DDD #74 – Ayurveda Kitchari – Vegan Mung Bean Stew to Detox & Cleanse (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stove Top)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Click the image above to watch the video.

My friend, Katie, turned me on to kitchari.  Apparently, you can eat it – JUST IT – for 1-7 days straight & it calms your digestive tract & detoxes you system but with the added benefit of feeling like decadent comfort food.  Also – mung beans are dirt cheap. (Articles on the subject are linked at the bottom of this post).  This recipe makes about 7 quarts which is a fuckton so – unless you are feeding a lot of people or want to freeze some – consider reducing the recipe.

I used an Instant Pot to make mine but this can be done in a slow cooker or stove top.  I really recommend Instant Pots, though, because they steam, pressure cook, slow cook, cook rice, cook cakes, saute, cook eggs & clean windows.  I got my huge one HERE for just over $100 & I am VERY happy with it.  I can now get rid of several other appliances.

***NOTE – I soaked my beans on the counter overnight & in the fridge a second night but this is not necessary.  If you want to move more quickly – boil some water, add your beans & let them soak for an hour.

Ayurveda Kitchari – Vegan Mung Bean Stew

Caters a party so be ready for a lot

INGREDIENTS

3 cups mung beans (I used half whole green & half split green – as seen above) – soaked (see ***NOTE above)

1-2 TBS coconut oil or olive oil

1 onion – chopped

6 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS ground cumin

1 TBS (or more – to taste) salt (I used pink Himalayan)

1 TBS ground mustard

1 TBS ground coriander

1 TBS ground pepper

1 TBS ground fenugreek (optional)

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 (15 oz) can coconut milk (I used lite)

6 TBS minced ginger

1 cup cilantro

Vegetables are optional.  Use any you prefer but I added:

5 small turnips – diced

5 small golden beets – diced

1 large sweet potato – diced

5 oz baby kale

1 tomato – diced

6 cups water

2 cups basmati (or other long grain white rice)

(If you are making your rice separate from the stew, as I did, it is nice to add a tsp cumin SEEDS & 6 green cardamom pods to it as it cooks but that is not necessary.)

GARNISH – coconut butter, cilantro, crushed red pepper

DIRECTIONS

Quick soak your beans (see note above) if you did not soak them overnight or for 2 days, as I did.)

Traditionally, the rice is cooked in the same pot with everything else.  My Instant Pot was not large enough so I cooked it separately.  This is your call – or maybe your pot size will determine your choice but it does not matter much either way.

Rinse the rice.  Set aside.

Heat the oil in a very large pot (or your Instant Pot – my pot is 8 Quarts) and soften.  Add the garlic & spices & stir to combine.

If you are using a slow cooker, transfer the onions & spices to it.  Everything else is the same no matter whether you are slow cooking, Instant Pot cooking or going stove top.  Only the cooking time will vary.

Now, add everything else to the pot.  If your pot is easily deep enough to hold the rice, too, add that.  If you are cooking the rice in the same pot – add 4 additional cups of water to the 6 cups used if you are cooking the rice separately (assuming your rice directions ask for 2 cups water per 1 cup rice.  Adjust accordingly if your rice has different directions).  Or – just cook the rice separately as the package directs.  If you are making your rice separate from the stew, as I did, it is nice to add 1 tsp cumin SEEDS & 6 green cardamom pods to it as it cooks but that is not necessary.

Slow cooker – cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

Stove top – bring to a boil uncovered for 5 minutes.  Reduced heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or more or until everything is tender.

Instant Pot – seal & cook manually for 10 minutes.

If it is to thick, thin it with extra water.  If it is too thin, let is simmer, uncovered, for a while longer.

Serve with rice (if you cooked it separately) and garnish with coconut butter (burns fat & lowers cholesterol) and lots of cilantro & maybe some crushed red pepper.

Here are some articles for more info on kitchari & using it to detox:

What is kitchari? – https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/blog-the-banyan-insight/details/what-is-kitchari-why-we-eat-it-for-cleansing

3-Day Cleanse – https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/cleansing/a-very-simple-three-day-cleanse/

How to do a kitchari cleanse – http://www.krissyruddy.com/how-to-do-a-kitchari-cleanse/

Vegan “Eat Your Greens” Warm Broccoli Rice Salad with Rainbow Chard, Basil, Mint, Avocado & Citrus Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Living alone can make eating all the food I buy difficult.  I buy produce with a thousand inspirations in my head – often forgetting that I have to eat everything I make myself.  That can get difficult – especially with produce like avocados & leafy greens that have a short shelf life.  Yesterday – I made a Spicy Vegan Szechuan Beef & Vegetable Stir-Fry (seen above) that used a lot of the veggies I had around – but – it did not use everything.  I also had a lot of leftover basmati rice.  So – I dreamed up this salad.  I used a little (1 cup) of the rice I had.  You could use more – or less – depending on how light you want this to be.  You could also use quinoa or brown rice or some ancient grain of your choice.  Whatever you decide – this salad is full of nutrients & tastes clean & light & fresh.  If you do not add the avocado – this salad will keep in the fridge for a few days.  Just add the avocado just before serving.

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Vegan “Eat Your Greens” Warm Broccoli Rice Salad with Rainbow Chard, Basil, Mint, Avocado & Citrus Vinaigrette

Serves 2-4 depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

2 TBS olive oil (or coconut oil)

1 cup cooked rice or other grain (optional)

1 head broccoli – grated or pulsed in a food processor

1 cucumber – chopped

1 zucchini – chopped

Avocado – amount at your discretion – sliced

2-3 scallions – sliced

1 bunch (6-8 leaves) rainbow chard (or other greens of your choice) – ribs removed & chopped

1/3 cup fresh basil – chopped

1/3 cup fresh mint – chopped

Pepitas (or other nuts) – amount at your discretion

GARNISH: basil, mint, lime wedges

for the dressing

2 TBS olive oil

2 TBS cider vinegar

2 TBS fresh lime (or lemon) juice (or a combination)

1 tsp lemon or lime zest

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1 or 2 TBS agave (I used 2 but might go less next time)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Whisk the dressing together & adjust flavors to suit your tastes.

