Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eating Vegan in Indy, Part 2!

I've done some more investigating and found some more awesome places to eat vegan-style in (and around) Indianapolis...I'm loving this city more and more with each meal!

First, for non-Indianapolis food: the Owlery, a new vegetarian/vegan place in Bloomington, IN, which is only about 45 minutes away. This place is awesome!! It's main focus is on veg versions of comfort foods, such as tofu ribs and vegan fish'n'chips. The food is absolutely delicious! My friend and I shared the Vegan Poutine for our appetizer! Holy cow! If you're unfamiliar with poutine, it's basically just french fries smothered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. Yeah. This version had vegan cheese and an awesome veg brown gravy. Salllllllt and fried goodness.

For my entree, I had Piegrogies!!! I haven't had pierogies since going vegan, so this meal was super special. I got to choose three condiments from a long list, so I picked sauerkraut, vegan sour cream and applesauce. Best meal I've eaten in a long time! Carbs!!

Now onto Indy eats!!

First, for fantastic Mexican food, there is La Parada! My friends and I go there weekly, it's that good! It's a little hole in the wall, and it is run by a wonderful group of people. For veg options, just ask for dishes with beans and no cheese or sour cream. There's also the Spanish rice, guacamole, and free chips and salsa! Score! My favorite item is the Gordita Rajas, with roasted poblano chiles it in..just ask for avocado instead of cheese and you're good to go!

One of my favorite places to eat in Indy is the Ethiopian restaurant Abyssinia. I love love love Ethiopian food, and this place does it right! A very wide (and delicious) vegetarian menu, relaxing atmosphere, and great staff. What's not to love??

For an appetizer, there are the Yesimir Sabmusa, a flaky pastry filled with spiced lentils and vegetables, very similar to the Indian samosa. Mmmmmm....

For the entree, I recommend sharing the Vegetarian Taste of Abyssinia platter, which comes with a little of each veg option on the menu. So great!!! It's perfect for sharing, so bring someone with good taste to dinner with you! I also love the Fitfit, which is like a salad made with chopped up injera, tomatoes, jalapenos and a vinegar-based dressing. Hooooly cow.And of course, all the dishes are served with Injera, the spongy flatbread made out of a fermented teff batter. I wish I had a piece of it the size of a beach towel I could wrap myself in and then eat the whole thing. Maybe that's just me! haAnd, if you ask, they will bring you a little plate of condiments for dipping and whatnot. So so spicy and flavorful and gooooood.

Next there is Bosphorus, which is a lovely little Turkish restaurant in the Fountain Square area. It's in a super cozy old house, with fantastic food.

I opted for the hummus and pita for the appetizer, which was the best idea ever! Amazing grilled, warm, soft pita (homemade!) and the creamiest hummus I think I've ever eaten.

For my entree, I got the Falafel, which was on the Mezze menu, but I got it for my meal. Sometimes, I just have to eat falafel. I just have to!! This was served with hummus, veggies, and a tahini sauce, which rounded it out to be seriously perfect!

All in all, I'd say Indianapolis is doing a pretty darn good job of feeding the vegans of this great city!! I'm still hungry for more, though!!! Many more to come, of course.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


In vegan and even vegetarian cookery, it can often be hard to add umami, or a savory quality, to many dishes. Often times umami comes from meat or other animal products in cooking. Fortunately, there are a few animal-free foods that can impart that particular brand of tastiness to your food, including kombu seaweed, tomatoes, cabbage, greens, miso, soy sauce and many other fermented foods. A major vegan source of savoriness is from mushrooms. These tasty little fungi provide not only umami, but also a wide range of nutrients! Bonus!

Here's a few of my recent cooking endeavors that featured the savory mushroom:

Pumpkin-Mushroom Curry (serves 4)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs mustard seeds
1 Tbs cumin seeds
2 Tbs urad dal
12 curry leaves, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing powder)
2-4 Thai chiles
6 cloves garlic, minced
1" ginger, minced
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
Pinch salt
4 cups fresh or frozen pumpkin, cubed (can also use butternut squash if pumpkin unavailable)
1/2 c water or vegetable broth
1 Tbs jaggery or brown sugar
1 Tbs tamarind
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 Tbs garbanzo flour
12 curry leaves, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat in a large wok or deep skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds, cook 30 seconds until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add urad dal and curry leaves and cook 30 more seconds to lightly brown. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the turmeric, cayenne, and asafoetida and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add mushrooms and pinch of salt, and cook 5 minutes until mushrooms have cooked down and released some of their liquid. Add the pumpkin cubes, water or broth, jaggery, tamarind, salt, pepper, coriander and cumin. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to low. Cover and simmer 10-12 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender and has cooked down somewhat. Add garbanzo flour and curry leaves, and then cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh red onion and cilantro, and serve alongside roti and plenty of Indian pickle.

