Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ghar ka khaana zindabad!

A Bong friend recently dragged me to have dinner at a restaurant called 'Oh Calcutta'. The chief attraction here is that the food served is 'just like what we once had at home'.

So, in a fancy shmancy setting we had 'home food', at less than homely prices. With each mouthful my friend was going over the moon, while I was wondering - as I chewed on rice with banana flower ki sabzi - whether there were any leftovers in my fridge.

OK - it wasn't THAT bad but really, I wouldn't have wanted to pay 500 bucks for a meal like that. Because I am not from Calcutta and it did not bring back any fond memories.

But it set me thinking... The wheel has turned full circle.

When we were kids, going to a restaurant was the ultimate treat. It happened only a couple of times a year - on my parents' anniversary or some such occassion. And we'd usually visit only Delhi Durbar or Kailash Parbat. But those were days you looked forward to.

This continued into the hostel years - when 'eating out' was a welcome escape from mess food - but usually an unaffordable luxury.

But the tide turned when I moved out of the circumference of mom's cooking - and started living on my own. 'Eating out' became something you did everyday, merely to fill your stomach.

Cut to the present. After years of trial and error I have (at last) found a decent maid to take care of the daily 'paapi pet ka sawaal'. I carry a dabba to office, and usually eat at home.

Of course I still do eat out a couple of times a week to:
a) Catch up with friends over a meal.
b) Try out some new place/ kind of food - for the experience.

Home economics
I think 'ghar ka khaana' will be the Next Big Luxury for many of us. Good household help is scarce - as are wives who will toil in the kitchen daily. As two-income families mushroom the question is - will they survive on ready-to-eat/ junk food/ Udipi meals?

Mumbai has always had enterprising ladies who send lunch and even dinner dabbas with home-cooked food. But I think the next step is actually a chain of take-aways, located in office complexes/ malls from where you can pick up home-cooked mix n match meals.


So you could pick up 6 chapatis, 100 gms alu-tamatar ki sabzi and 100 gms moong ki daal + some dahi on your way home - enough for a couple.

The smart thing would be to have - the way dabba ladies do - a variety of cuisine. ie Gujarati, Punjabi, south Indian - more styles depending on demand.

Someone will of course have to study how to make on a mass scale food that tastes just like ghar ka. While no two moms cook alike, there is a generally accepted spectrum in which home food falls.

The menu would be more 'pedestrian' - tindli, torai, alu-gobhi, tur daal. Even if there's paneer - it would be home-style and not swathed in heavy gravies and spices like restaurants normally serve it.

I've seen this in Thailand, where women are a very visible part of the workforce. Department stores like Tesco Lotus offer these kind of takeaways, as do women in malls with small carts.

I read somewhere that Food Bazaar has started something similar on an experimental basis in Andheri and Goregaon. But haven't had a chance to visit. If anyone has - and can vouch for taste/ hygiene do lemme know!

19 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:06 PM

    I haven't had indian food in like 3 months or so and i dont even know how long since i had home food...thank god i get to go home pretty soon..this post just makes me hungry

    Jatin
    (www.twentyonwards.blogs.com)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Hi Rashmi,

    We met long ago when I contributed an article to the then-nascent JAM. Of course, I have moved onto other bigger things since then (like trying to contribute and getting rejected at several places :-)). I like reading your blog with its mix of the domestic and the professional. It is what a blog should be: a discussion rather than an opinion.

    Regards
    Rakesh

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hear, hear!

    As I prepare to move to Mumbai, the idea of a counter where I can 'pick and make' my own meal sounds pretty neat!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous2:23 PM

    What about the dabbawallas? Don't they already do that? Or do the dabbas don't taste like real dabbas?

    (have heard of them, courtesy Prince charles and some US b school, but haven't had a chance to taste..)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous2:43 PM

    the dabbawallas jst pick n drop the lunchboxes they dont make the food.

    Jatin
    (www.twentyonwards.blogs.com)

    ReplyDelete
  6. GHAR KA KHAANA...

    Been 8 yrs that i am away from home...Really used to looooooong for that "baghari daal and garam kadhi" Never managed to get that outside..
    Also, staying alone and having one meal out was enough for me to decide that I WILL have DINNER AT HOME...even if that meant to go home at 10 and then cook.. with "Annapoorna" ready made chapaties and Suryodaya (churchgate) to get me chopped vegs.. life is easy...err was easy before i decided to do some serious networking for my magazines.. i now end up eating out 25 days a month and yes rashmi, the guilt of spending 500 bucks bothers at times.. but then again rest of it gets taken care by my profession.. blame it to them who spoil media p'pl.

    but whatever said and done... GHAR KA KHAANA ZINDABAAD

    cheers

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmm.. really its becoming such a luxury these days that even guys count a lot on their partners for this after wedding. My husband did not show any of his dying for home-made-food instinct initially. Especially while i was leaving home quite early (7:00 am) for work. ..but now he has so many stories to made for his horrible canteen food...(i wonder how was he doing for so long and how come it become so impossible suddenly ) ...any how now i give him the great luxury to have 'home made food' during lunch.

    I guess now guys should be more clear on this aspect, especially for their working partner before wedding itself :)

    -Tripti

    ReplyDelete
  8. There are housewives who will cook and deliver dabbas to you but it can be a problem because:
    a) the menu gets monotonous
    b) if you are out for meetings etc the dabba lies in yr office uneaten - you can't cancel at short notice. so yu get kind of tied down.

    ReplyDelete
  9. hi,

    I am from Hyderabad. This concept of making your own meals has been in existence here for quite some time. you can buy rotis, parathas, rice etc and a variety of curries on the basis of weight and no.of pieces.

    this has been an enormous success with the growing crowd of DINKs and IT people..

    the prices are decent too...

