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Posted on Sep 14, 2007 in Bento, Curry, Fish or Seafood, Food Jar, For Kids, Lactose Free, Phyllo or Pancake or Other, Thermal Lunch Jar | 12 comments

Weekday Indian box lunches

Weekday Indian box lunches


I normally associate making Indian food with spending hours in the kitchen on a weekend. I recently picked up a copy of Julie Sahni’s cookbook Moghul Microwave , though, that’s been teaching me how to prepare authentic-tasting Indian dishes quickly using the microwave. Today’s lunch is my shortcut to homemade Indian food on a weekday — it felt quite decadent! In other news, my in-laws, brother-in-law and his wife have come to visit us for the next week and a half, so I anticipate being more sporadic on the lunch blogging front over the next week as we host a houseful. The house certainly is clean now, though! I no longer feel like such a Filth Wizard.

Weekday Indian lunch

Contents of my lunch: Fish cake tikka masala, smothered cabbage with mustard oil (bandhgobhi sabzi), and whole wheat tortillas in place of Indian flatbreads (it’s what I had on hand). The smothered cabbage with mustard oil was a simple Bengali dish from Moghul Microwave, cooking shredded cabbage, onions, tomatoes and (frozen) julienned ginger in the microwave before dressing it with mustard oil with cumin, mustard seeds and cilantro. The tikka masala was a quick throw-together with a pre-made Patak-brand simmer sauce from Costco that was quite tasty (Bug ate it up at dinner). There’s a thread about the best food finds at Costco here on, where I used to be a moderator way back when.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using dinner leftovers. In the morning I just heated the curry, and packed.

Packing: To keep the curry warm, I pre-heated the thermal food jar with hot tap water while I microwaved the curry in a microwave-safe dish. All packed in an insulated bento set from Ichiban Kan that lets me pack hot food and cold food at the same time. I found similar Zojirushi sets on Amazon (albeit pricey!): Metallic Stainless Vacuum Lunch Jar (Lavender) and Metallic Stainless Vacuum Lunch Jar (Green) .

Chili Colorado lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler’s lunch: Chili Colorado, whole wheat tortillas, and steamed asparagus and bean sprouts with Korean barbecue sauce (yakiniku sauce). We ran short of tikka masala (which Bug loved), so we shared both the chili and curry. Bug didn’t like the smothered cabbage at dinner, so I threw together a quick side of veggies for him. Bug ate up the asparagus, but spit out the bean sprouts. Oh well, at least he ate something green!

Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using leftover chili Colorado. In the morning, I cut up the beef into bite-size pieces for a preschooler, and quickly cooked the bean sprouts and asparagus in a microwave mini steamer followed by a toss with bottled Korean barbecue sauce.

Packing: The unique thing about Bug’s lunch is that I liberated the soup bowl from my Nissan Stainless thermal lunch tote to use without the thermal jar itself, similar to this lunch. It half fills the soup bowl, and the side dishes are packed in a 260ml “Comment vas-tu?” side dish container.

Weekday Indian lunch

Contents of my husband’s lunch: The same as mine.

Packing: The curry is packed in a 300ml Thermos Nissan food jar, preheated with hot tap water. The tortillas and cabbage are packed in one 350ml tier of a Lock & Lock lunch set.

(Disclaimers: I have no commercial affiliations with Ichiban Kan, Costco or Patak’s. Amazon links are affiliate links; using the links to buy anything from Amazon supports Lunch in a Box.)


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  1. Looks yummy! I’m really into indian food lately, so looking at this lunch is making me really crave for some indian curry.

    I’ve bought the tikka masala (pre-made) at costco and that is REALLY good as well (I was amazed). Almost restaurant quality imo. They sell pre-made (frozen) naan and paratha at indian grocery stores, so next time you make indian food- you might want to check out your local indian grocer for some naan! I haven’t tried shopping at an indian grocer in SF though.. but there are tons here in San Jose..

  2. PS: That book is something that I’ll definately be checking out!! Thank you for sharing~!

  3. Yum, I’m craving Indian now too. Too bad when I go eat it (at this super cheap place for a huge meal!) there’s never any leftovers to bring home to eat for lunch the next day. Hehehe.
    Question, when you pack boxes that are unevenly shaped/sized, do you always wrap them/put them in a bag? I’m curious about your husband’s lunch in particular- did he just shove those in a bag too? Did the cabbage “jump”out and get on the tortillas? Just wondering. Thanks! (it’s things like this that make me very careful to always hold my lunch right side up)

  4. Trader Joe’s vacuum-packed Indian food (non-refrigerated) and frozen naan are good, too. Definite favorites for last-minute meals.

  5. @1 from FUYU: Ah, I’ll have to pick up some frozen naan or parantha to have on hand. I don’t recall if Bombay Bazaar has them or not, but I know I’ve seen them elsewhere.

  6. @3 from Yvo: I put my husband’s weirdly shaped lunch into a men’s kinchaku (bento drawstring bag) with the Lock & Lock container on the bottom (right side up) and the food jar on its side on top — the whole thing cinched up so the food jar didn’t roll around. The benefit of using the tall silicone cups is that they come right up to the lid of this box, so there was no jumping of cabbage (and I briefly drained the cabbage before packing so there was no excess liquid). So in theory it would have survived my husband’s normal rough treatment of shoving it sideways into his bag. In practice, however, I threw all of our meals into the trunk of the car for our regular Thursday evening gathering. If I were to pack it for my husband’s bag instead of the car, I’d probably throw the Lock & Lock into a little bag and have him pack the food jar separately in his bag.

  7. @4 from mom2twins: Thanks for the heads up on Apartment Therapy! Word certainly is spreading about the blog lately!

  8. My neighbors are Bengali and they are always cooking the cabbage dish. I just love it! She is always bringing me food once she found out I love Indian food, espcially the spiciness. She has yet to make anything too spicy for me.

    Today she made a tomato dish that was wonderful and I don’t like tomatoes. It was similar to the way the cabbage is done. What I need now is the recipe for the potato chutney..I could eat bowls of that.

  9. @10 from Kim: Glad to know it’s really authentic, then! Julie Sahni is a solid cookbook writer, though — well regarded. I’ll have to look for a Bengali potato chutney recipe now…

  10. hi
    i am into bento lunch boxes recently and got one for my daughter,3 yrs. I love the bento boxes pictures on ur site.u said they r from dollarTree. I am a little skeptical to get anything from DollarMart/Tree/99C store these days- after the toy recall with lead paint n what not. Do u know they are safe? i mean, i know u r using them. But, wanted to make sure before i got one for my daughter.

  11. biggie~ I gotta a question, can i freeze the curry and if i can, how long can i keep it frozen? cos if i do cook curry i tend to have quite some left over~ >.<

  12. @13 from cherz: Yes, you can freeze curry, but beware of vegetables in the curry that won’t withstand freezing without texture issues — mainly potatoes. Either pluck these out, or mash them with a fork.