• Salmon salad bowl (Simon & Schuster Australia)Source: Simon & Schuster Australia
Pokē bowls, curry bowls, pasta bowls, soup bowls, sushi bowls, breakfast bowls and bliss bowls: every single one of them delivers a hug along with your meal.
29 Sep 2021 - 10:38 AM  UPDATED 29 Sep 2021 - 10:38 AM

--- See Donna Hay make her cauliflower rice bowl, along with other recipes using her tips and tricks to make everyday meals easier and tastier in Donna Hay Everyday Fresh, Thursdays 7.30pm from 16 September on SBS Food Channel 33. Episodes will be available at SBS n Demand for 30 days after they air. ---


It's little wonder that cuisines across the globe have their own version of 'the bowl'. You can cuddle up to a bowl of food. Eschew the table and nurse it gently in your lap while you chat or tend the fire, read or watch the telly. Bowls are nourishing and comforting and generally filled with good-for-you fare.

Take a trip with us across meal times and timelines to celebrate the simple joy that is bowl food.

Australian cauliflower rice bowl 

This quick bowl - ready in about 15 minutes! - comes from Donna Hay. "My favourite new way to make cauliflower rice is to simply grate it on a trusty box grater. No need to drag out the food processor every time. It’s one of those things I wish I’d discovered sooner. So easy that I now make it much more often," she says. Here, panfried rice flavoured with garlic and oregano is matched with baby spinach and crispy eggs with chilli. 

Palestinian soup

Chicken soup is an international language.

Soup is surely the original bowl food and is still the best way to eat a meal sans table. There's a soup for every season and occasion, but start with perfecting a few chicken soup recipes and you'll be most of the way there. Try this Palestinian soup first.

Around the world in chicken soup
There are few dishes as beloved as chicken soup – a universal source of healing that also serves up history in a bowl.

Mexican quinoa

The best bowls mix the crunch of raw ingredients with the flavour of cooked. This Aztec-inspired quinoa bowl does this so well - raw sugar snaps, zucchini, avocado and corn contrast with the chewy grains of quinoa. It's all smothered in a zesty chipotle in adobo and lime dressing.

Grainy bowling
Salmon, kale and quinoa bowls with tahini sauce
For even more healthy protein and omega-3s in this dish, you can add a tablespoon of hemp seeds to the quinoa, which will blend right in.
Bhel puri freekeh bowl

A grain bowl for when you need a taste of Mumbai in your day. Grate some fresh turmeric over to add an immunity-boosting kick.

Mexican quinoa bowl

This is one of my favourite recipes – it’s so incredibly delicious and I have to admit that I often get cravings for it! It is super quick and easy to make while the quinoa is cooking you can get started on making the mountains of fresh guacamole, creamy cashew cheese, tomato salsa and garlicky black beans. You will love the amazing mix of intense flavours!

Korean rice

If soup was the first, then rice was surely the second of the bowl foods. As proved by dishes such as this bibimbap, it just works. Like many of the bowl recipes, bibimbap has a long list of ingredients but is quite straightforward to pull together.

Ricey does it
Creamy Middle Eastern rice bowl

This creamy rice bowl is incredibly luxurious and fragrant. It is delicious served warm and silky, or the next day when it has thickened slightly.

Poached chicken and brown rice bowl

A really, simple and tasty lunch that starts with an Asian-inspired poached chicken and is finished with fresh herbs, brown rice and a sweet chilli dipping sauce. #RecipeForLife

Chicken rice bowl (soboro don)

‘Don’ is short for donburi, which is a Japanese rice bowl, and soboro means ‘crumbled meat’. This minced chicken cooked in a sweet-salty sauce with vegetables and spring onions is a quick midweek meal. - Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat

American pokē

The bowl-de-jour, pokē is a traditional Hawaiian raw fish. When served with rice and vegetables, you've got yourself a pokē bowl. It's the darling of the hipster set simply because the flavour just begs to cross-cultures and pair with pickled or fermented things like kimchi, seaweed and sauerkraut

The Aloha Way poké bowl

Hailing from Hawaii via Japan, poké champions fresh raw fish finished with tasty toppings, seasonings and extras. 

Indian curry

Millions of people across the world sit down to bowl food every night. In India, it's called dinner. Now, you could easily drown in all the amazing curry recipes available, but a fish curry like this one is a lifesaver.

Curry on bowling
Grandma's lamb curry

This curry recipe was passed down from my grandmother to my mum and it is utterly delightful. 

