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Friday, December 31, 2010

Vegan Black Eyed Peas infused with Cilantro from "The Indian Slow Cooker"

Cilantro Infused Black Eyed Peas
From Anupy Singla's "The Indian Slow Cooker" Book.
It's New Year's Eve and my hubby grew up eating black-eyed peas and collard greens New Year's day. So figured I should have the Black-eyed peas ready to go around midnight! Well, Vegan Style!  I guess that black-eyed peas and ham hocks are the "traditional" way to prepare them BUT we shall have none of that here!  Why start your new year harming other creatures? Anupy Singla's "The Indian Slow Cooker" even has vegan black-eyed pea recipes!  So of course we had to do it.  Thankfully I noted the cooking time was 10 hours and started it around 1:00.  Cilantro-infused Black-eyed Peas (Dhania Waale Lobhia) is on page 86 of Anupy's book.

Black Eyed Peas.

Lots of cilantro, tomatoes, onions, garlic ginger.
The Indian "staples".

Indian "staples" getting ready for an awesome vegan Black-Eyed Pea dish.
Cilantro and "staples" getting pureed in food processor.
Thai chilis too, YUM!
This is for cilantro lovers as it calls for 2 whole bunches.  Once again, a simple recipe from this stellar book.  Roughly cut up a tomatoes, ginger, onions, and other yummies to throw in the food processor.  And this time you get to make a toasted cumin-coriander spice.  I used our cute little cast iron pan for this.  Cast iron is great because it has no nasty coating that falls out in your food, and it doesn't burn easily.  Truly you throw everything in the pot and push the start button.   You don't touch it for a full ten hours and then you add another bunch of fresh cilantro.

Cumin and coriander getting roasted in small cast iron skillet.
No excuses for not cooking healthy food.  No, it's not too expensive.  Is 1.99 a pound for ORGANIC beans too expensive?  No, it doesn't call for crazy spices.  Are Cumin and Coriander "out there"?  Even the fresh cilantro I picked up at a tiny neighborhood store.  Are onions exotic?  Roma tomatoes?  Normally I would not buy tomatoes this time of year, but it doesn't seem like you are looking for the "ripe", fullest flavor heirloom for these recipes.  More of a firm Roma, organic if you can.  Turmeric?

Black-Eyed peas, spices, Chiles in Crock-Pot (slow cooker)

Buy in bulk! It's cheaper and then you will always have food on your shelves!
This is my organic brown basmati rice next to my black-eyed peas saying
"Please pick ME!"
Sometimes it seems like people constantly make excuses like expense or they have zero time.  Although they have time to watch endless hours of TV (expensive cable at that, hey I'm NOT knocking John Stewart, just eat healthy food while doing it :) or they have enough money to buy packaged junk food.  But some of the best foods out there are also the least expensive.  So even if you are on government aid and struggling, it is very possible to eat in a healthy way. Maybe "welfare" should be a slow cooker and free bags of organic rice and beans. Copies of Anupy's book and other healthy, low cost eating cookbooks,  and some basic food preparation classes.

Cilantro Infused Black Eyed Peas made in the Slow Cooker (crock pot).
Verdict: Super Delicious!! Another Amazing dish from Anupy.

Fresh Organic Collard Greens.

The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes
The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes

Sounds True, Inc.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vegan Kheer (Vegan Indian Rice Pudding) Slow Cooker

Making Vegan Kheer from The Indian Slow Cooker Book by Anupy Singla

I made the Kheer, "Rice Pudding", slow cooker style tonight.  Followed the recipe, kind of! This of course is yet another recipe from my most recent favorite Vegan Slow Cooker kick.  From the Indian Slow Cooker by Chicago's own, Anupy Singla.  I used organic brown basmati rice and homemade almond milk which I made in the Vita-Mix.  This recipe was only supposed to take 3 hours which is why I made it because I had an intense sweet tooth and absolutely never get to eat rice pudding since even the vegan versions use sugar.  I used some agave but next time I think I would just put some dates in the blender with water to create a date paste/liquid.  There is a slight discrepancy on the page about cooking it on "high" or "low".

After adding homemade almond milk.
I just put almonds and water in the Vita-mix to make the milk.
Cooking the Kheer for 3 hours on low.

After the 3 hours, the kheer was pretty watery.  I guess it can be kind of liquidy but this was almost a drink.  One place the page says "high" and the other says "low" and of course I used brown rice instead of regular white basmati!  I ended up cooking it on high until it thickened up a bit.  It ended up fine and then thickened a bunch when chilled.  Next time I will try cooking it on high the entire time.  Maybe it won't take a full 3 hours on high, but I am convinced brown rice will work fine if you figure out the right timing!  
Kheer after 3 hours.......
Rice pudding after it has been chilled.
Next time I would cook on high and buy the golden raisins organic or without any preservatives!  The kind at the Indian Store contained Sulfur Dioxide which I just think is icky.  I hate when they add stuff to just plain food.  Really, why do raisins need another ingredient other than grapes?