Pulse the broccoli in a food processor or grate it (grating is very messy).

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Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat.  Add the broccoli & rice & toss.  Add the zucchini & chard.  Add a few TBS water & cover the pan & remove from heat.  You just want to warm everything through & get the chard & broccoli & zucchini wilt a bit.

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In 5 minutes or so – put the rice mixture in a large bowl (or in the pan) & toss in the scallions, mint & basil & cucumber & some (not all) the dressing.

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Put some of the warm salad on plates & garnish with avocado slices, pepitas, extra basil and/or mint, lime wedges, additional dressing & freshly cracked pepper.

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Vegan Ash Mash (Persian Mung Bean Soup) with Purple Kohlrabi & French Breakfast Radishes – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I bought mung beans at my local Asian market with no idea what to make with them.  Having had such success this week with my Vegan Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce – for the Slow Cooker or Stove Top (seen just above) – I decided to make another slow cooker soup with them.  This soup has such simple ingredients it is hard to understand why it is so tasty – but it really IS!  I used purple kohlrabi because I could not resist buying these gorgeous things when I saw them at the store.

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They come in green, as well, and have a texture like the stem of broccoli – but also have something in common with radishes.  I saw lots of people suggesting to slice them thin & salt them & eat them raw.  I tried that – and liked it – but I was Hell bent on soup.  Because these reminded me of radishes – I decided to also use the French breakfast radishes you see in the enchilada soup photo.  The nice side benefit of using kohlrabi & radishes is that – once cooked – they seem like potato – but without that heaviness.  If you don’t like the sound of kohlrabi & radishes (which become creamy & mild in this soup) – use turnips – or even potato, instead.

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Lets talk about mung beans.  That bag had two cups of dry beans in it & I got it for $1.49.  That is CHEAP eating!    Here is some info from Dr. Axe on mung beans:

Mung beans — a type of small, green legume in the same plant family as peas and lentils — is a high source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Although in most parts of the world they’re less popular than other bean varieties, like chickpeas or black beans, mung beans have some huge health benefits to offer!

While mung beans may be new to most people in the U.S, they’ve been a part of traditional Ayurvedic diets in India for thousands of years. Mung beans are considered  “one of the most cherished foods” in the ancient Indian practice that’s been a traditional form of medicine since roughly 1,500 B.C.

These days, mung beans are beginning to pop up in protein powders, canned soups and in restaurant dishes state-side. So here’s what you need to know about mung beans:

  • Mung beans are a high source of nutrients including: manganese, potassium, magnesium, folate, copper, zinc and various B vitamins.
  • They are also a very filling food, high in protein, resistant starch and dietary fiber.
  • You can find mung beans in dried powder form, as whole uncooked beans, “split-peeled” form (just like you’d find split green peas), as bean noodles, and also assprouted seeds (which are the kind you’d see used on sandwiches or salads).
  • Their dried seeds may be eaten raw, cooked (whole or split), fermented, or milled and ground into flour.
  • Because of their high nutrient density, mung beans are considered useful in defending against several chronic, age-related diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Clinical evidence continues to show that plant-derived foods have various potential health benefits, including lowering inflammation. Health experts recommend that plant-based foods make up a large portion of every person’s diet, and many worldwide health organizations have recommended an increase in the intake of plant-derived foods to improve health status and to prevent chronic diseases. Among plant-based sources of protein and nutrients, mung beans are one of the foods gathering the most attention.

As you’ll come to learn, mung beans are one of the healthiest sources of plant protein there is when you consider how many other nutrients they contain in addition to amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). As the Journal of Chemistry Central puts it, “mung beans have biological activities including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, lipid metabolism accommodation, antihypertensive and antitumor effects.” (1)


Mung Beans Nutrition Facts

One cup of cooked mung beans contains the following (percentages based on the RDAs for the average adult female): (2)

  •  212 calories
  • 14 grams of protein
  • 15 grams of fiber
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 4 grams of sugar
  • 321 micrograms of folate (100%)
  • 97 milligrams of magnesium (36%)
  • 0.33 milligrams of vitamin b1 thiamine (36%)
  • 0.6 milligrams of manganese (33%)
  • 7 milligrams of zinc (24%)
  • 0.8 milligrams of vitamin B5 pantothenic acid (8%)
  • 0.13 milligrams of vitamin B6 (11%)
  • 55 milligrams of calcium (5%)

If you choose to sprout mung beans and eat them raw, each cup will only have about 31 calories and will provide about three grams of protein and two grams of fiber.

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And from GreenMungBeans.com:

Green Mung Bean Nutritional Information
• High in Protein
• High in Fiber
• Low in Fat
• Low in Calories

Nutritional Facts: 1 oz (28 grams) of dried Green Mung Beans:
• 100 Calories
• 0g Fat
• 5g Fiber
• 7g Protein (Protein equivalent to 1 hardboiled egg or 1 oz of chicken, turkey, salmon, etc.)

