Category Archives: Breads

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


Sambar with Rava Dosa

South Indian “chicken soup” for the soul!

Sambar is a spicy clear broth soup from Southern India and Sri Lanka. It is very simple in composition, and may be considered by some (me) to be the Indian “chicken soup” for the soul. A scattered amount of vegetables and some toor daal (also known as pigeon peas in Latin cooking) make the dish a pleasing starter to a meal or even a meal in itself. This particular recipe has a nice balance of spicy and tangy, with copious amounts of whole dried chilis and spices offset by tamarind. Tamarind is an ingredient often found in Middle Eastern and Asian dishes, and gives the dish a lime-like tang. I also love to put it in chilis, as the “umami” ingredient. Tamarind pulp and tamarind concentrate can be found in any Middle East, Asian, or Indian grocery; or even a well-stocked grocery store. The base is easily adaptable, with other protein options like green or red lentils, chickpeas, white beans, fava beans, or whatever legume is speaking to you at the moment. The vegetable additions can also reflect the state of your mood/fridge: zucchini, carrots, celery, bell pepper, eggplant … even cauliflower would all be delicious! It is a comfort soup like chicken noodle, and would cure whatever ails you. With the added bonus of being extremely tasty, this soup should be a cold weather standby.

Sambar is often served with a Dosa, an Indian flatbread. After my dosa disasters, I tried another recipe that didn’t involve fermenting beans or rice – Rava Dosa. Rava Dosas are crepes made from semolina and rice flour and are extremely simple to make! Easier even than pancakes, they also taste fantastic and are quick to throw together. They are delicious by themselves, but also make a great dipping vessel for soups, stews, and curries. The jalapeno and cilantro in the batter act as accents to the main dish, almost like a baked-in chutney. They would also be fantastic instead of tortillas in breakfast burritos, omelettes, or anything else you would use wraps for! I will definitely be making these again.

The Sambar recipe can be found here: Sambar

The Rava Dosa recipe can be found here: Rava Dosa

 


Green Posole with Corn Tortillas

Green Posole Stew served with homemade corn tortillas, avocado, and sliced radish

Posole is a slow-cook Mexican stew, similar to a chili. This particular stew is a hodgepodge of interesting flavours and textures ensuring that every delectable bite is a new and interesting flavour profile. This was my first experience with tomatillos and hominy, with varying degrees of success. Tomatillos are like gift wrapped green tomatoes, with a papery husk that you have to peel away before washing. Their skin is sticky, almost soapy when wet, making washing essential. In this recipe the tomatillos are first boiled until they lose some of their bright green colour and start to float like bobbing for apples, then quenched, then pureed in the food processor with onions, roasted jalapenos, and fresh herbs, making a delicious roasted sauce. At this point I couldn’t resist a taste, and their flavour is very different from normal tomatoes – delicious in their own right. I will definitely be using them in the future, perhaps in a roasted tomatillo salsa.

I first heard of hominy on the Food Network when a chef on either Top Chef or Chopped was making their version of “hominy and grits”. I have had grits before (never again!) but hominy … I tracked some down to discover it appears to be corn kernels that have been treated with lime somehow. Out of the can they don’t taste like anything, but in the stew they add a nice texture similar to a bean. My final verdict on hominy is that it’s an interesting ingredient, but not something I will be obsessed with (like jackfruit!).

Now onto the stew … This stew is a recipe from Viva Vegan! (page 137) and has many steps if you don’t have pre-made seitan on hand (which I didn’t). The seitan is the “white seitan” recipe (page 35), meant to replace chicken or pork. I am not a big lover of seitan as I find it too chewy, but I put it in the stew anyway. It was the only disappointing component, only because even though the stew is delicious, I still wasn’t a big fan of seitan. The next time I make this stew (and there will be a next time!) I will substitute the seitan for some tofu or tempeh, both of which I think would soak up the flavours of the delicious broth and add that extra bit of protein. The broth itself is an interesting kitchen adventure. First you roast some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) then grind them in the food processor. This both thickens the broth but also adds an unexpected layer of flavour that I could not get enough of. Then you add this mixture to the pureed tomatillos, resulting in a complex, delicious, and addictive stew base. The oddest combinations often work and this is no exception! The stew itself is then just composed of whatever greens you have on hand, beans, hominy, and the seitan. Delectable, delicious, and when served with homemade tortillas and avocado I wish it was a never-ending soup pot! It is one of the most interesting stews you will ever try, and worth the multiple steps!

