There was a three-year patch not so long ago when I worked adjacent to a mall. Having your office in the centre of town and right next to one of Delhi’s busiest shopping hubs is awful, except when it comes to lunch. There was a Food Hall, a sushi takeaway, an Italian concession, and a Pan-Asian restaurant all within shouting distance of work, and that’s leaving aside the places I didn’t frequent (Middle Eastern doner place, fro yo joint, chi chi French patisserie…). It was great for getting my groceries before I headed home, fantastic for keeping things interesting, and top notch for meeting friends for lunch (it’s an all-round win: they came to me because I was where the food is). Not so great for my wallet, and worst of all for my waistline. Apparently ordering the stir fried veg at Mamagoto three days running isn’t sort of thing you want to aim for.
I’ve since moved to a farm. In Chattarpur. I went from options galore to options…not a one. This isn’t a bad thing at all, and since stepping away from work for an hour-long lunch break is a rare treat, I’ve been spending some time thinking about my midday meal so that I don’t fall into a sad desk-salad or desk-sandwich fug. Plus our cafeteria isn’t exactly Google, so if I don’t put some thought into it, nobody else is going to.
If you’ve got someone putting these nutritious and interesting lunches together for you, great! Lucky you. I have a lovely cook, but with a limited repertoire, and it’s sort of nice doing a little prep myself each evening, because that way I know exactly what’s in there, and also (this is important) what I’ve got to look forward to.
My needs are basic: that it be quick to put together, with easy to find ingredients, and bread-free. (That last bit because I, where possible and when not-weak eschew gluten for reasons outlined at length here.) Essentially my lunches are less about cooking, and much more about assembling.
My quickest to date is a chicken salad that is unbeatably light on prep, high on protein and fibre, and will keep you full way past the 3pm dip.
You will need
Smoked or grilled chicken, sliced
One red pepper, chopped the way you like it
One red chilli, chopped fine
Celery stalks, rough chopped
Two spoons of hung yoghurt with garlic and a little salt (or, cheat like I do and use one spoon of yoghurt with one spoon Wingreens garlic yoghurt dip)
Mix it all together, and voila: lunch is served.
Use any bits that you like. I've also done a chicken, avocado, and cucumber version with added dill that was lovely, particularly in warmer months.