I loved English classes in school, especially after a frustrating Math class. I still remember this one English class in class 8, we were reading the poem ‘The Solitary Reaper’. I enjoyed poetry classes, they were confusing, yet interesting. I remember someone ask my teacher, ‘what does solitary mean?’, to which my teacher answered, ‘to be completely alone’. Man, I thought to myself that day, living alone is probably the worst thing ever. Why would anyone want to live alone? Then the 13 year old me vowed that I would never do that to myself.
Fast forward to 2015, when I decided to break the vow and do it. It has been over 6 months, since I moved to Mumbai- and I have done a ton of ‘solitary things’. It has been tough but it has also been quite liberating. When I lived at home, my family never really babied me, I managed it all on my own, but this has been something else.
Being alone makes you stronger, yet vulnerable to a point that you doubt if you are truly an adult. Somehow everything looks like a task.
Like one day, I woke up on time all ready to get dressed for work, but, as I opened the fridge I saw how my landlord’s 50 year old freezer somehow looked like Antartica. It is going to explode, I thought. The last time I used a fridge like this was in my grandparents’ home when I was 5. How do I fix this?!
I stared at all ice for 10 minutes and then I saw a defrost button. Well, this should work, I thought. Then I quickly got dressed for work and managed to somehow get through the day not thinking about the freezer. When I was back, the fridge stunk of water and there were huge chunks of ice everywhere. I cleaned up and celebrated that I fixed this herculean task by not cooking, drinking milk and sleeping.
I am actually laughing as I type this. It has been mad, frustrating and quite brilliant. Killing cockroaches, scrubbing the kitchen and the toilet, cleaning the drain (man!), getting a Wi-Fi connection installed at 11 PM, assembling a shoe rack and cooking for one. I am actually getting better, I think.
One of the weirdest things that happened to me in all this is that I didn’t like cooking for a while. Which was a very strange thing for me. Maybe it was the stress, I am not sure. Or maybe how do you cook for one? Or how can I cook when I am managing a ton of things?
Once my body revolted, I just had to cook at home, and I did. It was amazing. Yes, there is a lot of chopping, stirring, thought and cleaning involved. But it has been great. Also, when your friends compliment your food, you can’t help but gloat.
So, here are a few things I cook to make things better for me. If you live alone, or don’t, you should try them. You eat healthy, you feel good and you save a lot of money. All these are tried and tested.
EGGS: I am an egg fanatic. I can eat eggs all day, everyday. They are so quick to cook and yummy. Also you can do so many different things with them to make them fun. Like this.
Smoothies: So my mom says I should eat my veggies and fruit, not drink them. But sometimes it is just simpler to drink them. Especially when the bananas you bought get soft and black…ugh, not fun. Here are 50 smoothie recipes. Don’t get intimidated by these. Sometimes just combine whatever’s in your fridge, you will be just fine.
Oats, chicken and veggies: This may seem boring as hell, but it is yum. I actually ate this 4 days in a row one week. Buy veggies of your choice, chicken (if you eat it), oats and cook! I love adding a lot of mint leaves to this dish, it works brilliantly. Read here, you can skip the coconut milk part. It is not required.
Good old Khichdi: You never underestimate what your mom fed you when you were sick. Especially moong dal khichdi. Easy to make, don’t forget the dollop of ghee when you eat!
Stir-Fry chicken: Again veggies of your choice and chicken. Many versions of this on the internet, pick your favorite. Here is one. You can totally skip the sherry, cornstarch or broth. Or add your favorite sauce. You will be just fine.
Pulao: I love a pulao because it is an investment. You invest an hour, and then you are sorted for a few days (God bless refrigerators). Haha. I make mine in a pressure cooker because it is just easier for me. Try this recipe. Also, if you don’t have the all the whole spices, things won’t come crashing down. I promise.
These should work for now. I will probably have a part two of this post. The next one will have pictures of my food, I promise.
Lastly, I am adding a few pictures of my time here in Mumbai. They are quite fun. As I was picking these out from the pile, so many memories came flooding back. I want to go back to the 13 year old me and tell her, it is actually not that bad. You manage just fine.