May 26, 2009

The Shorter Spice Route

Flashing back to Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed a delicious falafel salad lunch at Eva's. However, before I ordered the salad, I was seriously considering their Vegan Special, which is quite simply brown rice topped with their lentil soup and steamed vegetables. Sounds simple and delicious, no? But being that it was my first time there, I went with the salad, which contained many more complicated components (falafel, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, baba...) that I felt would be a better test of the restaurant's mojo. After all, the Vegan Special sounded like something I might make for myself at home.

And then I did.

I decided I wanted the flavor of my lentils to be Indian-inspired, but without my roommate around to school me on the appropriate spicery, I needed to be clever and take the shortcut around this here Himalayan challenge. I also needed to avoid buying more groceries. :)

The end product was freaking awesome, if I do say so myself, so if you ever need a minimal-ingredient-and-skizzles-required-yet-freakishly-healthy vegan meal in a half hour or less, gather 'round and I shall show thee the way.

Wanna-bIndi-an Lentils
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/3ish cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower, steamed and fork-mashed
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
As follows:
  1. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium-high. Add onions and allow to cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add lentils, water, garam masala and pasta sauce. Stir and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender and most of the liquid has absorbed, 20-25 minutes. Add/subtract water as desired, depending on how soup-y you want it.
  4. Add the cauliflower mash towards the end, since it's cooked already. At this point, I added a 1/4 cup of additional water, since the addition of cauliflower soaked up the extra liquid.
  5. Taste and add salt, if desired.
Serves 2

Word to the wise: garam masala is a very potent spice mixture. I love it, but my prescribed quantity of 1 tsp may be too much for some palates. If you're at all nervous about it, start with a 1/2 tsp or so and add more to taste. 

I spooned half of the lentils over a half cup of plain Kashi pilaf (any brown rice/whole grain will do). I also broiled some frozen okra (misted with cooking spray and dusted with curry powder) for about 10 minutes, giving it a stir halfway through.


Wait! I won't send you to bed without dessert. I have another Indian-spired, shortcut recipe for you! I'm on fire, what can I say...

Chai Me a River of Tapioca Pudding
  • 3 cups light coconut milk (I used Turtle Mountain's vanilla coconut milk, but I actually don't recommend it for this purpose - stick with canned)
  • 1/4 cup granulated tapioca
  • 1 chai tea bag (I used Tazo decaf chai, but next time I'd use the fully-leaded version)
  • 1 tbsp sugar/sweetener of your choice (if using unsweetened coconut milk)
This is such cheater pudding it's ridiculous:
  1. Snip off the string and tag from the tea bag. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a sauce pan.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the tapioca becomes transparent, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove the tea bag towards the end, whenever the flavor has reached your desired strength.
  3. Refrigerate to room temperature (or colder, whatevs) and serve.
Serves 3. I guess.

I topped a serving with a lil drizzle of chocolate syrup and a poof of whipped cream, but this would be great with some coconut shreds and mango too. 

Sari for the un-authentic Indian recipes, but it beats the heck out of a Delhi sandwich for dinner. 



Jenny said...

hahah chai me a river - how clever ! love it :)

Olga said...

mmm that recipe looks fantastic and so simple! Can't wait to be inspired after our outting on Monday :)

healthy ashley said...

Your recipe does look yummy! I've never made anything remotely Indian-inspired but have always wanted to!

K from ksgoodeats said...

Haha you're hilarious! I love the sounds of that lentil dish!! Thanks for the recipe :)

Meghann said...

I love the fact that you recreated the dish at home. The best inspiration can come from resteraunts. Your version looks mighty tasty as well. :)

Erica said...

super jealous of the vitatops winner ;) AWESOME dish! I love simple, filling meals! Looks like it turned out great. Have a good Wednesday

Anonymous said...

ooh lala! I love it! I happen to have all the ingredients at the moment!
I do that a lot, too. I recreate restaurant dishes in my own kitchen...saves a lot of money, and I can adjust it to my taste, too!

Anonymous said...

haha, i think this is the best recipe post ever. i love all the indian terminology thrown in there, so clever! and now i'm even more excited (if that's possible) that i will soon be eating indian food in your presence.