Tim’s Indian Dinner in a Tiffin Box (MightyNest Giveaway)

tiffin box from mightynest

Sometime this summer, Tim and I watched the movie “The Lunchbox,” an Indian flick in which a man receives the wrong lunchbox—or really, the wrong tiffin box, a tall, stainless steel contraption with multiple containers stacked in a tower that clips together and keeps different foods apart—over and over again. Instead of the boring restaurant food he’d been ordering to come for him every day in the sea of tiffin boxes that delivery guys on bicycles take to offices at lunchtime, he starts getting a housewife’s meals. That housewife is lonely and trying to make her stoic husband happy through home cooking she pours herself into. But instead, her meals are going to this crotchety accountant. He writes her a note, she writes him one and the plot develops from there until it culminates in a (spoiler alert) rather unsatisfying ending, but (!) I was glad I watched it if only for the tiffin box. I knew I wanted one! So when the people at MightyNest said they’d send one over, along with some vintage camera reusable napkins and a set of bamboo silverware, we were obviously in. There was an Indian tiffin box dinner just waiting to happen. Now, without further ado and just in time for the days of school lunches and work lunches and needing to pack food on the go, here are photos and a set of recipes for the Indian feast Tim made yesterday and packed into our tiffin box.

Plus! Bonus! There’s also a MightyNest giveaway where the winner will get his or her own tiffin box, hand napkins and bamboo silverware, too.

tiffin box from mighty nest 2
tiffin box with indian food
Indian Dinner in a Tiffin Box
Indian Dinner in a Tiffin Box-4
Indian Dinner in a Tiffin Box-3
spiced Indian lentils and rice
Indian potatoes and peppers in tiffin box
potatoes and peppers in tiffin box

Special thanks to MightyNest for hosting this giveaway, just in time for going back to school! MightyNest is a unique website that provides you the ability to find a wide variety of natural, organic and non-toxic products all in one place. All of the products they sell are free from known toxins such as: BPA, PVC, Phthalates, Lead, Formaldehyde, Parabens and more.

MightyNest also has an incredible schools program that gives 15% back to your local school on every purchase. Plus, they have just launched their fall Mighty School Challenge where they are giving away $25,000 in school donations this October! Learn more here: http://schools.mightynest.com/.

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Tim's Indian Dinner in a Tiffin Box (i.e., Indian lentils and rice)

By: FoodLovesWriting.com

This meal is essentially Tim's tiffin box take on Indian lentils and rice (or, D?la aura c?vala in Hindi or, Episode #357 of I Love When Tim Cooks). We ate it with warmed bread and a quick yogurt sauce of Greek yogurt, chopped onion, chopped parsley, salt and garlic powder.


    for Indian-style/spiced lentils:
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 TBS tomato sauce
  • for the saffron basmati rice:
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • dash of red saffron
  • for the spiced peppers and potatoes:
  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 small potato, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


for the lentils:

Rinse the lentils with water and place in a small stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender. Meanwhile, place coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add cumin, garam masala, garlic powder, and coriander. Toast spices in oil for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, sea salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils and serve over rice.

for the saffron basmati rice:

In a medium saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium heat and add cardamom. Toast briefly and then add rice. Stir rice to coat with oil and sauté for 30 seconds or so, stirring frequently. Add water and saffron. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to low heat. Cook covered for 20 minutes. Check the rice and fluff with a fork and remove from heat.

for the peppers and potatoes:

Heat coconut oil in medium frying pan over medium heat and add cumin, coriander, garam masala, and turmeric. Toast spices in oil for 1-2 minutes. Add green pepper and potatoes and toss in the oil and spices to coat evenly. Reduce heat to low and cook until potato is tender, about 20 minutes. Serve on the side or over rice.