Green Mung Beans are Nutritional Powerhouses
• Good source of protein
• Good source of dietary fiber (helps to lower cholesterol, prevents constipation and keeps you feeling full)
• Low in sodium
• Low in cholesterol
• Vitamins: A, B Vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid) Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K.
• Minerals: Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.
• Sprouted Green Mung Beans produce live enzymes
• Mung Beans are low on the glycemic index at 25 and have a low glycemic load of 4 making them a smart food choice for diabetics. Diabetics can safely eat Green Mung Beans. The low glycemic index, fiber and protein help to regulate blood sugar.
• They also contain skin anti-aging properties that stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin, all essential to younger healthier skin.

Eating Green Mung Beans is Ideal for those with Digestive Issues and Sensitive Stomachs

Green Mung Beans Are:
•Easily digestible
•Anti-inflammatory (can reduce inflammation)
•Containing oligosaccharides to prevent gas and bloating, unlike other beans
•Containing high amounts of fiber, thereby preventing constipation
•One of the few tridoshic foods in Ayurvedic diets that can be eaten to balance all three dosha’s (energetic forces) in the body

Green Mung Beans Exhibit Powerful Antioxidant Properties that can Help Fight Disease as well as Protect the Body.

Consuming Green Mung Beans Have Been Studied to Treat the Following Medical Conditions:
•Diabetes
•Heart Disease
•Cancer
•Celiac Disease/Gluten Free Diets
•Anemia
•Osteoporosis
•Digestion
•Inflammation

Green Mung Beans Contain Phytoestrogens Contributing to Anti-Aging Benefits
Benefits of Phytoestrogens:
•Produce Collagen, Elastin, and Hyaluronic acid, All Three of which are Essential to Acquiring Younger and Healthier skin
•Can Regulate Hormones after Menopause, Relieve Hot Flashes, and Prevent Osteoporosis

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So – as you can see – there are lots of reasons to track down & chow down some green mung beans!  When you add all the benefits of turmeric & the fact that the rice makes this soup a complete protein – you are hard-pressed to make a more robustly healthy soup.   If you cannot find mung beans locally (in health or Asian food stores) – try here on AMAZON.    Another great thing about this soup is how economical it is.  Some cheap beans, some rice, a few cheap veggies & some stock.   I bet this vast quantity of soup cost me less than $20.  With some crusty bread, you could feed a very large group of folks.

This recipe makes A LOT of soup but this is a very protein rich vegan soup & great for cold weather and we are nowhere near the end of winter.  I have not yet frozen any but I certainly will be.  I imagine it will freeze well – so make the vat of it & freeze a bunch for lazy days.

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Vegan Ash Mash (Persian Mung Bean Soup) with Purple Kohlrabi & French Breakfast Radishes

Serves a boatload of people as it fills a 7 quart slow cooker.

INGREDIENTS

 1 cup dry green mung beans

1 cup long grain Basmati (or other) rice

2 (15 oz) cans white beans – drained

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (very optional)

1 onion – diced

1 TBS turmeric

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp pepper

16 cups vegetable stock (try to use a low sodium one)

5 kohlrabi – cubed

10 French breakfast radishes – cubed

GARNISH – vegan sour cream

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DIRECTIONS

for the slow cooker

Heat the olive oil in a pan & saute the onion & jalapenos (if using) until soft.

I boiled the stock before putting it in the slow cooker because I was unfamiliar with the cooking time of the mung beans.  I left the slow cooker on high for 5 hours – and everything was very soft – so – the boiling of the stock might not be necessary but – if you need to serve this at a 5 hour deadline – maybe boil the stock, too.  Otherwise – if time is not an issue – you needn’t.

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Now – just put everything into the slow cooker – on high – for 5 hours.  I imagine low for 8 hours would work, too, but I ain’t tried that.   When it is done – you can choose to garnish with sour cream – but it doesn’t really need it.

for the stove top

Heat the olive oil in a pan that will be large enough to hold the entire recipe & saute the onion & jalapenos (if using) until soft.  Add everything else & bring to a boil.  Simmer until the rice & beans are soft – 30 minutes to an hour.  When it is done – you can choose to garnish with sour cream – but it doesn’t really need it.

And – now your house smells all homey & yummy & you have 30+cups of protein-packed, healing soup!  Invite the villagers in & impress them with your skills & generosity.

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Healthy Spicy Vegan Red Beans and Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

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OK – I decided I had to make these for two reasons.  1) Sir Mix-a-lot & his Baby Got Back song.  Is there EVER a time when this song doesn’t sound great?  For a novelty-sounding song – it really holds up over time.  Anyway – one line is “Red beans & rice didn’t miss her.”   While that makes it sound like red beans & rice give you a huge ass – this recipe is clean & healthy.  I hear this song at the gym rather frequently & it always makes me crave red beans & rice.

2) It has been hot as FUCK this week and these can be made stove-top (or in a crock pot) – minimizing the heat added to my already sweltering kitchen.

I am sitting at my desk in my un-air-conditioned office (the hottest room in my house) – I will simply show what it was like outside before 10AM today:

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Yes.  That says 100 degrees at 9:58 am.  UGH!!!!!!!!

So – I will keep this brief & slink down to my kitchen – the coolest room in my house – for the remainder of the day.

One note – I used two kinds of veggie sausage here but I am not 100% certain either is vegan (though I think they are).  Just check the brand you use to be sure – assuming you are vegan.

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Also – I browned the two Field Roast links you see there before adding the other ingredients & that was sort of a waste of time because they just got sort of soggy after the stock was added.  So – I browned additional sausage:

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and set it aside & just added it at the end – sort of like a garnish.  That way, it retained it seared qualities.  You can do this – or not – your call.  Combined – the two varieties of sausage made this a “meatier” dish than it need be but those fake sausages are yummy – so fuck it.  I did add a couple of zucchinis to lighten the beans up a bit.

