"Me(al) Time" - A New Inspiration Series

Griddled Lentil Cake and Egg Salad

For as long as remember, I have not particularly enjoyed eating by myself. My family, except for the few short years that I lived with my grand-dad, was not given to family dinners. To circumvent this, I was rarely separated from books at meal time. I ate relatively slowly, savoring each page of the book as with each bite on the plate. The food was even more delicious because I didn't have to make them. I just sat the table and food arrived. Looking back, that was quite pampering.

All too soon, though, I grew up and started working in a different country and running my own house/kitchen. At the start I did neither particularly well. I worked a lot and ate at the desk, staring at constantly blinking screens, for the fear of missing that nebulous piece of streaming information that would make or break my career. So, I ate breakfast, lunch and often times dinner chewing without focusing on my food but rather on the spreadsheets before me. On days when I did manage to drag my sorry ass back home at a half decent hour, I was either too tired or too demotivated to cook just for myself. But, I still couldn't eat out or order in. Atleast, I have that shred of self-respect to hold on to.

I would make myself scrambled eggs or have cereal or some light Indian snack. Weekends when I was caught by myself at mealtime were the worst. The concept of cooking myself a full proper meal just did not appeal to me. Fast forwarding the years to the days when I was no longer in the corporate world, I still had not overcome that reluctance to cook ior myself.

GF Griddled Lentil Cake and Egg Salad

These days, things are a bit different. I still prefer cooking for more than just me but I have learnt to love and enjoy my time cooking for myself and eating with myself. I have come to look forward to that mini-break in the middle of the day when I can make myself something healthy and happy and gives me space to take a breather. A little me-time.

Yet, it was not until a reader from this post, requested more recipes cooking for one, did I take notice of this change in my mindset. Thinking more about it, I realised, my obstacle in cooking for one, all those years ago, was that the only recipes I knew were ones that you typically cook for more and then have leftovers. I don't like eating leftovers, neither do I like wasting them. Rock, hard place and all that. Now that I am much better versed in the art of creating new dishes, I don't run into those stumbling blocks.

Anyway, I figured, it was good time to share some recipes that designed for one, but can be easily scaled and celebrate the joy of dining solo. So, I am creating a new series of recipes, "Me(al) Time", that will be easy to execute, exciting to eat and simple enough to make on a weeknight or for a quick lunch, without skimping on being healthy as well as good for you. Okay, that is a mouthful but that is my promise. After all, in the places we live and the lives we lead, there are often times and some years of a lifetime that we find ourselves alone with a book but no less enthusiasm for the plate in front of us.

Lunching with self

The key to enjoying this process is to have a few simple recipes at the back of your mind that will create a strong base on which you can add, change, experiment and have fun. Before you move on more involved creations.

To kick it off, I am starting with one of my favorite ingredients, lentils! The punch of this recipe is the lentil cake cooked on a griddle or a pan. It is that dependable yet not boring structural base on which you let your whim and fancy build with ingredients that you have on hand. I love this lentil batter because you can make it thick like a pancake and use it as a biscuit base or spread it thinner and make fold like tacos or crepes. Topping the plate with a fresh egg not rounds out the plate but also add the fat component into the meal, as without it, it is a very lean dish. Also, while I prefer fried eggs with a runny yolk, if you are going for a taco style prep, a scrambled egg would work better.

Griddled Lentil Cake and Egg Salad
(For 1)

Griddled Lentil Cake and Egg Salad

1/2 cup mixed lentils, soaked in hot water for atleast two hours or overnight
1/2 cup chopped vegetables, raw (I used cucumbers and grated carrot) as salad ingredients
1-2 T cashew cream (recipe below)
a touch of sriracha sauce
An egg

Follow this method to make the lentil pancakes.

Spread the cashew cream generously on the browned side of the pancake/crepe. Drizzle the sriracha sauce Arrange the salad ingredients on top and Finish with a fried egg.

Cashew Cream

1 cup cashews, raw

Soak cashews in water for 3 hours or overnight. Drain out the water and blend the softened cashews into a very smooth paste. If you find it had to process the nuts, add a teaspoon or so of water at a time till you get the blade going.

Refrigerate immediately and it can be stored for more than a week.