DDD #77 – Vegan Smoked Dal Makhani – Punjabi-Style – Instant Pot or Not!

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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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Click the image above to watch the video.

I love Indian food.  I always have.  I also love cooking with dry beans & lentils because they are so inexpensive & yield many servings for pennies per serving.  The only issue with Indian recipes is acquiring the exotic spices – which can be expensive if you do not buy them from an Indian market.  Ethnic markets are always the best place to buy spices because each will typically carry all you need for recipes from that area of the world and at greatly reduced prices.  If you do not live in an area with much diversity – Amazon is wonderful.  You can typically omit a few spices from most recipes with little loss of flavor but it is really satisfying to be as authentically true to a regional recipe as possible.   With Thai food, for example, getting fresh kaffir lime leaves & Thai basil makes an enormous difference.  You just open the packages of these things and are transported to your favorite Thai restaurant.  Indian food has a few staples that are hrd to get around – garam masala, for example.  But it is stuff like cardamom & fenugreek (methi) that add authenticity.  Fenugreek is an herb – pictured below – both fresh & dried.  It also comes in seed form & as a powder and it is ubiquitous in Indian recipes in one form or another.  It might be a good idea to research a few Indian recipes & stock up on the critical spices sif you want to experiment with this wonderful cuisine.  HERE is a list of the most used spices – garam masala being the most commonly used and that list omitted the kasoori (or kasuri) methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and I would add that to your list as well as amchoor (mango powder).

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I made a version of mahkani in July – seen above – my Spicy Vegan Dal Makhani (Beluga or Black Lentils) for the Slow Cooker.   That dish used beluga lentils & is not as authentic as today’s recipe. In today’s recipe I used whole black lentils (also called urad dal or black gram) and red kidney beans (rajma).    I not only soaked these beans overnight but I also cooked them in my slow cooker for 5 hours on high AND left them overnight to let the flavors meld.  I recommend this (though it is not necessary) to let the beans really soften & the flavors blend – so – if you are making this dish it takes two days before you are eating it.  Again, you definitely could eat it after the 5 hours but like many stew-type dishes – it gets better over time.  The good news is – there is no prep cooking for this dish so, except for cutting up an onion & 2 peppers – the slow cooker does all the work (except the smoking process – explained below).  The lentils & beans I used are below – dry – and as they looked after soaking them – separately – overnight.  As you can see – they changed color considerably.   This dish is traditionally very rich using varied amounts of butter & heavy cream.  I used only 2 TBS of vegan butter & 1/2 cup vegan sour cream – so this dish is not quite so heavy.

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As to smoking your dal makhani – it is VERY easy & I recommend it very highly.  It just requires a chunk of a natural charcoal & a small metal bowl.  You simply heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!  (The photo of the smoking charcoal is from my Smoked & Spicy Indian Eggplant Curry (Vegan – Vegetarian) – seen below.)





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Vegan Smoked Dal Makhani Punjabi-Style (Black Gram/Urad Dal & Rajma) – 

Serves 6+ with rice


 1 cup dry black urad dal – soaked overnight

1/2 cup dry red kidney beans – soaked overnight

1 onion – diced

2 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers – seeded & diced

2 TBS vegan butter (or coconut or olive oil)

4 cups water (or vegetable stock)

1 cup tomato puree

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 TBS garam masala

1/2 tsp amchoor

2 TBS dry methi leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp chili powder

3 green cardamom pods

1 TBS fresh or jarred ginger (I used jarred)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 cup vegan sour cream

Steamed rice

GARNISH – more sour cream, cilantro or fresh fenugreek leaves

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Soak the beans overnight.   Drain & rinse.


Heat the oil or butter using the saute setting – saute the onion & peppers until soft.  Put everything else in & cook, sealed, on manual for 35 minutes.


Put everything except the sour cream into a slow cooker & cook on high for at least 5 hours – maybe more.  If you are going for the overnight uber-cooking (as I did) – leave it covered overnight.  I left my cooker off as there was nothing in there that would spoil but – if you are not comfortable with that – add some water & leave it on warm overnight.


Heat the oil or butter and saute the onion & peppers in a large stock pot until soft.  Put everything else in & bring to a boil.  Reduce heat & simmer until the beans are tender – 30 minutes or so.