The recipe can be found here on the Google Book Preview: Green Posole Seitan Stew with Chard and White Beans. However, if any of my recent posts haven’t convinced you yet (Pupusas, Curdito, and Simple Tomato Sauce; Sweet and Nutty Stuffed Plantains), this stew should be the tipping point for checking the book out at the library!

A note about Homemade Corn Tortillas:

I made my own corn tortillas to serve with this recipe, expanding my flatbread repertoire. Tortillas  as it turns out are very easy to make and super quick – I am not the fastest cook in the kitchen by any means, and even I managed to make 36 tortillas in under an hour! With nothing more than a rolling pin, some parchment paper, and a pan, you can make tortillas that taste so much better than the cardboard store bought ones you will wonder why you haven’t made them before! The dough is nothing more than masa harina and water, and is even on the side of the masa harina bag for you. Mix, play with the PlayDoh dough, roll between parchment to a size of your liking, and cook for ~30s. on each side. That’s all that’s standing between you and a stack of piping hot tortillas! Mine were a bit misshapen, but that is due entirely to rolling technique with an empty peanut butter jar. Still tasty and delicious, they are the perfect scooping vessel for whatever – from guacamole to this delicious stew!

There are different tortilla recipes in Viva Vegan!, but here is a step-by-step guide with pictures: Homemade Corn Tortillas. I don’t have a tortilla press, and just rolled out the dough in a circular(ish) shape between two pieces of parchment paper with my ‘rolling pin’ (aka. peanut butter jar). Even with this rudimentary method, I was slowed down in production by the size of my pan, not the speed of my rolling. I am sure you get prettier tortillas faster using a tortilla press, but for my kitchen my method worked just fine. After all, they only need to look pretty for the 5 seconds on the plate before you eat them!


El Salvador Feast: Black Bean and Plantain Pupusa, Curdito, and Simple Tomato Sauce

Components: Curdito in the bowl; Pupusa topped with Simple Latin Tomato Sauce and sliced avocado sprinkled with chili powder on the plate.

 

The hot weather made me do it. I finally got around to trying Terry Hope Romero’s cookbook Viva Vegan! a tomb of 200 Latin American recipes. I quickly learned in my 3h read through of the book that what I thought was Latin American was actually Tex-Mex, and everything I hate about Tex-Mex has no bearing in authentic Latin American food. It was one of the more expensive library trips for me – what started as a 20-recipe ‘must try NOW’ list plus an additional 20-recipe ‘must make within the month’ resulted in me purchasing the only copy of the cookbook in my city. And thus began the Latin Cooking Extravaganza!

 

I will be honest, I didn’t know much about Latin American food, aside from the aforementioned Tex-Mex. Tacos, Enchiladas, and Mole sauce and I was out. This is just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more to be explored! Viva Vegan! is a fantastic resource for the uninitiated and adventurous – such as myself. It has recipes from all over Central and South America, with plenty of tips on how to properly roast chilies, when to use the special ingredients and when you can get away with substitutions (especially important for chili powders!), as well as well written step-by-step instructions on how to make your own Latin kitchen staples, such as tortillas. The best part of cooking Latin was that with my pantry stocked with Middle Eastern, Indian, and Asian spices, I could cook almost every recipe in the cookbook without a special trip to the grocery store. But where is the fun in experimenting if it doesn’t come with a trip to the ethnic market? Three kinds of chili powder, two kinds of dried chilies, a bottle of habanero hot sauce, and a Mexican spice called Epazote that smells like gasoline later and I was set.

