Sunday, April 26, 2009

Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal

I originally checked 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer out from the library. But you can only make so many curries in a two-week loan period! I couldn't in good conscience keep renewing the book over and over again, even if my husband is the library director. Finally, I gave in and bought my own copy.

Now that I own the book, my goal is to make at least one curry per week. At that rate I should be able to work my way through all 660 curries in, uh ... about twelve and a half years! This week's choice is an adaptation of Black Lentils and Split Peas with Cardamom--or Chilke Waale Urad Aur Chane Ki Dal. As usual, I omitted the ghee and other oils, and changed amounts of ingredients. I doubled the amount of lentils and split peas. I served the dal with brown rice and papads Italiccrisped in the microwave (as suggested by Madhur Jaffrey).

The legumes and Indian spices can be found in Asian and international food stores. I bought mine at Global Foods in Kirkwood, MO, one of my favorite places to shop.

Black Lentil and Split Pea Dal

1 1/2 cup split black lentils

1/2 cup yellow split peas

1/2 t ground turmeric

1 onion

8 cloves garlic

chunk of fresh ginger approximately 1" x 1" x 1 1/2", sliced

3 fresh Serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed

2 t cumin seeds

1/2 t asafetida

6 cardamom pods

1 t sea salt

fresh cilantro for garnish

  • Place the lentils and split peas in a pot, and cover with cold water. Rub the beans between your fingers. When the water gets cloudy, pour the beans into a strainer, return to pot, and cover with water again. Repeat this three or four times until the water is fairly clear. Drain the beans and return to the pot.

  • Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Skim off and discard the foam that forms on the surface. Stir in the turmeric and simmer uncovered 30 minutes until beans are tender and most of the water has evaporated.

  • Meanwhile, put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles in a food processor. Pulse until minced.

  • Cook cumin seeds in a skillet until they begin to turn reddish brown, about 1 minute. Add the onion-chile mixture, the asafetida, and the cardamom pods. Stir-fry until the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

  • Stir the salt into the onion mixture. Add 1 cup water, and set aside until the lentils are ready.

  • When the lentils are tender, stir in the onion mixture. Simmer gently 15 more minutes.

  • You can remove the cardamom pods before serving. (Or you can leave them in, as I did, and listen to people exclaim when they get an intense bite of cardamom!)

  • Sprinkle with cilantro and serve. I put more cilantro on the table for additional garnishing.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everest Cafe

Last week we visited Everest Cafe, a St. Louis restaurant that serves authentic Nepalese, Korean, and Indian food. The owner, Devi Gurung States, grew up in Nepal, and his wife is from South Korea. Dr. States is committed to promoting better health and serving high-quality food. His amazing story can be read here, on the restaurant's website.

First, we ordered an appetizer tray that contained Vegetable Mo-Mo (Tibetan dumplings stuffed with vegetables, cumin, garlic, ginger, and spices), Vegetable Samosas (pastry puffs filled with potatoes, onion, and coriander) and Vegetable Pakoras (vegetables coated in chickpea flour and--gulp--deep fried). The appetizers were served with the best tamarind sauce I've ever tasted.

For my entree, I had Tama Bodi Tarkari, a wonderful combination of blackeyed peas, potatoes, bamboo shoots, and tomato sauce, served with steamed rice. My husband chose Mixed Organic Vegetable Tarkari with Tofu, cooked in a Nepali-style sauce, and served with green onions-- spicy and delicious. The two kids who came with us didn't eat vegetarian, but my daughter's entree came with Everest Dahl, a mellow lentil soup made with Himalayan herbs and spices.

The food was fantastic, there were good vegetarian options, and the ambience was casual and enjoyable. I'll definitely visit The Everest Cafe again!

Kidney Bean Salad

Lunch today was kidney bean salad made with a delicious tofu mayonnaise from one of my book fair books, Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless "Poultry" Potpourri. This book was written by Karen Davis, the founder of United Poultry Concerns, a non-profit education organization involved with the treatment of domestic fowl.

