be content with eating vegetarian food, I have friends and family who come to the rescue of my carnivore side and send me non-vegetarian dishes every now and then which are treated with the utmost respect and gratitude.
Now there are several food delivery platforms that sign up home chefs from different regions of India to cater to diverse tastes and assuage doubts about use of excess oil and too many spices. It’s a win-win situation.
Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India