Guys, I cooked!!! (Please see photographic evidence.)

Technically, ‘cooked’ might be an overstatement. But I bought food, made it hot, and put it on plates. Given the fact that I haven’t been able to do this – or even set foot into a grocery store for months – this feels like a big win!

I’ve always been a pragmatic cook – the kind of person who thinks about how many dishes a recipe uses before I decide I want to make it – and these labour-saving skills served me well in my hour of need.

Yesterday, I was craving the spice and flavour or Indian food so badly. But stomachs tend to be a bit touchy during chemo which means to avoid potentially unwelcome triggers it had to be:

  1. Very light on chilli spice
  2. Dairy/milk free (including ghee, ideally)

This is quite a tough ask if getting it from a restaurant or in 90% of the prepared meals at the grocery store.

I have some brilliant homemade recipes that fit the bill, but I didn’t have the energy (or, to be frank, the nausea control) to cook from scratch.

Nevertheless, I came up with a fantastic lunch that I then repurposed into dinner on the patio for Zach and I tonight.

It relied entirely on combining things that are more or less ready to go in the supermarket already. (Sainsburys does fantastic ready Indian food snacks that are remarkably milk free and very low spice. A great way to sneak in vegetables if (like me) these are on your aversions list.)

It was delicious and took less than 15 minutes (and could be faster if you are even lazier), so I have a feeling I may bust this out again for busy nights even when I have more cooking options!

What to buy:

  1. Pre-made Indian Snack pack (from fresh or frozen section). At least at Sainsbury’s these are milk free and very low spice!
  2. Pre-made parathas. You can usually freeze the extras. (Note: naan usually have milk, but other breads also work.)
  3. Precooked chicken pieces.
  4. Indian sauce packets. (Leave out cream or other additions. If struggling to find something without milk, look for pastes instead and just let it be a bit drier.)
  5. Fresh coriander. (Look, Ma – I’m eating my vegetables!)

Here is the magic ‘recipe’:

  1. Preheat the oven and when hot put in pre-made starters/snacks. (They really do taste so much better crisped. But if you are truly exhausted or lazy, microwave with zero guilt.)
  2. Microwave in bag rice. Takes 2 minutes. Sits for 1. Done!
  3. Tear the cooked chicken into pieces and pour the sauce on top. Zap in microwave.
  4. Tear coriander and put on top of chicken.
  5. Give the breads one minute in the oven after the starters come out. (If you want to feel artsy and also make then fit on the plate, you can fold them like I did.)
  6. Ready to serve!

Zach said it was absolutely delicious. Granted, standards are pretty low right now, but it was fun to enjoy a meal together – and such a pleasure and relief to be able to work with and enjoy food tonight!

Plus, the next time I get a craving for Indian food that it seems impossible to respond too without risking some gastro repercussions, I now have a solution!

Photo: Z Rothstein

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