Monday, January 25, 2010

Indian inspired bento & CONTEST TIME! :D

I know, I know - I really need to either make that lightbox I keep mentioning or find a better way to take my photos! :P  I picked up the small white lidded cup at the Dollar Tree on Friday - the lids seemed to fit nicely too :)

For those of you packing bento for children, they also had the Disney ice packs, meant for little accidents, but would be great for chilling bento :)

I decided to go with the snapware lunch container rather than a traditional bento box for this one so that I could fit in the vegetable samosas I made without taking up half a tier in a bento box and.or smashing/breaking them.  I also think it's a good idea not to get too caught up in having to have an actual bento box in order to pack a bento style meal :)

I actually was in a cooking mood on Saturday and took advantage of the feeling by making Indian food for dinner.  Although I prefer the saucy Indian dishes that I can mix into the rice, Rob almost always orders the tandoori - and it's not difficult to make (especially with a jar of pre-made tandoori paste! lol).

Since I actually took photos of dinner for my FB food diary, I think I'll start by sharing that :)

Here we have the chicken ready for the oven and then right out of the oven - yum!

I marinaded the chicken in a gallon sized ziplock bag for about 7 hours - longer would have been better though.  I had forgotten to score the breasts before marinading and did so before baking and rubbed a bit of the marinade into the cuts, then topped with onion and lemon slices and baked at 450 degrees until a meat thermometer registered 165 degrees - these breasts were huge, and with the red marinade, it becomes difficult to tell when the juices run clear, so I felt more comfortable using the meat thermometer.  I was amazed how little bone there was on these breasts!

I usually buy frozen vegetable samosas, but since I haven't been to the Indian grocery in a while, I decided to make them.  I had gotten dumpling wrappers at Hong Kong Supermarket on Friday, so I decided to use them for the samosas - so they look a bit like gyoza. :)

I didn't measure the ingredients, but the ingredients were:

Vegetable Samosas

3 smallish potatoes, boiled and roughly mashed
1/2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and smashed up a bit
maybe 1/2 cup frozen green peas
a couple Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
maybe a tsp or so garam masala
maybe 1/2 tsp each:
 ground cilantro
curry powder
garlic salt
ground cumin

Just mix the potatoes, beans and peas and add all the spices to your taste, place a wrapper in the palm of your hand, place about a Tbs and a half filling (guessing, I didn't measure it) in the center and press a little with your fingers, have a small dish of water ready and use fingers to wet the edge of the top half of the wrapper and fold over the filling and press to seal.  Or use a dumpling press, mine seems to have run away somewhere...

I brushed half with a little canola oil and baked in the oven with the chicken, turning occasionally and keeping an eye on them until nicely browned.  The edges were a little crunchy, but I thought they were yummy :)  The other half were deep fried in our deep fryer.

Rob's plate is on the left and mine on the right.  I had found pappadum in a can at the grocery store and decided to give them a try.  We also have brown basmati rice and grilled onion.  In the sauce cups are cilantro mint chutney and a makeshift onion chutney for the samosas and pappadum respectively.  It was a very good and filling dinner :)

When Rob saw that there were samosas left, he actually expressed an interest in seeing them in today's bento :)  So, since he won't have access to a microwave today, I decided to use some of a tandoori chicken breast on a salad. 

I topped the organic lettuce mix with the tandoori slices and then added tomato roses and thinly sliced carrot flowers.  He has a ginger dressing (a vinaigrette style) to go with it.

In one side of the divided tier, I arranged the samosas that I had crisped back up in the toaster oven and the food cup of chutneys, then filled in spaces with the pappadum and pea pods and added a couple grapes just for a little color.

As far as plain boxes go, I have always loved this one.  I love that it fits 3 silicone cups the way it does.  Once I put the cups in, I filled the center one with carrot salad I threw together quickly.  This was the first time I've ever made this.  I've never had it, but a couple months ago, Rob bought some at Delicious Orchards and I had been thinking about picking up more.  Since I had bought a bag of the shredded carrots at the Asian market, I decided to just make some myself - it was so easy, it would be silly to buy it :)

I added the red and yellow pepper strips to one cup and blackberries and blueberries to the other to finish it up.

Again, I didn't really measure, but here is the carrot salad recipe - adjust the amounts as necessary...