 

Opening the fest was Black Bean and Plantain Pupusas (pg. 162), Curdito (pg. 79), and Simple Tomato Sauce (pg. 46). Pulled together in under an hour, Latin weekend opened with a bang of flavour! The Curdito is the same as the coleslaw recipe for the Baja Tacos in Veganomicon, and my favourite coleslaw recipe ever. The Simple Tomato Sauce is exactly that – simple and delicious. It amazed me how something with such few ingredients could taste so fantastic! I used green onions and garlic scrapes from my CSA vegetables which made the sauce fresh and bright even though I used canned tomatoes. I ate the sauce straight from the saucepan, until I deployed some measure of restraint to serve it with the pupusa.

 

The Pupusas are very easy to make, and require no time at all to cook! The dough is just masa flour and water, which turns into the consistency of homemade PlayDoh making the pupusas very easy (and fun!) to shape, mould, stuff, and close. The filling for this batch was the suggested black bean and plantain filling with a sprinkling of Daiya cheese. This combination was heavenly, and when served with the tomato sauce tasted like a Latin Pizza Pocket, only 100x better! So successful were these pupusas they have inspired my creativity, and I am planning a future themed evening of other variations – including a dessert pupusa. Cocoa powder added to the dough, and stuffed with a cinnamon-nut crumble with plantains. Mmmm… The leftover pupusas froze very well, and were very travel-friendly for meals-on-the-go. Of course, they didn’t hurt with a quick warm-up in the microwave/pan and served with some more sauce!

 

If you do not have the cookbook, I strongly urge you to check it out of the library. For a taster, the recipes for this delectable meal can be found here: Pupusas, Curdito, and Salsa Rojo. Previews of the cookbook are also available on Google Books, found here: Viva Vegan!  You will be surprised at how easy and delicious this seemingly complex dish is. Plus, you get to play with ‘PlayDoh’ dough. So roll up those sleeves, get creative with the stuffing, and enjoy!


Roti and Hummus: Two Ways

On Plate: Left: Tamarind Hummus, Right: Red Lentil Hummus; with roti
And of course a nice selection of crudités!

When it’s too hot to spend copious amounts of time at the stove, my go to has always been hummus. I always have some form of a hummus dip/spread on the go, and this platter was no exception! I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of two different styles of hummus with two different beans. I made a chickpea based hummus flavoured with tamarind and tahini, in the style of the Arabian Gulf, as well as a red lentil hummus flavoured with tahini and lemon, a flavour combination most associate with hummus. This also gave me the perfect excuse to try my hand at making Rotis. The result of this taste test was a satisfied tummy, delicious hummus spreads, and the knowledge that I have mastered the skill set required for rotis and can make them in less than 30min!

*Note* The hummus recipes that follow are the ones pictured above. I follow a standard formula for all hummus attempts, and season on whim as I go. Beans I have used range from lentils, black beans, black eyed peas, navy beans, fava beans, and of course chick peas. I also make hummus without any oil, so if you prefer add 1 tsp. – 2 tbsp. of olive oil to any hummus recipe. Successful flavour combinations include: “Southwest Hummus” made with black beans, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, and chili powder; “Curry Hummus” made with curry powder, cumin, coriander, and a dash of turmeric and cayenne; “Fresh Hummus” with roasted bell peppers, fresh cilantro, parsley, basil, and lemon; and the lower fat varieties with pureed cauliflower or mashed sweet potato for bulk (delicious!).  These are not by any means the end of the combinations, so if interested I could post a hummus ‘primer’ for those out there!

Roti

Roti are one of those flatbreads that are all-purpose and appropriate for anything you could imagine. Of course there is the traditional use of a utensil in your daal/curry creation, but I have also made Roti PB&J sandwiches, roti chips, roti pizzas … I was scared off of making my own roti when I accidently set my oven on fire making chapati’s (roti’s cousin) a couple of years ago. But when the craving hit this time I was called to the kitchen – albeit with trepidation. I needn’t have worried! Rotis are super easy to make, and even easier to cook. All you need is a standard skillet, and you are ready for business. Just like cooking a 30s. pancake, you will have delicious roti’s faster than it’ll take for you to cut vegetables!

