The Lost Art of Homemaking {Desi Style}

For the last few months I’ve been trying to make the perfect achar, I want to recreate my mom’s lasan or nimbu (garlic or lemon) achar, to taste my Bibi’s raw blueberry or carrot achar one more time, but more than anything, I want to preserve art of making achar. I know that my local Indian grocery store has a wide range of achars. There are also plenty of companies making small batch artisanal quality achar, but I want to do it myself. I want to learn the skill.

To me, making achar is directly related to the Indian art of homemaking. When kache amb (green mangoes) are in season you make them into achar. You do the same in the fall when the sweetest juiciest carrots are available. For everything there is a season, and the seasoned homemaker knows this.the lost art of homemaking, desi style

These days I feel women get a lot of mixed messages from the media about homemaking. We are drawn to feminism and equality so it feels wrong to take pleasure in tasks like housework and baking, yet at the same time the ‘Pinterest culture’ compels us to decorate and diy all the things! What’s a modern career focused girl who also loves shiny floors and secretly enjoys cooking complicated dinner requests for her husband supposed to do? Am I allowed to say that I enjoy being the lady of the house and I do more than 50% of the housework, and still be respected as a girl boss in the ‘real world’? Is it wrong that I love to negotiate at the board room table, and work on kadhai (embroidery) projects at the kitchen table? Do I have to pick a side?

I think it’s difficult for all women to figure out this fine balance, but it’s even more complicated for the “modern Indian woman” – the term itself is an oxymoron in my opinion. To be Indian is to be rooted in history and tradition, that’s who we are. However, we are also modern women who are embracing our roles in the workforce and the world at large. So who is tasked with the job of saving the lost art of homemaking – desi style?the lost art of homemaking, desi style

The other day I asked my mom if she could teach me a basic phulkari stitch (phulkari is a traditional form of Punjabi embroidery). She looked at me with shock and confusion on her face, because she wasn’t sure if she could remember the stitch anymore. So many traditional homemaking skills are already lost with the last generation, but our generation has the opportunity to preserve some of them. Sadly that will only happen if we don’t look down on homemaking as a lifestyle choice or full-time career. Yes, I believe that being a stay at home mom or homemaker is career.

We are all busy and life is whizzing by, but I feel really strongly about this topic; we need to reclaim the lost art of homemaking, and pass it on to our sons & daughters. I know it’s easy to buy ready made rotis and store bought dahi {I’ve done it plenty of times}, but it’s also a life skill to know how to make rotis and dahi. Just like it’s a life skill to know how to balance your cheque book and drive a car.  Okay, maybe driving a car is a little more important than learning how to make yoghurt, but you get my point right?

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is this; if we stop looking down on homemaking, stop being too busy to devote love and energy to our homes, and start practicing some the skills that were passed down to us, we’ll be on the path to preserving the lost art of homemaking {and making all of our nanis and dadis proud}. 




  1. June 17, 2015 / 12:05 am

    Raj, the more I read your blog, the more I love you! I totally relate to this and have the same thoughts! I cherish memories that come from my past generations homemaking skills.

    • June 18, 2015 / 6:49 am

      Aww shucks, thanks Randa! I’m really glad to hear that there are other women out there that feel same way as I do.

  2. June 17, 2015 / 11:08 am

    Thank you for this thought provoking post. I too want to refocus and spend my time learning how to make more homecooked Indian meals and understand our traditions better. Thankfully your blog is helping me do this – thank you 🙂

    • June 18, 2015 / 6:48 am

      That’s so nice to hear Kamana, and I’m happy that you find my posts helpful!

  3. June 20, 2015 / 12:19 pm

    Interesting read. I do wish people would respect the choices of women- whether it is the boardroom or the kitchen, provided she has chosen it and not been forced into it. 🙂

  4. June 25, 2015 / 8:39 pm

    I must say that I really enjoyed this post. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, but that wasn’t something that I wanted even though I appreciated it. When I moved to VA from TX, I found myself without a job and a stay-at-home mother. I enjoyed every bit of it but still missed my career.
    I work pretty steady now, but I still cook a meal most nights (I take a break on Saturdays), clean, and run errands. I enjoy those things.

    I think that people have lost the core of feminism which is choice. As women, we now have a choice as to whether we want to be an old school, traditional housewife or a working wife and mother. I know that my family appreciates that I do both.

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