Last July, when I moved to Japan, I lived in a small neighborhood in Osaka. It has tons of little food shops. It was impossible not to find something good to eat. One shop in particular sold Indian food. Over the past few years, I haven’t really eaten too much Indian food, because it was expensive or the restaurants were a little out of the way. Going to that shop and being able to indulge in inexpensive, Indian food was incredible. I loved everything about that little shop.
Now, I live in Tokyo, a food mecca. However, I live a little outside of the city and there are only four Japanese restaurants and a McDonald’s near my house. Luckily, the majority of grocery stores are fully stocked with ingredients from non-Japanese cuisines, so, it’s easy to recreate Indian food at home.
Recently, I’ve been craving Indian food. I wanted to try to make Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch. Overall, the process of making the masala wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. I’ve only made Indian food about two to three times in my life, and it used to feel strenuous. Making it in a rice cooker helped with the flavor. If you don’t have a rice cooker, try making it in a slow cooker.
Fried rice is one of the quickest Chinese dishes to make; it’s also one of the cheapest. When making fried rice all you need is rice and vegetables. You can make it with beef, chicken or top it with scrambled eggs. It’s very easy to make, especially for beginner cooks, and it gives me a chance to try some new Chinese ingredients.
Although I am not a vegetarian, I prefer to eat vegetarian Chinese dishes. I think that most of the sauces and spices used in Chinese cooking compliment vegetables and tofu well. Plus, Chinese vegetables are different from the ones we use in the U.S. The Woks of Life, a blog that focuses on traditional and non-traditional Chinese dishes has a whole glossary dedicated to Chinese vegetables. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple with carrots and broccoli. However, in the past, I have used bok choy, scallions, bean sprouts, edamame and many other vegetables.
If you are going to try to make fried rice at home, I suggest that you have everything mise en place. This is a fancy French word meaning “putting in place”. Since you will have to work quickly when cooking the ingredients, it’s almost necessary to put all of your ingredients in separate bowls. If you don’t have everything in place, your food can burn and it will be disastrous, trust me.
Don’t be afraid to make fried rice at home. It’s simple to make and doesn’t require much time or money. Even in Nanjing, it’s cheaper for me to make friend rice at home than buying it at a restaurant. Lastly, it’s an easy way to start exploring the world of Chinese cooking.