Pillbox

Grandpa Sujay's recipes

I've been trying to find creative ways to meal prep a bunch of food at once recently. But rather than make something really bland and boring for the prep, I’ve tried to not be boring and make something that I wouldn’t get tired of after seven days of eating it while still being pretty healthy. If you’re in this boat, here are two recipes that you can try out that aren’t too hard to make. There will be one non-vegetarian recipe and one vegetarian recipe (the vegetarian recipe is also vegan).

For the record, I am no chef by any means. I just take stuff and throw it together and I eyeball all the measurements for spices. You can adjust any of this as you see fit, and I’ll specify how much of the main ingredients I used to make your life easier.

The non-vegetarian recipe: jambalaya

This recipe is based on this recipe I got here, but I changed around a few steps and am adding in some important details to help make your cooking life easier. Jambalaya is a really rich and flavorful rice dish, and it perfectly balances every food group, which is an added bonus.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 big pieces of sausage, cut into small pieces (andouille is preferable but if you can’t find it, hot sausage will do)
  • 20 pieces of shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Rice (however much you want, I used 3 cups)
  • Chicken stock or broth (enough to cook the rice, I used 6 and a half cups)
  • 2 medium-sized red onions, diced
  • 2 large red and green bell peppers each, diced and seeds removed
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
  • Crushed tomatoes (I think I used a 28 oz can)
  • Minced garlic, however much you want (I used 8 cloves of garlic)
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Salt, black pepper, dry oregano, cayenne, dry thyme
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Cooking oil, obviously
  • Optional, but you can use cornstarch or file powder to provide some more thickness
  • Garnish of your choice

Equipment:

  • A big pot or a dutch oven
  • An extra pan for cooking the shrimp (if you have an air fryer, even better)
  • You can have extra pans if you want to cook all the meats separately but it will not be necessary since you can do this with one pot

Preparation:

  1. Cut up all your meats and veggies and set them aside. For prepping the shrimp, peeling and deveining is pretty easy. To peel, all you have to do is put your fingers under the underside of the shrimp, find a crack in the shell, and just pull the shell apart. You should remove the tails too. I’m one of the people who like shrimp tails, but given how fragile they are, they can come off while you’re cooking and you don’t want random pieces of shrimp tail when you take a bite. To devein, cut along the back of the peeled shrimp with a sharp knife and then search for a black vein using the knife and pull it out. You technically don’t have to do this either, but you’ll get a better flavor and texture for the shrimp.
  2. Marinate the meats with cajun powder and a little bit of salt. You can either do a dry rub or oil-based marinade, but adjust the amount of oil you use to cook based on how you marinate. You can let this sit anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight if you’re a very extra person like me.

The actual cooking:

  1. Over medium heat, throw some oil in the pot and cook the sausage until it's browned. When browned, take it out of the pot. You can use one of those spoons that have holes in it so you can drain the oil as you take it out or you can be fancy and put the sausage in the sieve to drain the oil into a bowl. If you do the second method, make sure to put the oil back in the pan. Throw the chicken into the pot as well and cook that through. Once you’ve done that, take it out and set it aside.
  2. Toss the veggies and the garlic with a little bit of salt until the veggies soften up. Then, put the crushed tomatoes in with black pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, more Cajun seasoning, and a little bit more salt. If you’re using chicken stock or broth with a high sodium content, make sure to not overdo the amount of salt you put in. If you have any corn starch or file powder, you can toss that in too. Stir it all together, then put the chicken and sausage back in. Cook it for 7 minutes.
  3. Put the uncooked rice into the mix and enough chicken stock or broth to be able to cook the rice. Turn the heat up and bring it to a boil first, and once it’s boiling, bring the heat down to low or low-medium and let it simmer until the rice is cooked through. This should take about 20-25 minutes. Stir the mix every 5 minutes as it simmers.
  4. As the rice mix is simmering, use the other pan with some cooking oil or air fryer to cook the shrimp. If you’re using a pan, it shouldn’t take that long. Just cook it until the shrimp have a nice pink color and they feel tender when you touch it. The air fryer I have has a setting for seafood, but if yours doesn’t, it takes about 12-15 minutes.
  5. Once the rice is cooked through, throw the cooked shrimp in there and stir it all together for a minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you see necessary with salt and/or Cajun seasoning or any other spices if you’re feeling adventurous. Once you’re satisfied, kill the heat and let it rest for a bit.
  6. Serve it in a bowl and then garnish with whatever you have. Take a picture and send it to your friends and family to impress them!

