SLICE OF LIFE
Indian food is oily and heavy making washing dishes a tough job.
THE SKU Programme Management Institutes in India, which organised all kinds of courses, should formulate one on Kitchen Management with special focus on a Soiled Kitchen Utensils (SKU) Programme. It will be of immense value to housewives, maids and men who are interested in kitchen work.
I have studied this subject in some detail. Housewives normally enjoy cooking because it is an art. So do men who like to dabble about in the kitchen. But the worst part of kitchen management is washing the dirty utensils. This is an unwelcome chore, which has to be tackled once or twice a day. As a non-cooking husband, I don't mind lending a hand in housework helping to wash clothes, drying and folding them and running the vacuum cleaner. But my wife does not like me to handle the dirty utensils, whenever the maid bunks.
When you cook and then eat, utensils become soiled and have to be cleaned. Can this job be minimised? My cousin serves excellent verum arisi adai but her sink does not have many dirty utensils. On the other hand, some sinks are full even if one makes only a pot of tea.
This is where kitchen management can help. How to reduce the number of dirty utensils during cooking? We need extensive research on this topic. There is one method, which I immediately thought of. While living in Ahmedabad, I used to have Id dinner with a large Muslim family. Thick rotis in one huge plate and curry in a huge vessel. The 15-odd members at the dinner tore the rotis into small bits, dipped them into the curry and ate. Deliberately or otherwise, few utensils were soiled and the clean up job minimised.
Contrast this with the average wedding feast served on huge plate, along with three or four smaller steel vatkis (cups) to hold the dal, kadi, vegetable, shrikhand ( a sweet made from milk), curd and so on. Seven or eight dishes a person and think of the huge clean up job! Forget about wedding feasts where professional help is available for the clean up job. In our daily kitchen routine, reducing the number of dirty dishes will ease the job of the housewife or the maid.
But, my research has not got a positive response from my wife. She serves me four idlis on a plate. This is followed with papaya served on another plate. Another item means a third plate. So for every person, three or four dishes were used. My arguments that I could have eaten from a single plate fell on deaf ears and, in no time, the sink was piled high. My wife also turned down a suggestion that we use paper plates because food did not taste normal. Cleaning utensils is a tough job. In my childhood, when food was cooked for 15 or more people, the maidservants managed. They cleaned the huge brass vessels and plates with ash, sand and coconut husk.
Indian cooking left the utensils messy and oily making the clean up job tougher. Today, with most households using stainless steel utensils and more effective cleaning materials in the liquid and powder forms, the strain had been reduced.
But it is still a tough job mainly because the number of utensils used for lunch and dinner do not seem to come down. There are, of course, modern gadgets to make the job easier, but, unlike the washing machine, our households have not taken to the dishwasher. We need to invent monster-sized dishwashers to take care of our huge pathrams (vessels) used to cook oily and spicy food. Current models would not be able to clean utensils used to cook mezhukuvaratti and other delicious South Indian items.
There is an urgent need to reduce the number of dirty utensils we dump into the sink. In a city like Chennai, afflicted with permanent water shortage, how much water can one use for cleaning utensils?
We need a kitchen revolution, earlier the better. Fewer dirty utensils in the sink mean smoother hands for the housewives who are forced to do this dirty job. They need a break, which modern technology and management techniques can bring about.
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