My first love has been and always will be food. Blame it on in-house master chefs in the guise of mother, grandmother, sister and more. But my love for food was always one sided – my strength always lay in eating, never cooking.

I spent years evading cooking until I gave birth to my first born. Suddenly, maternal instincts of protection and health led to a lack of trust for all ready to eat food, especially if it came in packets or bottles with far off expiry dates. That sowed the seed of my journey into the world of culinary adventure. Painstaking as it may have been, my only agenda was to ensure my baby ate all freshly prepared meals every single day.

Twelve years, two kids and still counting. That said, my determination to dish out home cooked meals like clock work has often crumbled at the temptation of weekends, celebrations and boredom.

But thanks to this stay at home spell, I am forced into a cooking regimen. We have put our foot down against outside food until situation improves. That said, feeling bored and tired of this new routine is human.

Like this morning. After an entire month of non-stop toiling in the kitchen, my mind called it a day after a wholesome Idli breakfast. My engine flagged a red in dire need of a holiday in the Swiss Alps. But beggars are no choosers. And with one big, fat bottle gourd or lauki as my next challenger for lunch, I ran to YouTube for refuge. As though god sent, I stumbled upon a Lauki Bharta recipe with a flavourful twist that ended up as a Pav Bhaji look alike. A cover version, shall we say?

Blame it on experimentation, but my fatigue wore out and with just half the gourd, my newest dish was ready in under 60 minutes and served for scrutiny. To be safe, I whipped some mango milkshake and Pooris, lest the family go hungry.

I was pleasantly surprised, Beaten Up Bottle Gourd saved the day. Not only was I able to pack nutrition, I was also able to run a Yellow Ribbon Project for Lauki. This was its only chance at acceptance, leave alone being likable. By tea time, I used the remaining half of the gourd to create a delectable Indian dessert – Doodhi Halwa. And there, another day of victory in the kitchen. Victory certainly tastes sweeter than the Halwa.

In the absence of variety, enough ingredients and the lack of interest, innovation is what keeps you going. Be it choosing social media to keep your business afloat during a lock down or experiments with cooking to stay away from outside food.

Which makes me wonder, Do we eat out just because we have a choice? Do we confuse food with hobby and socializing? When it’s only purpose may be to provide fuel to the body.

Memories from my childhood flashed in. When meals were cooked at home with the freshest local ingredients. When we didn’t need Avocados from Australia or Olives from the Middle East to stay healthy. When eating out was not in fashion. It feels like travelling back in time; only I am in my mother’s apron and her shoes. At home, with my family, cooking. So dinner, anyone?

Today’s Lesson: Simple, home cooked meals form the essence of a healthy life and a calm mind. Innovation is what keeps you going, even in the kitchen. The next step – GYOF or grow your own food.