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Either way – the next step is the smoking (which you can skip but I recommend trying it because it is amazing.  Heat the coal over a burner until it is red hot, place it in a metal bowl & drizzle olive oil on it & place it atop your dal & put the lid on the slow cooker or Instant Pot or pan.  In ten minutes – you will have authentically, smoky goodness!

Now – stir in the sour cream.   If it is too thin – add water or vegan milk to thin it.  If it is too thin – cook it on high with the lid off until it thickens.  Mashing some of the dal with a wooden spoon or pureeing with an immersion blender gives an even creamier result.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream & serve with rice.

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DDD #75 – Vegan Spicy Citrus Black Beans


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.

These are as easy as putting everything into a slow cooker & walking away.  I did not even pre-soak the beans.  You could speed this process up either by using canned beans or soaking dry beans overnight or quick soaking them or cooking them on a higher setting – or by doing it stove top.  These are mildly spicy & mildly citrusy.  You could ratchet either of those flavors up or down – according to your preferences.

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Vegan Spicy Citrus Black Beans (Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Stove Top)

Feeds 6 with rice


1 lb dry black beans

5 cups water or stock (1 cup only if using drained, canned beans)

Juice of 2 limes

juice of 1 large lemon

juice of 1 large orange

6 garlic cloves – minced

2 (or more or less) chipotle chilies in adobo – minced

1 onions – diced

3 serrano (or jalapeno) peppers – minced (or to taste)

1 TBS  ground cumin

2 TBS dry oregano (or fresh – chopped)

2 bay leaves

2 tsp dry sage

1 tsp of salt

Squirt sriracha

Garnish – cilantro & cooked rice & maybe citrus wedges to squeeze

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Put it all in a slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.  Cook uncovered longer if they are too wet – add water if they are too dry.  If they seem too runny – maybe puree a small amount of the beans & return them to the pan.


Put everything in a very large stock pot & bring to a boil & simmer until the beans are tender (90 minutes or more or until the beans are tender).  Boil longer if they are too watery.  Add water if they get too thick.  If they seem too runny – maybe puree a small amount of the beans & return them to the pan.


Put it all into the Instant Pot & cook on manual for 25 minutes.  Drain in a colander if they are too wet.  Add water if they get too dry.  If they seem too runny – maybe puree a small amount of the beans & return them to the pan.

All of these methods will go much faster with beans soaked overnight and, in the case of canned beans, the only times required is maybe an hour to let the flavors meld.

Garnish with cilantro & serve with rice.  Maybe squeeze a bit of lemon, lime or orange juice onto the beans.

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DDD #29 – Vegan Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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Black bean brownies?  Am I to believe my eyes?  Yes & yes!  These babies are amazing & nobody would ever guess that they are flourless & made of canned beans.  Rich & delicious & packed with protein – even the fussiest kids will chow these babies down.

Click the image below for the video & please subscribe to my channel.

Vegan Black Bean Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl


1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained & rinsed

2 vegan eggs (use your favorite egg replacer)

3 TBS coconut oil

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips plus extra for topping

1/8 – 1/4 cup peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients except the chocolate chips & peanut butter.

Mix in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Grease an 8×8 baking pan.  Spread the mix in there.  Drop some peanut butter on top and – with a skewer or the tip of a knife – swirl the peanut butter.  Top with some extra chips & then bake for 20-30 minutes or until the top is dry & the edges are separated from the pan.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before cutting them.  Refrigerating them will facilitate cutting them up.

Serve & wow the villagers!


Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

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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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So – I am several days into eating only food I already have in the house.  I have WAY too many frozen leftovers & dry pastas & beans etc taking up space & yet I keep going to the store to buy more food. It is ridiculous & wasteful.  Today’s recipe was inspired by a huge butternut squash I had & some other veggies rapidly reaching the end of their shelf life.  I used jarred salsa because I had one open but made the enchilada sauce because I did not already have some in a jar or can.  You can choose to go all jarred or all homemade – your call.

I also roasted a whole butternut squash.  You might want to buy some already cubed & roast those – or just boil them.  This can be as labor-intensive or as simple as you care to make it.

