2nd Avenue Vegetable Korma

Okay, clearly I've reached the point of only cooking Isa recipes, this one is from Appetite for Reduction (p226)- and, I feel I don't even have to say it at this point- it's f*ing fantastic.

This really seems more like a curry to me, the korma's that I have had at restaurants taste not as coconut-y/ curryish. However, that is not a bad thing, this one is flipping delicious. I did a small amount of changes to the recipe, I at least doubled the curry powder, as I thought it didn't pack enough of a punch (I have come to realize that I like things pretty intensely flavorful). Also, I thought it was odd that the garam masala was listed as going in with the rest of the spices early in cooking. I once was making Creamed Lentils and really didn't get the importance of spice timing. I put the garam masala in at the start and the dish was nearly inedible. The same amount of the spice that- usually, when added at the end of cooking, subtly compliments the other flavors- became a big, fat, bossy, pushy, a-hole- bowling over all the flavors to the point that it tasted like you were eating a spoonful of the stuff with some lentils on top. Not a good thing at all. So, in the spirit of live and learn, I did the exceptional act of disobeying Isa and held the garam masala to the end (which worked out great)

This will become a go-to Indian night staple, me thinks, as it whipped up far faster than Aloo Ghobi. We also ended up skipping any rice with this since it was on the thick side and didn't really need it.

Seitan Curry Salad

Another Beans and Barley recipe- I was trying to nail down how to recreate the tofu curry salad at Whole Foods. This was a super awesome alternative, and, I think, maybe even better than the whole foods one. I love the texture of their tofu or whatever they use, so that's one point in their column, but this one has so many amazing flavors, that it wins. I used the "chicken-style" seitan from RFD's book, the sauce (for lack of a better word) is Veganaise based, which I truly would not have thought of on my own. Then there's; carrot, celery, scallions, garlic, parsley, ginger, curry, turmeric, salt and pepa, and the seitan. Shockingly, even Davey liked it (he hates mayo with a passion). Thanks again to that fella who sent me the Beans cookbook- it continues to be awesome!

Naan Pizza

This is a fast, fast weeknight dinner, and is cheat cooking (jarred sauce and pre-made naan), but it really makes for a tasty, good meal. This is my take on the Naan Pizzas at "Cowboys and Turbans"- the Indian/ Mexican fusion place on the east side (that looks like it may be closed now, but...?) It's a place as weird as their name, but the food is really good. They have these Masala fries that are ridiculously good, as well as these Naan Pizzas, which is essentially an Indian dish piled on top of naan (like a pizza!)

The recipe requires that you're near a Trader Joe's too- as their masala sauce is awesome!

- 4-6 pieces naan (TJ's has it frozen, but that's not vegan- it's kind of hard to find vegan naan, but possible if you hunt for it)
- 1 large bag spinach, stems removed
- 1 brick tofu (TJ's shrink wrapped organic super firm is great for this), cubed small
- 1-2 jars of TJ's jarred Masala sauce (we use about 1 1/2 usually)
- 1 cup peas
-1-2T canola oil

(Preheat the oven if your naan requires baking) Heat the oil in a large sautée (or sauce) pan, add the tofu and cook until slightly golden brown, add sauce and peas to the tofu, cook until peas are cooked through. Throw your naan in the oven. Add spinach by the fist fulls until it wilts down, add more, etc until you've added the whole bag.

Now, I'm not a dunker with cookies and I don't like soggy food, so my preference is to cook the naan a bit crunchier than usual, and pile the spinach/ tofu masala mix on top just before eating. I wouldn't assemble and wait at all before diving in or your naan will get soggy. I also recommend a fork and knife vs pizza slice-style eating unless you happen to be wearing a rain poncho.

Samosas (again)

Okay, you'll see from my other samosa posts HERE and HERE that I've been trying to nail this down for awhile. And, I have good news to report- I found a good samosa exterior! And mostly a good interior, though it needs tinkering. The interior is the Joy of Cooking recipe that I did last time, only I used less lemon juice (very good), and a teaspoon of coriander seeds (good, but still not spiced enough). The whole inside is so close, but needs way more characteristically Indian spices in it. It's just too plain. Too white tater.

The chutney is also the same as last time, still good, only I would definitely stick to serrano only. The recipe said jalapeño was okay, so I used two of those and a serrano, and it was too jalapeño in flavor.

