Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kitchen Survival Tips for a Host

I have been married for more than 12 years now. With all my husband's siblings, parents, extended family in this country and none from my side. So, you can say I do have some experience in entertaining people and acting a host.

When there are people visiting, there are at least 15 people excluding my own family. So, I am cooking for about 20 people you can say. My friends keep asking me how I do it. There is no simple answer to it except hard work and planning. Here are some tips for those who might have to entertain a big crowd. It gets harder when people you are entertaining are picky about what kind of food they eat.

1. Take this tip seriously. Set aside your self-esteem and don't be jumping over to show everyone how good a cook you are. Trust me on this. You don't do a good job, people will come to help you. After all, nobody wants to eat bad food.

2. If you can't follow step 1, at least follow this step. Tell everyone that you cannot cook for more than 5 people. You will mess up the recipe. They will help you. Or set aside your self esteem again and say "I can't do it all by myself. Some one will have to help me". If you are lucky, someone will listen and come forward.

3. If you still are not ready to follow the above tip, plan to take everyone out for one meal a day. Heavy on the pocket but if you can afford it, why not? It doesn't apply when the visitors are staying for more than a week though.

If you still want to feed them good food made by you, I feel for you because I am as stubborn as you are. Follow these tips instead.

4. Plan simple dishes to make. Check out some of these rice dishes that you can make in a hurry.

5. Stock up your pantry with canned beans of different kinds for an easy side dish.

6. Stock up your freezer with cut vegetables.

7. For breakfast, keep the roasted rava/soji on hand. Stock up the pantry with poha or Avalakki or beaten rice, vermicelli and all.

8. Get rotis or chapathis from outside. If you are like me who doesn't want to do that, use these tips and make them ahead and freeze.

9. If your guests are staying for more than a week, it would be helpful if you make idli or dosa batters ahead and either refrigerate or freeze.

10. If there are lot of kids among the guests, along with cereal, it is helpful if you have made a batch of pancakes and syrup. Take it out of the freezer and warm it up and serve.

11. When you are making side dishes, use those veggies which take less time to chop or those which you can already get it cut.

12. Use canned beans at least for one meal and one dish. It adds up the bulk and is less work.

13. Make the masala for sambar and other powders and freeze them in individual bags/boxes. Take it out whenever you are making that particular dish.

Remember that everyone need not know everything to do. There is no harm in saying "I can't cook well" or "I can't cook for a big crowd". I wish I had thought about it 12 years back. And the saying "Way to a man's heart is through stomach" isn't true. You try to impress and do too much in the beginning, you are stuck with it for life.

I do know that young girls aren't into reading food blogs (correct me if I am wrong by leaving a comment), but if you have a friend or a cousin who is getting married, make sure you give her some insight about not going overboard.

Happy cooking.
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  1. Very Very helpful champa and i disagree on only one part of the post :P i guess for newly-married-and-just-learning-to-cook young girls like me a food blog like yours makes my day :) n i really do enjoy cooking and baking so i can vouch only for myself :D

  2. Very nice and helpful tips!

  3. hi,
    Very nice writeup.
    And i totally agree never go overboard and very very true never believe in the saying ""Way to a man's heart is through stomach" - ur stuck with it for life.
    Thank God i never ever tried impressing anybody not even my hubby!!
    Sorry for the long comment.

  4. Very true!! Loved some of your lines especially "stuck up with it for life".

  5. My God,this is such a wonderful post Champa..I agree with you completely.Even if I am not into a big joint family and all,sometimes we realise the factor of 'self esteem' is much lesser when it comes to workload.I loved the way you presented it.A real useful post.

  6. Beautiful tips, i do almost as u said, really i cant stop myself to stock veggies in freezer..Useful for many of us..

  7. All great tips Champa. I try to follow most of these, though other than once a month potluck, I don't entertain much. Not much family here :(

  8. well written..humorous but very true especially about the self esteem you have mentioned here....

  9. Nice one Champa... I agree that the expectations we set in the beginning are stuck with us for life! That way i've seen smarter girls always saying they can't cook well when actually they do cook well. Escaping from hard work, unlike me and u! In nw case though i'll generally have a big crowd to cook for my mil, fil, sil and husband all want to lend hand, so i give them all work like chopping, cleaning making my job easier too...

  10. good one, i agree with u

    "Way to a man's heart is through stomach" isn't true. You try to impress and do too much in the beginning, you are stuck with it for life.

    very true

  11. Very useful Information.....Thanks for sharing!!

  12. Hi Champa,

    Cooking is really a very hard work when you think of health and stuck getting food from outside. I also slog in the kitchen most of the times but I cant cook for a big crowd on a regular basis. Kudos to you! Take care of yourself since sometimes you need to think about yourself too.

  13. Very practical post... Like the way u think... i get flustered with more than 6 people at a time... but i cant say i am not a good cook - fat ego issues :(
    And then ppl say - oh u have a food blog - cook us something we have never eaten :)

  14. Hey Champa,

    Quite an interesting post and blog too (I have been reading up since a while now). I agree to the fact that expectations should be set perfectly right in the beginning, I think I am tad a lil late reading this. 7 months of marriage and entertaining friends and family almost weekend does take a toll sometimes but i guess that makes the journey more fun too.

    Would definitely make use of your good tips to lessen the slogging a bit, till then happy cooking :)


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