Lentils with Shallots, Strawberries, and Goat Cheese

lentils with goat cheese strawberries and shallots

We had to spend half a month’s paychecks to replace our car’s air-conditioning on Monday. We were sitting in the waiting area when we found out, working on our computers with the lounge’s free wifi, and we only agreed to go through with the repair after Tim had researched other options online, compared prices, realized this was the best one and I had repeated silently in my brain that “it’s only money, it’s only money” once or twice. The work that we agreed to pay for would take another four or so hours, we were told, and after only about two hours in we were hungry, so the dealership’s shuttle driver pulled up, picked us up and greeted us with a gruff, “Well, where are we going?” and barely two words more than that the whole ride. He was probably the age of or a little older than my own dad, maybe somebody’s grandpa, the kind of guy who seemed like he might smile if you knew the right thing to say (but we never figured out what that was). He played pop songs and kept the car as cold as a refrigerator, and he spent his afternoon driving single-car freelancers like us to the local Whole Foods Market. Here a girl my age was having a bad day because her personal vehicle needed a repair that she could pull from her (admittedly shrinking) savings to pay for, and a man his age was having to be the one to drive me to a place to get lunch.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about classes and wealth and poverty, not intentionally anyway. On Tuesdays like today I drop Tim off at work in Edgehill, an area in the middle of Nashville that’s filled with half-a-million-dollar renovations as well as blocks of Section 8 housing, and sometimes when I drive through the neighborhood or go to the local library, I marvel at the juxtaposition of people who can meet friends at Taco Mamacita with the people who are begging for handouts on the street. This is nothing shocking. It’s true in every city. But there are days when our two-bedroom rental feels pretty small, and there are days when it feels like a palace, just based on what I’m comparing it to in my head. I have friends on either side of the city, over in Sylvan Park or East Nashville, and to visit either I cross through areas I would have grown up calling the ghetto in order to park at their cool, clean, comfortable apartments and houses. The street Tim and I rent our house on is sweet and well cared for, with neighbors who hang out on front porches and families taking walks down the street, and some days I feel so spoiled to live on it. It’s also just a block or so off Nolensville Road, a busy strip packed with run-down retail shops. I used to think money was simple: Get a job, pay your bills, be responsible and then everything works out. But when I talk to someone who’s been out of work for a year or read the stories of girls who never knew families, I know everything’s much more complicated than that.

sliced strawberries
beautiful strawberries
lentils with walnut oil shallots and strawberries
lentils with shallots goat cheese and strawberries

Food blogging is such a luxury hobby. Generally speaking, it’s done by affluent people with good jobs and good paychecks who have extra time to devote to something they enjoy. That’s not to say all bloggers are rich or that blogging isn’t important but rather that, if you have an Internet connection and time to read or write blogs, you have a lot. I have a lot. I, the girl who was so emotionally worn out from our budget talks yesterday that I collapsed on the sofa when we got home and fell asleep for three hours, am enjoying this cushy lifestyle of working from home, alongside a husband who runs out to do our farm pickups while I’m sleeping, with a kitchen that is currently stocked with bags of vegetables ready for us to cook and eat. I spent the morning working at The Jam with my friend Rachel, weighing the pros and cons of selling the car and buying a different one, buying a cheap second car, keeping the one we have until it won’t drive anymore—and while these decisions are difficult, they’re luxuries, too. When we left the car dealership yesterday, I was feeling pretty down about our finances, like I would need to go take a second job or rethink our entire budget, and yet here I am with a budget to finagle and think about to begin with.

It occurs to me as I’m writing this that there are many kinds of wealth, from the obvious material wealth of houses and cars and vacation homes to the more intangible wealth of relationships and freedom and thought. There is the shocking wealth of suffering, which I have tasted, and the way unexpected joy can surround you in a time when logically you wouldn’t think it could, when you’ve lost your baby or are hated by a family member or are staring at your budget, thinking things won’t add up. There is the wealth of knowing money won’t satisfy, while not needing to hate it at the same time. There’s the better wealth, the kind the soul knows, that lays up treasure nobody sees on earth. And there is the wealth of having food to eat, any food at all, knowing it is the tool God gives you to nourish your body and keep it well.

