Lunch Ahoy! – Part 1

Written By

Chitra Doraiswami

Lunch ahoy Loading

I heard you guys liked my breakfast fundas. Great! So, now it’s time to move on to the next meal –lunch. Oh yes, I’m still striving to save you a buck or two AND trying to make life a tad bit easier for you.

Breakfast is not lunch…say, that is profound! What you can eat straight off the griddle (so to speak) at home isn’t what you can relish at 1 o’ clock. The dosas will be blotting paper, the chapattis a slice off your old car’s tyre; the upma, a scoop of sand from Colaba. So most things don’t taste good cold. There are just a few things that can stand the test of time and win! One is ‘Thair Saadam.’ Every good Southie’s go-to dish – the comfort food of Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Telugu speakers around the world. What do you think the South Indian astronaut will crave on Mars or the nearest exoplanet? Mom’s arms and Thair Saadam. But don’t you run away with the idea that it is very easily made. It ain’t, baby, it ain’t (to quote President Trump).

Here is my recipe for that perfect bowl of white, creamy, slightly sour, lightly salted dahi chawal (Yes, that is what it is, to all my other state young pals).

Take last evening’s left over rice, add just enough milk (Or, if you must, water) to make it wet and blitz it in your liquidizer. Not too much. Now add salt to taste, some warm milk (Dare I say, creamy milk?)and a large spoonful of curd. Mix well. It shouldn’t be too tight nor too watery…something like idli/cake batter. Now, add your tadka/ chonk/tempering of mustard seeds, jeera/cumin seeds, a dash of asafoetida, some curry leaves and one dry red chilly, broken into two to a teaspoon of oil. Pour over the curd rice, mix again, pour into a tiffin box with a tight lid, top with a pickle and voila, you are done.

At 12.30pm when you open that lid again you should be greeted by soft mass of lightly quivering, delightfully cool ‘Thair Saadam’. It isn’t quite exciting in very cold weather but it is a sure shot winner in warm weather.

Some exciting additions would be green and/or black grapes tossed in artistically. Or pomegranate pearls, minced green chillies, diced raw onions, coriander leaves…ah, bliss. Don’t want to take my word for it. Ask those non-Southies who regularly ate up my lunch in all the schools I taught at in Delhi and places further North.

Okay, I get it. You are not so thrilled. Yes, I’ll admit it does have a drawback. A belly full of curds and rice and the last thing you want to do is your 2.30pm presentation. Or attend that (yawn) bored; I beg your pardon, board meeting.

How do sandwiches grab you? These days it’s so easy to get your mitts on great bread. All sorts of grains. So tasty.  Unlike the good old days of Modern White and the Not-so-White.

Keep a stock of butter (don’t say no), peanut butter, jam, mayonnaise, chutney, tomato ketchup, add left over mac and cheese, cheese spread, minced onions, minced ginger, chilli flakes, boiled eggs….you get the idea. Let your imagination take over.

Avoid watery veggies like tomatoes, cucumber and gravy. The juice oozes through and makes your sandy wet and mushy. You will have to eat it with a spoon.

Keep these things in mind before you make your ‘in a jiffy’ lunch.

  1. Never load the filling on a dry slice of bread. You must butter the slices, or put cheese spread. The emulsion (butter, cheese spread, etc) will prevent the slice from getting soggy.

2. Put a good bit of the filling. Don’t skimp. By the way, avoid non-veg fillings. They can go bad in no time in hot weather. Take chicken/mutton sandwiches only if you are sure of your air conditioning.

  1. Pep it up with chutney, mayo, onions, chaat masala, etc. It will somehow become bland and boring by mid-day otherwise.
  2. It’s better to mash up boiled eggs, veggies, etc with mayo, cheese spread, tomato sauce, etc rather than put large chunks of things on the slices. The sandwiches tend to come apart and make eating them messy.
  3. Lettuce, cabbage leaves, etc are good things to put as a first layer.
  4. If you think you can pull it off, take the filling in one box all mixed and ready and two buttered slices in another. Put them together just before you chomp.
  5. Even more adventurous would be to bring tiny boxes of the flavorings along. Open the top slice, pour the chutney, sauce, mustard relish, whatever, ‘re lid’ with the top slice, eat!

Remember, it’s only your imagination that can guide you. I would recommend buying all those, er, condiments in the smallest bottles.

Have fun, eat well!





Chitra Doraiswami, 69, is from Bangalore. She has written for many publications such as the Deccan Herald, The Times, Femina, Eve’s Weekly, etc. Chitra has many an interesting tale to tell including the one about finishing her Masters along with her son; sadly “only” getting a First Class, where her son got a rank. She joined CMR, NPS as Headmistress two decades ago and is now known as the Associate Principal of the institution. She also has a sixteen year old grandson. Chitra is an avid dancer, reader and drama-enthusiast. She's traveled extensively with her husband who was in the IAF. She taught wherever they were posted. Chitra enjoys teaching people innovative ways of helping children learn, but she is definitely not the prototypical fluffy grandma!

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