I'm not normally a big fan of tofu mayonnaises--they always seem too heavy to me, and I never use up the leftovers. But this one was good--light, sweet, and tangy. I only made 1/4 the recipe, so I didn't have gobs of it left like I usually do--just a little dab, which we'll be able to use up in the next few days.

Here's the way I made it:

Oil-Free Tofu Mayonnaise

4 oz Mori-Nu lite silken tofu, firm
1 small clove garlic
1/4 tsp dill weed
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
water, if needed to thin

Blend all ingredients. (I used my little Cuisinart mini-blender that the Smart Stick fits into).

Kidney Bean Salad
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 T oil-free tofu mayonnaise (above)
2 T sweet pickle relish

Mash kidney beans with a potato masher. Mix all ingredients. Serve with pitas or crackers.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bento Box Give-Away!

Mission: Vegan is honoring Earth Day by giving away awesome bento boxes for packing your own lunch! Here's the link to the contest. All you have to do is post a comment on the contest post on Mission: Vegan's blog answering this question:

What will you do to reduce your carbon footprint?
The contest deadline is midnight on Earth Day (April 22).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vegan Easter Soup

Before we married (25 years ago this August!) my husband had a recipe for a Greek Easter soup called Mayeritsa. It contained lamb, and involved beating eggs until stiff, stirring in lemon juice, then combining the egg mixture with the hot broth, and "stirring furiously".

I created a vegetarian version of this years ago, taking out the lamb, but could not (at that time) come up with a substitute for the eggs.

Here's this year's attempt at a vegan version, which my family judged a success. I substituted "No Chicken" broth for the lamb broth, but you could use any vegetable broth you like that is not tomato-based. I also used Yves Heart's Desire Meatless "Beef" Strips. The guys liked this addition, but my daughter and I felt the soup would be just as good--and maybe better--without them. I used tofu blended with soy milk for the eggs.

2 bunches green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup white cooking wine (optional)
1 T dried parsley
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
8 cups Imagine "No Chicken" vegetable broth
2 Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice, cooked
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, cooked
Yves Heart's Desire Meatless "Beef" Strips (optional)
3 oz firm silken lite tofu
1/3 cup soy milk
Juice from 2 large lemons
salt, pepper

In a large soup pot, saute the onions and celery in 1/4 cup white wine or water, until golden. Add parsley and spinach and saute until soft, adding more water if needed. Add the vegetable broth, rice, and meatless "beef" strips, and simmer 10 minutes. Blend the tofu and soy milk in blender until very smooth (or blend in a bowl with immersion blender). Add lemon juice to tofu mixture and blend briefly. Pour the tofu-lemon mixture slowly into the hot soup, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Potato and Spinach Masala

This is really, really good. Okay, so it's not as low in fat as most of my recipes--it contains lite coconut milk, which adds 3.5 grams of fat per serving. But it's soooooo good! The combination of lime and coconut milk is incredible.

This recipe was adapted from Yukon Gold and Baby Spinach Masala in the April 2009 Vegetarian Times.

2 1/2 lbs Yukon Gold or Klondike yellow-fleshed potatoes, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno chile, chopped
1 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t turmeric
1 13.5-oz can lite coconut milk
4 oz fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 t garam masala
2 T lime juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Steam the potatoes in steamer basket for about 10 minutes, until just tender.
Meanwhile, saute the onion in 1/4 cup water in a large nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, ginger, and jalapeno, and continue sauteeing until golden and fragrant, adding more water if needed. Stir in the coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Stir in the potatoes. Add coconut milk and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and garam masala, and cook 2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Stir in lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Serve over brown rice.

A Critical Look at Vegetarian Times

Probably I'm just too critical.

I've subscribed to Vegetarian Times for years, but lately it seems to have changed its focus. For one thing, a lot more of the recipes seem to be based around eggs and dairy. Of course, they do include some vegan recipes--like the current (April '09) issue's feature on making your own vegan faux cheeses--but most have a lot of oil. (See? I'm never satisfied!)

