Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eating Vegan in INDY: Part One!

Well, now that I live in Indianapolis, my new task is to find all of the awesome places to eat vegan food in this awesome city!

Here's what I've come up with so no means complete, but definitely a good start!

Pizza: If you're looking for delicious vegan pizza, no need to worry...there are plenty of places in Indy that can get you what you need! My favorite so far is Bazbeaux's Pizza. There are several locations around the city, so anywhere you are, you can get good pizza. You can create your own (they even have wheat crust on request!) or order the Senze Formaggio, which is already vegan. It has extra sauce instead of cheese, with sauteed red onions, eggplant, garlic, and fresh basil. I added pine nuts, too! Lots of the pizzas can be made vegan by omitting cheese and such. Senze Formaggio Pizza

Middle Eastern: I know there are lots of Middle Eastern, Greek and Mediterranean places to eat in this city. So far, however, I've only tried one: Ameer's. It's located in the City Market downtown. They have a limited menu, but a few of the daily specials are vegan (Monday is falafel and hummus day, and there is also a day with a lentil and rice dish that's awesome.) This is really tasty and really fast. Everything is made from scratch, which is always much appreciated! Talk to the owners, and they'll let you know what you can and can't have as a vegan! Falafel and Hummus Special--Monday Only
Thai: Siam Square, located in the Fountain Square district, is a really great place to go for authentic Thai food in Indy. A huge menu and lots of vegan-izable items to choose from, including curries, appetizers, rice dishes, and noodles. The staff is willing to omit fish sauce and eggs, making lots of the dishes vegan. Such good food, and perfect if you like it spicy!
Pad Ped with Tofu: a red curry with tofu, Thai eggplant, bamboo, green beans, peppers, and Thai basil in a spicy red sauce; served with jasmine rice.
Brunch/Hippie Food: Sometimes you just want a really good vegan sandwich or some pancakes, right? In that case, you should head to Three Sisters Cafe in the Broad Ripple district. Not strictly vegan, but there are tons of options on the menu which are even marked vegan. There is also a daily vegan soup, and sometimes vegan specials. It's in an old house, making the atmosphere super cute and cozy-- a great place for brunch. And, it is located right next to Good Earth, the hippie natural food store that's been around for decades and has awesome products for the healthy eater.
Portabello Burger, with Vegan Chili
BBQ Grains Sandwich, with Vegan Chili
Indian: I saved this one for last because it is my absolute FAVORITE place to eat in Indy. And in most cities. It's Passage to all-vegetarian Indian restaurant that has an amazing lunch buffet, super friendly and helpful staff, and the best Indian food I've ever had (since I've never been to India and all....) bought or homemade. The best part is that they feature a lot of South Indian food, rare to find in most Indian restaurants I've found. I cannot stress enough how amazing this place is!!! You must go! Bonus: it's right next to an Indian grocery, so you can go buy stuff to make yummy Indian food at home, too!
Roti (they bring naan to your table automatically, which has dairy, but they are happy to bring you roti, which is dairy-free. And awesome.)

Buffet Trip 1--Appetizers (clockwise from the left): Mixed Pickle, Tamarind Chutney, Masala Dosas (in the background), Samosas (the star of the buffet!), Pakoras, and Medhu Vada

Buffet Trip 2-- Main Dishes (clockwise from the top): Lemon Rice, Idli, Aloo Madras, Mixed Vegetable Poriyal, and Bagara Baignan.
Not bad for only being here a few weeks, huh? Well now I'm hungry and ready to try more awesome veg food here in Indy! I'll keep you updated....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Local Pumpkin Curry and Tamarind-Date Chutney

For my first order of business, I'll start off by announcing that I have moved! That's why I haven't blogged in so long...moving is busy busy busy! I now live in Indianapolis, Indiana. This city is awesome, and I'm particularly excited to discover all the tasty food here! Of course.

This was one of the first meals I made since moving, and it was a big hit. I had a bunch of new friends over for a South Indian feast, and I think it made a good first food impression!

