Monday, 1 October 2012

An ode to Indian food (Vegan Mofo)


If you have come over from the Vegan Mofo website, then I heartily welcome you and thank you so much for choosing to read my blog during Vegan Mofo!  I hope you'll become one of my regulars!

For my regulars who may be uninitiated, Vegan Month of Food (more commonly known as Vegan Mofo) is an annual month-long blogging celebration of all vegan edibles.  Think like NaNoWriMo, except it's all about vegan food awesomeness!

So throughout this month, I'm going to be blogging about all of my favorite vegan delights.  Some posts will be recipe reviews, cookbook reviews, odes to vegan eating, cooking tips, or even my own recipes.  I'm writing these posts not just for the initiated vegan, but for all of my friends who are interested in mindful eating and finding out all about how easy, healthy and yummy it is to enjoy a plant-based diet!

Without further ado, we kick off Vegan Mofo with an ode to one of the best ethnic food types for vegans, Indian!

Good curry, let's hurry!

If you like Indian food, there is a good chance you've been eating a lot of vegan cuisine without even knowing it.  This is one of the hardest things I've found when it comes to overcoming prejudices against vegan food.  You've been eating it all along, and just haven't realized!  People assume that it's either all raw "rabbit food", or that it is somehow really difficult to make.  Nope.  It is as easy as pie (vegan pie!) to make a simple vegan recipe, like this absolutely beautiful and gut-bustingly filling curry that is pictured above.  Now I can't remember where I got the recipe for that particular curry, but if you search "potato curry" around the internet, I'm sure you'll find a good one.

Anyway, back to lauding Indian food.  Indian is one of the most amazing types of food for several reasons in addition to how much of it is vegan.  It is also incredibly affordable for the most part.  Simple ingredients like potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas, coconut milk, rice and spices make for a meal that is not only easy on the budget and rich in flavour, but also really easy to make.

Take for example one of my absolute favorite recipes, Red Lentil Dahl with basmati rice:
This is certainly one of the easiest recipes in my repetoire.  It doesn't even require the chopping of very many vegetables!  It is simply a stew of split red lentils, onions and spices, served on a bed of fragrant basmati rice.  The lentils are a great choice for both fibre and protein, making this a dish that really "sticks to your ribs".  You could serve some steamed greens as a side.  It's also really good with naan instead of rice.

And if that isn't easy enough, try another great lentil dish, simply called Tomato Lentils with Spinach:
Colourful and delicious.
This one is so easy it practically isn't even a recipe.  It is lentils, a can of diced tomatoes, a little lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and a handful of spinach, served on rice. The lentils in this recipe are whole green lentils, which as you can see produce a different result than the split red lentils used in the dahl.  Lentils that aren't split hold together and produce a much firmer texture.  There are literally dozens of varieties of lentils and I have no where near tried them all.  I stock the split red and green all the time in my cupboard, and buy other types as needed.

If you aren't into lentils, how about some chickpeas in the quintessential Indian recipe, Chana Masala?:
EVERYDAY. I would eat this!
You can't have Indian food without chana masala.  In fact, of the three recipes that my husband knows how to cook all by himself, chana masala is one of them.  We have it probably about once a week.  This spiced chickpea dish is probably the most economical meal that I can think of.  A can of chickpeas is really cheap (dried and rehydrated even cheaper), then just add spices, a bit of tomato and hot pepper and voila!  This is another dish where there are recipes literally all over the internet, pick your own favorite.

But Indian food is not all about the beans and lentils (well, it is a lot about beans and lentils, which you should love if you don't already because they are teeny superfoods)!  If you aren't into the beans, then try making some awesome Pakoras:
I want these right now.
Pakoras (or is it still pakora for plural?  The internet won't tell me...) are kind of like little Indian potato pancakes.  You make a chickpea flour batter (yes, it must be chickpea flour, ordinary flour won't do, get some at your organic grocer) and add grated potato, carrot, spinach and spices.  While these are traditionally fried, I prefer to bake them to save on fat.  They are a delightful bite sized treat which are perfect for dipping in chutney or your favorite dipping sauce (my favorite is to dip them in a vindaloo sauce!).  Despite the somewhat more exotic ingredients and a bit more labour time, I would still consider pakoras to be a great weeknight meal.

And, the coup d'grace in my Indian food repetoire, the Samosas!
Pockets of goodness
Now right off the bat you can see these aren't very traditional samosas.  Once again, this is a case of baking where you would traditionally fry (because we don't need any more sat fat!).  The recipe for these vegan samosas came courtesy of The Vegan Lunchbox cookbook.  A batch of whole wheat pie crust is stuffed with a lovely seasoned mix of boiled potatoes and peas.  Seal them up and bake, then eat with your favorite sauce (in this picture, it's plum).  I'm  not going to lie, these require effort (anytime I'm making a pie crust that pretty much seals it for me as an "effort" recipe), but the payoff is completely worth it.  I would make these to accompany one of the other Indian recipes for a Sunday night dinner.

And that is just a sample of some of the easy, amazing vegan foods that come naturally when you're making Indian food!  Happy noshing!

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