Monthly Archives: December 2012

Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caaribbean!

Ring in the New Year with this lucky black eyed pea curry! Different and delicious: transport yourself to the Caribbean!

Disclaimer: I am in the process of moving across the country, and thus haven’t had access to a kitchen for over a month. I’m working through the archives, which seem to be full of cookbook recipes. So, I present to you another recipe from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. This particular recipe took me over a year to make. I’d been eyeing it for a while, but I was often distracted by my own cravings, whims, and hesitation for sweeter, milder curries. Finally, I gave this one a try and yet again Isa didn’t disappoint! The curry is a nice balance of sweet and savoury, and there’s a good kick at the end from the addition of habaneros. I didn’t seed my peppers giving me a greater kick than usual, but that’s completely to taste! You can never go wrong with the addition of bell peppers in a curry, and the black eyed peas are a great canvas for the curry as they soak up the flavour wonderfully. Other mild tasting beans can be substituted, such as navy beans. However, the Jewish consider black eyed peas to be lucky when celebrating Rosh Hashanah (usually in autumn), and in the southern US they are considered lucky to ring in the (Roman Calendar) New Year, so why not add a little luck on your side? The plantain addition is nice, however I would recommend simmering the plantain in the curry instead of steaming it separately as the recipe suggests. I find plantains to be really starchy, and when you simmer it in the sauce it takes on the flavour of the curry while still maintaining the plantain purpose.

This dish is simple to throw together – perfect for a weekday meal or for mimizing time spent in the kitchen with company over. The smells of this curry simmering on the stove will transport you to the Caribbean, making you forget that it’s -30 Celsius outside! So when ringing in the New Year, add a little bit of luck to the holiday spread and make this curry!

The recipe is available in Appetite for Reduction, but it is also posted on the PPK here: Caribbean Black Eyed Pea Curry with Plantains.


Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Chili

Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Chili

 (Apologies for the poor picture: I am in the process of moving across the country and only had capabilities for the point-and-shoot no-edit)

The title says it all. Brussels sprouts and sweet potato meet together in a fiery hot chili that has been the side dish for more than one festive meal. Brussels sprouts generally have a bad reputation – I did not have my first sprout until my late 20’s, on account of family ‘brussels sprout issues’. Perhaps I wouldn’t like them so much if I was force-fed them growing up (like tomato soup), but these little vegetables are cute versions of cabbage and taste faintly of broccoli. As an extra bonus, they hold their shape in soups and stews, so you have something firm to chew on instead of wilted leaves or random specks of broccoli florets. They are especially decadent shaved thin and roasted until very brown (some would say burnt); every bushel of brussels sprouts that make it to my kitchen have at least one dish prepared this way! But not everybody has been charmed by these cute little cabbages, so to bring them over to the dark side I present to you this chili.

This chili is a warm, hearty stew that is quick to throw together and disappears just as fast. Pinto beans add some protein, however navy beans or chickpeas are also fantastic. Sweet potatoes (always good in a chili!) are the bulk of the dish, and pair well with the tomatoes and chili powder. The brussels sprouts add some colour, a different texture, and a broccoli/cabbage feel to the chili. Brussels haters won’t even know that they are there! In fact, the last time I made this dish for the family, the self-diagnosed ‘brussels sprouts issues’ individuals first tentative spoonful came with an eye roll and a “clearly I’m humouring you” attitude, then proceeded to lick the bowl clean. And then go for seconds, thirds … one small step for the mighty Brussels Sprout!

This recipe is from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Although an excellent cookbook that is a solid standby for quick weeknight dinners, Isa has also posted the recipe for this dish on her website, the PPK. You can find the recipe here: Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts. 

*Substitution note: As I never have chipotles hanging about, I substitute normal jalapenos. For chipotle smokiness, a drop or two of liquid smoke may get you the same effect, but I have never tried it.

Embrace the Brussels Sprout! Chili for a holiday meal? Why not, I say! It’s a wonderful change to the maple sugared toothache-inducing ‘traditional’ preparation of both the sweet potato and brussels sprout. The taste will win over even the staunchest brussels sprouts “haters” – a perfect excuse to make more!


Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et

Ethiopian Jackfruit W'et

Don’t be fooled by the unassuming appearance – this one’s a show stopper!

Recently sidelined with a cold, I was craving something fiery to clear out the sinuses. The jackfruit and eggplant combo were speaking to me, and they weren’t calling for Indian or Thai. You must respect your vegetables! So I turned to Ethiopia for inspiration, and this monster chili was born. Each component of the chili offers a unique point of view, resulting in a party in your mouth in every bite. It is more of a stew than a w’et, so if you served it traditionally (poured over injera) the injera may get soggy too quickly. But using the injera as a dipping vessel or mop would get you just the right juice-to-injera ratio, changing the stew from weekday dish to something to serve to company. Like all chilis, I imagine this recipe is infinitely adaptable depending on your pantry. The components I chose were:

– Jackfruit: Jackfruit adds a nice, firm texture to the chili. Outer pieces as they are cooked sometimes get ‘shredded’ making it a two-for-one texture vegetable!

