lunch

Curry Laksa Veg Feast! (V+GF)

Curry Laksa! This truly is a feast! For the tummy and eyes. 🙂 I studied abroad in Malaysia and loved all the blending of flavors in Malaysian food. Curry Laksa is a Malaysian noodle soup, usually served with rice noodles. I added some soba noodles  (buckwheat flour noodles) instead to make it a healthier version and topped it off with some baked tofu. I love all the colors and textures of different vegetables simmered in a gingery spiced coconut broth. I just threw in a bunch of vegetables that I had on hand, like spinach, broccoli, green onion, red pepper and mushroom. To prepare my tofu, I usually coat with some type of flour (usually gram flour) and bake in the oven at 350 until golden. Usually 30 minutes turned  over half way.

I served this to my family with a non-vegan option of boiled egg on the side. It was light, yet filling and healthy! I hope you love it!

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Rajas con “Crema” (V+GF)

If there’s one type of cuisine I could have every day it’s Mexican! Kind of like Indian Food, the flavor profile is so complex, so rich and satisfying. This is a recipe a good friend recommended to me. It’s a take on “Rajas con Crema” a mexican dish with poblano peppers and lots of cream. Instead of cream, I used cashews, rich in protein and only a portion of the fat of regular cream. I also added some seasonal squash and corn to the dish.  I served it up with some corn tortillas, black beans and homemade pico de gallo. Delish! It truly takes very little time once all the veggies are chopped. I know you’ll love it!

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Note: The spiciness of this dish really depends on the chillies you get. Some peppers are hotter than others. Try to  seed and de-vein the peppers if you prefer less spice and add more cream if it is still too hot for our liking.  

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Tofu Bhurji (Masala Scramble) (V)

I need to preface by saying, I love this recipe! It is so quick, easy and filling and the leftovers lasted me for quite a while. It’s a take on the traditional Indian Paneer or Egg bhurji, which usually involves crumbled paneer cheese or egg and some veggies in a tomatoey spicy gravy. The difference between this and a traditional scrambled egg is that I added a bit more tomatoes so the tofu was really soaking in a spiced almost-gravy.  It was so delicious!

Health Stuff: Now that the Whole Foods Plant Based diet has become so popularized people are always looking for a vegetarian protein source. This is one that doesn’t skimp on flavor. Specifically, it alters the texture of tofu which is the biggest complaint I’ve heard from people who eat meat. Turmeric is totally en-vogue right now too! It’s been used in my family for generations and is so good for you! It’s an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties.

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You will need:

  • 1 block of tofu (I prefer not to use the extra or super firm because I like a softer consistency)
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 med onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped
  • Grated Ginger
  • Pinch of garam masala powder
  • Cilantro for garnish

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Prep:

  • Using a fork, crumble the tofu. Let it drain in a muslin cloth if you like, but since this recipe is slightly wet, it doesn’t matter if you skip that step.
  • Finely chop all the veggies.
  • Grate the ginger (about 1 tbsp)

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To Prepare:

  1. In a skillet, heat 2-3 tsp of oil. Add cumin seeds.
  2. When cumin seeds sputter, add chopped onions and 1 tbsp grated ginger and green chillies to taste.
  3. When onions become transluscent add the tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to cook down on high heat until they start to break down and get soft. Add 1 tsp of turmeric.
  4. Add peppers of choice, (I used green and red) and the tofu
  5. Add water if the sauce is too thick.
  6. Salt liberally and simmer for 5 minutes until the tofu absorbs the flavors.
  7. Sprinkle some garam masala over the top
  8. Garnish with cilantro and serve with chapatis, bread or rice!

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Makes 4-6 servings!

Summer Squash Curry

DSC_0006I know it’s not summer yet, but I got these beautiful zuchinnis and yellow squashes in my farm basket last week. Zuchinni is not something you typically find in India  and is uncommon in Indian cooking. But Indian cooking does feature dishes with water-based vegetables and I thought I’d try it out. I decided to make a squash curry. It turned out great! Curry, for non-indian readers, doesn’t always mean a gravy-based spicy dish. It includes stir fried dishes with spices as well.  Zuchinni is a low-calorie, water-dense vegetable that is high in Vitamin A and C, magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium and Vitamin B6.  More importantly, my dinner guests loved the combination of yellow and green. It was a feast for the eyes! This recipe was super simple, takes only 10-15 minutes from start to finish.

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Creamy Red Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Spinach (V +GF)

Those who know me know that dal is one of my favorite dishes. I can barely go a week without making it. It is filling, packed with protein and fiber, and quite honestly is any Indian’s comfort food. But sometimes it is nice to make a different take on the traditional dal. I  was inspired by some of the ingredients I had at home to make a nutritious one-pot version using a can of tomato sauce (tomato puree), coconut milk and a bunch of fresh spinach. This turned out so great! Warm, hearty, filling. The best part is that I froze half of the recipe and when I reheated it 2 weeks later it tasted just as good!I served it up with some brown rice and simple roasted cauliflower that I stuck in the oven at 375 for 15 minutes seasoned  with some salt, garlic powder and pepper. I hope you love it!