Carrot Salad

About a cup shredded carrots
1/8-1/4 cup raisins
1/4 of a good size apple - I used granny smith
1/2-1 Tbs lemon juice
1/8-1/4 cup mayo (I use a light mayo)
maybe 1 Tbs honey

Just mix it all together, tasting and adding lemon juice and or honey as needed.

OK - now on to what we've all been waiting for - The contest/drawing! :)  lol

Here's what I've decided to do:
In the comments below this post, please share your favorite bento resource(s).
It can be specific blog(s), books, websites, sources for products etc. It can even just be your best tips!  I just want you to share!  And why it's a good resource or tip would also be great :)

The deadline for comments will be Saturday, Jan 30, so you have about 5 days.  I will do a random drawing from the comments on Sunday and post the winner.  Please check back to see if you've won - if you have provided your email address, I will also let the winner know by email, but I know not everyone wants to post that information. 
Once the winner has been announced, they will need to email me at with the shipping information etc.

Now for the fun part!  The prize :)  I am giving the winner a choice between 2 bento sets - the winner needs to choose one or the other:

Each set includes the box, belt and bag and the bunny and bear egg molds and the cookie cutters.  The clickety click bunny set will include matching chopsticks and case, while the tenmari set will include the penguin sauce bottles.  I know, it's a tough choice! :)
International folks, if you win - I will send via the slowest, cheapest boat out there - but you will get it :)
I plan to do another contest when/if I ever get to 50 followers which will be a nicer set, so keep 'em coming! :)
Thanks again to all my new followers and readers!
Happy Bento-ing!


  1. Aside from your blog, I get inspiration from blogs like: Happy Little Bento, hapa bento, Lunch in a Box, Just Hungry, Just Bento, etc, etc (so far, I'm subscribed to 31 blogs)... I also love the photo streams on Flickr: Just Bento Pool and the Bento Gear Pool. It's neat to see all of the different ways people arrange their meals. I also enjoy finding new recipes to try out! Thanks for all of your hard work and for sharing your ideas! ~Marnie Grace

  2. Thanks Grace - and good luck in the drawing! :)

  3. Thanks for posting a contest! How fun! I really like Bento TV ( ) and just in general, I look for very small and cute foods I can work with when I grocery shop. This week I stumbled across some adorable mini-bananas, of all things!


  4. Thanks Amanda - I always forget about bento tv :) I've seen the baby bananas but have never bought them - maybe someday I'll give them a go :)

  5. There are lots of bento blogs that I follow, but I have to say I enjoy Livejournal's "BentoLunch" for that fact that it can combine so many bento experts into one convenient area. Not only can I keep up with people's blogs, it's a great sounding board resource where people just getting into bento can ask questions and begin to start their own lunch projects.

    I also found a website called just a couple weeks ago. It has a great collection of food blogs, and while they aren't always bento related, on thing I've learned is that any food can be put into a bento (one way or another). So I've been delving through the search engines looking for delicious Asian foods that I can pack and I'm finding this to be a great source.

  6. Thanks Ella! :) Bento Lunches is great - That's where I first started posting and I still try to be sure to post them there also.

    For those not familiar:

  7. My favorite thing in the world is my sandwich maker/press. not only can I make tasty sandwiches without crusts and sealed sandwich pockets, but I LOVE to make Stuffed french toast with it! stuff the two slices of bread with strawberry and banana chunks and press, then fry up like french toast! Its fairly healthy and CUTE when cut diagonally!

  8. Great idea and sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. I agree with the above poster--the LJ bento community is a really nice source of inspiration~

  10. I really enjoy using twitter for keeping up to date with all the bento news these days :) Everything is just a click away and it fits perfectly into my daily routine :)

  11. these recipes are making me DROOL... thank you! and beautiful indian-inspired bento :0)

    there are a number of great bento tools websites out there (i particularly like "from japan with love"), but i find myself going to amazon because there are so many individual sellers who sell through there, because being under the amazon umbrella usually means reliable, and because i have an amazon credit card that i can charge it to, hee hee!

  12. Ive only started making bentos in 2010 (25 days and counting!!), but i used to devour maki's .Started to discover other bento blogs like yours jyst very recently ,and i love the fact that bentos doesnt have to mean japanese food!

    Thanks again for holding this giveaway!

