Almost each aspect of civic life has been affected by advancement of technology over the past decades of rapid industrial development and trade globalisation. This has led to an access to most modern gadgets in each and every part of the world including Subcontinent. Perhaps one of the most technologised part of a household has been the kitchen. Not only the pattern of culinary habits has been modernised and globalised to a great extent but the whole decorum has been revolutionised. It’s not only the food that has changed but also the way it is prepared and preserved. This development has no doubt facilitated and diversified the art of cooking. The mechanisation of cooking process means its pace has accelerated. This is surely a welcome change, in particular for those involved in cooking and maintaining households, but on this road to development quite a few accessories of the past have been lost. It seems most of the young generation have never even heard of them. They can’t relate to the kitchen routine of older times when cooking was almost entirely manual, involved more physical activity and had to be adjusted to the weather conditions. The old manually operated ‘madhani’ is now available in an electric form for churning milk to extract butter. The old ones had a handle made of wood and was painted in bright colours. Same was the case of the handle of a ‘chaki’, the manual grinding mill. These were the colours of a woman’s life that took care of her household and her kitchen was her “queendom”. Electric grinders and choppers have replaced ‘sil batta’ and ‘dauri danda’, even in rural areas’ kitchens. We can’t virtually think of running a kitchen without electric supply since all these machines help us in preparing food in lesser time and with lesser physical effort. This is surely a welcome change, in particular for those involved in cooking and maintaining households, but on this road to development quite a few accessories of the past have been lost In particular, the art of saving the left-over food has been facilitated by refrigerators and freezers. All working women can relate to this huge facility which helps them prepare food in bulk over the weekends and use it over the week without having to cook after a long day at work. These machines were not there once upon a time. The food was cooked or bought in amount that could be easily consumed in a day or two as there was no concept of refrigerating or freezing it. There were traditional techniques of cooking in a way that food could last longer. For example, cooking minced meat by drying all its water content, drying meat in form of ‘barian’, making pickles, jams and marmalades, preparing dried halwas etc. One ‘system’ that had been improvised was ‘nemat-khana’. It was a wooden kitchen cabinet which had steel net on all sides and a latch. You could keep the left-over curry from lunch for dinner or milk or some home-made cookies and sweets in it. It could be locked also to keep the food safe from “intruders” in the family and/or from outside. The keys were with the lady of the house of course. She commanded the discipline of her empire. In my ancestral valley in the Salt Range region, it is known as ‘doli’ (different from palki for the bride). A clay bowl was placed under each of the wooden feet of doli called ‘toian’. They had to be filled with water which helped protect food from ants. The netted walls helped air to cross through and thus the food kept inside was safe for some time depending on the weather and food ingredients. In colder climate of my village food could be saved this way. Dried halwas helped the hard-working farmers sustain some energy in harsh winters. Another ‘tool’ was ‘cheenka’ in Urdu and ‘chika’ in Pothohari Punjabi (hence the famous Urdu idiom of ‘billi ke bhagon cheenka toota’). This was a simple steel net basket. It was hung with the highest rope which was used for drying clothes. Milk pot or some left over curry pot was put inside it at night. It meant that the night breeze would help it from getting stale and cats won’t be able to have a feast. These were the simplistic ways of saving food for some time possible. I am always fascinated by the Urdu name of our pothohari ‘doli’, the ‘nemat-khana’. It means a place to keep the blessings of God. I am proud of all career-oriented women who have and are contributing to the economic resources of their families and the national development process. I am a humble member of this two-fronts-warriors contingent. We must appreciate each other for our resilience and multi-tasking capabilities, but, sometimes I have a feeling that we are gradually losing a touch with some of the beautiful traditions of the past. I confess that sometimes, some of us are carried away by the choices available in the consumerist markets. Children order from their favorite food chains more than they can consume and sometimes we forget about the frozen food. We are guilty of wasting food many a times. Affluence and extravaganza are the trademarks of our lives. Of course, a wooden ‘nemat-khana’ is nowhere near a refrigerator’s facilitation. We can’t advocate reverting to pre-technology times. Most of us perhaps won’t be able to cook anything without technological help. Still the concept of calling a food cabinet ‘nemat-khana’ fascinates me. It meant the children right form their early childhood days realized that food was ‘nemat’, a blessing and it was to be given respect. These old kitchens maintained a social bonding system with a lot of conscious effort. Nemat-khana had some cookies for the guests and it helped lady of the house minimize wastage, manage the meals for her family and entertain her guests with a grace in some rainy days. We are blessed to have technological support in our kitchens. It saves us immense amount of energy, time and resources. Male members of the family are now expected to participate in household responsibilities and kitchen is no more a pure women’s domain. These are pleasant changes of a modern life style. We must embrace all positive change with a positive approach while staying connected with the beauty of traditions. We may not call our refrigerators ‘nemat-khana’, but we can convey the message to our children that food is a nemat. Published in Daily Times, September 23rd 2018.