Tag Archives: gluten free

Vegan 7 cup sweet for Deepavali (Gluten Free)

Today is the last day of vegan mofo. Unfortunately, I have been unable to blog every weekday as I had originally planned. Ah well, life just happened. However, I have been checking out vegan mofo entries from the blogosphere and having fun looking at all the food that’s being cooked.

For Deepavali this time, I wanted to branch out to Indian sweets, a domain which is held by copious amounts of ghee and milk. I found a vegan friendly recipe for the 7-cup-sweet, popularly known as the 7-cup-cake (though there is nothing cakey about it). This is a sweet my mom used to make when I was younger and I wanted to see if I could veganize it. Indian sweets are just not my forte, as my hand can rarely seem to part with the amount of fat it requires. The end result usually leaves a lot to be desired. So this time, I sucked it up, used the requisite amount of fat (I used Earth Balance vegan butter) and gave it some elbow grease. While my version looks nothing like the original version I was inspired from, I think I can explain what happened. J

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Ingredients for veganized 7 cup cake (makes about 15 squares):

I used a 1/3 measuring cup as 1 measure:

  • 1 measure dessicated coconut (the finely shredded almost powdery variety)
  • 1 measure chickpea flour (Besan)
  • 1 measure non dairy milk (I used Trader Joe’s drinkable coconut milk)
  • 3 measures (I used dark brown sugar, hence the brown color)
  • 1 measure melted earth balance

Directions

  • I followed the directions listed in the link above.

Tip:

You’ll be tempted to take it out as soon as it reduces and thickens. But it’ll only result in a gooey mass (which is also delicious). Be persistent as timing is key, the mixture will reduce considerably and when you stir the contents with a spatula, the contents should completely clear the pan, and you should be able to see the pan underneath. That turned out to be the best time to take your skillet off the stove. If its too gooey, put it back on medium heat and let it thicken some more.

Butternut Squash Curry

The best thing about mofo, even if I dont get to post regularly, is that I buy vegetables that I normally dont buy. Butternut squash is one of them. After trying it, I ask myself why I dont buy it more often. Butternut squash is sort of sweet, so I wanted to try it with a variety of other flavors – tangy and spicy. So I decided to cook it into a black-pepper-tamarind base, but ended up using far less liquid than I originally intended. So what started as a kozhambu, ended up resembling a stir fry. But no regrets as I took it to a friends place for a potluck dinner and we nearly wiped it out.

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Ingredients

  • Tamarind paste – 2t
  • Butternut squash – 1 medium (yields about 3 cups chopped)
  • Coconut, fresh or frozen, grated – 3T
  • Peppercorns – 1t
  • Cumin seeds – 1T
  • Chana dal – 1T
  • Salt – to taste
  • Cilantro – to garnish
  • Cornstarch mixed with water to thicken (optional)

Directions

  • Peel and chop butternut squash into 1 inch cubes or smaller.
  • In a saucepan, place chopped squash and pour just enough water to cover. Add tamarind paste and bring to a boil.
  • In the meanwhile, dry roast the cumin, chana dal and peppercorns. Add more pepper if you like black pepper. Add more chana dal if you dont like it spicy.
  • Grind the roasted stuff in a coffee grinder.
  • Add the salt, ground spice mix and coconut to the now boiling mixture.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes. The mixture will thicken, stir well to coat the squash with the sauce.
  • Garnish with cilantro.
  • Enjoy with rice or bread.

Spinach and Beluga Lentils with Quinoa

During a recent visit to Rainbow grocery in SF, I picked up some beluga lentils. These tiny, black lentils cook quickly and dont loose shape. I had eaten beluga lentils before, but never cooked them myself. My fail-safe way of trying out any new variety of dal or any new type of green leaves is to cook them together – like a spinach-dal. When served on a bed of quinoa, it makes for a highly satisfying and nutritionally balanced meal.

Once the lentils are cooked, this dish comes together in 15 minutes. There used to be a time when every greens ‘n’ dal I would make would comprise of onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and tons of dry spices, with the same formula used over and over again. But lately, I’ve come to realize that omitting a bunch of these ingredients and simplifying the process leads to a highly flavorful and vibrantly green entree. 

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Ingredients (measurements are very flexible)

  • Chopped Spinach, frozen – 1 1lb. packet (of course you can use fresh)
  • Tomato – 1, medium sized, chopped (~ ½ cup)
  • Green chilies – 1, minced (I used a super-sized serrano chilie)
  • Fresh Red chilies – 2, minced (optional)
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 2T
  • Beluga Lentils – ¾ cup
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 1T
  • Asafetida – A pinch

Directions

  • Cook/pressure cook beluga lentils in sufficient water to cover it. 
  • Heat oil in a pot and oil is hot, add ginger-garlic paste; stir it around.
  • Add asafetida, minced chilies and tomatoes; stir and let cook in medium heat.
  • Add spinach and about ½ cup of water and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until spinach is soft and mixture is bubbling.
  • Add beluga lentils and salt to taste and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Serve hot with quinoa or rice.

Vegan Indian Masala Chai (Masala Tea With Soy Milk)

For someone embarking on a vegan diet, milk is one of the easiest things to replace, especially with the widespread popularity of soy milk and recently other non dairy milks. Even my parents, who live in the suburbs of Chennai in India have easy access to soy milk in their local supermarket. It took a while for me to get used to soy milk coffee (I make my coffee by mixing instant coffee and sugar with a glass of hot soy milk).

