Traveling on a limited budget, I was aware I wouldn’t be able to eat out as much as I do in India but I had little idea about the alternatives. I started off with eating things I purchased in the super market like canned food, bread, fruits. Essentially, I was surviving on sandwiches and fruits. Street food was practically non-existent. Being a vegetarian wasn’t helping.
Fortunately, I met people on the road who told me ‘it was not that great an idea’. I can’t survive too long on a diet like that. They taught me how to make pasta using hostel utensils.
It did take me some time to get comfortable in hostel kitchens but it didn’t take me long to go from making tomato based pasta to flipping ‘alu ke paranthe’ (potato stuffed indian bread) with mint chutney.
Traveling long term on a budget should not be an excuse to eat unhealthy or worse, not eat enough.
Most of the things listed below are easy to make and I used to be generally done with the entire process in an hour and I am the slowest person in kitchen (actually in life as well). The recipes are just to give a fair idea of the process. I am not a great cook (far from it) but I managed to get back in my ideal weight range on my trip. I was underweight when I took off.
Note: I’m a vegetarian attempting to go vegan but while traveling, I started eating eggs within two months of beginning my journey. I got back to my vegetarian diet upon my return.
I generally kept a packet of oats on me and bought smaller milk cartons to uses with it. Most hostel kitchens have a shared refrigerator. I only ever stayed in one hostel where refrigerator was out of bounds for guests.
- granola and yogurt:
Yogurt generally comes in half a litre to one litre pack so I purchased it only when I was going to stay at a place for at least three days.
- Croissant n eggs
- scrambled eggs with beans
Lunch and Dinner:
- Spaghetti with guacamole:
This was my staple diet in larger part of my trip.
Recipe: Boil the spegetti with little oil and salt. Meanwhile, add oil in a saucepan, add onion, garlic, tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and. or whatever vegetables available. Add spegetti to this once it’s boiled.
I once made a pasta with just one tomato and have seen a guy make pasta with one onion. But it was not out of choice. Traveling should be fun and not a punishment.
To make guacamole, mash the avacados, add finely chopped tomato and onion to it. squeeze lime into it and add some salt to it.
- Butternut squash soup:
Peel the Butternut squash slightly, cut it into big pieces and let it boil until soft. I add salt to it as well. Once boiled put it in a grinder with some garlic, salt and pepper. I would at times add carrots to this. Heat some oil in a saucepan, put grated garlic, cumin seeds in it and add the contents of the grinder to it.
- Rice, salad, and omelette
- Rice and beans:
- Quinoa salad
- Potato stuffed indian bread:
It was quite difficult to find wheat flour so I had to make do with all purpose flour. It tasted a lot like ‘Samosa’.
Recipe: Boil the potatoes and mash them. You can either cook it the mashed potatoes in a little oil or use as it is.
Make a dough of the flour (preferable wheat flour), take out a small piece and make a ball. Dig it in the middle and put the potato stuffing in it. Close the ball, roll it, and cook it on a pan with a little butter.
- Gajar ka halwa:
I have a sweet tooth and I missed this Indian dessert so I made it.
Grate the carrots. Put butter in a deep saucepan then add carrots to it. Keep stirring till it reduces in volume. Add milk and sugar and continue stirring. I stop cooking when I rum out of patience to stir it.
- Raw mango and corriander chutney
I made it when I volunteering at a place and knew I was going to be there for nearly two weeks so I could use the chutney for a few days.
Recipe: Peel raw mango and cut it into big pieces, clean the coriander leaves. Add cut mangos, coriander leaves, garlic, green chilli, and salt into a grinder and it’s ready to be used.
- Mushroom curry with rice:
This needs more indian spices than I could find while traveling. So how did I end up having this amazing food? Met an Indian in my hostel traveling with spices.
- Potato curry with rice:
Recipe: This is how I cool ALL my Indian curries but then I’m the worst person to learn cooking from. Heat little oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and chopped garlic to it. Add chopped onion to this and once they start getting golden brown, add tomato to it. Add salt in a few minutes which apparently helps tomato get mushy quickly. Once you have the paste, add coriander powder, turmeric to it. That’s all the spices I could find on the road. In India we use way more spices than that.
After a few minutes, when you see spices are cooked, add boiled potato and other veggies to this. Add water for the gravy. I stop cooking when the gravy is thick enough and not too watery.
Some other food stories:
How do you think I faired? Could you recommend a dish I can cook without a pressure cooker and minimal spices?