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QUICK SOAK METHOD

Presoaking beans overnight not only cuts down on cooking time by up to 25 percent, it also helps the beans cook evenly without splitting. It’s easy, too (if you remember to do it). Still, we prefer the “power soak” method. Not only is it faster than soaking beans overnight, it also breaks down more of the complex sugars that can make beans hard to digest. The process is simple: Place beans in a pot and cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil and simmer briskly for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Drain. Your beans will be ready to use in your favorite recipes.–Kay Chun

Healthy Spicy Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Feeds a lot – 6 or more

INGREDIENTS

Cooked rice ( I used brown basmati)

1 lb dry small red beans (soaked overnight or quick-soaked as outlined above) – try to use small red but kidney will do in a pinch

Olive oil

4 celery stalks – chopped

1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo (I used 3 & these beans were SPICY!) – minced

1/2 large onion – diced

2 zucchinis – cubed (optional)

1-2 jalapeno peppers – seeded & diced (I used two)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 bell pepper – diced (traditional in the dish – but I didn’t have one & I didn’t miss it)

2 tsp dry thyme

3 bay leaves

1 TBS dry rub (I used that Road Kill stuff above but any rub you like will do)

1-3 tsp Creole seasoning (I used Zatarain’s)

Vegan sausage (I ended up using 6!) – in a quantity you feel suits your taste – sliced

5+ cups vegetable stock

Scallions for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Quick-soak the beans if you did not soak them overnight (instructions are above).  The soaking helps to stop the gas beans are famous for giving us.

As I explained above, you might want to brown your sausage & set it aside – and add it at the very end – so it retains its texture better.  If texture doesn’t matter to you – just add it with the onions.  Or – divvy it up & do a little of both – as I ended up doing.

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Cook your rice.

Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a LARGE stock pot & saute the sausage until browned & either set it aside or just continue.   Some vegan sausage is pretty dry & you might need more olive oil.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper (if using), jalapeno & saute til softened a bit.  Again – add more olive oil if you think it is getting too dry.  Add chipotle, zucchini, dry rub, thyme, Creole seasoning, bay leaves & garlic & stir to incorporate & then add the red beans & 5 cups of stock.

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Then bring this all to a boil.  Lower the heat & cover & simmer for 2 hours or so – or until the beans are tender.  Stir every once in a while & add water if it gets too thick.  I added 1-2 cups of water by the time it was all said & done.  At some point – when the beans are soft – smash a cup or two with a wooden spoon against the pot – or (as I did) – drop an immersion blender in there & mash a cup or two – so there is a thick broth.

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When you are ready to serve, put some rice on each plate, add the red beans & garnish with sausage (if you set some aside) & chopped scallions.  A cold beer or two – and you are good to go!

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Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK – this dish is a great example of how getting bold in the kitchen can yield unexpected rewards.  For twenty-plus years now – I have been dying to know WTF is in the spicy black pepper sauce at Cha Cha Cha (http://theoriginalchachacha.com/).  It is genuinely spicy with a hint of sweet & is so tar black – it is just brilliant.  I have never had any luck figuring out how to make it – or even a place to buy something like it.  Hold that thought.

Well – last night – inspired by images like this one from Playful Cooking

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and the two GIGANTIC heads of cauliflower I got at Super King – look how big:

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…I decided to try to make my own version of that Cheeto-orange dish – which is called Gobi Manchurian.  The dish calls for fried cauliflower which I wanted to avoid – so I roasted mine.  I also had a lot of other produce in my fridge that I wanted to use so I just sorta winged it.  I knew when I pulsed my produce to a paste in the food processor that I was going to have a very different animal in the end but it was the dark soy sauce that put it over the brink.  Look at what MY Gobi Manchurian sauce looked like cooked.

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Well, hey!  That’s not Kraft mac & cheese orange!  That’s not all buffalo cauliflower fiery red.

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I was really disappointed with the inky muck I saw in my pan.  Then I tasted it.  Holy fuck!  It was awesome!  Really spicy & with a sweet kick – it was delicious!  And it tasted VERY close the spicy black pepper sauce at Cha Cha Cha!!   So much so that, when I make it again (and I will!) – I will REALLY puree the bejesus out of the sauce to get it as creamy as possible rather than leave the coarse texture in that remained last night.  The texture wasn’t bad – I just think if it was more like a condiment it would be better.

Still – I wasn’t sure I could pull off appealing photos of such a substance & only took a few half-hearted shots of the sauce & the finished plate before I gave in & just shoveled it all into my face.  Imagine my delight when, this morning, I looked at the photos & found that a few actually came out rather satisfactorily.  So – let me present – my accidental invention of Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice!!

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Spicy & Sweet Black Pepper Sauce with Roasted Cauliflower & Brown Basmati Rice

INGREDIENTS

Cooked rice of your choice

1 large head cauliflower – broken into florets

1/2 onion

2 bell peppers (I used a red & a yellow)

2-3 jalapenos – seeded

6 garlic cloves – minced

1/3 cup fresh ginger – minced

2 bunches scallions (plus extra for garnish) – sliced

olive oil

1 TBS sambal oelek chili paste

1 tsp sriracha (plus extra for garnish)

2 TBS sugar

3 TBS ketchup

3 TBS dark soy sauce (like the sort pictured below – thick & inky)

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

Cilantro – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook your rice.

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Be sure it reaches that temp before roasting the cauliflower.

Drizzle a little olive oil on the cauliflower, toss with your hands and roast for about 30 minutes.

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In a food processor – puree the bejesus out of the onion, bell peppers, jalapenos & scallions.

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Heat about 2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the garlic & fresh ginger & saute about 2 minutes or so.  Add the rest of the pureed veggies.  Cook for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat being careful not to burn the puree.

