Bid Adieu To Takeout With These Authentic Asian Kitchen Staples

Takeout meals are a cornerstone, if not a necessary evil, in a modern girl’s life. During weeks when meal prep is a categorical impossibility, an Uber Eats delivery guy with a bag of piping hot pho is like a knight in shining armor… until you add up the cost. With the fees and gratuity, dinner adds up to a figure as whooping as the calories  – the average takeout Chicken Pad Thai clocks in at over 700 calories. I’ve made it a lifestyle priority to keep delivery to a minimum. I can make my own hummus, quinoa bowls, and even tacos, but I’ve yet to master the cuisines I crave the most. 

The umami, spicy, sweet, and fragrant flavor profiles that Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian food have given us are elusive without culinary training, either professionally or from a fave Asian Auntie. The challenge is as much about technique as sourcing the right ingredients. Even in New York, the fresh lemongrass, thai chilis, and kaffir limes essential to Thai and Vietnamese are hard to find. For authentic Indian curries, the dizzying list of spices – cardamom pods, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, and curry leaves – requires serious shopping. To keep my temptations at bay, I’m ecstatic I’ve found a few shortcuts that allow indulging my favorite meals with fewer calories right at home.


Let’s start with noodles, soups, and the balanced, flavorful broths that typically require hours of simmering. Nona Lim, inspired by the female founder’s upbringing in Singapore – the foodie destination known for Asian street foods – offers several delicious, umami broths, as well as fresh and instant authentic noodles. If craving a creamy Tom Kha Gai, fragrant with lemongrass, the best-selling Coconut Lime Chicken Bone Broth is an easy meal with the addition of chicken, shrimp, tofu, and veggies and Nona Lim’s fresh Pad See Ew Rice noodles. 

If not concerned about gluten, the Spicy Chicken Ramen Bone Broth and Miso Ramen Broth pair perfectly with the bouncy and thin fresh Ramen Noodles, prepared according to a traditional recipe  – with kansui, a natural alkaline mineral water. The broths are also available as Heat and Sip Cups in Coconut Lime Chicken Bone Broth, Turmeric Chicken Bone Broth, and Indian Lentil. At under 200 calories per serving, they are the perfect light lunch or pick me up. If hungry for carbs, Nona Lim makes it easy to cook Thailand’s most beloved street food with the Pad Thai Starter Kit. A vegan (fish sauce-free) sauce packet, sweet and bright with tamarind is portioned for one, as well as the traditional medium-sized noodles.

Nona Lim recently launched a new line of Instant Noodle Bowls and Heat & Serve Entrees based on an even wider array of regional Asian flavors and beloved dishes. The Sichuan Spicy Mala Instant Noodle Bowl harnesses the unmistakable, tingling of Sichuan peppercorns. Just add boiling hot water for a nourishing meal with a spicy kick. Additional Instant Noodle Bowl flavors include Fujian Shrimp and Yunnan Mushroom. If craving a more substantial meal, Filipino Pork Adobo, hearty chunks of pork belly in a punchy, vinegar soy sauce only requires five minutes in a saucepan to heat and serve. The same applies to the Singaporean Chicken Curry. The antibiotic-free chicken thighs in fragrant coconut curry, like all Nona Lim dishes, are free of MSG, dairy, and preservatives.

Red Boat Fish Sauce, the dark golden, anchovy-and-salt-based elixir coveted and lauded by chefs and foodies alike, is the signature ingredient needed to capture the flavors of SouthEast Asia. This staple ingredient in Tom Yum, Pho, and every curry is liquid gold – it boosts the flavor of everything. In addition to a variety of fish sauces, some aged in Bourbon and Maple barrels for the ultra connoisseur, Red Boat has recently launched a set of sauces for an authentic taste of Vietnamese home cooking. Just add fish, chicken, or pork to Vietnamese Simmer Sauce for the famed sweet caramel dishes, like Ca Kho (Caramel Catfish) seen at your local Pho shop.

For a richer and spicier flavor profile, Vietnamese Lemongrass Curry, in a base of coconut milk and lemongrass delivers a fresh citrus, umami zing perfect for chicken thighs and shrimp. If serious spice is on your mind, the Spicy Vietnamese Lemongrass Curry combines chilis with fish sauce and lemongrass for quite the palate pick-me-up. Just simmer for 20 minutes with the protein and veggies of choice, even chickpeas, and serve with jasmine rice for a dinner that rivals takeout.

If Chicken Tikka, Spinach Paneer, and Chana Masala are what your usual takeout order contains, the wide collection of pre-made curries, daals and rice packets from Tasty Bite will streamline your life. With a long list of non-GMO  ingredients sourced and prepared from traditional, authentic recipes in India, the offerings are vegan-friendly and health-forward. Ready in just 2 minutes in the microwave, the bestsellers from this 25-year-old brand include Bombay Potatoes, Organic Turmeric Rice, and Veggie Tikka Masala. In addition to Chickpea Protein Bowls in Indian and Madras styles, Tasty Bite makes several simmer sauces for more leisurely nights. Saute chicken or lamb with Butter Chicken and Korma sauces for a heartier meal in just 10 min. There’s even a Spicy Vindaloo Simmer Sauce for the brave at heart. 

An inexpensive culinary trip through Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and India from the comfort of home is really that simple.

Gesha-Marie Bland


Not bland at all. Gesha-Marie Bland is an essayist, Vanity Fair-published film and television writer, and unrepentant beauty junkie who jumpstarted her career at NYU’s Master’s Program in Cinema Studies. In homage to her beauty icons Jeanne Moreau, Dolly Parton, and Grace Jones, she is forever in search of the perfect cat-eye liner, a killer pair of heels, and unforgettable statement accessories. Currently NYC-based, this dual American-French citizen still wears all-black and has a soft spot for clean beauty, pharmaceutical-grade actives, and most ingredients sourced from vineyards in the south of France. She loves New Wave cinema, Mary Gaitskill’s fiction, Spain, and matcha double-shots. After selling "The Ripper," her Alexander McQueen-Issie Blow biopic to the Cannes-winning production company Maven Pictures, she remains convinced fashion and couture are the next frontiers for edgy cinematic stories.