The exterior was a brand of frozen samosa dough from India Sweets and Spice here in L.A., it is by 'Prime Mazedar' and is called simply, "Samosa Pastry" and is a product of Pakistan. They work great pan fried (not deep fried, I tried to stay minimally healthier-ish). They stick a bit, but not nearly as much as the phyllo dough and they taste way more like a samosa- the phyllo just didn't taste like it was meant to be an Indian appetizer. I make no claims of authenticity, I'm a white, American mutt of European descent, but I've eaten my share of Indian restaurant samosas, and none were made with phyllo. Also, if you aren't up for making the samosas yourself, Indian Sweets has boxed Pillsbury ones (presumably imports). It's cool to see the Dough Boy on a samosa box though.

Native Foods "Moon Dahl"

Yum. I found this on the Native Foods blog, and dug and dug to find it again to no avail. You'll have to trust me, I got it from them. I'll retype it since they had published it. I did change a few things, I'll list it as they listed it and then tell you what I did differently after.

This came about because I had bought a bag of Mung Dal at India Sweets and Spice. I love yellow lentils at restaurants, but can never find them, so I got the Mung Dal first then dug around for a recipe after. This is a good one too. The yellow lentils (not sure if that's technically what they are, but ?) are intensely creamy. Also, I used spinach as a green, which gets pretty creamy too. It was a great dish, and excellent along side the Creamed Lentils with a bit of naan. Divine nosh.

Native Foods Moon Dahl

1 c Split Moong Dahl (mind was spelled Mung Dal on the bag)
1-1 1/2 cups water (I used 2)
1/4 c olive oil
1 T coconut oil (cool stuff!)
1 1/2 t cumin seed
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t turmeric
1 t salt
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 bunch swiss chard, chopped into 1/2" pieces (I used baby spinach)
1 t lemon juice
4 T cilantro, chopped (didn't have this, skipped it)
1 pinch finely ground nutmeg ( I know that I should have trusted this, but it sounded weird so I skipped it)

Rinse beans well and sort through for stones. Add water and bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes, set aside.

Heat olive and coconut oils and roast cumin seeds for 30 seconds. Add coriander, turmeric, salt, tomato and jalapeno and saute for approximately 3 minutes.

Add swiss chard and saute for another five minutes

Add chard mixture to dahl

Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro and nutmeg

Indian Sweets and Spice

My mind has just been blown out of my head. I just went to "Indian Sweets and Spice" on Los Feliz Blvd (in Los Angeles), and omfg- I have never seen anything like it. It is huge, huge, huge and has any esoteric spice or ingredient that I've ever never been able to find elsewhere plus a ton of things that I've never heard of and would have no idea what to do with (but would love to learn). I went only for chickpea flour which I didn't even need for an Indian recipe- it's for the Chicken Style Seitan from RFD. I had bought it before for pakoras, though, so I knew an Indian grocer would have it.

My gosh, they have everything! I got poppadoms, tamarind concentrate (which I've looked all over for before and never been able to find) and a jarred spicy mango chutney. I would have gotten TONS more, but I was on the scooter with no topcase room. this place is unbelievable, and if you live in L.A. and haven't been, you must! Also, there's a café attached too!

Btw- this photo is photos of one pound containers of spices. I took a photo of all of the four pound containers of spices, but it was too blurry to use. FOUR pounds of garam masala! Just insane.

Samosas (take two- phyllo version) and Green Chutney

I'm getting closer. Close, but no real cigar. This is the second time that I've tried samosas lately (see RFD's here). These are the "Samosas with Potatoes and Peas" from the Joy of Cooking book, latest edition (which I don't own, I got it from the library). Btw- the library is an excellent source for culling vegan recipes from non-vegan books without having to buy a book that's comprised of 3/4 meat recipes.

Anyway, these are far, far closer to the classic Indian restaurant samosas that we know and love and that I'm trying to come up with a solid go-to recipe for. Still, I'll continue the quest and probably just cave in and make my own dough, as these two tries at samosas that use recipes that circumvent dough making fell a bit short of what I'm after.

Still, these are good in their own phyllo-y way. If you've never worked with phyllo, I must warn you that you desperately need to have two things in your house; counter space and beer, wine or liquor to take the edge off. Actually, it seems like it would be fun if you just had the former. I absolutely don't have counter space and didn't realize how much room that I needed (but didn't have) until I was in the throws of the phyllo. It needs to stay moist- but can't get wet or damp or it'll stick together. So, you cover the dough with wax paper to shield it from moisture, then cover the paper with a damp towel. If you don't have enough space, inevitably your towel will touch your dough and ruin a good few sheets by wadding them together. Conversely, if the dough were to, say, hang off the edge of your teensy counter on the bottom- said dough would be dried up and useless as well.