Obviously, a commercial publication has to appeal to a broad spectrum of people in order to stay in business; I can't fault them for that. And there are alternative publications that cater to vegan readers; among them are Vegetarian Resource Journal, a quarterly publication, and Dr. McDougall's monthly newsletter containing health-related articles and a selection of health-promoting recipes. These publications don't include dairy or egg recipes. (They don't include beautifully-styled, glossy food photos either, but you can't have everything!)

Back to VT--another thing I've noticed is that many of the articles in recent months seem to be aimed at the proverbial young person who doesn't yet know how to boil water. Of course, this may be a conscious decision, an attempt to appeal to a new generation of vegetarians--and, looked at from that perspective, it's not a bad idea.

I have to admit, though, that every month there are several recipes in Vegetarian Times that I enjoy tremendously; recipes that can easily be adapted to be lower in fat. Last month (March '09) there was the Mixed Vegetable Kootu and the Spicy Asian Stir-Fry with Whole-Wheat Linguine.

And this month? My copy arrived only a few days ago, and already I've made--and blogged about--three of the recipes. All were absolutely delicious! Tonight's dinner--Potato and Spinach Masala--is definitely something I'll make again. I also enjoyed the descriptions of readers' favorite vegetarian restaurants in the Dining Out awards.

So I guess I should just quit my griping and enjoy the beautiful magazine, skipping over the parts that don't interest me. Like the obligatory Easter article about eggs.

What do you think? If you're a vegetarian or a vegan--or even if you're not--please leave a comment and give your opinion. Do you read Vegetarian Times? Do you like it? Is there another food-related publication you like better?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Veggie Hot Pot

This is adapted from one of the many, many delicious recipes in The Garden of Vegan by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock (I used
Imagine No-Chicken Broth)
2 carrots, chopped
4 potatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T curry powder
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t cardamom
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t allspice
1 red chili pepper, seeded and minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
1 apple, chopped
1 cup (or more) frozen cut green beans
1 cup (or more) frozen cauliflower
2 cans chickpeas
handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
In a large, deep skillet or saucepan, saute the onions in a few tablespoons of the broth until beginning to brown. Stir in 2 cups of the stock and the carrots, potatoes, garlic, curry, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, chili pepper, and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes. Add the apple, green beans, cauliflower, chickpeas, and the rest of the broth. Return to a boil, and cook 3 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve with pitas or over rice.

Japanese Asparagus Dengaku

There's not much my 15-year-old daughter, Emma, likes better than asparagus (unless it's lentils ... or potatoes ... or anything with lots and lots of garlic).

Emma made this as a side dish for our dinner tonight. It's adapted from a 5-ingredient recipe published in Vegetarian Times--this one is from the April 2009 issue that arrived yesterday. The description explains that dengaku is a Japanese barbecue tradition in which foods are coated with a miso-based sauce, then grilled (or, in this case, broiled).

2 lb. asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
3 T white (Shiro) miso
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 T)
2 T tahini
1 T maple syrup

Place asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Whisk together miso, lemon juice, tahini, and maple syrup in a bowl. Brush the miso mixture over the asparagus. Broil 6 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and starting to brown.

The miso sauce is absolutely delicious. I'm thinking about trying it on brussels sprouts next.

What's-Left-in-the-Pantry Lunch

A good lunch that everyone liked--even the one who views vegetables with suspicion. Amounts and ingredients are approximate; the idea was to use up the dribs and drabs that were lurking in the freezer and pantry.

4 oz whole wheat shell noodles
4 oz tri-color rotini pasta
1/2 cup frozen broccoli
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 lb. tofu, cubed
2 T tamari
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T maple syrup
2 T sweet and spicy mustard

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook pasta 7 minutes, then add frozen vegetables. Cover pot and return quickly to a boil; boil 7 more minutes. While pasta and vegetables are cooking, brown tofu cubes in a nonstick skillet, stirring frequently. Whisk tamari, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and sweet/spicy mustard together in a small bowl. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the sauce over the tofu and continue cooking, stirring frequently. When the pasta and vegetables are done, pour into colander to drain, then return to pot. Stir in tofu cubes and remaining sauce.