I used the following recipe: Roti/Chapati.  Initially I did have problems rolling out the roti’s to the desired thinness, which is why the ones above are such interesting shapes. However, on my last roti I decided to try and roll the dough out sandwiched between two pieces of parchment paper. Worked like a charm! To save on mess and frustration, I strongly recommend doing this, or using thick plastic wrap when making flatbreads like roti, pita, and na’an. My confidence in my flatbread making abilities has skyrocketed so much that I am thinking I may be ready to tackle gobhi parathas (cauliflower stuffed flatbread)!

 Red Lentil Hummus

Using red lentils in hummus makes a delightfully creamy spread. The picture of the hummus above is a bit runny because I forgot to adjust my liquid ratios with the bean – chickpeas require more liquid to puree than red lentils. The spread did thicken nicely in the fridge, but next time I will endeavour to take into consideration the type of bean used! As it was this hummus made for delicious dips and spreads in wraps. I used my standard flavour profile for this hummus, which works for any type of bean: chick pea, lentil, black bean, navy bean … my food processor has not met a bean it does not like! The base recipe is below, however with this standard hummus I encourage you to play with the spices, ratios, and flavours! Taste, add, blend, and taste again – that’s the secret to perfect hummus!

Red Lentil Hummus

1½ cups cooked red lentils
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. tahini
1½ tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. ground cumin
⅛ tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) In food processor, puree all ingredients until smooth. Taste for seasonings; adjust as necessary
2) Place in storage container and chill in fridge at least 1h prior to serving to allow flavours to meld. Tastes even better the next day!

 Tamarind Hummus

This was a new experiment for me. My tamarind paste lives beside my (store bought, and thus little used) red Thai Curry paste (Thai Curry Hummus? Experiment for the next batch!) and I wanted to use it. Tamarind gives a distinctive flavour to a variety of dishes; from pad thai to chilis to Middle Eastern tagines and couscous pilafs. Tamarind itself is a pod-like fruit that looks a bit like a broad bean and tastes almost a tangy lime molasses in concentrated form. It can also be found as a brick of compressed pulp from the fruit, which when chopped tastes fantastic in chilis. You can make your own concentrate from the pulp, but I usually buy a small jar at an Asian, Middle Eastern, or Indian grocery. A little goes a long way, so that small jar will last a very long time! Added to hummus and it creates a completely different flavour profile than the standard recipe above – one that is tangy and tahini like at the same time and completely addicting.

 

The recipe I used for this first attempt came from the cookbook Classic Vegetarian Cooking From the Middle East and North Africa, by Habeeb Salloom. The recipe is also posted here: Chickpea and Tamarind Dip (Hummus Bi Tamar Hindi). Enjoy!


Fusion Pizza: Sweet Potato Crust with Kale and Vegetable Curry

The Moroccan Fusion Pizza was such a success I decided to create another fusion pizza! I had some sweet potatoes that had been languishing in the fridge for too long, and were begging to be used before they became a new life form. I remembered reading a recipe for sweet potato biscuits, so I decided that if you could make biscuits out of sweet potatoes, you can make pizza dough! This thought process led me immediately to crunchy kale, because nothing goes better with sweet potatoes than kale. (Except maybe black beans). Unfortunately for my fridge, I had stocked for my original weekend plan of Vegetable Curry, and now with the change of plans those vegetables were looking forlorn and forgotten. So I made the curry anyway, and topped the pizza creation with a nice spicy, saucy, vegetable curry. The result? Fantastic! These fusion pizzas are the way to go! Unexpected flavours when you say the word ‘pizza’, these heavily topped flatbreads are mouth-wateringly delicious. And as an extra bonus, you will have curry leftovers for lunch the next day.