This subzi, or vegetable curry, is made with local pumpkin I froze this fall. Combined with potatoes and lots of spices, it makes a fantastic main dish. I served this tasty curry with cardamom-scented basmati rice, homemade roti (whole wheat flat bread), mixed pickle, and a tamarind-date chutney. Of course, there was chai for dessert, too! If you can get your hands on fresh or frozen pumpkin, you should make this right away. It's so delicious and healthy, too!!
Pumpkin-Potato Curry (serves 6-8)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs black mustard seeds
1 Tbs cumin seeds
1 Tbs urad dal (split black lentils)
1 Tbs turmeric
12 fresh curry leaves, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 chiles, minced (or to taste)
4 potatoes, diced
6 cups fresh or frozen pumpkin, large diced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbs jaggery or agave nectar
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
12 fresh curry leaves, chopped

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high flame. Add mustard seeds and cook 30 seconds until they begin to pop. Add cumin seeds, urad dal, turmeric, and curry leaves. Cook 30 more seconds until the dal begin to brown. Add onion and saute 5 minutes until lightly golden and softened. Add the garlic and chiles and saute 1 minute to slightly brown. Add potatoes and pumpkin and saute 5 minutes (adding a few Tbs of water if too dry). Add broth, jaggery, salt, pepper, coriander, and cayenne. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the liquid has reduced by at least half. Add the second batch of curry leaves and cook 5 more minutes, uncovered. Season/salt to taste and serve. Goes great with rice, roti, pickle, and chutneys!

And here's my Tamarind-Date Chutney...I'm obsessed and I think you will be, too!

Tamarind-Date Chutney (makes 1 qt, feel free to half if desired)
1/2 cup tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup jaggery or agave nectar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/2" ginger, minced
1 chile, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne, or to taste
1 Tbs vegetable oil
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce to low; simmer 30 minutes until reduced and thickened. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth, or pour into a blender and puree (being careful as it will be very hot). Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Aloo Palak Two Ways

I had potatoes and spinach...what better to do than make Aloo Palak (Indian potatoes and spinach)?! I made it twice in a row, but two different ways: one in the North Indian style, a creamy, saucy curry with garam masala, ginger, soy yogurt, and Kashmiri chili powder. The North version was modified from the blog Honey, What's Cooking?, which has tons of awesome (and veganizable) Indian recipes! I served this with some homemade naan and cilantro-mint chutney. Mmmmmm.... The second version of my Aloo Palak was in the South Indian style, a dried curry with mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut, and lots of chiles. This recipe came from the fantastic 660 Curries cookbook by Raghavan Iyer. I can't get over this book! I served this spicy dish with whole wheat roti and Avocado Chutney, also from 660 Curries. It's like Indian guacamole--with curry leaves, tamarind, chiles, mustard seeds, coconut oil! Genius!

If this were a contest, I guess it would be a tie....both were incredible! Hopefully you can get your hands on some potatoes and spinach soon, because you NEED to eat some Aloo Palak asap!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blizzard Tomato Soup!

It's a freaking blizzard here in the Midwest. So I am snowed in....for a while. The only cure for cabin fever? Grilled Cheeze and Tomato Soup, of course! And plenty of Netflix/Hulu/Twilight Saga/Facebooking/Lost Boys to keep me entertained indoors! Here's my yummy tomato soup recipe. I add a potato to increase the creaminess and thickness of the soup without having to add much margarine or "cream" to keep it lower in fat. This is simply delicious and is just begging to have a pesto grilled cheeze (made with Daiya cheddar!) dipped into it. So perfect together, I can't even believe it! Blizzard Tomato Soup (serves 4-6)
2 Tbs vegetable oil or margarine
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
optional: 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
Pinch cayenne
1 Tbs dried thyme
1 medium potato, small diced
1 Tbs white wine or white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
2-15 oz cans crushed tomatoes, not drained plus 1 can worth of water
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt, and to taste
Pinch nutmeg
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice

In a medium pot, heat oil or margarine over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Lower heat to medium and add garlic. Cook 1 minute to brown. Add jalapeno (if using), cumin, paprika, cayenne, and thyme, as well as the diced potato. Cook 30 seconds to toast spices. Deglaze pan by adding wine and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, water, black and white peppers, salt, onion and garlic powders, and nutmeg. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add almond milk and puree using an immersion blender. If using a regular blender, you will need to blend this in batches. Puree until smooth. Return to heat and cook 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a gooey grilled cheeze or simply lots of crispy crackers!