Chana Masala and Tamarind Quinoa

Sometimes the only thing that will do is a plate of chana masala (Indian chickpeas with tomato).  Today was a relatively cool and rainy day, which is a nice break from how insanely hot it’s been in our neck of the woods.  We jumped on the opportunity to use the kitchen to its fullest capacity, which is a total chore on hot days.  I worked on the tamarind quinoa while Trevor made the chana masala.  We had onions, ginger, garlic, spices, cans of coconut milk and tomatoes everywhere!  It was worth it, though; this flavourful curry over creamy coconut milk laced quinoa was so nice this evening.  Not pictured, but I gave myself a good dose of Indian lime pickle, which is eaten along side and gives a wonderful zippy bite that I just can’t do without.

I always use this recipe for chana masala, and the tamarind quinoa (featuring peas and raisins, who are quite the dynamic duo) is from the cookbook Appetite for Reduction.
– Crystal

Picadillo Mexicano + Taco Salad

And now for a couple from the it-doesn’t-photograph-in-an-appetizing-way-but-it’s-delicious-i-promise files.

The Picadillo Mexicano from Vegan Explosion is super duper easy and makes for a quicky, cheapy weeknight meal on nights where I’m at the gym until late and we don’t feel like doing anything big.

And a big ol’ taco salad!  This one is romaine, arugula, black beans, tomato, avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips, salsa and some sanctuary dressing from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook.

Ugly, delicious food.  Sometimes the best kind!

– Crystal

Tempeh and Ale Pie

I’ve never actually had steak and ale pie, but wandering through one of the many festivals that happen in downtown London, I saw a vendor selling an assortment of British meat pies and thought I really wanted to make one.  The recipe still needs some tweaks before I’m ready to share it, but just imagine this – succulent cubes of marinated tempeh, potatoes, carrots and peas smothered in a savoury ale-and-Marmite gravy, topped with a fluffy, flaky, buttery crust.  Sound good?  Damn right.

Perhaps the most disgusting photo posted on NVL yet.  It really was delicious, though.

I’m trying to get back into the good habit of making fruit smoothies.  This one had banana, vanilla soy protein powder, soy milk, orange juice and some giant handfuls of wild blackberries my dad picked for us, hence the brilliant colour.

– Crystal

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