The real star of this dish is this newer vegan cheese I found.  It tastes great & does a fair job at melting – so – I recommend trying it if you see it or can find it online.  It is from Parmela Creamery and you can definitely buy it – and loads of other vegan cheeses – from them.


Oh – as an aside – TJ Maxx is a great source for kitchen items.  They always have loads of olive oil marked way down.  I stock up every time I go there.





Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Serves 6 well


2 cups red enchilada sauce (my recipe HERE) or your favorite brand or recipe

16 oz salsa – homemade or your favorite brand

olive oil

1 small butternut squash

1/2 medium red (or any other kind) onion – diced

1-3 jalapenos (optional) – seeded & diced

3 tomatoes – diced

2 carrots – diced

1 cup corn

1 12 oz can black beans – drained

1-4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

15-20 taco-sized corn tortillas

Up to 1 lb grated vegan cheeses of your choice ( I used both cheddar & mozzarella)

S&P to taste

GARNISH: cilantro, sliced scallions, avocado slices, additional salsa or hot sauce




Heat the oven to 375.

I roasted my butternut squash unpeeled & halved.  It was a sorta messy business doing it this way.  In the future, I will peel & cube it first.  Whatever you decide – roast it naked for 20-40 minutes, turning at least once, until it is soft.  If you cooked it like I did – let it cool in the sink & peel & cube it once it is cool enough to handle.  OR – you could peel, cube & boil it until the cubes are soft.  I had a large squash – so I put some extra mashed up into my dogs’ dinner.  They loved it!

Meanwhile, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan & add the chopped carrots & onions.  When they start to soften, add the tomatoes, jalapenos, corn & black beans.  Add the spices & cilantro.  Heat through.  Add the garlic & saute 1 minute.  Stir in the cubed squash.  Season with S&P & set aside.









Now – assemble the casserole.  Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray).  Put the salsa on the bottom.  The rest can be pretty random – as long as you end with 1/3 of the enchilada sauce & 1/3 of the cheese.






Layer some corn tortillas & top with 1/3 of the veggie mixture, 1/3 of the cheese & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.




Add another 1/3 of the veggie mixture.  Layer with  1/3 of the cheese, more tortillas, the final 1/3 of the veggie & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.






Add another layer of tortillas & the rest of the enchilada sauce & cheese.




I used the casserole glass lid to cover it.  You can do this or use foil.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, remove cover & bake another 10 minutes or so.  Let rest for ten minutes before serving.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions & maybe salsa, hot sauce or a few slices of fresh avocado.  Enjoy!




Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops

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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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vromans back





Nothing was more important to me than my dearest Memphis – above.  Nothing.  He was a little rescued gift from the universe after my 4-year-old pug, Grisbi, died suddenly & mysteriously.  Then – on June 20th – Memphis left me the same way – suddenly & mysteriously – at 4.  I am bereft.

It has been difficult to get into cooking & blogging.  Everything reminds me of Memphis & then everything seems so pointless and so trivial.

Anyway, I have had this cuttlefish ink in my fridge forever – but I never tried it because I gave up seafood three years ago.  Today – I decided to break my no seafood thing (for the second time in a week) and make this risotto.  Early this week – I made Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta – seen below.


People are often intimidated by risotto but I do not understand why.   It is simple to prepare & only takes about 20 minutes.  This black risotto here is no exception.  It is simple & delicious.  What people should be intimidated by is scallops.  They are often fishy & too often overcooked into rubber.  I managed to pull the scallops here off perfectly & I will share how.  It was not difficult.



Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops



Fresh jumbo scallops – maybe 3 or 4 per person

1 cup Arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

3 TBS butter

3 TBS olive oil

1 large shallot (or small onion) – diced

1-6 garlic cloves (I used 6) – chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

Squid ink (or cuttlefish ink) – about 3 or 4 teaspoons

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – or to taste (optional)

10 cherry tomatoes – halved (maybe extra to quarter & use as garnish)

2 red chilies (optional) – diced – some reserved as garnish


Parsley – chopped – as garnish







Wash the scallops in cold water & pat VERY dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle with S&P.  Set aside.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil & reduce to a simmer.

