Give Your Instant Noodles an Instant Makeover

Instant noodles have always been a survival kit essential. But there is so much more you can do with them.

Sayoni Bhaduri

Even if you love to hate it, it is impossible that you don't have fond memories of slurping noodles.  A tasty treat that is fast to cook, Maggi has, for the longest time, been the go-to comfort food for days when you need a quick fix to curb your hunger pangs. And why should it not? Despite being a Swiss product, the name has become ingrained in the Indian psyche by local customisation and with a three-decade long domination of hearts and the market. In fact, world over, the Maggi Masala tastemaker has developed a fan following unlike any. Although, the ‘2-minute’ disclaimer is misleading, because it takes much longer to cook, even inside a microwave—we've checked!

It’s addictive. A guilty pleasure. The lifeline for boarding school students and bachelors living away from family. Maggi is comfort food redefined—perfect for rainy days, midnight hunger pangs and quick fix meals. You will always find a packet or two lying in the pantry. According to the World Instant Noodles Association, India is the fourth-largest instant noodles market, globally, and accounted for 5.4 billion servings in 2017. Consistent growth, and an ever-growing consumer acceptance have made this market a lucrative option for various players. While Maggi will always be the top-of-the-mind instant noodle brand in India, the  market today is flooded with alternatives—Nissin’s Top Ramen, Wai Wai, ITC’s Yippee and Knorr’s Soupy Noodles. There are some Asian brands, too, such as Koka and Samyang. Personally, Wai Wai takes the crown, mostly because it is partially cooked and can be eaten as is, namkeen-style.

Although convenient and delicious, instant noodles is the most common processed food made with maida, and while their nutritional quotient is questionable, it doesn’t mean you can’t add a dash of health to your noods! So whether you like to drink your noods or toss them up, here are some simple ways to spruce up your instant noodles.

Add Veggies

This is the easiest way to add nourishment to your noods. Frozen veggies are an easy way to go about it. But if you want to keep things authentic,  chop up some onion and garlic and saute them quickly, before you go about making the noodles the regular way. You can also add capsicum, leafy greens and sprouts. The options are endless! 

Add Proteins

Addition of boiled chicken and broth is the simplest way to spruce up your instant noodles. But you can go crazy with leftover kebabs, and gravies from your last home delivery meal. You can also experiment with minced meat or kheema masala. This will not only help make it more nutritious, but also lend an oomph to the noods. Eggs are another easy protein to add—think chopped boiled eggs, a sunny side up, scrambled eggs or egg bhurji. If you’re feeling indulgent, add chopped fried bacon; you can never go wrong with bacon!

Add Fat

It may sound odd, but ghee adds earthiness and tastes delicious. Butter is another alternative, everything tastes better with butter. A splash of bacon grease is also another way to add flavour to your instant noodles.

Add Seasoning

Chilli flakes, oregano, finely chopped fresh coriander and even a little garam masala are a good way re-imagine your instant noods.

Noods with a Twist

Noodles Pakora
Image: Courtesy
Cook your instant noodles as instructed on the packaging. Add finely chopped onions, chilli and masalas as per your liking. Now you can use besan batter, similar to aloo bhajiyas and then deep fry small dumplings of batter-dipped noodles. You could also mix a little besan with the noodles itself to bind it together and shallow fry it. 

Noodles Dosa

You must be aware of the very quirky Chinese dosa, ubiquitous at street food stalls across India. So, why not make it at home? Just make sure your noods are sticky and flavoured well, place a spoonful in your homemade dosa, fold and devour.

Noodles Pizza

Image: Courtesy
The hack to this will depend on whether you love toppings or the base, because your instant noodles can work as both. Take that for versatility! For a noodles pizza base, cook your instant noodles as per instructions and layer the warm noodles on an oiled pan. On low heat allow the bottom to crisp up; try and flip the noodles so that both sides crisp up; if you can’t, that’s okay, too. Now spread your pizza sauce along with your choice of toppings. Don’t forget the cheese! Cover with a lid till the cheese melts.

Alternatively, replace traditional toppings on a pizza with instant noodles, garnish with veggies and cheese. Cook in the oven for a few minutes and serve.

Noodles Bhel

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Our love for chat is undying and so an instant noodles bhel concoction is a must. Crush your instant noodles and dry roast on a pan till they become lightly brown. Now finely chop onions, tomato, coriander and mix with the roasted noodles along with lime juice and the tastemaker from the noods packet. 

Noodles Burger

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Ramen burgers were all the rage few years ago. They are reasonably simple to put together. Cook the noodles according to the instructions. Take a ring mould and place it on a pan. Heat a little oil and place a layer of noodles and fry. Take the ring mould off and fry the other side. Voila! You have to noodle patty. Assemble it with lettuce, tomato, fried eggs, bacon, or anything else that your heart desires.

Instant Noodles Ramen

By far, the most popular option when it comes to giving instant noodles a new life is the ramen bowl. Use stock or broth as a base to which you may or may not add the tastemaker. Boil the noodles in the broth and keep them aside in a deep bowl. Pour the broth in to the bowl till the noodles are just about submerged. Arrange your toppings on top of the noodles. This could range from fried mushrooms, blanched bok choy (you can blanch them in the broth), boiled/grilled chicken and boiled or fried egg to toasted sesame seeds and chopped spring onions. 

How creative are you with your instant noods? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.

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