Concerned by a spike in COVID-19 infections in her gated community in Noida, a city bordering New Delhi, Plaksha Aggarwal wanted to help and started cooking for the patients and their families.
After catering to a few families within her apartment complex earlier this month, she started getting calls from around the city.
Within a week, Aggarwal was preparing 120 meals a day.
“While in home isolation, having someone take care of your food or your kids’ meals because you cannot cook for them is just one less thing to stress about,” she says.Aggarwal is a part of a growing community of home chefs, caring neighbours and good Samaritans across India helping to feed thousands of COVID-19 patients in home isolation.
Wednesday was India’s deadliest day yet with 3,293 COVID deaths recorded in the past 24 hours, carrying the toll to 201,187. The country also reported 360,960 new cases, the world’s largest single-day total, taking the total tally of infections to nearly 18 million.
The devastating second wave of infections has overwhelmed India’s healthcare facilities, with hospitals across the nation reporting a shortage of oxygen and beds.
Amid such shortages, thousands of people down with the disease are forced to seek treatment at home.
Among pleas for oxygen cylinders, hospital beds and plasma donors on social media, there are also offers by people willing to cook daal chawal, India’s ubiquitous comfort meal of lentils and rice, for those who need it.
Home cooks and neighbourhood groups are banding together to prepare and distribute hot meals while home chefs are providing online tips on how to prepare simple meals while in quarantine.
Many are catering for free while others are charging a nominal fee for a meal of daal, rice, vegetables and chapatis.