– Eggplant: Eggplant’s meatiness and willingness to absorb flavour cannot be overlooked. With plenty of flavour to go around, this eggplant is melt in your mouth tender and delicious!

– Lentils: I used green lentils for their firmer texture in this version. Next time I will do a green/red lentil combo – the green lentils for texture and the red lentils to add creaminess to the broth

– Zucchini: You don’t notice it really. I just had some taking up room in the freezer. Delicious though!

These together in a chunky tomato base and a berber spice mix resulted in a chili that is as unique as it is delicious. Visitors to my apartment commented on the aroma, and it was all I could do to keep them from eating the whole pot! Easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to even the greatest skeptic of Ethiopian food. Enjoy!

Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et

1 cup lentils
2t. niter kibeh OR extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 serrano chilis, seeded and diced (to taste)
3c. eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
1 can young jackfruit (in brine), drained and cut into 1″ pieces
3c. zucchini, cut into 1″ cubes
1.5T. berber spice mix – dry or paste
1t. ground cumin
1t. ground coriander
1/4t. ground cinnamon
1T. paprika
2 (28oz.) cans diced tomatos (~6 cups diced tomatoes) *Note: You could use whole tomatoes as well and tear with your fingers as you add to the pot!
2T. tomato paste
2c. water, as needed

Directions:

1) In medium sauce pan, cook lentils until tender. Drain and set aside.
2) In large sauce pan, sauté onion in oil until translucent
3) Add garlic and chilis. Sauté ~1 min.
4) Add eggplant and a splash of water. Cover and cook until eggplant starts to get tender.
5) Add jackfruit, zucchini, and all spices. Stir.
6) Add tomatoes slowly, stirring as you go. This will ensure an even spice mix.
7) Add tomato paste and ~2 cups water. Stir.
8) At this point your lentils should be ready – add them to the pot. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 15-20min., or until all veggies are done to your liking. Stir occasionally, adding water to the stew consistency of your choice.
9) Cover, turn off heat, and let sit for 5-10min. to let the flavours meld.
11) Ladle into bowls and serve with injera and a green salad.


Tempeh Tikka Masala with Naan

Doesn't look like much, but it's heaven in a bowl!

Doesn’t look like much, but it’s heaven in a bowl!

Spicy tomato curries are a weakness of mine. I have yet to come across one that I have not immediately pledged my undying love to. Whether it be a vegetable curry, a daal, a veggie-daal combo, or something that gets thrown into the pot because your fridge is conspiring against you, they are all amazing. But this Tempeh Tikka Masala is quite possibly the best curry I have ever had the privledge of eating. Ever. Scooped up with delicious, easy, vegan naan bread and this quite possibly may be my definition of heaven.

Tempeh is one of my favourite protein sources. I rarely buy it, and when I do I let it talk to me. What does it want to be? Braised in a Mexican beer marinade and used as wraps? Sauted with soy sauce and used in a Macro Bowl? Well, this block was telling (demanding) me that it needed to be in a curry. Only a spicy tomato curry would make its life complete, and I was happy to oblige. I have never had ‘real’ Tikka Masala, and so this was a new experience for us both. The recipe is compliments of Vegan Richa (Formerly Hobbies and More), an amazing cook that has a life mission it seems to bring to the world the best that Northern India has to offer. The tempeh is first marinated in a mixture of curry spices and a small amount of yogurt. The curry is then built up with a pureed tomato base of fresh tomatoes, ginger, chili, and garlic. Aromatic Indian spices such as garam masala, paprika, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, asafoetida (hing), and turmeric season the dish, turning the puree into something magical. Kale is added for some greens, although spinach would work as well. The tempeh is cooked seperately to sear the edgesand carmelize the marinade, then it’s all simmered together for as long as you can resist. Creamyness is added to the curry with the addition of yogurt and milk. This was my first time in adding yogurt to a curry to make it creamy, and the results did not dissapoint. I used Amande yogurt, but coconut yogurt would also be delectable here. This dish to me is comfort food to the max, with the right mixture of sauce, spice, and chewiness with the tempeh. Scooped with naan, and its bliss in a bowl.

The Tempeh Tikka Masala recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Tempeh Tikka Masala

I must admit, I never realized that naan bread had milk or yogurt in it. When dining at Indian restaurants, I tend to prefer roti or pampads, because those are the two items that I consistently set my oven on fire with when I try to make them. Naan is the soft, fluffy cousin of roti, and a new scooping vessel for me. It would make a great pizza base, or hummus vessel. This recipe is also from Vegan Richa, and my results were nothing short of phenominal. Soft, pillowy naan greeted me from the oven, with nary a lick of flame in sight! It requires a bit more pre-planning than roti because it needs to rise, but its definately worth the effort! This recipe will be used in the future for my next attempt at stuffed breads: Paratha. The verison I made here was the yogurt version (again with Amande), but next time I think I will add some garlic  and whole cumin seeds for a truly decadent naan.

This easy, delicious, and sure fire naan recipe can be found here: Vegan Richa – Naan


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