This is an all-raw variation on one of my favorite, traditional Indian snacks — roasted chickpeas. Actually, my earliest memory of roasted chickpeas is having them served as part of breakfast at the Hare Krishna temple in Philly in the early 90s.
Years later, when I really got into raw foods, I was sprouting just about everything I could find. I’ve experimented a lot with sprouted chickpea houmous and I love chickpea sprouts in salads. That said, they’re not for everyone. Try it and see if you like the fresh, raw, nuttier flavor. On their own they taste a bit weird, but the ginger and lemon and pinch of spices brings out a nice, zippy flavor to go with the crunch. Earth-crunchy, that is.
I’ve had the pleasure of many, very different Veg Biryani dishes, all across India and at various places across North America and Europe. A boring biryani is quite a disappointment. Yeah, I’m a bit of a biryani snob. This is the story of the dish that reset my standards for that typical South Indian meal. If you’re lucky, it’s served on a giant banana leaf, maybe on top of metal Thali plate, maybe not. And if you’re wise and willing, you’ll eat it with your fingers.
One of my favorite appetizers was inspired by my many visits to Kingdom of Vegetarians and New Harmony Restaurant, both Vegetarian Chinese places in Philadelphia. I used to work long hours in my studio loft in downtown Philly Chinatown and take a break for some excellent food. When my family visited from Jersey, a visit to one of Ming’s restaurants was almost certain. Especially from the dim sum menu, this was one of my must-order dishes. Once I figured out how to make it at home I usually only ordered it to convince myself how far along my own attempts were getting.
I never found this in my travels in China, and determined it must belong to the many dishes that fall into the category of American Chinese, as with many menu items that are called Chinese, but actually have been adapted or created for foreign whims and tastes. Still, especially on a warm summer day, with chopsticks this is a real treat and great starter. It’s also excellent for picnics and parties and can be kept in the fridge in a closed container. Like many noodle dishes it’s usually even better the next day. If there’s any left.
If you’re into juicing, like me, several times a week you make an awesome fresh juice in the morning. And end up with juice pulp you just can’t stand to throw out. Everyone I know who’s gotten into juicing has always, almost from the start asked me: Hey, what can I do with the pulp? My favorite solution is to save it in a container in the fridge and that night (or maybe the next day) use it for… Veggie Meatballs! (My other favorites include adding it to pancakes, muffins, or using it for veggieburgers.)
Saturdays have always meant one thing to me: Pancakes. Now, I don’t have pancakes every weekend, but a Saturday with pancakes just has to turn into a good day. As a kid, my little brothers and I would always wake up with my father already in the kitchen cooking up a huge pancake breakfast. I’ve got so many memories of the family-sized electric griddle plugged into the wall and the familiar smell of the kitchen and dining room turning into our own personal classic diner. We’d all gather around the table, lazy, half-dressed and hungry and Dad would flip some pancakes on to our plates. There were frequent debates on whether syrup is poured before or after slicing up the pancakes, and there were always extra pancakes to go in the freezer for after school snacks the following week.
This is my twist on the most classic vegan comfort food, baked mac and faux-cheese. It’s evolved over the years — usually I make this with some of the variations listed. Especially for newbies to nutritional yeast, adding a puréed tomato and some tomato concentrate gives a fuller, rounder more familiar flavor. Use less margarine or oil if you like; just adjust the liquid accordingly so your cheeze doesn’t end up too thick. For the crumbs, I usually food process one or two slices of toasted bread or a handful of crackers.
Yes, it’s coming along! It’s a new blockprint. I hope to be finished carving it today or tomorrow and print it this weekend. If it turns out well it’ll be the main image for the blog, possibly be used for the printed cookbook cover or title page… and maybe even tshirts and tote bags for Kickstarter rewards. Oh yeah, and the print itself. More info to come, but right now I’m thinking of making a limited edition of the blockprints for sale and for fancy Kickstarter sponsor rewards.
A few hours later…
Okay, it’s done! Here are several of the artist’s proofs drying:
When I lived in Amravati, India we’d go to several amazing vegetarian restaurants that specialized in Indo-Chinese dishes. Each place made Veg Manchurian differently, and in my travels I’ve had about twenty different styles of it, some more Indian, some more Chinese. But most quite wonderful. I experimented at home in the kitchen and asked as many family cooks as I could how to make it best. I even got into the kitchen at one restaurant with the young Chinese-Specialty cook I’d befriended and did some spying and interrogating. I got all kinds of answers. Most of the recipes online were awful, calling for lame cooking measures like using ketchup or MSG for the sauce. The best part about researching Indo-Chinese recipes online is reading the comments and forums as Indians fight with one another on the ‘authenticity’ — of a hybrid dish!
This recipe is a variation on one of the most classic cookies, the legendary Oatmeal Raisin Cookie. The oats always make me believe I’m eating something more wholesome and it’s still a treat! The cranberries lend a fruity tartness and the mix of walnuts and ground hazelnut amplify the nut taste. You could replace the cranberries with more raisins, or the raisins with more cranberries, or both with more nuts, as you like. Add some ground flax or hemp seeds if you’re feeling extra earth-crunchy. Unlike most baking recipes, this one is fairly hard to mess up. Hmm… Maybe that’s why I like it so much.
The story of some of my best culinary creations goes something like this: I have a dish in mind but either I didn’t go shopping or otherwise don’t have all the ingredients. I look around in the fridge and comb the shelves. At first glance, I’m always doubtful, but within a few minutes I’ve got stuff all over the counter and suddenly I’m feeling far more optimistic.
This curry came into existence on one such evening. Half a block of tofu and half a brick of frozen green beans in the freezer. One tomato left. Two sweet potatoes and a few shallots just chilling in the cupboard. What to do? I wanted something with Indian and Thai flavors but with a slight spin. Fresh thyme! I put on some music and got chopping…
Okay, so I’m totally busy researching and creating and sketching for my Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the first print of the cookbook The Lotus and the Artichoke. I plan to have my video, logo, promotional artwork and descriptions ready to go in the next 2-3 weeks. I’m already thinking up lots of cool rewards for sponsors– ranging from postcards to blockprints to signed books to t-shirts and tote bags! I’ll probably even include some big rewards, too!
If you have experience with Kickstarter and have some tips for me, please email me or msg me on Facebook. Of course, leaving some comments here is a good start, too. Thanks!
The Lotus and the Artichoke is a blog for vegan cooking with world fusion and flavor. I’ll also keep you updated on the progress towards publication of the printed cookbook and eBooks expected in November 2012!
These are recipes, stories, photography and artwork about my years in kitchens around the world. Some are recipes converted from traditional cuisines, some are experiments, many are trusty standbys which I’ve worked with since going vegetarian in 1990.
My travels have brought me to almost 40 countries, through many kitchens, hundreds of meals from street carts, generous families, fancy and not-so-fancy restaurants. I pick up and work with new foods, techniques and flavours wherever I go. I’m especially grateful to all of the people who’ve provided inspiration, invitation and appreciation.
There’s of course lots more to the story behind this… Hang around, visit again and keep reading to get more!