Heat TWO TBS of olive oil & TWO TBS of butter in a stock pot over med-high heat.  Add the shallots or onion & saute until soft & just beginning to brown.  Add the rice & tomatoes & stir for a minute or two.  Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the wine & then the ink & red chilies & crushed red pepper(if using).  I added the ink in increments until it got the nice rich black.  You may or may not use all the ink suggested – your call.  Add the stock 1/4 cup at a time – letting it get absorbed before adding the next cup.  Stir the rice the entire time.  Reserve about 1/2 cup stock.   Season with S&P.  Test that the rice is cooked & then cover it & remove it from the heat.







In a frying pan, heat 1 TBS olive oil & 1 TBS butter (more if you have more than 4 scallops) and heat on high until very hot.  Add the dry scallops.  They should sizzle upon contact with the oil.  Do not fumble with them.  Let them sear 1-2 minutes each side – depending on their thickness.  Ideally – they should only be moved once – when you flip them.  They should be crusty on two sides by a bit translucent in the center ( bit rare) – unless you like them cooked well done.  Leave them on longer for a well done scallop.  Know they will keep cooking a bit even after removed from the heat.

Stir the remaining stock into the risotto & stir.  It should be what the Italians cal “all’onda.”  That means “wavy” or “with waves.”  The risotto should be creamy enough that tapping the bottom of the plates makes it spread out.

Plate the risotto, top with scallops & chopped parsley (and chopped red chilies or tomatoes) as garnish.





Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad

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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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Pasta salads are so easy & vegan ones can sit out at a BBQ with no worry of anything going bad (like mayo).  I made this for a Memorial Day party but I added WAY too much chili powder.  I am going to reduce the quantity I suggest here.  The fact is – you could just toss the ingredients with your favorite BBQ sauce & call it a day – but the lime juice & chili powder add some depth.  I used these noodles below – but I broke the long noodles into thirds.  I love this pasta because it looks cool & photographs really well but any pasta at all will do.  The quantities of the ingredients are loose & you can go with more or less of lots of them with no negative impact on the salad.

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Spicy Vegan Southwestern Pasta Salad


1 lb pasta – cooked & drained under cold water

1/4 olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tsp chili powder (I used 2 TBS & it was NOT a good thing)

1/4 cup (or more) BBQ sauce (I used Hak’s Thai Chili Tamarind – because that is what I had – but a more traditional BBQ sauce might suit this salad better)

2 tsp cumin

1-3 garlic cloves – minced

12 oz frozen corn

1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained & rinsed

1 bell pepper – chopped (I used an orange one)

1-2 jalapenos – chopped (I used red ones)

4 tomatoes – diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro


Extra cilantro as garnish

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Whisk the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder & cumin together.  Set aside.

Toss all the remaining ingredients well.  Add the olive oil mixture incrementally – tasting as you go.  You might not use all of it.  Season with S&P & maybe stir in more BBQ sauce.

Serve with additional cilantro.

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Vegan Black Jasmine Pork Fried Rice with Egg (Thai Rice Berry)

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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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Follow Your Heart came out with a vegan egg (photo above stolen from Google).  The first time I tried it – I was put off by the fact that it is a powder you add water to & that it takes FOREVER to set & become eggy.  It seemed like a chemical rubber to me & I talked shit about it a bit.  When I decided to make a fried rice – it crossed my mind that this egg might work better as part of a larger dish – without the pressure of having to stand on its own.    So – I made it again.  I noticed that the powder even has a very faint eggy-sulfur smell – that I did not notice the first time.  And – this time – I let the pan get very hot before I added the mix.

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And – this time – it came together a bit more quickly.  I added some salt to it before it set & scrambled it until it was no longer wet.  And tasted it.  And, this time, I kinda liked the result.  The visual isn’t perfect but the taste & texture were actually pretty good.  I wonder how a quiche or chilaquiles might turn out with this stuff.  I will experiment & report back.  But – if you crave breakfast eggs – I am changing my thumbs down on these to a pretty enthusiastic thumbs up.   Omelettes might be the ideal way to use this stuff – because added flavors & textures can only help.

One thing – once set – these eggs don’t break up like real egg & so – cut up – they look sorta plastic (visually – see below) and were lost & overwhelmed in this rice.  Just FYI.

