More Indian kid favorites include papadum (lentil wafers that can be crisped in the microwave and substituted for chips) and what Singla calls “chickpea poppers,” cooked or canned chickpeas sprinkled with salt, garam masala and oil, then roasted at 325 degrees for 25 minutes. Salads can take on an Indian flavor with whole beans or lentils and a dressing of oil, lemon and a little toasted cumin seed.
The good news? Many of these items are available pre-made at Indian grocers.
The Filipino fiambrera is similar to a tiffin, says Amy Besa, author of Memories of Philippine Kitchens. It’s simply a stacked, stainless steel container.
Chicken adobo, the Philippines’ signature dish, holds wide appeal for children, Besa says.
Adobo, usually a saucy dish of chicken or pork braised in vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, bay leaves and black peppercorns, is easily adapted for the lunchbox as a dry version, she adds.
Braise the meat in the mixture, making sure to go light on the soy sauce. Remove the meat, then simmer the sauce until reduced and thick. Spoon a dollop of the thickened sauce over the meat and stick it under the broiler until it’s caramelized. Send it to school on a bed of fluffy white rice, paired with cold tomato and cucumber salad sprinkled with vinegar.
Nearly every culture has a savory hand pie that works as a quick and tasty lunch, says Rebecca Federman, culinary librarian at the New York Public Library, from spiced Jamaican beef patties and flaky Latin American empanadas to Indian samosas and Cornish pasties. And don’t forget Italian calzones and Jewish knishes. Best yet, they all taste delicious at room temperature.
To make hand pies at home, fold a stuffing of your choice into pre-made empanada wrappers (sold frozen at most supermarkets), wonton skins or refrigerated pie dough. Or, make it even easier: Pick them up at your local ethnic bakery or grocer or in the frozen food section of many grocers.