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16 Apr

Easy meals that don’t require fresh vegetables

You don’t have to be a master chef to cook tasty meals. In fact, couples can look at some of these ideas that make the most of your pantry ingredients in the absence of vegetables


Meals: Curries, sandwiches, wraps

One of the most popular comfort foods—eggs are ideal for high-protein breakfasts as well as between-meal snacks. Eggs can come handy when other food items become difficult to procure during the lockdown, points out Chef Amit Puri. He says, “Packed with proteins, eggs are not only recommended for breakfast, but can also be a part of your lunch or dinner menu when prepared as a gravy. Eggs can also be consumed as snacks; for instance, hard boiled eggs garnished with masala and cheese, or deep fried in batter and served as pakoras.”



Meals: Milk-based kadhi, curd rice, tikki, lassi, smoothie, sandwiches, muesli

Dairy products are a kitchen pantry essential because they can be consumed in some form or the other throughout the day. Chef Puri points out the multiple breakfast choices made possible by milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. “Staples such as bread, butter and cheese can be paired with other ingredients and consumed as sandwiches. Beverages such as lassi and chaas will keep you satiated for hours, and so will a bowl of curd mixed with leftover fruits, which can also be mixed with milk and savoured as a smoothie.”

Chef Amrita Raichand says, “Boondi kadhi is a great option if you are running out of gravy ideas. Combine besan and butter milk or runny curd, boil the mixture and temper it with curry leaves, mustard seeds and asafoetida. Add khara boondi to make a delightful meal with boondi kadhi and rice.”


Meals: Khichdi, tikki, chila, smoothie

A popular breakfast cereal, oats is one of the healthiest ingredients to incorporate in your meals. Chef Puri points out the lesser-known fuss-free preparations that one can whip up with this ingredient, “For breakfast or evening snack, make chilas using toasted ground oats; for lunch and dinner, prepare cutlets or tikkis; and for a wholesome meal, dig into oats khichdi.”



Meals: Roti, pakora, curries, kadhi, khandvi

The versatility of gram flour is far and wide-reaching in the kitchen. Be it pakoras or curries, besan makes for one the most widely used ingredients in Indian cooking and appears in both savoury and sweet preparations. Chef Raichand endorses the simple yet tasty Rajasthani gatta curry that can be served at lunch or dinner. To prepare the gattas, steam seasoned besan balls and add them to a gravy made with curd and dry masalas.


Meals: Dal, soup, rasam, khichdi, dal wada, dal chila, dal tikki, dal paysam, dal ki roti, bhalla

Lentils make a wonderful source of protein and carbs to keep your system running. With the variety of lentils available in India, naturally, there are a number of dishes that showcase these pulses. “Lentils are a versatile ingredient and can be consumed in various forms for different meals,” says chef Puri.



Meals: Dosa, idli, uttapam, biryani, pulao, kheer

Without doubt, rice is an absolute essential in Indian cooking. Chef Puri shares, “For centuries, rice has been consumed throughout the day in various forms, be it ground and fermented as batter for breakfast or as the most popular staple (served with various curries) for lunch and dinner.” Among the different varieties of khichdi, Chef Raichand recommends the most basic preparation: Sprouted moong and rice khichdi. She adds, “In this preparation, sprouted moong and rice are mixed together and tempered with mustard seeds, asafoetida (hing) and whole red chillies to enhance its flavour.”


Meals: Kheema, tikki, pulao

A good source of protein, soya is available in the form of small granules or large chunks; it is sometimes consumed as flavoured mock meat. Says Chef Puri, “The soya chunks can be consumed as a substitute to any vegetable or mixed with rice and lentils in preparing pulao or khichdi. The minced version of these chunks can be used to make vegetarian kheema or as stuffing in a sandwich or a wrap.”



Meals: Salads, wedges, fries, cutlets, curries, pies

Fried, baked or boiled—potatoes are delicious is any form. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that potatoes are one of the most widely used ingredients in Indian food preparations. Chef Raichand says, “A simple dish that can be served at breakfast, lunch or dinner is the potato and rice chila. Just boil and mash the potatoes; to this add the ground rice that has been soaked overnight. Make a batter that is similar to the dosa batter and season it with salt. Add some chopped green chillies for the chilas. This dish can be served with curd or any chutney of your choice. Paneer ke kofte is another dish that combines mashed paneer and potatoes to prepare the koftas. These koftas can then be served as a snack or added to a gravy of your preference.”

There’s absolutely no limit to preparing meals without fresh vegetables. As your partner and you embrace the new normal, why not master some recipes too?

Photos by iStock

Irene Fernandes / [email protected]
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