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As to this rice dish – it was just an excuse to make my awesome Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs – above.  Those fuckers are so convincing & delicious – I just had to make them again the very next day!  I also had a myriad of random vegetables to use up & I really wanted to experiment with the vegan egg again – so – this dish was born.  It is a pretty straight-forward stir-fry & you can add anything you want to it or lose anything from it that you don’t like or have around already.    Two notes – the egg gets sorta lost in this so it might be a waste to use them for this dish and – I stirred the chopped “pork” into the stir-fry where the heat sorta steamed their crispy, stickiness away.  In the future – I would top each plate with a portion of the ribs — on top or on the side.



Also – I made this with my newest rice discover – Thai Rice Berry (black jasmine) rice.  ANY rice will work – but I had this left over so that is what I used.

I saw this new rice at my favorite Thai grocery store – Bangluck.   $10 for 5 pounds – so I could not resist.  I looked it up online & found THIS:

Riceberry  Rice is the new variety of rice that has been bred in Thailand. The rice is deep purple in colour; this rich dark colour is typical of plants that yield high nutrition. Rice berry rice is cross pollination of three hardy and loved rice strains; they are:

  • Thai Hom Mali Race – also known as fragrant jasmine rice, the highest quality and most sort after rice in the world, after cooking it retains its structure but takes on a soft fluffy consistency.
  • Hom Nin Rice – has well known and documented antioxidant properties, but this grain can become a little chewy if it isn’t cooked through.
  • Khao Dawk Mali 105 – a hardy seed which will grow in a broad range of agricultural environments.

The cross-pollination of these three rice plants has resulted in Riceberry Rice, a new and exciting rice variety. Riceberry takes on the best attributes of each of the grains that were used in its inception. The light fluffy texture and flavour from Thai jasmine rice, high in minerals and antioxidants from Hom Nin rice and hardy and high yield characteristics of Khao Dawk Mali 105.

Riceberry Rice Nutrition Profile

Riceberry rice is rich in many antioxidant that help our immune system stay healthy. It contains significant levels of:

  • Beta-carotene
  • Gama Oryzanol
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Tannin
  • Zinc
  • Fiber
  • Bran Oil

These antioxidants, vitamins and minerals give riceberry rice a nutrition profile that is relatively unique. The dark purple colour it matures signifies it high nutrition content and gives it a unique appearance when served.

The rice is also extremely high in fiber and bran oil, this natural aids digestion and helps keep the stomach free from disease.

Thai Rice Glycemic Index

Riceberry rice has been graded as low-medium in the glycemic index. The abundant fiber and bran oil which it contains helps to reduce the risks of diabetes by hindering the absorption of sugars into the blood through the stomach. It also helps the pancreas function better.

– See more at: http://www.thenaturalhealthmarket.co.uk/riceberry-organic#sthash.388tjdGM.dpuf

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Vegan Black Jasmine Pork Fried Rice with Egg (Thai Rice Berry)

Serves 4


Vegan Char Siu or Chinese BBQ Pork Ribs

3-4 cups cooked rice

2-3 TBS olive or coconut oil

1 small onion – diced

1 large carrot – diced

1 red (or other) bell pepper – diced

1-6 chili peppers (I used 2 serrano & 4 jalapeno – but I love heat)

2 cups purple cabbage (or green or both) – chopped

1 head Swiss chard – ribs removed & chopped

4 radishes – sliced

1 cup peas

4 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)

1 TBS minced ginger

1 TBS minced garlic

2 Follow Your Heart vegan eggs (optional)

GARNISH – more radish slices and/or lime wedges, sliced scallions or sliced green garlic

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Make the pork ribs & set aside.  When cool enough to handle – chop them up.

If using the eggs – make them, chop them up & set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan or wok.

Basically – just dump everything (except the rice, egg & ribs) in there & cook until the veggies are soft.  You might want to wait until it is close to done before adding the peas so that they don’t get all smooshed.  Add the rice & combine.  My photos show adding the egg & ribs to the pan but I think they would work better added to each serving when you plate the rice.

Plate the portions & top with chopped egg & pork and any garnish you prefer.

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