Lentils with Shallots, Strawberries, and Goat Cheese

By: FoodLovesWriting.com

Serving Size: 4 to 6

Lentils with Shallots, Strawberries, and Goat Cheese

Like most cities on earth, this lentil salad is the juxtaposition of spare and luxurious---with a base of economical lentils that's topped by soft goat cheese and fresh strawberries. It is Tim's creation, and I never got to try it, so I'll give you his thoughts on it instead of my own:

from Tim: "Basically I hadn't had lentils in a long time and had kind of missed them. I love the way goat cheese pairs with lentils, and, because of the abundance of fruit this time of year, I thought strawberries (and balsamic) would really tie this dish together. And I was right! I loved it. I don't think anyone else ate any. But I liked it."

This guy. He makes me feel rich indeed.


  • 1 1/2 cups organic dried French lentils (or, 3 cups cooked lentils)
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1-2 ounces soft goat cheese (chèvre)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • Black pepper, to taste


Start by cooking the lentils: Place lentils in stockpot with two to three cups of water (water should cover lentils), and resist the urge to add salt since that will increase cooking time and prevent lentils from softening. Bring mixture to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer on low heat. Be sure to check that they do not boil over while covered (release the steam once in a while). Cook until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. Drain lentils (depending on the age of your lentils, cooking may take longer).

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, sauté shallots in walnut oil for 5 to 10 minutes, until fragrant and starting to brown. Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, stir and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add reserved, cooked lentils, which will deglaze the pan. Add sea salt, stir for 15 to 30 seconds and remove the pan from heat.

Place lentil mixture in a large serving bowl. Add small dollops of goat cheese and sliced fresh strawberries to the top, but do not mix them in. Drizzle 1 tablespoon walnut oil and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar over lentils, goat cheese and strawberries. Then, use a spoon to mix gently.

Season to taste with additional sea salt and pepper, as desired. Lentils are best served immediately or at least on the same day due to the strawberries in the mixture.


French Lentils with Tomatoes, Marcona Almonds and Goat Cheese

French lentils with marcona almonds and goat cheese

As soon as we left Tim’s birthday lunch at Table 3 last week, we began plotting ways to re-create part of our appetizer: the savory lentils beneath our crispy duck confit. I am telling you, these lentils were something else: soft but not mushy, loaded with flavor, concrete proof that lentils will take on the character of whatever you mix them with.

thyme on a cutting board

It kind of cracked me up the way were talking about it—Was that tarragon, or was it thyme? Did you catch that little bit of sweetness in the beginning? The oil is just right!—because, seriously, for as long as I can remember, this has been something my mom does: she loves the lamb stew she orders at a restaurant, so the next day she’s buying lamb at the meat counter. I make her a crustless quiche, so she’s blending eggs and spinach the very day she gets back home.

making lentils

And I guess that makes me my mother’s daughter because, even beyond the lentils, I’ll be darned if half our wedding wasn’t the result of someone else’s great idea on Pinterest. The unmatching vintage plates? Something I saw on a blog or in a magazine. The banquet-style tables? Something someone else did, too. Now, from the burlap wreath on our front door to the way our dining chairs don’t match, I’m always pulling from someone else’s concept, riffing on it to make it my own.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s any real creativity possible in the world—I draw inspiration from so many sources and places; is it even possible to come up with ideas without it?

tomatoes cooking lentils cooking

As for these lentils: by the time we’d left our afternoon movie, we’d narrowed down most of the ingredients we thought we’d tasted, and so we picked them up at the store. I kept telling Tim how great it would be to get this recipe right because lentils are so cheap and so simple and yet they’re one of those foods I’ve always been a little intimidated by, as if making them well was reserved for the Really Good Cook.

lentils with tomatoes, marcona almonds and goat cheese

So here is what we did. Saturday, I soaked the lentils overnight; yesterday morning, Tim cooked them in water and set them aside. Then, in the afternoon, in the course of maybe 20 minutes total, we set to work: heating oil, adding tomatoes and almonds and thyme, combining this mixture with the lentils and topping the whole thing with goat cheese.

two bowls of lentils lentils with tomatoes


I think the first words out of my mouth were something like, They’re just like those lentils!

lentils for one

And this, while maybe not a mark of creativity, in my mind was a real success.

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