They’re a food trend that popped up everywhere online last year – we’re looking at you, Pinterest – but Buddha bowls show no sign of letting up in the popularity stakes.
And when you’re getting a hearty bowlful of a comparatively healthy carb like quinoa or brown rice, topped with vegetables and maybe some lean chicken or fish – what’s not to like?
The borrowing of the Buddha’s name traces a loose connection – according to the authors of Buddha’s Diet, Dan Zigmond and Tara Cottrell, Buddha was more about eating mindfully, rather than any actual dish.
He did eat from a bowl though, and so possibly that’s why the connection to healthful, mindful eating was drawn.
“Buddha woke up before dawn every morning and carried his bowl through the roads or paths wherever he was staying. Local people would place food in the bowl as a donation, and at the end he would eat whatever he had been given,” Zigmond told epicurious.com.
“So that was the original Buddha Bowl: a big bowl of whatever food villagers had available and could afford to share. It was probably pretty healthy, since Buddha lived before the age of cheap processed food, but it was also probably pretty simple, maybe rice and a simple curry.”
Inspired by that simple dish, local lunchbox delivery service Meraki Kitchen drops off brown cardboard boxes – rather than bowls – of that same hearty simplicity every day, at RM16 a box. Inside, you’ll find a base of multi-grain rice – likeable not only for its higher fibre content, but also its nice bite and fragrance – or occasionally pasta.
This is topped with everything from sesame-roasted tofu, shredded vegetables and roasted potatoes to ginger cabbage slaw and spicy chickpeas, with chicken as the protein of choice right now. It’s done in a different style every day – grilled or roasted or curried – so there’s no sense of monotony. And depending on the offered dish, you might drizzle your rice bowl with Thai peanut curry, sesame sriracha cream sauce, or a simple herbed garlic dressing.
Started by former high school friends Ronald Tee and Colin Lim, Meraki Kitchen is pork-free, uses no MSG, and all its ingredients are from halal vendors.
“Colin will only serve the same meals he would serve to his own family,” said Tee. “And we also try to source our ingredients locally as much as possible, to support local farmers.”
“I remember the times he would invite me to his house for lunch before our co-curricular activities – those were the early stages of us ending up cooking and eating together,” said Tee.
Driven by the dual motivations of passion for food and a desire to help people eat better, the duo contemplated setting up a food truck, but finances got in the way.
“At the time, Colin was delivering healthy meals to his girlfriend for lunch and lightning struck – we realised that maybe starting a small food delivery company would make better financial sense than a food truck,” said Tee.
“This way, we still had the opportunity to feed people with good food, no matter where they were and it was within our means.”
‘Meraki’ itself is a Greek word which encapsulates putting your whole soul into what you’re doing, fuelling an endeavour with passion – fitting for two healthy eating proponents.
Meraki Kitchen’s offerings show definite international influences, from the Thai Buddha Bowl to the Japanese-inspired Hibachi Rice Bowl, to the rice bowl inspired by bruschetta (no bread in sight)!
“It’s all based on our travels, the fact that Colin’s half-French, and our own curiosity and love of food!” said Tee. “We always believe in sharing our good experiences, and for us, it’s always through food.”
Meraki currently delivers about 120 meals every weekday – the fuss-free process sees customers ordering the night before delivery, which is between 11am and 2pm. Payment is via cash on delivery.
There’s free delivery to Bangsar, Damansara Heights, Sri Hartamas and KL Sentral; other areas in KL and PJ have a RM4 delivery charge, unless you order three or more boxes.
Check out the Meraki menu or order via Facebook (merakikitchenKL), message 017-368 9615, or email firstname.lastname@example.org