Easy meals are the way to go! If top chefs can do it, you can do it too.
Infused overnight. Braised for five hours. Folded with butter four times. These chefs may cook all the intricately crafted gourmets all day and all night long at work, but at the end of the long day, they’re just humans who love simple home-cooked meals as much as the rest of us. After all, nothing beats a good old hearty comfort food to go home to.
With a focus on high-quality ingredients and straightforward techniques that speak for itself, chefs keep the fuss minimal at home. Saute for a minute. Bake for 5 minutes. Here are a few of top notch chefs’ favourite home but easy meals you can easily cook at home and begin anytime you like, whether it is to indulge yourself or impress guests.
1. Curry Mushroom Risotto with Coconut Milk
The first of the seven easy meals we are going to introduce to you is about the story of how Indian curry meets Italian risotto which actually taste better than it sounds. While it may seem weird, it’s rest assured not, considering how they rice and curry goes so well together. Combing flavors from a different culture can indeed take your taste buds to beautiful places.
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tbsp tandoori paste
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh chive leaves for garnish (optional)
- In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil.
- Add the onions, garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and mushrooms and stir until a white dot appears in the center of the grains, about 1 minute.
- Add one cup of the stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue cooking, adding the rest of the stock or water and stirring almost constantly, until the rice starts to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and tandoori paste. Continue cooking, adding the coconut milk one cup at a time and stirring almost constantly, until the rice is just tender to the bite.
- Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir to mix well, garnish with the chives.
2. Butter Chicken Pasta
In line for the flag bearer status of easy meals for Indian food is the butter chicken pasta. It’s about time you make this favourite take out in your home. With simplified ingredients, yet spectacular flavor, expect a burst of creamy, bold flavors in your mouth making a lick-your-plate dinner.
- 250 g fillet chicken, cut into small pieces
- 3 medium tomatoes, pureed
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (optional)
- 1.5 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tbsp cashew paste
- 2 tbsp yoghurt
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Cooking oil
- Freshly chopped coriander (optional)
- 1 cup cooked penne
- Marinate the chicken in yogurt, half teaspoon of ginger garlic paste, lime juice, quarter teaspoon of garam masala, salt and a bit of turmeric. Let it sit for half an hour.
- Grill the chicken till it is nice and tender and maybe a little charred. If you do not have the option of grilling, you may shallow fry the chicken instead. Keep it aside
- Heat some cooking oil and add 1 tbsp of ginger garlic paste to the oil and fry it till the oil is fragrant.
- Add the pureed tomatoes with the salt and sauté for about five minutes. Add the chilli powder, one and a half teaspoon of garam masala powder and one teaspoon of turmeric powder and keep sautéing till the oil starts to leave the sides and the water content in the tomatoes has minimized.
- Add the cashew paste and mix thoroughly.
- Add one glass of water to the wok and using a whisk, mix the gravy until smooth.
- Next, add the shredded pieces of chicken to the gravy, mix thoroughly.
- Add the cooked pasta and serve immediately.
3. Malaysian Cucumber and Pineapple Salad
We want you to love salad as much as we do and this refreshing light sweet and tangy sour salad is a perfect accompaniment to any main dishes, or even on its own on a hot afternoon as a cooling snack. Salads are pretty easy meals to make, and this one will surely have you wanting for more!
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, squeezed the juice
- 1 large cucumber, deseeded cut into bite sized chunks
- ½ small pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks
- a/n sea salt
- a/n sugar
- Red chilies, thinly sliced (optional)
- Combine the red onion, lime juice, salt and sugar for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the cucumber and pineapple to the steeped onions and toss everything to combine.
- Serve immediately
4. One Pan Asian Ratatouille
This recipe will leave you wondering why it took you so long to make a Ratatouille. The hearty jewel of Provencal cooking is packed an Asian twist of your favourite vegetables which you can swap in whatever you like and have. A pinch of this.. a little bit of that.. you can create your dish in one fell swoop to pack your lunch, or freeze it for later.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 28oz can whole tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium red bell peppers
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- In a large cast iron skillet or pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes until it begins to shine.
- Dice the onion and add it to the pot. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, soy sauce and sugar to the pot, cooking for another 3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, scallions and bundle of basil. Let it cook for about 5 minutes over low to medium heat, and use a spoon to gently break apart the tomatoes.
- Chop the eggplant, red bell peppers, zucchini and squash into ½” pieces and add them to the pot, cooking for 20 minutes, or until they’ve softened.
- Season with salt and red pepper. Add the basil and fresh cilantro leaves.
- Serve immediately.
5. White Chocolate Pandan Lava Cake
The seventh and the last of our easy meals are something out of a sweet tooth’s dream. Nothing says ‘real love’ than sturdy foundation and a warm, decadent center of one of the world’s greatest indulgences, the lava cake.
A tip for you: make plenty and store them in the freezer for impromptu moment to impress everyone with this foolproof recipe!
- 150 gr white chocolate, chopped
- 90 gr butter, at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 2 gr granulated sugar
- 60 gr all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp pandan extract
- Butter for greasing
- 300 gr palm sugar, chopped
- 150 ml water
- Preheat oven to 180° Celsius. Grease the muffin tin.
- Melt chocolate in double boiler until melted.
- Stir in diced butter and combine until smooth.
- In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar until mixture becomes pale.
- Stir in melted chocolate, pandan extract and flour.
- Pour into the greased muffin ¾ full and bake for 12 minutes.
- Tip muffin tray upside down onto a plate and serve with vanilla ice cream and gula melaka sauce if desired.
- For the gula melaka sauce, cook palm sugar and water on medium heat and stir consistently until syrup is thick and rich caramel in colour.
Only a chef can think of creating these easy meals recipes listed above! Find them to your liking? Recreate them at home and taste for yourself how these recipes are a chef’s favourite. Tell us what do you think in the comment section below.