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Add the sambal oelek, sugar, ketchup, sriracha, dark soy sauce, white vinegar & sesame oil.  Bring to a boil & immediately lower the flame & simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

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When the cauliflower is done, put a scoop or rice (filling a small bowl or ramekin with rice & inverting onto the plates creates a nice effect) on each plate, ladle some of the spicy black sauce around the rice & arrange cauliflower around the rice.  Drizzle some sriracha on the rice & garnish liberally with scallions and/or cilantro.  Eat it & be surprised how good it is!

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Coconut-Lime Brown Basmati Rice with Cilantro

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

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Coconut-Lime Brown Basmati Rice with Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

2 cups brown basmati rice (or other rice of your choice)

2 shallots – diced

2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped cilantro & extra for garnish

zest of one large lime

juice of one large lime

Lime wedges for garnish

coconut milk (quantity should be 1/4 – 1/2 of the total liquid required for the rice you are using) – I used one cup here.

DIRECTIONS

Zest the lime.  Chop the cilantro.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add the diced shallots & saute one minute.  Add the dry rice & saute 2-3 minutes – stirring constantly.

Read the directions on your rice & add whatever amount of liquid they suggest – but replace 1/4 to 1/2 of it with the coconut milk (3 parts water – 1 part coconut milk).

Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat.  Wrap the lid to your pan in a dish towel & place it on top of the pan.  Be SURE no part of the towel is in danger of catching on fire.  If this seems tricky – just lose the towel.  It is meant to capture excess liquid but it is not critical – especially if it isn’t safe.

Steam the rice like this for as long as your package suggests.  Remove from heat & let sit – undisturbed – for 10-15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork & add the lime zest, lime juice, salt & cilantro.  Mix well. Serve with cilantro & lime wedges for garnish.

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Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Beans & Coconut-Lime Brown Basmati Rice with Cilantro

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back

After discovering recently that I have spent an average of $717 a month on groceries – I am endeavoring to eat more cheaply for the near future.  I am going to start eating lots of frozen leftovers & start getting creative with the inexpensive basic ingredients my cabinets already hold.

Beans are a fun place to start.  VERY cheap – especially if you go with dry beans – and they are good for you – and they can be flavored in infinite ways.  My Spicy Barbecue Baked Beans came out incredibly & had my house smelling like a Kansas City BBQ shack for days.  I am also oddly satisfied by the use of a crock pot – or slow cooker.  I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly about the process that makes me so happy (Its ease?  A home smelling of old-fashioned cooking?  A mass quantity of food taking so little effort? I don’t know) but it does.  I had a bag of black beans in my cabinet – given to me recently by my good friend Jerry Agee as he packed up his Los Angeles life & moved it to Costa Rica.

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Here he is with his outrageously cool son, Dash.  I am pleased to report that I have two close friends with sons named Dash – inspired in some part – by my awesome wolf hybrid, Dashiell Hammett:

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Dashiell (the wolf) passed away in 2001 but he sure left an impression on those who had the great honor to know him.

Anyway – it seems packing & shipping black beans (and many other grains & oils) to Costa Rica was inefficient so I was given a windfall of healthy food items to experiment with.

I neglected to measure these beans BEFORE I soaked them.  I know that – post-soak – there were eight cups.  I’m guessing that means there were 6-7 cups dry.  This recipe is SO NOT an effort of precision – I wouldn’t worry too much about the bean quantity.  This recipe would be greatly accelerated by the use of canned beans – so if time is not on your side – by all means – go canned.  Also – unlike my BBQ beans that slow cooked for four days & remained al dente – these black beans were creamy soft after 6 hours or less.  I slow cooked them for 6 hours or so, turned them off & left them out overnight & then cooked them on high for another several hours the next day.  They came out wonderfully – despite my fear that the extra cooking would break the softer beans down completely & turn the dish to mush.  While that did not happen – know that, even stove-top, dry black beans are ready to eat in just a few hours.  The inclusion of orange juice & lots of lime juice give these bean a lighter & more refreshing flavor than typically associated with bean dishes.

A note about soaking beans – apparently the longer they soak (AT LEAST overnight) – the less gassy they will leave you & your dining companions.   Also – beans served with rice create a complete protein – so this dish is very good for you as well as mighty tasty!   Beans are a superfood and are a great addition to a weigh-loss-intended diet.  AND  – the bean water that your beans soaked in overnight is apparently very good for outdoor plants so feel free to really use a lot of extra water for soaking & then give it to your outdoor plants.

Oh – and here is a great tidbit of info to avoid GENETICALLY MODIFIED produce.  See  the number on the sticker on this onion?

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Here is what that number means to YOU:

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You should copy this photo & save it to your phone to remind you when you go shopping.

Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Beans

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Slow Cooker Caribbean Black Beans

INGREDIENTS

8 cups black beans (AFTER soaking – having soaked overnight – or maybe 6-7 cups before soaking)

2 large carrots – diced

8 mushrooms – diced

1 large sweet onion – diced

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (optional)

4 celery stalks (with leafy tops) – diced

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro – some reserved for garnish

2 TBS olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves – whole

4 chipotle peppers & 2 TBS of their Adobo sauce (less if you hate spice) – chopped very fine (optional)

3 TBS jarred mole (VERY optional)

6 oz orange juice

juice of two limes (more if your limes are on the dry side) – and additional wedges as garnish

8-10 cups water

1 TBS black pepper

1 TBS cumin

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (less if spice bothers you)

1 TBS salt

1 TBS rice wine vinegar

Diced mango as garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the beans overnight in several inches of water.  I neglected to measure them dry but there were 8 cups after soaking overnight.  So – go with 6-7 cups of dry beans.  Drain.  Rinse the beans very well & add to your slow cooker.

