Rice Bowl #2: Back to School

We visited Cherie’s school to pick up books for her 12th standard and found ourselves at the end of a very long line. I did what any caring parent would have done – asked her to stand in line and headed to the snacks counter while she probably glared ineffectually.

This school likely has the unhealthiest food I’ve ever seen in any place that serves food, and prepares it with the full knowledge that students don’t have any other place to buy from. This translates into shoddily prepared and stored food. Thankfully, I can count on my fingers the number of times she’s gone without a packed lunch and has been handed lunch money instead.

On the other hand, since we’re so careful at home, I do enjoy a few bites of this sort of food every now and then. It also helps somewhat in drowning out the trauma of PTMs. On this day, I bought a potato burger, the buns deep fried and literally (I mean, literally) saturated with oil. Each bite caused little spurts of oil to flood my palate and the deep fried potato patty in the centre was an oasis of health and wellness in comparison.

Afterwards, we headed home and I thought of making it up to her with a nice meal. On the way home, we stopped and picked up a lauki (bottle gourd), a bundle of pudina (mint), a few tomatoes and some spring onions.

When home, Cherie washed some rice and lobia (black eyed beans), and put it into a pressure cooker on the gas. I chopped the lauki and put it to boil in a pan with some water, prepared the dressing and sliced some tomatoes. When the rice was done, we fried a couple of eggs, grilled a few chunks of paneer (cottage cheese), plated the lot and it all came together beautifully.

The dressing of course was key, but so were the different textures from the ingredients. Admittedly the non-dressing ingredients don’t have a lot of flavour, but the dressing more than makes up for it.

  • Serves 2 – 3
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • Half a medium lauki, sliced thick (2 slices per portion)
  • 1 Tomato, sliced thick (2 slices per portion)
  • 1 cup Rice, washed
  • 1/2 cup Lobia, washed
  • 2 Eggs, fried sunny side up (3 if you want to make a third portion)
  • 2/3 of a 200 gm packet of Paneer, grilled
  • Fresh ground peppercorns, for the egg
  • Dressing
    • 3 Spring onions, chopped
    • 10 Mint leaves, chopped
    • 3 tbsp Soy sauce (light)
    • 1 tsp Fish sauce
    • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
    • 1 Lemon, juice
    • 1/2 tsp Sesame oil
    • 2 tsp Sesame seeds
    • 1/2 tsp Sugar

Method

  • Cook the rice and lobia together.
  • Boil the lauki.
  • Grill the paneer
  • Fry the eggs
  • Assemble all the ingredients for the dressing
  • Plate.

Notes

  • Buy some good soy sauce – it makes all the difference.
  • Light soy sauce for flavour, dark soy sauce for colour
  • I didn’t add salt to anything. There’s enough in the dressing.
  • The eggs were ‘fried’ with a brushing of oil in a non-stick kadhai, covered.
  • For round fried eggs, consider frying them in a kadhai.
  • I don’t like lobia much and find it boring, except in such applications.
  • Experiment with the proportions in the dressing.
  • Fish sauce has a strong flavour that is an acquired taste.
  • I used a grill pan for the paneer.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.