Try to enter Ashwin Raj’s domain and you’ll be in trouble. But his domain is not typically considered a man’s place. It’s not the study, the television room or a music den. It’s his kitchen. The media-affairs consultant for Hindustan Aeronauticals Ltd, Bangalore, works at least 10 hours a day every day, six days a week. Yet, he finds time to cook every night and does not let anyone else into his kitchen because it might disturb the arrangement of objects.
While most men choose to leave the kitchen to cooks or wives, there is a growing breed of men who take out time exclusively to scrape the coconut so that their sambhar tastes exactly like their mother’s. Interior decorators and product designers are meeting the needs of these debonair bachelor chefs with man-centric cooking notions.
Baba Dewan, a New Delhi-based interior designer who runs Good Living India, has designed a number of bachelor pads. For the man who loves to cook, Dewan says it is best to have an open-plan kitchen or one where the kitchen
merges with the dining room, separated by a counter or bar.
Chef’s special: Mehrdad Ramezan Nia loves to cook
“They’ll want to entertain their friends while they’re cooking and serving and can do that over the counter,” Dewan says. “But since it’s open plan, accessories should be built into the walls. Nothing should be loose-standing, so the style keeps with the minimalistic, contemporary look most men are comfortable with.”
Dewan recommends a stainless steel and granite look and adds that laminates should be used since they can be easily maintained.
Easy maintenance is a mantra for many men, as are time-saving techniques. For Sumod Zachariah, a project manager based in Bangalore, his coffee-maker is a lifesaver. “It’s much easier, I don’t have to keep boiling water,” he says. Mehrdad Ramezan Nia, an Iranian PhD student at JNU in New Delhi is quite fond of rice. And his rice-cooker is an effective way to save time. “I don’t need to check again and again whether the rice is done or not,” he says.
For Rahul Anand, co-founder of Happily Unmarried, a product design company, the microwave is an important piece of equipment. “Most of the time, we’re just heating things up,” he says.
Dewan says microwaves are very personal choices, depending on what a person’s requirements are. For the technologically inclined, Panasonic offers a diverse line that can cook, toast, bake and boil. For the disinclined, Hinari Lifestyle offers a basic model with just one option: hot or not.
For the more carnivorous of males, barbecues are a must. Raj wants to use his engineering skills to build one of his own, but many stylish options are also available. The Chamdol barbecue can fit on a terrace or balcony. If no outdoor space is available, hot plates can go on top of the stove and men can grill.
Of course, for most bachelors, the coup de grace is not always food: It’s the well-stocked bar that sets men apart. Anand says: “You need to have the basics. The beer and wine opener, stirrers and an ice bucket. And the alcohol.”
His company offers playful accessories such as the Bar Maid, a bottle opener in the shape of a woman’s leg, for Rs250. Klove, a New Delhi-based design store, offers a sexy wine rack in the shape of a “69” for Rs35,000. Its obvious sexual reference is underscored by the elegance of the iron workings.
Sriram Sunder, a brand manager based in Bangalore, rates his blender as the most important of his appliances. “I use it for infusing whatever there is with alcohol,” he says.