Quick meal ideas for a busy day

11:48 AM

I've had quite a busy life offline as of recently, between visiting in-laws, my own personal social engagements, school related stuff, and a few personal projects I am working on, there's been days were the last thing I wanted to do was cook. Or rather spend hours in the kitchen producing something I would be too exhausted to appreciate to its right value.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I am all in favour of the meals that requires less than 30 minutes of my time in the kitchen. In the hot Summer month, this gets cut down to 10-15 minutes as I flat out refuse to sweat it out for the sake of anybody's stomach.
I'm a foodie, don't get me wrong, but I tend to say the F word to this absolutely ludicrous notion that sacrifice equals love. I do not demonstrate my love to my family and friends by killing myself in the kitchen...not even sorry about it.

Beside, it is still possible to have something nice on your plate for dinner in no time at all, if you are willing to shed some misconception about what constitute a "proper" meal. This means that in India, you aren't going to go hungry if dinner involves anything but dal-roti-sabzi.

To show it to you, I am just compiling some of my older blog post featuring quick and easy recipes you can save for a crazy day.

Caprese Salad

This Italian classic is super easy to pull, especially with fresh authentic buffalo milk mozzarella being available in India. Slice a couple of tomatoes, slice your mozzarella, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with fresh basil. Basil which by the way you can grow at home nowadays
In a pinch you can even replace the mozzarella by uncooked paneer. And as far as a meal goes, it's pretty complete: it has the protein, the fiber, the minerals, the vitamins, and if you are really worried about the lack of carbs, just throw a slice or two of whole wheat bread in the toaster to serve along with it. 

Salads, any salads can be made into a quick, healthy and filling meal, not so long ago, I told you alll that a super awesome salad was a 6 steps process

Mustard cream chicken

It looks fancy, it's warm, it can be served with any side of vegetables, salad or crabs you may have around and yet it is deceptively quick and simple to pull and has almost no prep time if you buy your boneless chicken already diced. 

If you are vegetarian, you can substitute the chicken with either paneer, tofu or even button mushrooms (cook them whole).

Pasta and creamy mushroom sauce

I know that pasta dishes have a stupidly bad rap in the Indian subcontinent, often called Junk-food, but as I once demonstrated on the blog, white rice and white pasta have pretty much the same amount of carbs, calories and protein. So pronouncing pasta junk and claiming rice is better is stupid. 

This particular recipe is quick and easy because you basically prep the mushroom and cook the sauce while the pasta cook. All in all you will be done in 12-15 minutes. Other types of pasta sauces made from scratch will take you a bit more time, but it'll still take you less than 30 minutes to pull any pasta dish and the options with pasta are endless. No wonder it is often called "Student food" in my homeland. 
Other easy ones featured on the blog were the Mock Carbonara spaghetti, made with chicken rasher bacon, and the Cherry tomatoes and corn pasta.
But really anything goes with pasta, I can't stress it enough. I often just boil the pasta and after I cooked and drained it, add diced raw tomatoes, olives, basil and parmesan to it right before serving. I'm pretty sure I even tossed in leftover Indian style chicken or sabzi (vegetables) more than I can count. 

Couscous salad

Living a hectic busy life? Make couscous grains (a type of coarse semolina) your friend. This stuff "cooks" in minutes and it's really just about pouring hot boiling water over it, letting it absorb it and letting it cool before prepping your salad. 
Pour water on the couscous grain as you get ready in the morning, then put the bowl in the fridge as you leave the house, and all you'll have to do once back home in the evening is chop a few cherry tomatoes, mint, and basil and you'll be done. 

As you can probably see, I am a big big fan of salads, for obvious reasons. 

Tuna on rye bread

Digging deeper in the blog's archive, meet one of my favourite ways to have something quick on the table : the open sandwich, or Tartine as we call it in French.

Anything can go on a Tartine really, this Tuna and mayo one is just one of too many options to list. You can lightly butter your bread and have it with diced tomatoes and cucumber, or spread cream cheese and enjoy it with smoked salmon on top. Or ham, or cheese, or sautéed mushroom, or pureed avocado, or olive tapenade (pureed black olives), or chicken liver spread....You get the idea! 

The bread doesn't even have to be fancy rye bread, it can be your plain old favourite sliced bread. These days I have a thing for a local brand of multigrain sourdough bread for my tartine needs... 

Idli/dosa with tomato chutney

Yes, yes! I know, it is considered a breakfast dish in South India! But seriously who hasn't called these dinner at least once in their life? 

This tomato chutney is as stupidly easy and quick as it gets, and if you belong to that tribe of busy urban dwellers in India, chances are you swear by ready made idli/dosa batter as well. And you probably know how easy and quick and undemanding cooking idlis are. 

If you live outside India and read my blog, Idlis are steamed cakes made of a fermented batter of soaked and groung rice and black lentils. Dosa, use the same batter but is cooked in a frying pan like a pancake. 
It's traditionally served with a dish called Sambar and coconut Chutney, though some restaurants will now offer other types of chutney as well. Dosa are also sometimes served as a side to a vegetable dish or chicken dish (but don't tell the idli/dosa purists).

Anyway, when I am in a pinch, idli and dosa are served as the side of leftover dal, and that tomato chutney which I can whip up fresh in 10 minutes flat. 

Not inspired by these recipes? 

Well, there are still haka noodles you can toss with whatever vegetables you have around, or the plain good old, not so healthy, but oh so comforting Maggi Noodles option. 

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  1. Ooo that caprese salad & couscous look so fresh & tasty!

    1. Yeah these two are my favourite salads to have on a hot Summer day, can't get enough of them.


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