I have been wanting to do the “Solo Meal” for a while now and was not confident that it is worth sharing. I started trying some of these recipes a couple of months back and was not really sure if it would turn out to be good or I would be able to deliver the message I have behind it.
“Solo Meal” falls under my new year resolution for this year, which is to learn how to love myself, what a cheesy cliché right? I have always read “love yourself” but never really understood what it means, till this year.
When I moved to Doha to work, I passed through a really hard phase, you can say I have lived the worst days of my life with almost no one knowing what I was really going through. This went on for almost a year, a year that was not easy at all.
Last year was not any easier, work wise nor personal. Work stress was only piling up and so did my life till I reached a phase that I felt I lost my direction again. At the end of the year, I figured out that I might have passed harder times before, however, things won’t really get any better till I learn how to love myself.
How to love yourself?
What do I mean by loving myself? This actually does vary from a person to another but what it meant to me was to take care of myself and put myself first, basically be selfish. It is funny how my parents did all that they can to raise us not to be selfish, and here I am doing my best to be one. During this journey of finding how do I love myself I realized that even as a chef for 6 years, I have never cooked a proper meal and set up a table just for me. It has always been for others, in fact coming from a big family I didn’t even know how to enjoy food if I was eating alone.
“SO MANY YEARS OF EDUCATION YET NOBODY EVER TAUGHT US HOW TO LOVE OURSELVES AND WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT”
Cooking for myself was one of the few things I thought would help me take care of myself, another thing was to learn how to say NO!! Another word my parents have taught us not to use. I had to say no to go outs when I don’t feel like it, no for eating when I don’t feel like it and no for many other things. Definitely lost some friends along the way but finally, I felt like I was my self’s priority. One of my accomplishments was that I stopped meeting the whole town when I go home for a vacation and stuck to seeing my family only.
Cooking and self love
Moving back to the food part, I am happy to say that I finally started to cook for myself and I learned how to enjoy a meal being alone, dine out alone even in places where I would really look odd. Hence came the username I use on Instagram Thelonerdiner.
With these recipes, I do my best to learn how to love myself and take care of me. Also, want to share with anyone out there that is going through hard times that it is okay to put yourself first sometimes, even if it meant to cook and prepare a meal and enjoy it by yourself. .
I hope that these recipes would reach out to anyone that needs them, even if you would not cook or recreate the recipes. The point behind these is not to tell you to be happy for being alone, but rather to say enjoy the time you have alone and learn how to get through that, cause it is only till you learn how to love yourself you learn how to truly love others. And if cooking didn’t help and you ever needed to talk, please do reach out we are just a bunch of loners in this world.
Enough drama Let’s get cooking!
Tomato risotto is full of umami, we had a similar dish on our menu in Hong Kong. After all these years I can’t get over how it was such a mood booster for me. Follow the steps below:
- Using a casserole pan, in melted butter sauté the shallots and garlic, add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Till the rice kernels are probably sautéed.
- Now If you are from my part of the world you would skip the white wine, however, it is worth mentioning that risotto must have white wine in it to be the authentic one. If not now add the white wine and let it reduce till it is almost dry.
- Mix the veg stock and tomato sauce, add 100 ml at a time and stir. If you did not add the white wine, you will need 50 ml or so extra stock.
- Keep cooking till the rice is Al dente, remove from the heat and add in the grated cheese and the other batch of the butter.
- Plate it and top with rocket leaves.
- The recipe has white wine, as this is the traditional way, but you can skip that if you wanted to have an alcohol free recipe. Just make sure you substitute that with stock.
- I have made the recipe with vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian but you can replace that with chicken broth if you have that.
- I haven’t included recipes of tomato sauce and vegetable stock. As a chef, I do recommend you make it at home. However, using ready-made would speed up the process. Soon, I will be adding a recipe for the perfect tomato sauce that could be made ahead of time and kept in jars or in the freezer.
- When you read the recipe you will find that I have listed the butter twice in the ingredients, as I used some to sauté and some to be added at the end.
- 10 grams Butter used in sautéing
- 1 large Shallot chopped
- 1 clove Garlic chopped
- 100 grams Arborio rice
- 50 ml White wine
- 100 ml Tomato sauce
- 200 ml Vegetable stock
- 10 grams Butter for final stage
- 20 grams Parmesan cheese grated
- 10 grams Rocket leaves washed
- For the stock and the sauce you can either make at home or get a ready made one, that would make life easier.
- Using a casserole pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots and garlic, add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Till the rice kernels are probably sautéed.
- Now If you are from my part of the world you would skip the white wine, however it is worth mentioning that risotto must have white wine in it to be the authentic one. If not now add
the white wine and let it reduce till it is almost dry.
- Mix the veg stock and tomato sauce, add 100 ml at a time and stir. If you did not add the white wine, you will need 50 ml or so extra from the stock.
- Keep cooking till the rice is Al dente, remove from the heat and add in the grated cheese and the other batch of butter.
- Plate it and top it with rocket leaves.