It's September 14th, do you know what day it is? It's the day for Daring Cooks' Challenges to be unveiled!
This month, we were challenged to cook a fully vegan meal, meaning no animal products whatsoever. Debyi of Healthy Vegan Kitchen selected Indian Dosas from reFresh: Contemporary Vegan Recipes From the Award Winning Fresh Restaurants by Ruth Tal. She recommended making rice to serve with it, but we liked the filling enough (and ahem, forgot to put on the rice) that it wasn't really necessary.
Now, this represented two different firsts for me: I've never really made Indian at home and I've never tried to eat a completely vegan meal.
I do enjoy Indian, especially samosas and tikka paneer, but I've never really made a full meal myself. After making this, all I can say is, wow. I should do this more often! The filling was really good and I could see it making some good, healthy lunches for the two of us.
But going vegan or being an "alternative" cook? It's not for me. I didn't miss the animal products except for really wishing for an egg to thicken up the batter so it would cook properly... but realistically I can't see myself being happy on a vegan diet. There are simply too many great animal products out there to chow down on -- I may be vegetarian a day or two each week but I'm not turning in my omnivore card any time soon!
As for using spelt flour, it wasn't worth the extra expense. It was included in the recipe because it's generally well-tolerated by the gluten-free crowd and is basically a very mild wheat. (It tastes like it too.) I plan to use a stronger grain next time -- rye or buckwheat flour, perhaps -- but even regular whole wheat would be great.
It was, however, a great excuse to finally buy some almond milk to try. Turns out it's not too bad though a little grainy. My husband likened it to soy and hated it immediately but he didn't mind it in the pancakes luckily. I'll get to try it in some recipes that I found that call for it, so that's a good thing.
Overall, this turned out to be a great set of recipes. Next time... No fancy flours or milks, more spice and lots of exploiting of the Maillard reaction. There will be a next time, oh yes, there will.
Dosa Pancakes [printable recipe]
- 1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour1
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk
- 3/4 cup (175ml/6oz) water
- oil or cooking spray, as needed
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
Heat a lightly-oiled nonstick 10" skillet over medium-high heat. Ladle about 1/4 cup2 of batter into the pan and swirl to create a round, thin crepe. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes between 6 to 8 pancakes.
- My plans for the future: Exchange spelt for buckwheat or dark rye flour, almond milk for regular milk, add one egg. I'd also add very thinly sliced green onions.
- The original recipe called for about 2 tbsp of batter, which was way too thin for my pan. I think the author was using an 8" pan. The key here is to use just enough to make a flippable, thin crepe.
Curried Chickpea Filling [printable recipe]
Makes enough for 2 to 4, depending on how it's served1
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 largish carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 2 medium hot banana chilies, minced2
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp turmeric (OR a mixture of saffron and colombo)
- 4 cups (850gm/30oz/2 cans) cooked or canned chickpeas
- 6 oz (1 can) tomato paste
Heat a large, deep saute- or saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and carrot until lightly browned, add garlic and pepper, continue to saute until veggies are browned3. Add spices, stirring to combine thoroughly and saute for 1 - 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove to a large bowl.
Mash the chickpeas very well by hand or in a food processor (but stop short of hummus). Add to the pan and again saute until browned. Stir in veggie mixture and heat through well.
- This recipe makes a fairly good amount, which is good because it is fantastic. We both loved it and plan to make it again (and spicier!). It would be excellent for sandwiches, on rice or in wraps, very good lunch takealong.
- I didn't add a bell pepper (too expensive for bad quality this week) and the chiles came from a local garden. It was okay, but not spicy enough. Maybe my chiles were mild?
- Here, browning the various ingredients turned out to be important. Despite the large quantity of spices, both of us felt it was still too bland without browning everything in sight. I'd also add more curry powder and turmeric (which I didn't have, so I substituted with some saffron and colombo, which I picked up in the Caribbean and otherwise have no clue how to use).
Coconut Curry Sauce [printable recipe]
Makes about 4 - 5 cups
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp curry powder
- 3 tbsp spelt flour
- 3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
- 2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- olive oil
In a lightly-oiled 3qt saucepan, saute onion and garlic until browned. Stir in spices and flour and continue to cook for another minute. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and reduce for 30 minutes until thick.
- This was also excellent, but I'd do things differently next time. First, the spelt didn't add much, I'd just use regular flour. Second, the original recipe said to "simmer" when I think it actually meant "reduce". Whoops - I simmer with a lid on to keep the liquid in! Luckily, we could just leave it on the stove while we ate. Third, I disliked the texture of the tomatoes after boiling, so I pureed it with my immersion blender. Much better.
- This sauce can be frozen though it will lose some thickness. Definitely a keeper to pour over the filling and rice for lunches.
. . .
Unfortunately, there aren't many pictures this time. It was simply too late the day we made this and we were too hungry to fuss about for long. Plus, this recipe came together very quickly, which is nice for hungry people but bad for hungry viewers. ;-)