Why Husbands struggle in the Kitchen

Disclaimer : The husbands referred to in this post are those who want to help their wives in the Kitchen while having never cooked regularly in their life before. Chefs/Amateur Cooks/IHM graduates please excuse.

For breakfast today, I made Appam and Kurma. Krishnan offered to make the Kurma, using his notes and I gruffly told him to make it some other day.

The background :):)

I started layering the stuff for the Kurma in my OPOS Magic Pot and opened the refrigerator to take out the Tomatoes. Two of them had become runny and rotten…. And the underside of the bag was milky on the outside. Am super finicky about the fridge staying clean. So I checked the first shelf where we keep the milk packets to see if one was leaking.

We buy very little milk, just half a litre. I don’t like “boiled” milk so we just cut a corner of the milk pouch and keep using the raw milk, heating on the go. The cut pouch is kept in a container. The challenge is if you accidentally tip the container even a little or put a new pack of milk on top of it by mistake, some milk spills out.

I saw immediately that milk had spilled from the top rack to the next couple of racks. I “could” have cleaned it later, but I started cleaning it right then. At that precise moment, Amma tried to wash the few vessels that were in the sink. Perfect combination for a meltdown. But I handled myself better today. Didn’t shout, just smirked and asked everyone to go out of the kitchen so that I can do things quickly.

Reasons why husbands can’t help in the Kitchen –

  1. Men follow instructions – but they have to be precise. I can’t tell Krishnan to put Ginger-garlic paste when the label on the bottle says onion paste and its in a different location from last time.
  2. Men can’t figure out you need help. If you need help ask for it. Even the most sensitive husbands will not “sense” your need for help. Yes that cricket/football/tennis/Arnab-shouting match is more interesting than making Pongal, but most men would help if you ask.
  3. Men don’t understand pre-prep in the kitchen, while they are great with pre-prep at work. The soaking overnight business is a clear no-no. Krishnan would have to be told to write down that step and a lesson in identifying the right “dal”/Lentil.
  4. Men don’t understand substitutes. If I don’t have coriander leaves, I will grind coriander seeds or use curry leaves instead. If I don’t have the amchur powder, I will use Tamarind or Lemon juice. Expecting that from husbands is cruel.
  5. Men don’t understand distractions in the kitchen. Krishnan asked me yesterday as to why I was cracking open all the coconuts at one go. One coconut that I opened first was spoilt in one portion. 75% was usable. That forces me to check all the other coconuts ! Then I open the freezer and start making some space for putting in the newly cut coconuts. It is distraction but these have to be dealt with.
  6. Men can’t understand why women can spend the entire day in the kitchen and still have work left. This is the best one. Kitchen work is like home improvement work, never ending. Just accept it and move on.

I am thrilled that Krishnan wants to help and he has learnt to make a few dishes where he doesn’t need any help from either Amma or I. Am sure, several husbands have likewise made an effort to help out. My suggestion to women/wives is as follows –

  1. Do a basic course in identifying edible things – vegetables, spices, etc. Don’t assume your husband knows the difference between, Jeera and Saunf and Badi Elaichi and Choti Elaichi, Thin and thick poha ! Geetu has Harish do the grocery shopping so he can identify all the different items.
  2. Let them write down recipes the way they understand, not how you understand.
  3. Ask for help and “allow” your husbands to help. They do want to.
  4. Label things and don’t change the contents inside. You can figure out tomato paste from tamarind paste, but your husband cannot.
  5. Don’t allow substitutions initially. Its like taking you to the same location using different routes. Just as most women don’t get the route if its different each time, men don’t get the recipe if you keep on substituting.
  6. Group things together on your kitchen shelf in the most logical manner. All types of tea, all types of sweetners, etc and the most frequently used items – Salt, Turmeric, red chilli powder, garam masala etc.
  7. Lastly, have some patience. Do the teaching job when you aren’t rushed or family members aren’t hungry. Never teach when you are angry :).

Hope this post encourages more men to help their wives. I also hope it gives a few tips to my sisters on how to train their husbands to work in the kitchen.

My next training session for Krishnan – Making the perfect cup of tea, just the way I like it. Maybe I will record it … Hmmm

1 thought on “Why Husbands struggle in the Kitchen”

  1. You are right, I find that most problems can be avoided by having clear directions and asking for help. My husband loves to help. I can tell him what I would like done, such as having him peel and cut up the vegetables. I give him clear directions and it really helps me out. He can do all the prep work while I finish up my day in the office. I can then quickly get the dish I’m making started for dinner. He also helps out by doing all the grocery shopping, so I have to be careful to put amounts of things I want. If he can’t find it, he will call me and I will tell him a substitution for that ingredient.

    I realized early in my marriage that my husband wasn’t a mind reader, that I needed to tell him directly what I wanted. I don’t drop “hints” I just say what I want. He is also very direct in telling me what he wants and it works out great.


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