If you’re like me, you probably get bored of cooking the same dishes every week. You may even be tempted to order a takeaway just to escape the bland homemade left-overs in the fridge. Of course, this isn’t a sustainable habit – my bank account can attest to that. Instead, why not mimic takeaway dishes in your own cooking? It’s healthier, more customisable, cheaper and quicker – why wait an hour for your dinner when these recipes take about 30 minutes? If that’s not enough, you get to show off your ace cooking skills to your flatmates as they walk into the kitchen and comment on how nice it smells.
The following recipes have been adapted to fit into a typical student budget, but I’ve made the recipes below with success and they were still a good approximation of the genuine article. The sources (pun intended) are included in the links.
This rice dish is often associated with Indian cuisine in the UK, but it’s cooked across the Middle East, South and Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and East Africa. It goes well with many curry sauce recipes you have to hand. Substituting in allspice and Chinese five spice means you don’t have to buy all of coriander, cumin, cloves, etc separately.
- 1 cinnamon stick/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons allspice
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice (or 2 if you don’t use allspice)
- Salt and pepper
- 500 ml/18 fl oz chicken or vegetable stock, fresh or made from 1 stock cube
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or 75g/2.5 oz butter
- 300 g/10.5 oz basmati rice, rinsed and drained
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- Melt half the butter or heat the oil in a pot on medium heat. Fry the onion and garlic until softened, stirring regularly. Add the cinnamon, allspice and Chinese five spice. Fry gently for 2 minutes, whilst stirring.
- Mix the rice into the spices and oil/butter. Add the stock and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Add a pinch of salt if needed (stock from a cube will already contain salt). Stir well and bring to the boil. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked, if you want to add butter cut the rest of it into small pieces. Remove the pot lid and dollop the butter over the hot rice. Leave to melt for a few seconds, then quickly fluff up the rice using a fork.
- Replace the lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
This is a popular Japanese dish; its name translates as ‘beef bowl’. The recipe really works best if you add the sake and mirin, so they are worth the extra £2-4. Even if you don’t usually buy them, they can be used again in stir fries and for teriyaki and chow mein recipes.
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- 400 g/12 oz wafer-thin sliced beef (many Asian supermarkets stock this, but diced beef from any supermarket works well too)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons sake (rice wine can be a good substitute)
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 large eggs, beaten (optional)
- 500 g/17.6 oz of short grain rice
- Pickled ginger for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan/saucepan over medium heat and fry the onions until softened, stirring regularly. In the meantime, wash and drain the rice, and cook it however you please.
- Add the beef and sugar, cook the beef until it’s no longer pink. Then add the sake, mirin, and soy sauce and stir.
- Reduce to low heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whilst stirring. If you’re adding the beaten eggs, drizzle them slowly and evenly over the beef mixture. Cook with the lid on until the egg is done. Garnish with half of the spring onions just before turning off the heat.
- Top the cooked rice with the beef and egg. Add more sake, mirin and soy sauce if desired and serve with pickled ginger.
This is an Indonesian dish, it literally translates as ‘fried rice’, and only requires one saucepan thus saving on washing up. If you substitute the fish sauce (contains krills or anchovies) for soy sauce, it’s completely vegetarian. Be careful not to over-salt this dish whilst cooking because the sriracha sauce is also high in salt.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, grated or chopped into thin batons
- ½ small Chinese or Savoy cabbage, shredded
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (optional)
- 200 g cooked rice
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 egg
- sriracha chilli sauce, to serve
- Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over high heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes until softened and slightly caramelised. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.
- Add the carrot and cabbage to the onions, then cook for 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to warm through. Pour in the fish sauce, soy sauce and some seasoning. Make a well in the centre of the wok and crack in the egg. Fry until the white is nearly set.
- Serve the rice, topped with the fried egg and drizzled with sriracha sauce.