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Heat the olive oil over high heat.  Add the garlic & saute for one minute.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms & jalapenos.  If you have a family member that hates mushrooms or something – chop them REALLY fine & they disappear in the mix.  See?

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Saute until all the vegetables begin to soften – maybe 5-10 minutes.  Add this & all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.  Start with 8 cups of water & increase it as needed – or put all ten cups in – if you are going away from the cooker all day.  Cook on high for 6-8 hours.  Serve with cilantro garnish & extra lime wedges – and with diced mango (if using).

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Coconut-Lime Brown Basmati Rice with Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

2 cups brown basmati rice (or other rice of your choice)

2 shallots – diced 

2 TBS olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped cilantro & extra for garnish

zest of one large lime

juice of one large lime

Lime wedges for garnish

coconut milk (quantity should be 1/4 – 1/2 of the total liquid required for the rice you are using) – I used one cup here.

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DIRECTIONS

Zest the lime.  Chop the cilantro.  

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Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add the diced shallots & saute one minute.  Add the dry rice & saute 2-3 minutes – stirring constantly.  

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Read the directions on your rice & add whatever amount of liquid they suggest – but replace 1/4 to 1/2 of it with the coconut milk (3 parts water – 1 part coconut milk).  

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Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat.  Wrap the lid to your pan in a dish towel & place it on top of the pan.  Be SURE no part of the towel is in danger of catching on fire.  If this seems tricky – just lose the towel.  It is meant to capture excess liquid but it is not critical – especially if it isn’t safe.  

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Steam the rice like this for as long as your package suggests.  Remove from heat & let sit – undisturbed – for 10-15 minutes.  Fluff with a fork & add the lime zest, lime juice, salt & cilantro.  Mix well. Serve with cilantro & lime wedges for garnish.  

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North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew with Basmati Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

While this blog is not devoted to economic meals nor low calorie (or specifically healthy) ones – the fact is, most of us appreciate a low cost & delicious dinner that satisfies without moving us that much closer to an unsightly bedonkadonk.  A few months ago, a Facebook follower responded to one of my incessant food posts with the remark, “I wish I could afford to eat like you do every day.”  Little did she know – I was in the middle of a self-imposed challenge to go as long as possible without buying any food and force myself to live on all the collected crap in my freezer & pantry.  This wasn’t the first challenge of this sort I had exercised.  The first time I tried it – I went a month and spent only $5.  Of course, by the end of the first week – all fresh produce was gone from my diet and within a week from that – so was all frozen & canned varieties.  I mostly lived on rices & pastas.  It was an all-carb-all-the-time diet that began to alarm my friends.  The day the Facebooker made her remark – concerned friends had anonymously delivered about $500 worth of fresh EVERYTHING to my door.   In fact – both times I did the “pantry cleanse” diet – concerned & WAY TOO generous friends delivered a farmer’s market’s wealth of produce to my door – so I can’t do this diet anymore.  Or – at least – if I do, I need to keep it on the QT.  I felt like I was fleecing my friends for lettuce & broccoli.  So – anyway – my point is, pizza, pasta & rice dishes happen to be what I like – but they are also very cost effective.  Pasta & pizza needn’t be the pound-packers they are reputed to be, either.  If the crust is very thin & you are reasonable with the cheese (and skip meat altogether) – they are really just open faced sandwiches – but SO much more emotionally satisfying.  And – homemade pasta is WAY lighter than the dried variety.  No post-Thanksgiving dinner style bloated gut EVER from homemade pasta.  So – it is just a matter of getting creative & artful with how you present these dishes.  Mix it up.  Got a funny mish mash of ingredients – and no idea what to do with them?  Google them followed by the word recipe.  I then like to click IMAGES & find the prettiest result from the ingredients I listed.  You would be amazed how effective this can be as a source for an exciting new dish without a run to the grocery store.

OK – I’m rambling.  Today’s post is the result of my having one large can of chick peas & a bunch of onions, some leftover tomatoes & leftover jalapenos.

When it comes to Indian food, I prefer the heavily gravied dishes over the drier ones.  This dish is almost all gravy (ymmm) and it is a gravy made up almost entirely of pureed onions.  Sounds funky.  It is not!  It is delicious!  Delicious – of course – if you like the juxtaposition of spicy & sour.  But this dish makes a large quantity (easily enough for 4 – with rice) and the only calories in it really are from the chick peas (which are VERY good for you & CHEAP) and the tiny bit of olive oil.  Cheap, LOW fat, low calorie & yummy as fuck.  And easy to make.  Why not give it a go?

The one drawback with Indian is the initial investment in spices.  All of my versions of Indian dishes will call for 2-3 times as much of each spice as most other versions you will see.  I like the dishes heavily seasoned.  My suggestion for the spices is that you find a local exotic spice store – and not a fancy Williams-Sonoma type one but a local family-owned one – and go in there with a list.  The fact is – these stores tend to sell every day spices at deep discounts, too.  My supermarket charges like $8 for that traditional size container of an average spice – like say – cumin.  My Indian spice store sells a giant container – ten times as much – for like $5.  Amazon.com is also a good source – believe it or not.  So – if you are in an area that lacks ethnic opportunities – don’t forget the interweb!  Everything you want can be found there.

The basic spices that most Indian dishes will call for are:

Garam Masala – which you can make (garam masala recipe) or buy prepared

Cumin – both seeds & ground

Coriander – both seeds & ground

Turmeric

Green Cardamom pods

Fenugreek

Fennel seeds

Bay leaves

Tamarind paste

Mango Powder (Amchoor)

Asafoetida (read this Wiki thing Asafoetida) – which STINKS (good Lord!) in the container but cooks up nicely.  Trust.  Despite its alternative name “devil’s dung.”