    ReplyDelete
  10. You mentioned Thailand in the post. The same is very popular in Japan. There are so many "o-bento-ya san" [lunch box sellers], which give you a pre-packed home like lunch box. Don't go by the name lunch-box, the same is available at dinner also.

    If you do not want it pre-packed, then you can pick a tray and spatula and start collecting whatever you want to eat from big dishes. Pay at the counter pack it and take away.
    And some of these are 24 hour shops.

    There is a restaurant in Delhi which sells food- dal, subzi, chicken curry by weight... it's called cafe masala. But the food is far from good.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The satisfaction that i get from food made by my mummy counts more than any thing else! THATS WHY I M IN SEARCH OF PERFECT HOUSE WIFE!! HMM but its very early to say what will i do in coming time.But rashmi ji i veery much liked your idea of ghar ka khana! just seeing your blog from 2 weeks 1st time your writing really touched my heart.But now a days such life has gone too far what ever may b the reason but i really i donot like eating outside its ok when you are in hostel but not hwen you at home! my idea wrong or right donot know but i like a lot only ghar ka khana!rashmi ji plzz aap yahoomail check nahi karte hoo bahut bade log ho bahut kaam hai but fir bhi once at least once agar aapp check kar chuke hoo aur feel not like replying then ok otheriwse check your great fan! not b coz of your position n post b coz 0f some other things that you can know only hwen you go through your mail! wish you all the best n all good things of life!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Reminds me of this little place tucked away in one of the busy bylanes in the Fort (Bombay) area which used to serve food in small take-away-friendly portions. I think it was called Icy Spicy and was purely geared towards office deliveries, serving (almost) homemade Gujarati stuff like theplas and khichdi with kadhi, etc. Even those who wanted to 'eat-in' were served in the same styrofoam boxes.
    And talking of pay-by-weight, there is a Saravana Bhavan in Chennai who's got a buffet-by-weight concept ('don't load your plate and then waste, we'll charge you for refills only by weight, thank you'). OK, if economy is the criteria then you are better off doing the unlimited meals in the ground-floor dining hall at the other Saravana Bhavans.

    ReplyDelete
  13. In England, there is a company that provides little bags of gourmet dishes. these bags include all the ingredients in the exact proportions required to make a partiular dish. this has been a very popular concept with there.

    about women entreprenerus, new jersey already has a program similar to the kind you described. for $5 a meal, you get rice, 5 rotis, sabzi, and desert. enough for two people!

    this trend has been into works for a while now and has also been spotted by several trend watchers and agencies. its time for it to hit bombay!

    ReplyDelete
  14. interestingly i had a taste of it in my cousin's house recently...
    it was a hurried lunch.. but oh boy.. did it taste nice...!!!!

    now fact of the matter is ... in ghar ka khana...important part is not just the khana... it is ghar !!!

    if u make the same affair on mass scale.... i guess difficult to get that zing ....

    i thinnk custom making has been dying slow death in most walks of life ever since mankind got henry forded...

    and all ghars are not blessed this aura of ghar ka khana.... some ghars .. u avoid khana :)

    and best are the mothers / wives who know how to plan their menu... so that their charges... keep asking for more... forever

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous9:00 PM

    I cannot believe that there are people who talk about missing ghar ka khana like its some sort of elixir magicked upon ones plate.

    Learn to cook, you lazy sods- and this goes to the author, as well as the other people who are drooling about missing ghar ka kana. You all live in houses, then cook the ruddy food yourself. But that is too much effort, I dare say.

    I dont really get this sentiment at all, as my 'ghar ka khana' involeves thai, italian, spanish, moroccan, indian, chinese and various other cuisines from around the world. The kind of food you are talking about day in day out would bore me senseless in about a week.

    To appreciate any kind of food you need to appreciate the art of food, the magic smells of herbs and spices. The mingling of flavours and the effort gone into producing anything that ends up on a plate in front of you.

    But anyone who talks about food and then says 'papi pet ka sawal hai' cannot be expected to understand the pleasure one derives from cooking and eating.

    And one last point, one of the responses posted by a chap called JHA made me laugh......does a man in this day and age expect a woman to marry him and then give up all her passions and dreams to cook for him three times a day??

    JHA: learn to cook yourself or pay someone to cook for you. Do not sacrifice a beautiful soul at the alter of your very shallow thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  16. OH SO MY THOUGHT WAS .....OK OK LAUGH AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ME TOO GRIN SOME TIMES WHEN I THINK ...BUT ANYWAY FOR GOOD OR BAD WHAT EVER ..AT LEAST YOU FIND ME VERY BIZARRE IN THOUGHTS MADAM IS IT REALLY VERY FUNNY I KNOW, BUT DO YOU CONSIDER IT AS NOT NORMAL IF YES WHY?? CANDIDLY SAYING I THINK YOU TOOK MY WORDS SERIOUSLY...WAT EVER I WRITTEN...KEEP LAUGHING WHEN EVER YOU FEEL SAD! AND SEEE MY BLOG TOO ...AT LEAST AT LAST I WROTE ONE GOOD LINE.TAKE CARE JI....

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Rashmi,
    You have caught the pulse of all working away from home pros..i hv been away from my home for over a year and realise the importance of Ghar Ka Khaana..During my BTech i would fight with my Mom over Moongi-ki-dal and rotis for dinner but today i can pay a fortune for the same..Thx for the article ..i m sure it made a lot of ppl nostalgic

    ReplyDelete
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