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Quick and Easy Japanese Eggplant in a Green Curry Sauce

I’m not much of an eggplant person. I’ve learned to like it more over the years, but it will never be my go-to choice. But I was at the farmers market the other day and I saw these beautifully vibrant purple japanese eggplants. Japanese eggplants have a tougher, less mushy consistency. They hold their shape well and go great with asian dishes. I decided to make a quick and easy green curry. Quite honestly, this recipe is quick! I find that most of my cooking time is used with prep. In this dish I only used eggplant, and some shallots and red pepper. I served it with Trader Joe’s quick-cooking brown rice.  I was super excited to use my fresh thai basil that I have growing out on the balcony as a garnish. It was delicious! If you don’t have thai basil, you can use cilantro or regular basil. This dish was a true testament to the fact that a healthy meal can be done from start to finish in under 20 minutes.

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You will Need:

  • 2 Japanese Eggplants
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • a small nub of ginger (optional)
  • Green Curry Paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Soy sauce
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Thai basil (optional)

To prepare:

  1. Cut the eggplants in half length-wise. Then cut them on the bias, meaning at a diagonal so you get nice little pretty angled pieces. DSC_0032
  2. Next, chop the garlic, shallots, and slice the red pepper.
  3. In a wok, heat some oil, add the garlic and shallots and stir.
  4. Add in the eggplants and saute for 5 minutes on high heat.
  5. Add in the red peppers and stir.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, add 1 can of coconut milk, a dash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Take a tablespoon of green curry paste and dissolve this in the milk. You can optionally grate some ginger over the top for added flavor at this stage.
  7. Reduce the flame to medium and allow the curry to simmer for another 5 minutes, adding water as necessary, depending on how you like it. The eggplants are cooked when they are no longer white, but have a more eggplanty color.
  8. Taste the  curry and make sure it has enough salt.
  9. Sprinkle some chopped or julienned thai basil over the top and serve with steaming brown rice!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes.

Makes 3-4 servings.

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Middle Eastern Spiced Rice and Lebanese Mousaka (Maghmour)

I love middle eastern food. Plain and simple. The flavors go so far beyond just hummus and pita. When I was younger and we lived in South America , we would frequent the Syrian, Lebanese and Armenian restaurants a lot because of their vast selection of vegetarian dishes. Hummus, babaganoush, tabouleh, fattoush salad and one of my favorites, lebanese mousakka. Mmmmm my mouth is watering! This dish is called Maghmour I believe in Arabic, and bares very little resemblance to its Greek counterpart (A layered caserole dish with meat and potatoes.) It is a savory, tangy, and sometimes spicy blend of tomatoes, spices, eggplant and chickpeas. I’ve seen it served both room-temperature and warm. I ate this dish warm. Especially, now that tomatoes are in season I used a bunch of fresh tomatoes.   You are going to love it!

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I paired this with some delicious middle eastern spiced rice. You see this on the streetcarts of NYC and in any shawarma place. Warm Basmati rice cooked to perfection with a blend of freshly ground cinnamon, cloves, peppercorn, allspice and paprika. I topped it off with a few slivered almonds.

*On the side was a yummy and simple salad of Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and feta. Drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. (This was the only non-vegan portion of this recipe.

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For the Rice:

You Will Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed a few times under running water
  • 1 tbsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves (4-5 cloves)
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Mint, cilantro or slivered almonds for garnish

1) Grind whole spices finely in the above proportions

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2) Heat  olive oil in a skillet and add  spices, saute for less than a minute

3) Add 1/1/2 cups basmati rice (rinsed first) and fold in the spices

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4) Allow the spices and rice to fully blend together (2-3 minutes)

5) transfer to a rice cooker or pot, and add less than 3 cups of water and 1 tsp salt, cook covered on medium for about 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

The result is spiced, savory perfection! Garnish with some mint and slivered almonds if you like!

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For the  Mousaka

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You will need:

  • 2 eggplants
  • About 5-6 Roma tomatoes , chopped(or 3 larger tomatoes)
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Cayenne pepper or any chili powder on hand
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Paprika
  • Cumin powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Can of chickpeas, drained ( I used only half in this recipe)

Before you begin:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°  and trim the ends of the eggplants, and peel in strips (like below image)
  • Then, cut the eggplant into about 1 inch rounds, and lay them on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil and salt them. Make sure both sides get some olive oil.

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To Prepare:

1. Bake  eggplant rounds for 20 minutes, turning half-way. Remove when eggplants are soft, but not squishy. Cut into cubes and set aside.

4. In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute half a large red onion and 3 cloves of garlic, minced

5. Add in the chopped tomatoes and 1 tbsp of tomato paste

6. Saute for a few minutes, and add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (more if you like it spicy). Add 1 tsp salt and let the tomatoes reduce into a nice sauce, adding water as necessary.  This should take about 10 minutes.

7. Reduce flame to medium and add chick peas. I am not a huge fan of chickpeas so I just added half the can.  Simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Add a pinch of sugar if you feel it is too acidic. This cuts the acid.

8. Add in the eggplant and mix well.

9. Finish it off with some fresh chopped mint and cilantro. Remove from flame and serve with the spiced rice and salad!

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