For the vegetable curry topping, I used this vegetable curry recipe. It is very quick to throw together, and I found the idea of making a fresh tomato puree sauce unique. The tomato puree sauce is a new culinary trick that I will keep in my back pocket for other opportunities – it would make a great salad dressing, dipping sauce, or even a cold soup like gazpacho! For the vegetables I used all leftover and forlorn veg in my fridge. This version had extra cauliflower, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and carrots. I added broccoli to the mix, because slightly charred broccoli is perhaps more delicious than slightly charred kale. But only slightly. The curry was delicious on its own, with layers of flavours reminiscent of Northern Indian curries with a nice kick at the end. The only improvement I would make would be to add some red lentils to simmer with the tomato puree sauce for extra creaminess and a bit of protein. 

As the curry already had a tomato sauce, I skipped the sauce step of the ‘flatbread + sauce + toppings’ formula of a pizza. Instead, after baking the crust I lined the base with a healthy amount of kale, and then added a mound of curry. This technique was excellent and far exceeded expectations. The kale near the edge of the pizza turned nice and crispy, and the centre pieces became soft and marinated with that delicious curry flavour! The crust itself was one of the best I have ever had. The dough is quite sticky, and parchment paper here is worth its weight in gold. The crust comes out still soft with some crispy edges, and is almost nutty in flavour, thanks to the quinoa flour. It would be delicious on its own as a flatbread, focaccia, or even baked a bit more for some breadsticks used for dipping vessels! Plus, it’s orange. Who doesn’t like coloured food? With the kale and curry topping, it is one of the prettiest pizzas I have ever made!

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, cooled (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup spelt flour (chickpea flour or more quinoa flour would also be delicious!)
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. cold water
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In large bowl, mix all ingredients together
2) Spread onto parchment lined cookie sheet
3) Bake at 400 dF for 10 min.
4) Allow to cool slightly, then add toppings.

5) Once pizza topped, bake in oven 20 min. Allow to cool slightly.
Slice and serve!

Bet you can’t eat just one!

 


Fusion Pizza: Chickpea Flatbread with Moroccan Curried Tomatoes

Pizza. A simple concept of a base, a sauce, and toppings. Fiercely debated as to who invented the dish as we know it (the Italians vs. the USA), the definition becomes hazy when authenticity is claimed. I do not claim any of my pizzas to be authentic, and believe that the base can be a tortilla shell, the sauce a spinach-asparagus puree, and toppings from artichokes to that carrot that has been in your crisper for an unknown amount of time. From fancy to clean-out-the-fridge, it’s all pizza to me!

This creation I am calling Moroccan Pizza. It is based off of two recipes in the Millennium Cookbook by Eric Tucker, which is very quickly rising to challenge Veganomicon as the standby cookbook of choice. The crust is the Chickpea Flatbread (page 7), and the topping is the filling for the Moroccan Filo Crescents (page 114-116). The Chickpea Flatbread was extremely easy to prepare and was quite tasty by itself. It would make a great addition to a hummus and baba ghanouj platter, easily rising to the challenge of a dipping vessel! The texture of the flatbread was slightly rubbery however, which although tasty I don’t know if I would eat it alone. The Filo Crescent filling was definitely the star. The Curried Tomato Sauce is nothing short of genius, and the chickpea flatbread soaked up the wonderful flavours to savoury perfection, without becoming mushy! The additional filling is a tagine of eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, and spinach. Gloriously paired with the curried tomatoes, this pizza was a sure-fire winner. (The Filo dish is the image on the front cover, so you know it must be a star of the book!). The best description I could give is the best curried eggplant-tomato tagine you have ever had, with the pita bread already soaked with the flavours while maintaining its function as a utensil. Delicious down to the last bite, this pizza – and its components – are all now favourites!

Like other Millennium recipes I have reviewed, you can use the Google Book Preview to scroll to the Chickpea Flatbread (page 7) and Moroccan Filo Crescents (page 114-116) recipes. To cook the pizza, I made the flatbread, and allowed it to cool. To help with the flavour saturation, I stabbed the top with a fork a couple of times before topping with the curried tomato sauce and the tagine. I then baked it at 400 dF for 20 min. Enjoy your Moroccan Pizza experience!


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