Welcome to Chennai! You’ve moved to this city to start a new chapter in your life at a great college or new job. And we can’t help but share in your energy. As you settle into your PG in Porur and look forward to all that you have to explore and learn in the city, we know you must be buzzing with excitement. There’s just one thing that’s lingering in your mind. As a young student or professional, you’re going to be living on a budget for a while. And after spending so much on moving to Chennai, you don’t exactly have a lot of spare cash to blow on your eating habits. But that doesn’t mean you have to rely only on bland PG fare and dread your mealtimes. Because we’ve got a list of budget recipes that will have you eating well without splurging a ton.
The humble egg can be a saviour when you’re living in a PG or hostel. It’s quick and easy to cook, filling and nutritious. And there are a pretty much endless number of ways in which you can cook it. Omelettes and boiled eggs are great breakfast options, but scrambled eggs have to be our favourite all day food because of how much they can be customised. All you need to make this are two eggs, a teaspoon of mayonnaise (or a splash of milk) and some seasonings. Whisk up your eggs and mayonnaise along with a bit of water and then pour into a frying pan. Keep it on low heat and stir frequently so that the egg begins to scramble. It’ll be ready to eat in a matter of minutes. Feel free to add in any mix-ins of your choice – from veggies to cheese to make this more suited to your tastes.
There’s plenty of pre-made upma mixes in the market that you can buy if you want to skip a step, but did you know how easy it actually is to make upma by yourself? All you need is some semolina (sooji) and water. In a teaspoon of oil, add half a tablespoon of chopped onion and a teaspoon of mustard seeds and stir until they start to splutter. If you want to add any vegetables, then you can add them at this point. Carrots, green beans and peas go really well with upma, and you can add green chillies too if you like your food spicy. Then add in the semolina and toast for a minute or so. Cover with water, add salt to taste, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let the upma cook for 3-4 minutes and it’ll be ready to eat. Chopped coriander or a dash of lime can work great as garnish, or you can enjoy it straight from the pan.
This might be every hostellers’ best kept secret but did you know that you don’t need to head to the best cafes in Chennai to get your hands on some steaming and delicious idlis. You can make them yourself in the microwave. That’s right, no more idli containers or steamers required, you can make idlis with any microwave-safe container. Simply mix up your idli batter according to the package instructions and pour into a greased container. Microwave for two minutes and you have hot and fresh idlis that are ready to serve. Of course, it might be a little tricky to get your hands on good coconut chutney in your hostel, but that’s what ketchup is for.
Creating budget recipes is a lot about trial and error. Although most of the recipes that we’ve told you about involve cupboard staples, using fresh fruit and vegetables can upgrade them in terms of health and taste. Remember that you can always adapt and modify a recipe to suit your own flavour likes and dislikes and don’t be afraid to experiment. Good luck and happy cooking!