Noor’s Rohingyan beef curry

The kitchen is where Rohingyan women made a name for themselves and when it comes to beef curry, my mum's is second to none!

Vietnamese goat curry

The aromatic, homemade paste beautifully flavours the goat meat which is preferred for its tenderness.

Japanese chirashi

Bowls are fantastic for packing in plenty of nutrition, as this wild rice and wakame bowl proves. The thing about a bowl is that you can stuff it full of whatever you like then pour a specialist dressing over the lot. Here it's a sour umeboshi dressing that makes this entire bowl ping with life.

Bowled up
Chicken rice bowl (soboro don)

‘Don’ is short for donburi, which is a Japanese rice bowl, and soboro means ‘crumbled meat’. This minced chicken cooked in a sweet-salty sauce with vegetables and spring onions is a quick midweek meal. - Matthew Evans, For the Love of Meat


Katsu-don is an amalgamation of the Japanese words for pork cutlet (tonkatsu) and rice bowl (donburi). This popular dish is so much more than the sum of its parts. Served with a crisp green salad or sauteed vegetables, it's perfect for a mid-week dinner.

Italian pasta

Pasta has to fall under the "bowl food" banner, surely? Serving one big bowl of pasta for everyone to construct their own little bowls of pasta is the easiest entertaining solution around. You can't beat spaghetti alla carbonara for smashing in front of the box, but any of these pasta option would make perfect bowl food:

Fasta bowls
One pot penne with tuna, olives and capers

Silvia Colloca shares her family one pot pasta recipe which is full of Mediterranean flavour and a breeze to cook (and clean up).

Pasta and chickpeas with Tuscan cabbage (pasta e ceci con cavolo nero) 

Using passata for the sauce gives it a thick, soup-like consistency and yields a richer bowl of pasta.

'Green bits' pasta

If I have been busy at work and really want something comforting and healthy to eat, this is it. It's also a great way to use up vegetables. 

Thai breakfast

Every culture has some kind of bowl option for breakfast, including Thai khao tom gung, or rice congee.  Congee is eaten for breakfast across Asia, as both a sweet or savoury dish. Another recent addition to the breakfast bowl phenomenon is the smoothie bowl, which is worth experimenting with:

Smooth delivery
Carrot cake smoothie bowl

A lot of smoothies are high in sugar; this one makes a a better start to the day with fresh vegetables and fruit, walnuts for omega-3s and oats to keep you going for longer. 

Avocado & matcha smoothie bowl

This bowl was inspired by my travels in Vietnam, where avocado is often used in delicious smoothies. Avocado is an intriguing and totally underrated ‘sweet’ ingredient. 

Acai smoothie bowl with crunchy granola

Acai (pronounced a-sigh-ee) berries are a Brazilian superfood high in antioxidants. The fruit comes from a palm tree and resembles blueberries in appearance. 


Australian salad

Salmon salad bowl

Borrowing from every bowl recipe ever created, the ubiquitous 'salad bowl' is basically just a deconstructed sushi-pokē-pasta-rice mash-up. And it's pretty darn perfect. 

Keep on bowling
Lentil breakfast bowl

A healthy, low-carb start to your day that's laced with creamy feta and a zesty sumac and lemon dressing. 

5 lunches that will bowl you right over
Breakfast bowls might be all the rage, but we're bringing life into the lunch arena with these flavourful, textural and health-full creations. From the Middle East to Mexico, these globally inspired ideas will have the whole (home) office envious. (Of course, you can eat them for breakfast, too!)
Mini falafel bowl

A healthy vegetarian bowl of homemade mini falafel, shredded cabbage and carrot salad and dollops of spiced yoghurt, a fresh and wholesome feed.

Stir-fried lettuce bowl with ginger fried rice and fried egg

Ginger fried rice is my comfort food in every sense – my mum made this for me whenever I was feeling unwell; the dish is particularly good for settling a restless tummy and is also a proficient hangover cure.

Nacho bowls

This hands-on meal is great for kids, as not do they get to assemble their own nacho bowls—they get to eat the whole thing, bowl and all!

Chia and oat breakfast bowl

This delicious breakfast is packed full of nutrients, including antioxidants, calcium and iron. 

Creamy Middle Eastern rice bowl

This creamy rice bowl is incredibly luxurious and fragrant. It is delicious served warm and silky, or the next day when it has thickened slightly.