Mustard seeds of all colors

Cinnamon

Curry powder

and – as an aside –  fresh ginger, garlic & onions are used in nearly everything — unless you are unfortunate enough to have stumbled upon a Hare Krishna Indian recipe.  They think garlic leads to lewdness.  But I’ve covered this in the past.  Just know – if you are making an Indian dish & do not see onions or garlic in the ingredients – you might want to look for a version of the recipe that has them.

SPECIAL NOTE – I have yet to succeed in creating a mint or cilantro chutney OR a decent yogurt raita myself.  My spice store is attached to a restaurant that sells these items in any quantity you wish.   It is easier & cheaper to do it this way for me – so that is what is pictured here.  I will persevere, though, and try to work out a homemade version – eventually.

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This dish is very easy to prepare.  Don’t be thrown by the amount of onion.  A food processor is kinda critical with this one, though, in order to get the onions pureed gravy-style.

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North Indian Chana Masala or Sour & Spicy Chick Pea Stew

INGREDIENTS

1 29 oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 cup diced tomatoes

2 large red onions – chopped roughly (some reserved & chopped for garnish)

fresh cilantro (fresh coriander) – chopped for garnish

2 inch piece of fresh ginger – peeled & chopped

8 garlic cloves

3 jalapenos (some reserved & sliced thin for garnish)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS turmeric

1/4 tsp cinnamon

10 green cardamom pods – gently crushed under the flat side of a knife (to release their flavor)

3 bay leaves

6 TBS yogurt (or prepared raita – if you have it)

3 TBS garam masala

pinch of asefoetida (not critical – so don’t sweat it if you don’t have it)

2 TBS ground cumin

2 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp sugar (raw – preferably)

1 TBS tamarind paste

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns

salt to taste

1 1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Puree: the red onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos & 1/2 cup water – into a paste in the food processor.

Heat: the oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium heat.  Saute the cinnamon, bay leaves & cardamom pods for a minute then add the onion puree & tomatoes.  Saute until the liquid begins to evaporate & the onions start changing color  to – a nice pale brown.

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Stir in the tamarind paste.  One blended add: salt, sugar, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric & lemon juice.  Stir this until blended then add the yogurt & stir in in until blended.  The puree should now how a rich chocolate color.

Add the chick peas & the liquid from the can along with another cup of water.  Simmer this on low for an hour or more.  Be sure it doesn’t dry out.  Add water if the rich gravy starts looking sparse.  It should be a pretty wet stew – the gravy being the primary element here – rather than the chick peas.

Serve on individual plates over basmati rice & garnish with cilantro, red onion & sliced jalapeno.

Serve with mint chutney & a yogurt raita on the side – if you can.  No worries if you cannot.

BASMATI RICE

INGREDIENTS

3 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 3 3/4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.

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Vegan Chana Masala or Chick Pea & Spinach Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I am posting this easy & delightful dish after the eggplant dish in case folks might actually feel ambitious & want to make an Indian feast with more than one flavor.  Both dishes are vegan – by chance, not design.  I have never seen a non-vegan version – so, if you are a die hard carnivore – do not be thrown by the word.  Both of these dishes seem deceptively rich despite being very, very healthy.

 

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Chana Masala

INGREDIENTS

29 oz can chick peas (or an equivalent of fresh soaked-overnight beans – if you are really motivated)

2 medium tomatoes – quartered

16 oz fresh spinach – chopped

1 in cube fresh ginger – chopped OR 3 TBS jarred crushed ginger

3 serrano chiles – seeded & roughly chopped

6 TBS olive oil

3 tsp cumin SEEDS – not ground

3 garlic cloves

2 TBS ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

2 tsp salt

1 TBS garam masala (if you can’t find it – you can make it:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-garam-masala/

15 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 more fresh ones – chopped)

DIRECTIONS

Drain & wash the chick peas.  In a blender or with an immersion mixer – puree the 2 medium tomatoes with the serranos and the ginger.

Heat the oil in a pan.  When hot – add the cumin SEEDS & beware the spitting & popping.  They hurt if they hit you. Add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add the tomato puree and all the dry spices.  Cook this for about 5 minutes until the mixture reduces by 1/4 to 1/2.

Stir in the spinach – adding a little water if it is needed to properly steam the spinach down.  Cover & cook for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted but still vibrant.  Add the chick peas & the canned tomatoes (or chopped fresh) & stir them in.  You can add water if there isn’t enough gravy – or cook it down if it is too wet.  Cook this for another 5 minutes or so – longer if using dried chick peas.  Test a chick pea for texture & if it tastes done to you – you are good to go.

Serve over basmati rice.

BASMATI RICE

INGREDIENTS

2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.

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Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

vromans front

vromans back

I started experimenting with Indian food over twenty years ago – when I gave up eating meat.  I had more misses than hits & found out a few things the hard way – like finding out the Krishna’s do not use onion or garlic (essential ingredients – in my opinion) after spending $30 on a Krishna cookbook (this one – AVOID it – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lord-Krishnas-Cuisine-Vegetarian-Cooking/dp/0896470202).   Krishnas avoid onion & garlic for many surprising reasons – among them that garlic may “lead to lewd indulgences.”  (http://kurma.net/essays/e19.html)  This – alone – is reason enough to eat garlic all the time.   Anyway – I made Indian food every day for weeks on end.  I invited people over frequently – to sample my results.  Soon – they became reticent and later – exhibited outright defiance – and would only agree to come over & be fed on the condition I did NOT serve Indian food.  Not because it was always bad (though it often was) – but more because it just got to be kinda ridiculous.  We were all walking around reeking of curry.  Sad times.