And, another way to use mushrooms in Indian cooking:

Mushrooms and Peas in a Fenugreek Cream Sauce--veganized using pureed silken tofu instead of heavy cream, from the amazing cookbook 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I'm obsessed with this tasty stew and this book. It's a must have! This hearty dish was made even tastier served atop brown basmati rice
as well as with a side of a Radish Raita, also from 660 Curries, made with coconut yogurt. A perfectly filling a veggie-licous meal!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Local Rosemary Apple Cobbler

I absolutely adore the combination of apples and rosemary. Ever since I made the Apple Rosemary Scones from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan Brunch, I've been hooked on the marriage of these two flavors! So when I spotted a big bunch of beautiful fresh rosemary at the farmers' market on Saturday, that's the first place my mind (and stomach) went. I also had a bunch of locally-grown apples that were needing to be used...perfect timing!

This recipe is gluten-free and refined sugar-free, but you could use regular all-purpose flour if that's what you had around, just use 2 cups flour total and omit the xantham gum.

Rosemary Apple Cobbler (serves about 12)
gluten-free, refined sugar-free

for the apple filling
6 cups apples, thinly-sliced
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs arrowroot
Juice of 1 lemon

for the crust
1 cup gluten free oat flour
1/3 c brown rice flour
1/3 c millet or sorghum flour
1/3 c buckwheat flour
2 Tbs tapioca starch
1 tsp xantham gum
2 Tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbs vegan margarine, such as Earth Balance
2 Tbs non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
3 Tbs agave nectar
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/3 cup cold water, or as needed

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
In a large bowl, stir together the ingredients for the filling, except the apples. Add in the apples and toss to coat well. Pour into the prepared baking dish and spread out to create an even layer.
Combine the dry ingredients for the crust in the bowl and mix well. Stir in the rosemary. Cut in the cold margarine and shortening using a strong fork or pastry cutter, to create a crumbly dough. Drizzle in the agave and water, adding more water as needed, to form a stiff and slightly sticky dough. Spread dough over the top of the apples in patches, so it covers most of the top but leaves some open spaces. Bake for 30 minutes, until the apples have cooked down and softened, and the crust is firm but not too hard. Let cool 5-10 minutes and serve warm. Goes especially well with some vanilla non-dairy ice cream!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Massaman Mushroom-Seitan Curry

There's just something comforting about a Massaman's probably the combination of warming spices such as cardamom, anise, and cinnamon, or maybe the creaminess of the coconut milk, or maybe just the hardiness of the combination of potatoes, vegetables, and cashews all simmered together with love. It is most likely the combination of all these elements that makes Massaman one of my favorite style of Thai curries. It's a perfect dish for a chilly night in with friends, chatting and watching movies and laughing and staying warm. My version is made with chunks of toothsome seitan, in place of the traditional beef found in this curry with Muslim origins, as well as mushrooms, to give a meaty and savory feel to the dish. This is perfect served with brown Jasmine rice and a side of spicy, garlicky broccoli! Massaman Mushroom-Seitan Curry (serves 4-6)
3 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1" ginger, minced
2 Thai chiles, minced
8 oz mushrooms, rough chopped
3 Tbs soy sauce, divided
2 cups seitan, diced
2 medium potatoes (or sweet potatoes), diced
1 15 oz can coconut milk
1 small tin Massaman curry paste
1/2 cup water or vegetable stock
2 Tbs jaggery (palm sugar) or brown sugar
1 Tbs tamarind concentrate
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch cayenne, to taste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp anise
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1/4 c Thai basil, chopped (or 2 Tbs dried basil)
1 cup cashews

In a large wok or deep pan heat oil over medium-high heat. Add red onion and shallots, and saute for 5 minutes until softened and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 more minute to lightly brown garlic. Add mushrooms and chiles and saute 2-3 more minutes until mushrooms have begun to reduce. Add 2 Tbs soy sauce and curry paste to the pan. Add seitan and potato chunks and cook 2-3 minutes to lightly brown the edges. Add the coconut milk and water or broth. Bring to a boil and reduce to low; simmer 10 minutes. Add jaggery, tamarind, 1 Tbs soy sauce, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, anise and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 more minutes, until liquid has thickened and potatoes are tender. Add lemon juice, basil and cashews, and cook 5 more minutes, uncovered. Add salt to taste, as well as any more heat desired. Top with extra cashews and serve with jasmine rice.

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!