Lily’s super noodles

I heart Super Noodles. There. I’ve said it. Instant noodles, Super Noodles, 2-minute noodles. Whatever you call them in your part of the world, I love them. Those one portion packets of ramen noodles that come with little sachets of seasoning and no nutritional value whatsoever. I just can’t get enough.

As kids, my sister and I would be allowed the very occasional packet for a special treat. We’d make them gleefully, carefully measuring out the water and making sure to add the magic sachet at just the right moment (don’t ask me to describe it, it’s just a sense I have).

Then I went to Bangladesh. I didn’t expect noodles – instant or no – to be a big thing in the ‘desh. Rice is the staple carb, without which you just haven’t eaten a meal, so there really didn’t seem to be a place for noodles. Cue the concept of nasta. Nasta means snack – which to me might be just a handful of nuts or a slice of toast or a biscuit. But in Bangladesh, nasta could mean anything from a few biscuits to a plate of kalo jam to a couple of poori to a steaming bowlful of instant noodles. And no matter what nasta you’d eaten, or when you’d eaten it, nasta is NEVER a substitute for dinner proper.

The noodle nasta that I came to love in Bangladesh was made by my dear friend Lily, who lived just across the road. Lily’s noodles (often referred to as just ‘Maggi’, after the Nestle-owned brand) were a world away from the sloppy-yet-delicious delights of Bachelors that Emily and I used to revel in. The ingredients would vary, but egg, green chilli and peas were a permanent feature. Lily’s noodles were always spicy, salty and deliciously moreish.

I’ve fine tuned this recipe over the last few years in an attempt to replicate Lily’s noodles. They’ll never be quite as good as Lily’s, but I think it comes close. I make this when I want something quick and tasty to eat. It’s dead cheap and simple, but not what I’d call healthy (though it’s probably more nutritious than Bachelors). You can vary the ingredients depending on what you’ve got in the fridge – it’s a really good recipe for using up leftover odds and ends of veg.

Let me know what you think!

Serves 1 (easily doubles)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

What you need

1 small onion, thinly sliced against the grain

1 packet of instant ramen noodles, with flavour sachet of your choice

225ml water (or whatever the packet suggests)

½ red pepper, diced

1 small chilli, deseeded and sliced (I use the fresh green variety but use whatever you’ve got)

¼ tsp garam masala

¼ tsp turmeric

1 large tomato, finely diced OR 2-3 small tomatoes, chopped

1 handful of frozen peas (about 1 tbsp)

1 egg, lightly beaten

Fresh coriander to serve (optional)

How to make it

  1. Heat a dessert spoonful of oil in a frying pan, then add the onion. Fry until golden brown.
  2. While the onions are frying, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (usually, about 225ml water, boiled on high for 2-3 minutes). Add about half the flavour sachet at this stage, reserving the rest for later. If you use the recommended amount of water, you shouldn’t need to drain the noodles at the end, simply remove them from the heat and set aside.
  3. When the onions are golden, add the sliced peppers and the chilli, and fry some more until softened.
  4. Add the ground spices and stir quickly, then tip in the chopped tomatoes and the peas.
  5. Once the peas have defrosted, use your spoon to make a well in the centre. Pour in the egg, and leave for a minute or two until the underside starts to cook. As soon as this happens, give the egg a little stir to scramble it, then leave for another few minutes and repeat.
  6. Now mix in the vegetables, so that the egg is well combined with them. Then tip in the cooked noodles and toss. Check the seasoning, then serve with a little fresh coriander on top.