Chili el mole

Happy new year, Naked Vegan Lunchers!  I hope your holiday season was as delightful and full of ridiculous amounts of grub as mine was.  I am very fortunate to be part of several families who are all so accommodating and wonderful about the whole vegan thing.  We did Christmas dinner at home on Christmas Eve with my family and it was a fully vegan affair; with not so much as a peep of disapproval from our omnivorous guests (but, like, who is going to complain when I’m serving them Chocolate Pecan Pie with Coco Whip?).  Christmas Day was another great meal that left us popping the buttons on our pants, oh, and then another one on Boxing Day…

It’s now freezing cold up here in Canada, and for today, with snow squalls and minus reallyfuckingcold temperatures, chili was just the ticket.  I had leftover red wine in the fridge from serving guests at Christmas, and I don’t drink booze so I wanted to find a way to cook with it.  This chili el mole came to mind, with all the complex, toasty flavours you’d expect from a mole without the laborious, 25+ ingredient prep.

I’d recommend serving it with a wedge of the Pumpkin Corn Bread from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new book, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion.  I got it for Christmas and have been pawing through it at every occasion since.

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Chili el mole

Serves 4-6 people

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotles, deseeded and finely minced
2 small zucchinis, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp chili seasoning
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cumin
1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 large (28 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
A handful of crushed tortilla chips, as garnish (optional)

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, to which you will add the onions and saute until pearly and translucent. Add the garlic and chipotles and saute for a minute longer. Add the zucchinis and mushrooms, and cook until they’ve sweat out liquid and have softened. Add the tomato paste, chili seasoning, cinnamon, cumin, water, red wine and salt to taste. Stir until incorporated. Add the kidney beans, lentils, stewed tomatoes. Stir everything together, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, letting them melt and then stirring to incorporate. Taste for salt, top with optional crushed tortilla chips, and dig in.

Pumpkin Curry and Lentil Dhal

I’m still fighting a head cold, so I got to thinking that a spicy, Indian dinner might be just what I needed to clear my sinuses.  I grabbed the lovely pie pumpkin I had sitting on my counter and got to work.  While I worked on whipping up a pumpkin curry, Trevor worked on our favourite lentil dhal recipe, and our rice cooker made our rice.

Both were lovely, and even better accompanied by the lime pickle we purchased at our favourite Indian market stall on the weekend.  Spicy, tangy!

The thing is, and I’m sure you know, Indian food photographs horribly.  Even worse is Indian food being photographed during the time of the year where natural light is sparse and our lighting inside is terrible.  So, no photos.  Or rather, the photos that were taken, you don’t want to see.

So, I made this gorgeous thing for you.  Can you tell I’m a graphic designer?

Pumpkin Curry

1 small-to-medium pie pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1″ chunks

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 tbsp ginger purée
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small red chili
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
1/2 tbsp lime juice
salt to taste
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large sautée pan and add onion.  Once onion is sufficiently translucent, add your other aromatics; ginger and garlic.  Cook a minute longer.  Add your chili, salt and spices, stir to incorporate, and fry your spice mixture for another minute.  Add the pumpkin chunks and stir to cover in the spice mixture.  Slowly add the water.  Lower heat to low-medium and cover.  Cook, stirring periodically, for 25 minutes or until pumpkin is soft.  Once pumpkin is fully cooked, remove from heat and use a potato masher to to mash your pumpkin until it’s creamy.  Add the sweetener and lime juice.  Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Lentil Dhal

3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds (or 1 tsp cumin powder)
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 large onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp chile powder (reduce if you are using a very hot variety)
1 lb red lentils
4-6 cups vegetable stock
juice of 1-2 limes
Siracha hot sauce to taste
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat add the coconut oil, mustard seeds and spices. When the seeds pop add the ginger, onion, garlic and chilie along with a pinch of salt/pepper. Saute for several minutes or until the onions are transcluscent. Next, add the lentils and stock. Bring to a boil for several minutes, turn heat down to med-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Take off heat, stir in lime juice and sesame oil. Add some soy sauce, some salt and black pepper to taste. 

– Crystal

Mujaddara

Have we ever told you about mujaddara? You have to try it. Its a popular middle eastern dish consisting of lentils, rice, and sweet caramelized onions. Guess what? Its usually vegan, so look for it at your favorite middle eastern place. Or you can make it yourself. We’ve tried a few recipes, but the one we like the best is from Veganomicon.
You just roast sliced onions in oil for half an hour, while cooking the rice and lentils on the stove with cumin and cinnamon. Combine it all when its done, and serve it with some pita chips and salad. This dish also pairs nicely with and assortment of other middle eastern side dishes like hummus, falafel, grape leaves, etc.
We served it with a side of sauteed kale, and some fresh veggies. Check out those tomatoes! We grew those on our balcony.

– Trevor

Indian Feast

Lentil dahl with hot sauce, aloo matar

We tag-teamed dinner on Sunday night.  Trevor tackled the lentil dahl, and I worked on my bastardized version of aloo matar (Indian potatoes and peas).  I added cauliflower and made it kind of an aloo matar / aloo gobi hybrid.  Served with white basmati rice, this warmed our bellies – which we need because it’s still really freakin’ cold in Southwestern Ontario.

I really wish I could give you an idea of how I made the aloo matar, but it was really just a bunch of throwing stuff in the pot.  A good Indian curry (in my opinion) has lots of onion, fresh garlic and ginger, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, garam masala, turmeric and of course curry powder which contains all of the above spices and more.

Once you get your onions cooking in a bit of oil, throw in the garlic and ginger.  After that, get your spices in there and mixed up with your onion mixture – the essence of Indian cooking is all in this yummy pile of onions at the bottom of your pot!  Let your onions and spices cook for about a minute.  Get your tomatoes in there, and some water or broth, and your veggies.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until your vegetables are soft and the flavours have combined.  Maybe I’m not doing it right, but that’s how I do it and it’s always delicious.

Now the lentil dahl, we do have a proper recipe for that!  This is one of the most delicious dahls I’ve ever eaten.

Lentil Dahl

3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds (or powder)
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp freshly grated ginger
1 large onion, diced
10 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp chile powder (reduce if you are using a very hot variety)
1 lb red lentils
4-6 cups vegetable stock
juice of 1-2 limes
Siracha hot sauce to taste
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat add the coconut oil, mustard seeds and spices. When the seeds pop add the ginger, onion, garlic and chilie along with a pinch of salt/pepper. Saute for several minutes or until the onions are transcluscent. Next, add the lentils and stock. Bring to a boil for several minutes, turn heat down to med-low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Take off heat, stir in lime juice and sesame oil. Add some soy sauce, some salt and black pepper to taste.  Serve with hot basmati rice, a vegetable curry and maybe some naan bread!

– Crystal

Middle Eastern Cuisine

The Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario features food from around the world; Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Polish, Serbian, and Middle Eastern, to name a few. This weekend we stopped at Nate’s for the falafel plate (as seen below) and a side order of vine leaves, or grape leaves (pictured above). This ended up being way too much food for us to eat.
For the unfamiliar, the grape leaves are stuffed with rice and spices. Weird spices, too. There has to be some mint in there. They are then marinated in a brine, and eaten warm. They are delicious, but definitely an acquired taste for the Western palette. The falafel plate includes not only deep fried falafel, but some garlic hummus, roasted potatoes, and a lentil dish which we think was Mujadarra. Delicious lunch.

-Trevor