  13. Well, the Lj bento community is a fantastic resource all by itself! and i am very fond of SS_biggie..
    i found that even when i have no time to make my bento "pretty" the use of attractive picks and small decorations can make me smile. i found that i can find "cocktail forks" and "appetizer picks" at all sorts of places, from Pier one, to sears! some of them are just pointy things, some more like forks. but they can be used as decorative skewers, forks, or what not in any bento.

    cookie cutters
    i can cut cheese, mold rice, trace shapes with them, cut sandwiches.. oh almost anything! and cookie cutters are much easier to find than the specialty bento cutters here. you may need to just use the cutter to make an impression in tough vegetables, then cut with kitchen knife or shears though...

  14. Originally I got into bentoing through (I'm afraid it's German, but the pictures are the most important thing =) )
    It's a rather European adaption of bento but I like the ideas.

    After that I got into the community "bentolunch" on livejournal which was mentioned here allready.
    There are so many great ideas in this community and many great bloggers post there (as you obviously do as well <3 )


  15. Ok, here are my usual stomping grounds when it comes to bento. I love the following:
    3. I<3 Pikko ^.^
    4. Jlist! They have the craziest stuff.. but careful.. it tends to be expensive.
    5. If too expensive.. I hop over to Amazon and eBay.
    6. If those are too expensive even still.. I hop over to my local Uwajimaya. Every time I am there to find some Bento stuff I end up reading the books they have on different good bento foods and arrangements. <3<3<3

    On a side note.. after I read this posting I ran over to the Asian market and grabbed some of the premade tandoori paste and some chicken. HECK YES I AM EXCITED. My fiance will enjoy his lunches this week.

  16. I have been learning from the #bento hashtag on twitter! I try to keep a good blogroll on my bento efforts as well!

    I have been learning that I can find bento items ALL over! I didn't think about trying the dollar store though- I will have to look there!

  17. We are just getting started in bento, bought our first container yesterday to do until we have a traditional bento box. Once I clean them later today, I'll be packing husband's first bento lunch! I happened to google search it in curiousity and then ran into the bentolunch comm in someone's profile shortly thereafter.

    I really love the way you lay out the receipes and how (some of) the cooked ingredients got to the bento box. Not to mention Indian food is amazing! I have been a little shy of trying it, myself, but I'll have to see if google can turn up a good tandoori recipe I can do (no Indian grocer for 3 hours!)


  18. Oops as a more official contest entry, right now the thing I check most is the bentolunch community on LJ but I'm slowly adding blogs to my blog list. I really need to learn how to do an rss feed!

  19. We like Lunch in a Box and Bento Central. My DDs like to look through their Manga Cookbook and Kawaii Bento Boxes cookbooks for ideas. Of course, we also spend part of our evening reading through all the bento blogs (like yours!) new posts. :)


  20. Your tandoori chicken and Indian gyozas are inspirational. Kashmirkat! I'm really hungry now! I find that the Flickr bento pools are an excellent source of bento ideas and inspiration, as are wonderful sites like yours! Keep up the great work! :)

  21. Elena black.heart.romance@hotmail.comMonday, January 25, 2010 at 6:41:00 PM EST

    Oh. My favourite Bento thing must be silicone cups! Oh, silicone cup, how I love thee. I use 'em everyday, if I can get away with it. ;)

  22. I like the idea of using the Snap n Stack! As soon as I locate one I'll pick it up. I like to take a nice salad along with my regular meal and that would work nicely. =)

    Lovely bentos! =)

  23. I love justbento and the bentolunch community at livejournal.

    justbento is great because of the recipe section and how it's organized. It's really helpful that I can click on the categories when I only have certain ingredients in the house. is great because I get to see a lot of different people's styles every day. It allows me to get inspiration and try a lot of different bento techniques out.

  24. Oh my gosh Kidlet and I loooove Indian food and yours looks delicious!! I'm going to have to try making the veggie samosas...mmmmm! Thanks for the recipe :D

    I agree about bento not needing to be in a particular container....I think that is often one of the things that keeps people from beginning because they think they need to use a bento box! Your bento looks delicious!

    For tips about bento I always go to first. Even tho she isn't posting regularly anymore it is an amazing resource of tips and tricks!

  25. Thanks for all the great comments so far!
    The girls and I just got back from a bento workshop for teens at the public library. I was told they could use some help, so I decided to show up and lend a hand where I could :)

    The box used in this post was from - but I'm not seeing it on there now...

  26. I think I started looking at Lunchinabox, and when Ichibankan had it's online store... I love surfing bento blogs, and I have my own, too! I do less traditional bentos, but I love to see the more traditional things, too.