Thankfully, I tell you those days are long gone.  I have broadened my vegetarian menu extensively and it is more likely to be pizza my guests object to having – yes, again – than Indian food.  This eggplant dish is always my favorite & my go-to item on any Indian menu.  If you hate eggplant – do not be alarmed.  This dish transforms eggplant into an unrecognizable mush that is so heavily seasoned – few could identify the primary ingredient without having been told.  Likewise – if you are among the unfortunate among us that loathe cilantro – and I know you are out there – the cilantro here, while important, gets lost in the blend of other flavors.  If you hate cilantro – it is not your fault.  Here is an article outlining why: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html.  Cilantro haters are in a similar category to those among us that know the agonies of “asparagus pee.”  Apparently – we ALL produce the smelly stuff – but only 22% can detect the scent…at least according to this article: http://bodyodd.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/29/12463697-psst-asparagus-pee-are-you-in-the-club?lite.  I also found this tidbit – which explains it a different way:

Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg explained asparagus pee in their book,“Why Do Men Have Nipples?”.

“Asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan. It is also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks,” they wrote. “The signature smell occurs when this substance is broken down in your digestive system. Not all people have the gene for the enzyme that breaks down mercaptan, so some of you can eat all the asparagus you want without stinking up the place. One study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that only 46 percent of British people tested produced the odor while 100 percent of French people tested did.”

Anyway – use the damned cilantro.  It adds MUCH needed color to this dish & you will not be offended by its taste.  At least use a little.  OK?  Please?

This dish is spicy.  Genuinely so.  Lessen the quantity of serrano/jalapeno if spice irks you.  Add more if you are a spice freak.  Also know – I use WAY more of the other spices listed than most any other version of this recipe you will find.  This is a powerfully flavored version.  Also know – it is an AMAZING dieter’s dish because the only thing in it with any calorie count work mentioning is the 2 tablespoons of olive oil – and this recipe makes an ENORMOUS amount of this stuff.  I bet it could feed 6 or 8 folks – what with the rice addition and all.  A cup of eggplant has 20 calories.  2 TBS of olive oil have – GREAT CRIPES – I just looked it up!!  2 TBS of olive oil is 240 calories!  Jeez.  That explains a LOT about my ass & thighs.   Ok -still – Let’s call this 6 cups of eggplant & 2 TBS of olive oil – for a total of 360 calories for the ENTIRE RECIPE.  And it is delicious!

Again – this will make a LOT of this dish.  Be prepared for yummy leftovers.

One final note – broiling the eggplant the day before or way in advance (so they can cool) is very helpful, but not necessary.

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Vegan Punjabi Baingan Bharta – A Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dish from India with Basmati Rice

INGREDIENTS

5 medium eggplant

2 medium onions – diced

3 inch cube of fresh ginger – or 4 TBS jarred, minced ginger (fresh is better)

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS cumin SEEDS (not ground cumin)

1 large jalapeno – seeded & diced

2 large serrano chiles – seeded & diced

4 garlic cloves – crushed

4 medium tomatoes – diced

2 TBS garam masala (recipe here – if you cannot find it made: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-garam-masala/)

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

1 bunch fresh cilantro

Extra tomato or red bell pepper (pictured above) – diced very fine for garnish.  Garnish is important with this dish because it is really little more than a dark mush.  It needs prettifying more than your average bear.  Extra cilantro – chopped fine – can also be nice – instead or in addition.

DIRECTIONS

Prick your eggplants all over with a fork.  Line a cookie sheet with foil & place the eggplant on it & into the oven.  Broil the eggplant about 5 inches from the flame – turning OFTEN – until they are bursting & blackened on all sides.  DO NOT FORGET TO PRICK THE EGGPLANTS or they WILL explode inside your oven & that will be one crime scene you will not want to clean up.

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They will look like this when they are done.  It might take 20-30 minutes – depending on the size of your eggplant & your broiler.  You kinda can’t OVER do this – though you can under do it.  Err on the side of charring.  It adds flavor & makes removing the skin WAY easier!

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Let the eggplant cool until they are safe to handle.  HOURS of cooling is best – unless you have Grandma hands & you are impervious to scalding hot eggplant juice.

Cut the green cap end off the eggplant & remove all the flesh from the charred skin (sounds gross).  The result should look kind of like this (looks gross):

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Roughly chop this eggplant up & set it aside.

Heat the olive oil up in a pan.  When it is hot – add the cumin seeds.  Beware – they will sizzle & pop & some will jump out of the pan at you.  Ouch.

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Once these are fragrant  – about a minute – add the chopped onion & fry until they are translucent & soften.  Add the garlic & ginger & serrano/jalapenos.

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Saute this for another minute or two.

Add the chopped tomatoes.

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Stir this a minute then add the garam masala, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric & salt.

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Add the chopped eggplant.  Stir.  Chop the cilantro & add it to the mix & blend well.  Remove from heat.

Using a food processor or a blender – puree the entire mixture.  Return the puree to the pan to keep it warm on very low heat.  The pureeing isn’t essential but I think it delivers a more pleasing result and more completely fuses the flavors.  If you are unable to puree or choose not to – simply be sure to chop all the ingredients very finely before adding them to the recipe – especially the eggplant.  Hunks of soft eggplant can bum some people out.

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BASMATI RICE

INGREDIENTS

2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice on individual plates.  Top with the Baingan Bharta & garnish with either finely diced tomato, red bell pepper – or extra cilantro.