Somehow I got enough dough to work to make them. I also got to utilize my Girl Scout skill of flag folding, as that's how the phyllo is folded after you put your filling in.

The samosas themselves were good, a bit too lemony acidic, though, I'd cut back on that if I made this filling again (which I probably would, it was really close to my idea of a perfect potato samosa).

The chutney is from a book called, "Pure and Simple: Homemade Vegetarian Indian Cuisine" that I got from the library. This chutney could make any goofy attempt at samosas taste delicious! It has cilantro, green chilis, cumin seeds, coriander, salt and lemon juice in it. It's easy peasy as it's all thrown in a blender (besides the lemon, which is added after). It was a bit too thick, so I thinned it with a teeny bit of water, though. It was spicy, but not unbearably so. I also have a slight aversion to strong cilantro taste, which remarkably this didn't have even though there was 2 cups of the leaves in there.

I also cheated and picked up a tamarind chutney from a nearby restaurant (I made 3 recipes that night and was tired). I would recommend having both the chili and the tamarind- as the sweet and spice are a great combo.

Chana Masala

This was a recipe that I found online but modified, so I feel safe in reprinting. It is amazingly good and is great with the Creamed Lentils and Samosas. This was the first time that I caramelized onions- which was kinda a pain, but the dish is so good, I wouldn't cut that step out. The blend of flavors is delicious and this will for sure be one of our regular staple meals.

1 T canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 t cumin seeds
2 t coriander seeds
1 t ground coriander
1t ground cumin
1/8 t ground cayenne pepper
1/2 t ground tumeric
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 c water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 sm lemon (to juice)
2 t paprika
1 t garam masala
1/2 t salt
2 t fresh ginger, grated

Heat oil in a large pot or skillet, add onions and cumin seeds. Sauté covered over low heat until caramelized (stirring often to prevent burning). Add garlic and sautée 30 secs more.

Add the coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and turmeric until well mixed, add tomatoes and stir well. Cook until tomatoes have broken down a bit and looked nicely cooked. Add chickpeas and water, stir. Then add paprika, salt, lemon juice and ginger.

Simmer covered for at least a 1/2 hour, up to 1 hour. Add garam masala 3-5 minutes before serving.

Indian Quinoa Salad

This. Is Good. This is the Indian Quinoa Salad from RFD's book. I had never made Quinoa, or, I think even had it before. It's a nutty but light little grain that tends to get everywhere when you cook from onto your clean dishes to the bottom of your feet.

This dish is delicious! It's very light, and would be a great side. I tended to just devour it by the bowl, though. It doesn't have a really distinct Indian flavor, though- the only real spice is garam masala. S'good- it'd be great at picnics, and I'll for sure keep it in my pocket to use for such occasions.

Chorizo Tempeh Samosas

This... is not the samosa that you're thinking of. The amazingly good fried one in dough that you get at Indian buffets with potatoes and cumin seeds and peas inside. This is RFD's Chorizo Tempeh Samosas. Until I went to write this, I forgot that it had that title, and am now wondering why "chorizo" is in it. There's no chorizo in the samosas (maybe b/c of the spices?) Anyway, they're real time consuming and are pretty difficult to form. You have to make the outer potato dough, refridge it, broil the tempeh, make the filling that the tempeh goes with, refridge that, and make the Spicy Tomato Sauce for the top.

They had a good flavor, and are probably a lot healthier than their fried restaurant counterparts, but I wasn't thrilled with them for the amount of work involved. Also, I'm really disappointed to say that the sauce was pretty darn bland.

I also made my version of the naan pizzas from the L.A. restaurant Cowboys and Turbans (which either recently changed their name or closed). It's an Indian/ Mexican fusion place on Sunset on the Silverlake/ Echo Park border (across from the Epitaph offices). It's a great place.

Anyway, their naan pizza is wilted spinach in a masala sauce with peas and tofu cubes (and mozzerella, for non-vegans). My tofu was expired and mine was cheeseless. So, I made naan and topped it with Trader Joes Simmer Masala sauce with peas and a bag of wilted spinach. And, (this is sad)- that sauce was WAY better than the RFD Spicy Tomato Sauce that I had made from scratch and slaved over.

So, it turned out that the magic combo was topping the samosa with a tad of the Spicy Tomato Sauce, and then dousing it with the Masala/ Spinach concoction. Which was good, and Davey loved it, but I doubt that I'll make these again.