    I love the pink bunny box!

  27. im taking ur Vegetable Samosas recipe as a reference! (^^)y★ since my mummy likes it, would like to do that for her, someday! plus, ur recipe seems easiler than the ones, i saw in other sites!

    the site i usually freq for bento making, besides the LJ comm are: (they give u picture instruction at times!)

    haha! as u can see...mostly are from ameblo users...because my journal is there, its easiler for me to bookmarked sites over there as well! (^^') although, its in japanese, some of the instructions are simple to understand with the pictures, and the cute bento arranging are really cute for non-japanese speaking people to understand them! ★(^^)y♪

  28. first I have to say OMG YAY I love your bentos! you do such a good job w/those silicon cup thingos! I think all my bento boxes so far are too small to really utilize those.

    to answer your question, I loves me the lj bentolunch community (which is how I found your blog), and "just bento" has been a FANTASTIC resource for quick-reference "how do I do that?" stuff. I also bought a book on bentos ("kawaii bento boxes" by joie staff) that REALLY got me geared up to make some awesome lunches. I just got "the manga cookbook" and it has some bits on bento making, which I haven't used yet but hope to pull inspiration from soon, too.

    also also, I love your tomato roses. :D yay!

  29. I get inspiration from blogs. I've just recently run across yours and I'm really liking the fact that you use a lot of American foods.

  30. Great contest and beautiful bento sets! Those veggie samosas look fantastic. :D

  31. Bento Central--it has everything! :P Great resource to find lots of very cool ideas and bento blogs (it's how I found yours :) )

    The bf loves Indian food--I'll have to try these recipes sometime! They look sooo good!

  32. I have my top websites for different things...

    For tips and tricks it's definitely lunchinabox lunch can beat up your lunch
    Amusement...freakintastybento. I do wish he was still posting...
    For products...ebay. Can't beat the selection.

    I'm actually subscribed to about 15 bento blogs now, and it's steadily growing.

  33. I love the new Bento Central, where I can see highlights of new posts from many blogs! Its where I found your blog also. I can't wait to try some of your recipes.

  34. I have just started really looking into doing it recently.
    I have had a few problems with the lids on the little white container you showed. I usually just wrap a little piece of plastic wrap aroud it to hold it shut, but it could just have been me.

  35. hello, I am new to bento so I have done alot of googling to find things out there. I don't have may blogs that I follow however, I have found Just Bento and yours of course. We live were there isn't anything bento at all so I have been looking at all of my cookbooks to see what I can adapt. I love to see what is posted at flickr also, it gives great ideas. thank you for your blog!

  36. I love the boxes you put tandoori chicken in! Unfortunately my country doesn't have practical containers to put food in, usually too big or too tall, but i managed to find one.
    I follow about 30 bento/bento related/food blogs at the moment, which include:
    - Anna The Red's Bento Factory;
    - Bento Central;
    - Bento lunches & Bento challenge;
    - Bentolicious;
    - Adventures in Bentomaking.

    I posted the names of some I hadn't seen in the post yet (I might've missed some)

    I really love soy sauce containers and small things. Since it's not sold in my country, to get 2 bottles (one for me other for my bf) I had to go to a "fast-food" place and beg the lady to get me another bottle "because I use too much soy sauce in my sushi" :D
    The sushi itself was horrible but I got the bottles!

    Thank you for the event!

  37. Thanks for the samosas recipe! I wonder if it'll work with wrappers.

    I take inspiration from the many cookbooks I own, a friend who first got me hooked on bento, and from sites like, bentocentral, Bentolicious, and annathered.

    As for the giveaway, I'd love the blue version since most of the stuff given away is pretty much nonexistent here.

    (Sorry if it is a double post, the connection is pretty bad)

  38. Thanks again to everyone who has commented since last night! Wow, I am pleasantly surprised with the number of people reading my blog - Yay! :)

    Sorry I haven't been replying individually since the first couple - gotta work sometime - lol :)

  39. Like others I would say that LJs bentolunch gives me many ideas! I bought my bento box and some supplies from JBox but I would agree that they are not the cheapest. So I would say that my best resource for additional bento bits & pieces has been Michaels! I have found various cutters, silicon cups, cookie molds which imprint designs & if you catch them at the right time you can either use a coupon or get stuff in the sales!

