Quarantine cooking made easy with some meal ideas and recipes that use little or no fresh vegetables, to cook during lockdown.
With most of us staying home under lockdown or quarantine, food has definitely become the focus in every home! It is wonderful to see people getting creative with food, trying new recipes, and most importantly families eating together.
We are fortunate that the essential services are on. Along with healthcare workers and the police, the vegetable vendors, grocery store workers, newspaper delivery boys, and garbage collectors are equally the heroes of today! I love the current Google Doodles that are honoring each of these heroes one day at a time.
In our locality, the vegetable vendor is open from 7am to 11am. While we buy fresh vegetables once every week, I always keep plenty of long shelf-life vegetables like onions, potatoes, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. I also puree and keep some tomato pulp and ginger-garlic paste in the fridge and more in freezer.
Sometimes there are days when we don’t have fresh vegetables and then recipes that don’t need fresh vegetables beyond onions, and tomatoes come handy. So I thought in this post, I will put together some meal ideas on what to cook when fresh ingredients are limited.
Quarantine Cooking: Easy recipes for lockdown
A basic oatmeal is just oats, water, and salt. Depending on your preference, make it sweet with honey/ maple syrup and fresh/frozen or dried fruits or make it savory with spices and few vegetables that you may have handy.
Cheela/ Cheelada aka desi savory pancake
You can use a variety of flours and grains for this one. Make it entirely with just besan (chickpea flour) or mung lentil flour or soaked mung lentils ground to a paste; or use a mix of grains like chickpea flour, millet flours, wheat, puffed rice, oats etc.
Poha is made with flattened rice flakes. A simple poha recipe only needs some onions and green chilies and even if you don’t have those, it will still be great with just a tempering of some mustard seeds and some peanuts.
Appe & Idlis
Appe and Idlis are small (or big) steamed balls made with rice and lentil mix or can also be made with semolina. You can add some grated/ finely chopped vegetables like carrots, onions, and tomatoes in the batter or keep it simple with just basic spices and serve it with chutney or ketchup or a simple sambhar (with as many or as little vegetables that you have)
I got hooked to khichdi during my college days in London when time to cook and supplies to cook both were very limited. Quarantine or not, a simple mung dal khichdi is my all-time favorite comfort food. It hardly takes any time to cook as well – just put some oil, rice, lentil, salt, and turmeric in a pressure cooker and give it a whistle (or two).
Lentils, pulses, and dried beans can be stocked for a long time and cooked in many different ways. Even if you cook a simple dal (lentil curry), just changing the type of lentil can add variety to your meals during lockdown. Try something different like kanda-dal or if you want to go for something fancy on the weekend, make fresh mangodi ki sabzi or Assamese Boror Tenga curry both of which are made with lentil fritters.
This recipe is great for making pulao with leftover lentil curry. While the recipe uses chickpeas, it can actually be adapted to any lentils.
Soya Nuggets and Soya Mince
Soya nuggets and soya mince are non-perishables and like lentils and pulses and beans, can be stored for long. I actually had them a lot during the time I was volunteering in Uttarakhand post the 2013 floods and we didn’t have access to any fresh and perishable vegetables.
And some for the sweet tooth
Healthy, delicious, and extremely easy to make. Making date bars can be fun activity to do with kids in the kitchen. Beyond the base of date paste and nuts, everyone can choose their own flavor combinations like vanilla-cinnamon, cardamoms, chocolate, or peanut butter!
Vegan Chocolate Brownies
Seems like quarantine cooking is all about baking these days. Except probably me because our oven broke down while we were in lockdown 🙁 (Can you imagine!) I see all these amazing breads all over the internet and I can’t do anything but admire.
I would still make this big bowl of chocolate brownie batter and I wouldn’t be surprised if I simply licked it off until it is over 🙂 Make these absolutely gooey, soft, vegan chocolate brownies for anytime treat. They freeze well, so make a big batch!
Staying-at-home does make the days monotonous and since we are eating all meals at home, food can play a big role in bringing some variety and exciting conversation on the table!
Hopefully, this list of recipes will be helpful for you too and give you ideas to introduce more variety in meals. What are some of your go-to quarantine cooking recipes? I would love to exchange ideas.
Before I leave here are some tips on cleaning fresh produce from the market before using/ storing them.
Tips to clean and store fresh vegetables and fruits
Believe it or not, my dad saw a video of someone washing vegetables with soapy water in US and he did the same here!!!! :O I was shocked. I told him in US there might be specific vegetable and fruit wash products and that’s what the guy must be using.
Fruits and vegetables have porous skin. Soapy water can definitely seep through the skin into the flesh of the fruit and vegetable. A safe way of cleaning your fruit and vegetable is:
- Soak in warm water for 10 minutes and then wash and use or air dry before storing in refrigerator.
- Mix 1 tbsp baking soda in ~6-8ltr water (one big mixing bowl full) and soak vegetables in it for 10 mins. Drain and wash with regular water and use or air-dry before storing in refrigerator.