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Three money-saving one-pot Asian recipes

6 February 2023

With the cost-of-living crisis and electricity prices on the rise, our old food habits and cooking in the oven is becoming a luxury rather than the daily norm. But there are things we can cook using cheap ingredients on the hob or in a slow cooker (both of which use much less electricity than oven cooking). All you need is to keep some cupboard essentials stocked and you’re good to go on all sorts of dishes! Every recipe below is from a different country – cooking cheap does not mean eating boring food.

India – Keema Curry

Keema refers to minced meat so this recipe can work with minced lamb, beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. Can also be cooked with Quorn as the vegetarian alternative! This curry is simple and tasty soul food which will leave you full and warm in the winter. To serve two people for two meals or one person for two to three meals, see the recipe below!


  • 500 g minced meat / Quorn
  • 50 ml oil
  • 1 onion (red or white) – diced
  • 2 tomatoes – chopped
  • 3 green chillies (or less if you don’t like it spicy!) – chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger paste or ½ inch of ginger – sliced
  • 1 tsp garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves – sliced
  • 1 tsp salt

Use 3 tsp of Indian curry powder if you don’t have the below spices!

  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Chicken or veg stockpot (optional)
  • 1 handful coriander – chopped (optional)
  • 400 ml water


  1. Heat up the oil in a pan on medium heat until hot
  2. Add the diced onions and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat until softened
  3. Add the ginger paste, garlic paste (or sliced ginger and garlic) and chopped green chillies then sauté for a further 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the minced meat (or Quorn) and break apart fully, then cook for 6-8 minutes on medium heat
  5. Add the salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder (or simply just the Indian curry powder!) and cook the spices for 3-4 minutes
  6. As the spices are cooking chop the tomatoes then add into pan and cook for 3-4 minutes
  7. Add the water and cover then cook for 20 minutes on medium heat (for extra flavour you can add a stockpot!)
  8. Finally, add the chopped coriander and serve with fresh rice and enjoy!

China – Chicken and Ginger Congee

Congee is basically a savoury rice pudding. As it is so simple, congee is perfect when you are sick. It’s also easy on the stomach and hydrating because of the large amounts of water used to cook it. And to top that all off, it is so easy to make for yourself even if you are curled up in bed most of the day. You can substitute chicken for soya chunks/nuggets or tofu (these will require less time to cook).


  • 1 cup long grain rice (white or brown)
  • 8 cups water
  • 6 chicken thighs or 8 drumsticks (bone-in)
  • 1 inch ginger – peeled and sliced
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Spring onions

Optional sauce topping

  • 3 Chillies – chopped
  • 2tbsp White vinegar


  1. Rinse and drain the rice. Pour the rice into a heavy stock pot like a cast iron pot – but any pot will work if you do not have a heavy one
  2. Add in the water, sliced ginger and chicken thighs
  3. Bring the pot to a boil then immediately turn down the heat. Allow the pot to simmer, covered, for 1-1 ½ hours – basically until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and has started breaking apart. It will take white rice about 1 hour, and brown rice about 30 minutes more
  4. Remove the chicken thighs into a bowl and allow to cool. When the chicken thighs are cool enough for you to handle, shred the meat and remove the bones
  5. Add the shredded chicken back into the congee and mix well
  6. Add salt to season
  7. Serve the congee into individual bowls and garnish with spring onions
  8. Optionally (if you don’t have a stomach illness), soak the chopped chillies in the white vinegar for 20 minutes, and spoon some on top of congee to serve


Philippines – Adobo

Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and with the simple ingredients list and delicious final product, you’ll find it to be a favourite too! The recipe below uses chicken, but it is often also traditionally made with pork.



  • 750g chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced or finely sliced
  • 85ml light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 3 or 4 bay leaves (fresh or dried)


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves – minced or finely sliced
  • 1 small brown onion – diced
  • 375 ml water
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole black pepper (or 2 tsp coarse cracked pepper)


  • 2 spring onions – sliced


  1. Mix chicken and marinade ingredients in a bowl, leave for 20 minutes or overnight to marinate
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet or saucepan over high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve marinade for later) and place in the pan. Sear both sides until browned, about 1 minute on each side. Ensure not to cook the chicken through yet
  3. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside
  4. Heat the remaining oil in pan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes
  5. Add the reserved marinade, water, sugar and black pepperinto the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium high. Simmer for 5 minutes
  6. Re-add chicken and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes (stirring not required). Turn chicken at around 15 minutes in, until the sauce reduces to a thick syrupy consistency
  7. Serve over rice

I really hope you enjoy these recipes, do give them a try!