Recipes For One (Two If You’re Lucky)


Our spoon-feeding days are gone, it’s adulthood y’all!

Don't have a Valentine's to cook for you? Welcome to adult life. Writer Trisha Bajaj shares five of her simplest recipes to get you started on your solo culinary journey.


To the majority of university students living alone, it shouldn’t come as a shock that you would have to cook at some point in these four years of hell university life. Whether it is to satiate your nostalgic cravings, to keep living costs low, or simply because nothing close by is open, cooking is pretty much unavoidable. What may surprise you instead is the amount of effort it actually takes to put together a ‘simple’ meal. I once tried to make my favourite dish ‘chicken a-la-kiev’ and ended up ordering take-out because it took two days to make it.


See, anybody can look up recipes online and try to follow them. The key word here being ‘try’. Online recipes fall short of serving our exact needs (and stomachs) in several different ways – inaccessible or expensive ingredients, serving sizes for eight people, or simply being beyond one’s skill level.


Let’s do you one better and give you a survival guide to living alone starting with Lesson 101: Recipes for One, a student-vetted recipe guide for first timers.

 

Recipe #1: Mee Goreng Mondays

What better way to kick off the week than with some junk food? That said, instant noodles can be healthy if you want them to be. This mee goreng recipe is the perfect balance between guilty cravings and healthy food.


Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 1 onion sliced

  • 1 egg

  • Handful of greens (kailan, cai sim, cabbage, spinach, etc.)

  • 1 instant noodle packet (I prefer Indomie)

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan.

  2. Sauté garlic and onions until cooked.

  3. Add any greens you want and cook until soft.

  4. Push to one side of the pan and scramble an egg on the other side.

  5. Mix together and then add a cup of water.

  6. Add the instant noodle seasoning and noodles after the water comes to a boil.

  7. Let it cook, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom.

  8. Serve once the excess water has dried up.

 

Recipe #2: Tex-Mex Tuesdays

Tuesdays are synonymous with Mexican food and culture. This pseudo-Mexican roll recipe is one of the easiest to experiment with, so feel free to add your own flair to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil

  • 2 chicken breasts (sliced)

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • Sliced onions

  • Half cup sliced bell peppers (red, yellow, green)

  • Half tablespoon cumin

  • Half tablespoon paprika

  • Pinch of salt

  • Ranch dressing to taste

  • Grated cheese to taste

  • 1 frozen prata

  • 1 egg

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the chicken till golden brown on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.

  2. Add the garlic and onions and sauté till soft.

  3. Add the bell peppers and cook till soft.

  4. Add the chicken back, then add cumin and paprika and toss for 2-3 minutes.

  5. Heat a frozen prata in the pan, moving around gently to prevent sticking. Flip over and do the same.

  6. Crack an egg in a bowl and whip it. Pour this on the pan and place the prata on top of it.

  7. Flip it over once the egg cooks slightly and cook for another minute.

  8. To plate, place the chicken mix along the centre and sprinkle some ranch dressing and cheese on top before wrapping it into a roll. Enjoy!

 

Recipe #3: ‘Woo Them’ Wednesdays

Add in a little more effort and you may just be cooking for more than one. Chicken on a bed of mashed potatoes is both easy and fancy.

Ingredients:

Mashed potato:

  • 1 potato

  • 1 tablespoon butter (salted)

  • Milk (according to preferred consistency)

  • Handful of chopped bacon (optional)

Chicken:

  • 1 tbsp oil

  • 2 chicken breasts (diced)

  • Choice of seasoning/sauce: Cajun, peri peri, teriyaki, BBQ, or anything you’re in the mood for

Method:

Mashed potato:

  1. Wash the potato and poke holes all over it with a knife or fork.

  2. Place it in a bowl and fill water till it is covered. Microwave for 6 minutes or till the potato is boiled.

  3. Peel and mash with a fork.

  4. Heat butter in a pan.

  5. Add the potato and milk.

  6. Keep mashing until you’ve reached your preferred consistency, pouring more milk in when required.

  7. (Optional) Fry bacon and add into the potatoes when mashing for an added oomph.

Chicken:

  1. Heat oil in a pan.

  2. Sauté chicken till golden brown on both sides.

  3. Add preferred seasoning/sauce and continue sautéing for 3-5 minutes.

To plate, pile up the mashed potatoes on a plate and top with your sliced or cubed chicken.

 

Recipe #4: Trial-and-Error Thursdays

Fried rice never tastes the same, especially for beginners. Here’s an easy fried rice recipe along with a fool-proof honey garlic chicken recipe that tastes good and takes zero effort to make.


Ingredients:

Honey garlic chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts (diced)

  • 1 tablespoon garlic

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • Chili flakes to taste

Fried rice:

  • 1 cup cooked rice (preferably a day old)

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tablespoons chopped spring onions

  • Handful of shrimp (chopped)

  • Salt to taste

Method:

Chicken:

  1. In a bowl, mix the soya sauce, honey, garlic and chilli flakes.

  2. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the chicken (cook on one side till golden brown, turn and cook till the other side is golden brown).

  3. Pour the mixture into the pan and sauté till it forms a thick glaze on the chicken.

Fried rice:

  1. Pour oil in the pan and scramble an egg.

  2. Add the shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes.

  3. Add the rice and stir till the oil coats the rice.

  4. Sprinkle salt to taste and spring onion. Stir and serve.

 

Recipe #5: Pasta Perfect Fridays

It’s practically a sin to not have pasta on Fridays. Why not build up to the weekend and add some extra oomph to your basic college-student-pasta with this sausage and shrimp pasta recipe. While you’re at it, you may want to grab a glass of…grape juice. Salut!


Ingredients:

  • A handful of spaghetti

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 onion

  • 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)

  • Handful of shrimp

  • 2 sausages

  • 3-4 tablespoons tomato puree

  • Vegetables of choice (bell peppers, corn, mushroom, etc)

  • Mixed herbs to taste

  • Chilli flakes (optional) to taste

  • Cheese (optional) to taste

  • Milk (optional) to taste

Method:

  1. Boil salted water in a pan and add the spaghetti.

  2. Boil the pasta till you can cut through it with a fork. Drain the pasta and set aside.

  3. Heat oil in the same pan.

  4. Add garlic and onion and sauté till cooked.

  5. Cut and add the shrimp and sausage. Sauté.

  6. Add tomato puree, and any veggies you want.

  7. Cook until soft and add the spaghetti back in. Toss till coated with the sauce and add in some mixed herbs and chilli flakes.

  8. (Optional) Add cheese for some density or milk for a creamier texture.

 

Bon Appétit!

These recipes are truly the simplest ones I’ve ever used and take very little time to make. Still, if you find it tough to take time out every day to cook, the only consolation I can give you is this: The freezer is your best friend. You can stash it with ice cream and eat your weight in stress or you can freeze everything you cook and heat it up when you’re hungry. Some words of wisdom: you can freeze literally anything for a couple of months (meats for 1-2 months and fruits and vegetables for 6-8 months).


All the best on your cooking journey! Drop a message if you want any more college survival tips or if you just want to talk about food.