This should last you a while. I made a giant pot to split with my housemate, and it took us a week to get through it.

The vegetarian recipe: tofu coconut curry

This is a recipe my best friend helped me come up with (meaning she told me what to throw together because I am incompetent) and that I’ve adjusted a bit since then. It’s sort of a Thai-Indian fusion that works better than it should. I normally would make this as a fish curry, but since I’ve started eating more vegetarian recently, I have substituted the fish with tofu. If you are non-vegetarian and want to use fish (which I highly recommend), just replace the vegetable masala in the ingredients list with a fish curry masala and use fish and/or oyster sauce instead of using sesame oil and soy sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cans of coconut milk
  • 4 packs of firm or extra firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Minced garlic and grated/finely chopped ginger (8 cloves and a big piece of ginger), or ginger garlic paste (this is easier)
  • Finely chopped green chilis (I use 5, but adjust based on how much spice you can handle)
  • Red chili paste and yellow curry paste
  • Salt, turmeric, paprika, cumin powder, vegetable masala of your choice (I use the Kitchen King or paneer masalas that you can find in Indian stores, but if you can’t get that, a generic curry powder also works; this is also optional)
  • Cooking oil
  • Sesame oil and soy sauce (both are optional but they add a unique flavor and can substitute using fish/oyster sauce)
  • Spinach, washed

Equipment:

  • A big pot
  • A second pan to cook the tofu in

Preparation

  1. Cut your tofu up and marinate with the turmeric, paprika, cumin powder, and vegetable masala. You can do a dry rub or oil-based marinade. Let this sit for 15 minutes to overnight.

Cooking

  1. Over medium heat, put your cooking oil in. Stir the ginger and garlic with the green chilis, red chili paste, and yellow curry paste.
  2. Once blended, put in all the coconut milk and mix it in very well for a few minutes. Then, mix in the turmeric, paprika, cumin powder, vegetable masala, and salt. Once it’s thoroughly mixed, put some sesame oil and soy sauce and mix that in very thoroughly. After all of that is blended together, turn the heat down to about low-medium, and cover it to let simmer.
  3. As the coconut milk mix is simmering, use your other pan to start cooking your tofu until it’s cooked through and fully firm. Once you’ve done that, put the tofu into your coconut milk mix and stir it. Make sure you don’t let too much oil residue from the tofu get into the coconut milk mix. Bring the heat to medium after stirring and let it reach a simmer after a few minutes.
  4. Once at a simmer, put the spinach in and mix it until the spinach is cooked through. This should take a few minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as you feel necessary. Once you’re happy, kill the heat and let it sit for a bit to settle. Once settled, serve it in a bowl with some rice or noodles.

This is a really fun recipe, although finding all the spices will be a chore in and of itself. You can also just improvise with a lot of the spices and do your own thing. That’s part of the fun of cooking. Also, as I said earlier, you can use fish instead of tofu, but you can also sub in whatever protein you like for this. The steps will still be the same. You’ll just have to adjust which masalas you want to use. I also highly recommend doing overnight marinating. I’ve found that it’s better, it splits the effort over two days so you’re not spending too much time on one day cooking, and it forces you to plan when you want to cook, which is good if you’re like me and bad at managing your time.

I hope these are fun recipes for people to try out. Like I said, they’re healthy and you can make a lot of it to last you for several meals. Given that I’ve gone bald and am complaining about how social media is ruining us, I should accept my role as a grandpa and just cook for everyone.