  40. I know it's been said before, but Just Bento is one of my absolute favorite sites. It's made for the speed-bento in mind, so she usually includes things like how long something lasts in a freezer and about how long it takes to make, which, for those of us who are throwing a bento together in the morning, is important.

    I'm also really fond of, because of the adorableness (and yet simplicity for the most part) of her stuff. She's also got some great tutorials - I learned how to make tamagoyaki from her site, perfect, the first time.

    As for tips and tricks - I ALWAYS check out my local dollar store. You never know what they'll have as far as containers and cute lunch additions, and the best part is that it's cheap so if you or whoever you're making bento for happens to lose's not a huge loss.

    Tasha Costa

  41. My inspirations mostly comes from Just Bento and Adventures in Bento Making, although Bento Central is a new favorite of mine too! :)


  42. My favorite bento resources are the LJ bento comms, adventures in bento making blog, and having the time visit (not just shop) at the grocery store, to see what is new and look to see what all the carry instead of just shopping by a list. I get a lot of new ideas and creations that way!

  43. How fun, a contest....

    My favorite bento resource is Bento Lunch on LiveJournal because it links to so many different places....

  44. Bento sources, for me, are pretty varied, some days the mood will strike and I'll google 'bento' in the image search and just scroll through for an hour or so. I subscribe to several feeds Maki's JB/JH,, and of course here.
    As far as a tip, if you plan on having rice often, save up and get the best rice cooker you can afford; Buying the 20$ walmart version will let you down after frequent use.

  45. I'm actually brand new to bento and just purchased my first box a couple of days ago. I'm excited to get started! The only tip I have, I guess, is online shopping at, which is where I found what I think may be the world's perfect bento box.

  46. Thanks for the continued comments - We're going to have a lot of folks in the drawing :)

    I agree - buy a good rice cooker - I love my Zojirushi! :) is where a few of my bento boxes are from - it's a fav of mine as well - wish they'd get more in!

  47. I'm a UK based bento-er and the internet has been my best ever utility! I have met other bloggers from all over the world, I can order bento gear from Japan and I can check loads of blogs for hints and tips. I have a huge reading list over on my bento blog. I tend to try and work with traditional Japanese foods and also local produce from the UK. I pack what works well for my sprog and I. Oh and we have started to pack bento for my Mum as well (^_^) My most recent splurge was on a fuzzylogic rice cooker. So far it has been my most expensive, but the best investment. Good luck with the comp!!

  48. Seems that Blogger ate the comment I made yesterday. :(

    I'm only a bento beginner but a favorite of mine is Just Hungry and Just Bento, and occasionally I step on Bento Lunches on LJ, where I saw your blog link.

  49. I have a lot of favorite bento resources. Most of them are online blogs and websites, like, Adventures in Bentomaking, and Just Bento blogs. I also get a lot of fun Japanese recipes from the YouTube channel Cooking with Dog (it's cute too). As for books, the only bento book I have is the Manga Cookbook, which is cute with some simple recipes, but I also have a few just Japanese recipe cookbooks that I haven't really used yet, but they look promising (they are: At the Japanese Table and Japanese Homestyle Dishes). I tend to enjoy looking at bento stuff more than making it-I guess I just don't have the confidence yet, but that's why I enjoy looking at everyone's blogs and reading all about bento. It give me such inspiration. Plus, I am a super sucker for anything cute and cute food is one of my favorite things!

  50. I generally check the LJ bentolunch community every day, but I also spend some time on random recipe websites and there's been a pretty magnificent amount of inspiration there, too!

  51. I love Cooking w/ Dog - very cute :)

    I hope everyone is finding new blogs, sources and ideas from the comments :)

  52. Hello!!
    The food u prepared looks AWESOME.
    Good job and am really impressed:)

    The website i LOVE most is Adeventures in Bentomaking...Her website is

    She even wrote a book bout Bento making tips..but in her blog, she gave ideas how to prepare a nice meal, and in her blog itself, she put on links to get bento accessories and also recipe, which is really useful:)
    Hope this helps..

    Enjoy's addictive right:)

  53. Came upon your site, looking for ideas for bentos...I like the way you are trying to incorporate other culture's cuisine in the bento scene. Very creative...

  54. love the bento ideas but isn't that too heavy ?

  55. but all of it looks just fantastic and delicious like in Papas Games series. Love it! will try some of these bento for my kiddos!