If your potential MIL suspects that you can only cook instant noodles and brew tea for one, it’s time to get her to change her mind with your culinary prowess.
So your mother-in-law (MIL) is about to visit you, and you are extremely nervous. You’ve decided to host her for a meal at your house, and you have just about put the menu together. Relax – there are ways to create a bond of friendship with her –
* Sweeten the deal. Maybe you’re meeting your MIL just for tea. So you don’t want to cook too many things. A few cookies, or a savoury dish will do. But after tea is done, do bring out your piece de resistance – a wonderful Indian sweet recipe that will certainly impress her. Present it well – after all, Indian sweet recipes take time to cook and become flavourful, and presentation is important. You can sweeten her mood and her impression of you by taking the trouble to make a suitable dessert – but pick a basic Indian sweet recipe instead of doing something complicated.
* Go basic, but go hard on flavour. If you’re a novice at cooking, then an elaborate spread might seem impressive – but it can also be your undoing. Instead of trying to impress your MIL with a succession of dishes, try just a couple but nail the flavours. It is better to keep things simple, but pack in loads of flavour that will have her singing your praises. If you’ve invited her over for a meal with your partner, cook a main course with rotis, rice and two options in vegetarian or non-vegetarian fare, followed by a dessert. Make sure to taste each dish as it cooks, so that you have enough time to adjust spices and salt.
* Ask for tips before you prepare a dish. A better way to nail a dish and to cook it to your MIL’s standards is to call her beforehand and take tips from her. Ask specific questions about ingredients, if it needs any special masalas, or any ideas she has for enhancing the flavour. There are two advantages in doing this: One, you will learn a different take on a recipe you have tried before. Two, she is less likely to criticise if the dish doesn’t turn out as well as you expected – you two might even share a laugh over it!
* Get a cooking kit if you’re not confident of rustling up an entire course. These days, there are companies that sell ready cooking kits. Each box is a complete meal, including a measure of spices and oils to go with the rest of the ingredients. You can pick from starters to desserts, and have the box sent to your home. This saves cooking time and you are bound to get the flavours just right – only minimal heating or cooking is required in most cases. This way, you won’t be tired and anxious when your MIL comes home, and you will have enough time left over to dress with care, lay the table with the right crockery and cutlery, clear up the mess in any part of the house, etc.
* Get her to cook your partner’s favourite dish with you. Often, the best way to bond with another person is to share an activity with them. Instead of inviting your MIL to your home after the meal is prepared, ask her to drop in hours before and cook with you. You can decide to cook your partner’s favourite Indian sweet recipe, or a delicious savoury dish. Working together in the kitchen gives you the chance to talk to each other, laugh over your partner’s childhood stories, and swap notes on cooking. Soon, you and your MIL will be the best of friends!
You can find a lot of Indian sweet recipes on the Milkmaid website.