Quick and easy dinners

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By Yusuf Adams

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.


We all know that long days and busy schedules make it easier to reach for noodles or bread instead of the pots at dinner time. But we all have that unapologetic organ that controls our mood, vision and apparent productivity. This organ is the stomach. During exam season, a wave of anxiety or a Netflix binge, we can’t seem to get through anything without a satisfied belly.


After searching for quick and cheap ingredients in sub-Saharan Africa, the middle east and Iberian Peninsula, I found some simple dishes that will suit your student budget and tight schedule.


Sticky chicken: 13 Minutes


4-8 chicken thighs/legs or breasts depending on how hungry you are

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp oil

Salt and pepper


Heat the pan with your oil on high heat and brown the chicken on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium and add the honey and soy sauce. You can serve this with rice or some veggies.


Simple Dhal (serve with rice, bread or brown pita low GI): 15 Minutes


400g red lentils

2 tsps. turmeric

2 knobs butter

2 tsps. cumin seeds

1 small onion finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1-2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced (or you can replace this with curry powder)


Place the lentils in a pan and cover with enough cold water to come to around two inches above their surface. Bring to the boil (skim off any scum that rises to the top) and reduce to a simmer. Stir in the turmeric and a generous knob of butter. Cover and leave to cook gently.
In a small frying pan, dry-fry the cumin seeds over a medium heat until toasted and fragrant (no more than a couple of minutes). Remove from the pan and set to one side.
Melt a second knob of butter in the same frying pan and gently fry the chopped garlic, onion and chillies. Once the garlic is golden, mix in the toasted cumin seeds and the curry powder if using it. Remove from the heat until the lentils are completely softened.
Give the lentils a good stir. They should have the consistency of porridge – thicker than soup and looser than humus. Add more water as necessary (you will be surprised how thick they can get over just a couple of extra minutes cooking) and mix in your aromatic fried mixture.


Season to taste, then serve on its own or with a side of basmati rice and greens. So simple, so quick, so good.


Mixed roasted veg: 13 minutes


500g Sweet Potatoes, chopped

One Broccoli head

2 Red Onions sliced

3 Mixed Peppers chopped

1-2 Tbsp Oil

Chop the sweet potatoes and mixed peppers. Place the sweet potatoes and peppers in the baking tray. Boil for 5 minutes then toss everything in the oil and roast for 10 minutes. Sprinkle of mixed herbs such as thyme or Italian seasoning.


Simple Stir Fry: 15 minutes


A great stir-fry typically consists of three important components: protein, vegetables, and sauce

For a basic stir-fry, start with 1 portion meat and 2 portions of vegetables. I would also add in aromatics or herbs to change the flavour profile of your dish.



500 grams chicken, beef, or pork cut into bite sized pieces (if you are vegetarian you can use the Fry’s chicken strips or stick to just the veggies)
A variety of vegetables (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, bell peppers) cut into small pieces                                                                                                                                                                                       Any stir fry pasta
1 tbsp aromatic, such as garlic or ginger (optional)
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or cilantro (optional)
Basic Stir Fry Sauce (you can use a store bought one or the soy sauce/honey mixture from the sticky chicken recipe)


Cook the protein for 5 minutes on hot adding any spices or herbs.
Throw in everything else and cook for remaining 10 minutes then add your sauce. Serve with the stir fry noodles or rice.


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