However, the one thing I never got right is the masala chai. The spicy, ginger-y, cardomom-y goodness that many Indians love to drink during the day has evaded me for a long time. My friends here in the bay area love and swear by the creamy concoction where they boil milk and water with loose tea and then spice it up with chai masala, ginger, cardamom and what not. Its hard for many people to imagine a day without chai and dont think a vegan version is possible. This masala chai is very unlike the chai tea latte that one gets in Starbucks and the like, which has a very different spice mix (I taste a lot of cinnamom in the American chai, while ginger and cardamom dominate the Indian version)

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When I attended the World Veg Fest on October 2nd, I returned with a strong glimmer of hope after having tasted a really delicious vegan masala chai handed out by one of the stalls there. It was made with soy milk and I just knew I had to somehow recreate it at home. I had tried it a few times before, but it was always bitter or too strong or just off. 

I have tried it a few times now and this is the closest I have been to masala chai that I used to drink with dairy milk. So yes, it is indeed possible to have a very good cuppa masala chai that is made vegan! The directions are a little different than using dairy milk

Ingredients (makes 2 cups of about 6-7 ounces each)

  • Black tea – 3 tsps
  • Sugar – to taste, but 3 tsps works for me
  • Water – 1 cup/ 8 ounces/ 240 ml
  • Unsweetened soy milk – 1 cup/ 8 ounces/ 240 ml
  • Cardamom powder/ Elaichi powder – ½ tsp
  • Chai masala – ½ tsp (Fromthe Indian store)
  • Ginger, freshly grated – 1 tsp

Directions

  • Pour water in a pot and bring to a rolling boil
  • Add loose black tea and bring down the heat to medium, a minute or so
  • Add chai masala, sugar, Cardamom and ginger. Stir well.
  • Add the soy milk and turn off heat in about a minute
  • Let tea steep for a little while (2 minutes) and now you can pour into mugs through a strainer.

Masala chai with vegan murukku from my mother in law (murukku usually has butter, but she made it without):

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I bet the number of ways in which masala chai can be made is likely mind boggling – so this is just one more way that works. But I am happy to note that it is possible and tastes quite like the real thing. I just need to make some for my chai loving friends now.

Easy Dal and Collard Greens

As a vegan, I often get asked where I get my calcium from. I must admit that getting the recommended amount of Calcium takes a bit more mindfulness than I would like to let on, but I have come to realize that this applies to everyone, no matter what their dietary restrictions. Mindfulness in eating healthfully is key, no matter what the diet. Of course I have a bottle of Calcium supplements and I drink a lot of fortified non dairy milk, but I feel most satisfied when I get my Calcium through leafy greens. I had bought of bunch of Collards after reading Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Collard greens in her book World-of-the-east Vegetarian, which is really a delightful book. Its vegetarian, but nearly every recipe is adaptable to be vegan.

The collard greens (or Haak as its called in the book) is very simply cooked – stir fried with mustard oil and then cooked until tender with nothing but salt, asafetida, hot red chillis and green chillis to add to its flavor. The recipe calls for ½ cup of oil, while I only used 1 tbsp for about 4 loosely packed cups of chopped collards. I appreciated the simplicity of the dish as I could detect each and every ingredient.

Based on a quick research, I cooked one average sized bunch of collards and it has about a 5 cup pre-cook yield, so at least 300mg of Calcium to estimate conservatively.

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And the protein for the day was a very simple and really quick dal that came together in under 30 minutes. A simple search will result in a million variations for making dal, but here is my go-to recipe when I need it really quick. My super easy version, which is really perfect after a long day’s work!

Ingredients and Directions For Ridiculously Easy Dal:

  1. Pressure cook a cup of dal – I used ½ masoor dal and ½  mung dal (both skinned and split) with salt and turmeric. These cook really really fast, and hence my lentils of choice.
  2. In the meanwhile, chop ½ an onion, ½ a tomato and 1-2 green chilies very finely & do something else while dal cooks.
  3. After dal is cooked, heat 2 tsp of oil and add 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp mustard seeds when the oil is hot (med-high heat).
  4. Add chopped onion, green chilies and 1 tbsp of ginger-garlic paste and let it brown a bit. 3-5 minutes
  5. Add tomato and stir another minute.
  6. Now add dal + 1 cup of water or more if you like it a thinner consistency.
  7. Here is where you go all out with spices: I used cayenne to taste, 1 tsp amchoor powder, ½ tsp cumin and ½ tsp coriander powder.
  8. Close the pot, bring to a boil, garnish generously with finely chopped cilantro and done!
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We had this with store-bought rotis and an evening of Netflix and quickly called it a night!

Sweet Potato Kuzhambu/ Sweet Potato In Thick Tamarind Sauce

The very popular cookbook ‘Appetite For Reduction’, which I recently acquired, celebrates the sweet potato in various ways. So when I chanced upon a bag of organic sweet potatoes, I remembered the cookbook and glowing mentions of sweet potato dishes on the PPK forums. 

I havent cooked much with sweet potatoes; so when I spoke to my mom in India, I was curious to know how she made it. I was surprised by the simplicity of the recipe she gave me. I proceeded to make it and it went perfectly well with steaming hot white rice. I love brown rice and its health benefits, but for some dishes you just got to have the real deal.