It may have been possible for the Bard to compare his beloved to a summer day in England perpetually blighted by depressing winter. However, we in India live in a different clime. When the sun shines in summers, it scorches, taking away our appetite and draining out all the energy. In such conditions, who would want to cook in the kitchen? This is the time when our mind turns to one-dish meals that are tasty, nourishing, different, and above all easy to prepare. Many takeaway services have started offering bowl meals prepared according to Indian and foreign recipes. Such meals not only cut down the cooking time but also reduce the number of dishes to be washed. Let’s not get carried away. What we are sharing with you is not necessarily a one-dish meal or meal in a bowl, but does have many features to rival these.
Indians are habituated to eat steamed rice with lentils or other gravies. So powerful is the conditioning that some of our friends ruin a perfect biryani or pulav by drowning it in shorba of salan. But we digress. Our Asian brethren enjoy rice with dry dishes — vegetarian and non-vegetarian. This is what has inspired us to improvise this lazy lunch or dinner for the summers.
Chicken (boneless from thighs, cut in small pieces) 250gm
Or tofu/paneer (vegetarians can use these, cut in cubes) 150gm
Sweet bell peppers (small,red or yellow) 1/2
Carrots (yellow) 100gm
Button mushrooms 50gm
Baby corn 50gm
Onion (medium-sized) 1
Spring onions (retain the green leaves) 50gm
Garlic cloves 4
Soy sauce 2 tbsp or to taste
Chilli sauce 1 tsp
Black bean sauce 1 tsp
Sugar 1/4 tsp
Salt To taste
Corn flour 1 tsp
Sesame oil 2-3 tbsp
Method: Boil rice and fluff it with a fork. Wash chicken well and marinate in soy and all other sauces for an hour. Sprinkle corn flour over it evenly. Peel and cut the onion into thick slices. Break broccoli into small florets and wash well. Wipe clean the mushrooms to remove all grit and slice finely. Scrape and wash carrots and cut in thin discs. Cut baby corns in preferred shape. Cut spring onion bulbs after cutting roots and washing well. Chop green leaves. Wash and cut the pepper in small pieces. Heat oil in a pan and pan-fry the chicken pieces on medium heat for two minutes on each side. Add vegetables (along with any remaining marinade, sugar and salt). Add onions, then carrots and baby corns, followed by mushrooms. Add bell pepper and spring onions and their chopped leaves in the end. Stir gently. Add two table spoons of water, cover and steam on low flame for 2-3 minutes. Uncover, check seasoning and remove from gas. Remember, you aren’t cooking a gravy dish or even a sauce. Some moisture should remain, but just.
Put boiled and fluffed rice in a bowl or plate, top with vegetables cooked with chicken or tofu/paneer. You can reduce rice quantity and increase chicken and/or veggies as per taste.