Most of us eat at least one meal at the workplace or at school, and that is usually the lunch carried from home. Deciding what to put in the lunchbox can be quite a task. Firstly, it should taste good. Then it should also contain requisite nutrients like proteins, fats and carbohydrates. A packed lunch should also be filling to prevent bingeing at snack time.
We tend to pack convenient foods like sandwiches, and even if we are meticulous about making them as nutritious and tasty as possible, we will eventually tire of them.
A little bit of thought and planning can help in having something interesting and wholesome to pack in your family’s tiffin boxes every day.
A lot of things can be prepared in advance to save time in the morning. Boil some chana, rajma, mung, masoor. Stir them into a chaat with lots of onions, tomatoes and masala. You can also make the same preparation with sprouts and serve with whole wheat bread. Chole with paratha or whole wheat bread and a salad is also a good option.
For a twist, pack a toast with baked beans topped with onions and cabbage or tomatoes and capsicum. Make fajitas by wrapping baked beans and vegetables in a whole wheat roti, with salsa, sauce or chutney on the side. Beans provide protein, which is essential for growing children. The combination of beans and grain, in the form of roti, bread or paratha, provides a nutritionally sound meal and a complete supply of carbohydrates for energy as well as protein for growth. Beans and chana are extremely rich in flavonoids and antioxidants, both of which help to build immunity. Cook them in various ways and enhance flavour with herbs and spices of your choice.
You can also make an array of different wraps and rolls. Serve a paneer wrap with lots of vegetables,or even a paneer paratha with chutney and salad. These are excellent combinations of proteins and carbohydrates. Do not forget to add vegetables, which provide fibre that helps to digest food. Other interesting options are uttapam with lots of chopped onion and served with a chutney. Children love the combination of hummus and pita bread.
Rice lovers also have a host of appetising options, ranging from biryani, peas pulao and Mexican rice, to Chinese fried rice or masala khichdi. Serve Indian preparations with plain yoghurt or raita and vegetables. Create simple yet interesting preparations every day using any vegetable from simple carrots to broccoli and spring onions.
Mohd Yaseen Reshi, is a professional chef and currently teaches at the Institute of Hotel Management Srinagar.
MIX VEG. CHUTNEY PULAO
- 1 heaped cup* basmati rice (200 grams)
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 onion medium (⅓ cup thinly sliced)
- 1 carrot medium (⅓ to ½ cup chopped)
- 2 small potatoes or (½ cup chopped)
- ⅛ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp lime or lemon juice
- 1.75 cups water
- Salt as required
For Green Chutney:
- 1 cup tightly packed coriander leaves, (40 grams)
- ¼ cup mint leaves, 5 grams
- 2 tbsp fresh grated coconut, optional
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ inch ginger, chopped
- 2 to 3 green chilies, chopped, add just 1 green chilli for a less spicy pulao
- ½ tsp cumin seeds/jeera
- 2 to 3 tbsp water for grinding
- 1 medium tej patta
- 1 inch cinnamon/dalchini
- 2 cloves/lavang
- 2 green cardamoms
- 3 to 4 black peppers
- 1 or 2 single strands of mace, optional
- Rinse basmati rice in water, and soak it in enough water for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes strain the rice of all the water and keep aside.
- While the rice is soaking, you can chop the veggies.
- Also prepare the green chutney. Take all the ingredients mentioned under the list 'for green chutney' in a grinder jar.
- Grind everything to a smooth and fine chutney. Keep aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pressure cooker. Add the spices mentioned in the list 'Whole Spices'.
- Saute the spices for a few seconds till they become fragrant.
- Add ⅓ cup thinly sliced onions. Saute the onions on a low to medium flame, stirring at intervals, till they turn golden.
- Now add the green chutney. Stir and saute for a minute.
- Add the chopped veggies and turmeric powder. Mix the veggies very well with the chutney.
- Add the rice. Gently stir and mix the rice with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add 2 cups water, 1 tsp lemon juice.
- Season with salt. Stir well.
- Cover and pressure cook the rice for 1 to 2 whistles or for 7 to 8 minutes on a medium to high flame.
- When the pressure settles down on its own in the cooker, remove the lid. Gently fluff the pulao.
- Serve chutney pulao hot with a side dish of raita, curd or a veggie salad. You can also garnish with some chopped mint or coriander leaves while serving.