Spinach Chickpea Curry

This dish is the end of my awful streak of trying new Indian recipes and being disappointed, this one is really very good! It's the Spinach and Chickpea Curry from p170-171 of Vegan With a Vengeance. I still think that the French book and Beckham are best, but this is really delicious. It was relatively quick and easy except for the part when you have to wilt 10 cups of spinach handful by handful. It ended up being very flavorful and the spinach had a creamy texture (keep in mind that I haven't eaten dairy in a year and a half- it's creamy to a vegan!). We both liked it a lot and will add it to our recipe roster.

Cremed Lentils (or Lentilles á la créme)

This is an awesome Indian dish with a great story. About 12 years ago, I bought a small pamphlet of a cookbook (softcover, only 64 pages) at 1/2 Price Books. It was an Indian cookbook that I got because I was trying out veganism (for the first time). Half of the book is meat, but the other half is amazing vegetable dishes like Piquant Chickpeas, Pakoras, etc. The hands down best of all the veg dishes that I tried from the book was a dish called, "Creamed Lentils". It calls for creme, which I skip- and it's still amazing. It's a relatively easy dish that has intense, amazing Indian flavors and is great with Naan or Poppadoms, or for a bigger dinner with the Bend it Like Beckham Gobi .

Anyway- I loved the dish and loved the book, but it was lost in a move. We were devastated. I had no idea what the ratios of spices and ingredients were, and since it was just a little wisp of a book, there was little chance of ever being able to find it by title on Amazon, Borders, whatever.

We came to terms with our loss and years later were in Paris. There's a huge bookshop that we had gone to whenever we were able to visit the city, and there it was- right there on the sidewalk sale table for 2 €- "Cuisine Indienne"- the exact same book! In French. So whatever, we bought it and have translated it and... here you are! And you didn't even have to go to France to get it (you're welcome).

1 cup red or yellow lentils
1 teaspoon salt
3 / 4 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups water
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 large tomato, very ripe and chopped égrainée
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 tablespoons minced cilantro or mint

1. Cook 20 minutes the lentils in water with salt, turmeric and pepper, until they are tender. drain.
2. Brown the onions. Book 1 tablespoon for garnish. Add garlic and ginger and cook briefly. Add tomatoes, cook until they are soft.
3. Combine lentils with the garam masala and half the chopped herbs. Stir and heat.
4. Pour into a dish, garnish with remaining herbs and garnish with the reserve onion.

Aloo Gobi

We've been making this one for years, and it's amazing. I feel safe in listing the recipe here since it's pretty public, but I highly recommend going to the source- which is the DVD extras for the movie Bend It Like Beckham. The director, Gurinder Chadha is British and of Indian descent. There's a part in the film (which is adorable) where the mother is pressuring the daughter to give up football and learn how to cook and do womanly things to prepare for marriage. The daughter says something to the effect of, "anyone can make Aloo Gobi, but no one can bend a ball like Beckham!"

Based off of that quote, the director created an extra where she divulges this Aloo Gobi recipe and cooks it in front of her mom and aunt. It's so darling, you can see her relatives desire to jump in and cook with (for her)- it's worth renting the dvd just to see this. Not to mention that it's damn good Gobi!

It's great served over basmati rice with naan on the side. In the video, Chadha recommends eating it the next day on toast for breakfast. Davey swears by this- I can't imagine it, but whatevs!

Beckham Gobi:

- Vegetable Oil for sauteeing
- 1 lg yellow onion, chopped
- 1 lg bunch fresh coriander stalks (Coriander is Cilantro- you can make salsa or Pico de Gallo with the leaves)
- Green chilis diced (add to taste)
- 1 lg head of cauliflower, chopped
- 3 large potaoes peeled and cubed
- 1 can tin whole peeled tomatoes (I get the double size- 30 oz or so, I think), grated- reserve some juice
- about 1" fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 T cumin seeds
- 2 t Tumeric
- 2 t Salt
- 1 t paprika
- 1 1/2 t Garam Masala

Sautee onions and cumin seeds in oil until onions are creamy translucent, stirring frequently. Add chopped coriander stalks, tumeric, salt and paprika. Add chopped chilis to taste. Stir in grated tomatoes and some of the juice from the can into the mix. Add ginger, garlic, and mix thoroughly. Add potatoes and cauliflower to sauce with a few T water to keep from sticking. Thoroughly coat. Cover and cook on low heat for about 1 hour, 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked, stirring often. Add garam masala, turn off heat and let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.