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Vegan Palak "Sin Paneer"

Spinach for the Palak sin Paneer
Indian Slow Cooker Book.
Spices, Chilies, Garlic, Onions, Ginger.
I left them roughly cut because they get blended at the end.

I was going to take a few days off of Vegan Indian Slow Cooker food because we are still working on the Tangy Tamarind Chickpeas and the Pigeon Peas. Hubby likes wet stuff more than dry stuff. He went out on errands and not only came back with my Thai Chilies but also 2 boxes of prewashed organic spinach. Is this a hint or what? So I made the Vegan Palak Paneer last minute. I thought he would add in tofu cubes at the end but he claims he really doesn't need them. I am thinking he "really doesn't need to thaw them". We freeze the tofu so it gets this super cool consistency for cubes or scrambling in a cast iron skillet. But then we have to thaw the stuff out. I kind of limit my tofu intake. Since I can't eat all the super fun vegan junk like Tofurkey slices, Tofurkey Brats, Match Meats, Uncle Eddie's Vegan Cookies, and the list goes on (my quest to eliminate gluten from my diet), I figured I might as well really limit any processed soy. Edamame is fine, tempeh (except we never buy that), and miso are my soy picks.
Beautiful Palak sin Paneer Ingredients
from Anupy Singla's book.

Well so is this just "
palak" then or just "saag" sin tofu? It is a super easy dish to make but there is some cutting up. A massive amount of garlic (which you just peel) & then I put the max amount chilies (10 Thai Chilies) just because I don't know why. I don't tend to do things half way. All or nothing. So this dish is probably going to clean us out pretty well with all the heat, garlic, onions, and spices.
It's pretty cool because you dump the spinach in the slow cooker and it almost doesn't fit!
You don't have to add water or anything! I even left the ginger in pretty big chunks. You cook this stuff down for awhile and then you blend it up and let it go on low awhile. It will be a nice change from beans.

So easy, you put everything in at once.

Mountain of Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Spices in the slow cooker.
I put most of the spinach in, added the other ingredients, and then put the final spinach on top.
This was all of the tumeric couldn't make a bold escape.
Adding the rest of the spinach on top of all of the other ingredients.
The slow cooker lid barely stays on!
It cooks down so quickly.

Think the Aloo Gobi is going to soon also.....Need to do some of the veggie stuff. And then maybe the black lentil dishes in the beginning of the book. Loved the  Chana MasalaBlack Lentils, the Urad Dal, and Rajmah the most so far. I think I made the Rajmah recipe 3 days in a row the first time! We only had kidney beans left so that's what I used but it was perfect because it coincided with the first bout of cold weather.  It really is like an Indian Chili. "Dad's Rajmah" was my fave. The other was also good, but just didn't pack the punch the same way. Love the spicy. My tummy doesn't always appreciate if I pair the spicy with too much black tea. I simply have zero willpower around Indian Food.  If you like vegan Indian food (well any Indian food really), then you need to have "The Indian Slow Cooker Book".
"Palak sin Paneer" blended and cooked.
Recipe from Indian Slow Cooker Book.  This has no water added to it and you see it "sticks" to the pot a little.
I did sir it several times, but I think it is just part of the cooking process.
Palak Sin Paneer, finished.

Verdict:  Hubby thought it tasted bitter.  Maybe because of the amount of tumeric?  Maybe it was the 10 Thai chilies?  No oil?  I don't know.  It didn't taste like the restaurant, but it also didn't have 1/2 cup of oil!  I thought it was good but all I could taste was the "heat" since I insisted on the maximum amount of chilies.  After his first plate, I ate the rest of the recipe.  I don't know if I would make again simply because I eat spinach fresh.  I have also made some good "raw saag" recipes with raw spinach blended with either nut creams, spices, coconut, create a raw version of this dish.  I liked it though.  If it is too healthy for you, dump some Earth Balance in, add the tofu cubes, put some Silk Half and Half in....I love that I can eat it with no fat.  But if you want the restaurant version then you are probably going to have to add the "restaurant oil".  If you do add the tofu, DO NOT USE SILKEN!!  Use an extra firm type and cut it into cubes.  If you want a slightly fermented flavor you can add a little bit of freshly squeezed lemon to the tofu.  

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vegan Curried Chickpeas (Vegan Chana Masala)

"Curried Chickpeas"
from The Indian Slow Cooker  by
Anupy Singla
Rasa walla Kabuli Chana or Curried Chickpeas!  I was SO excited to make this because I was thinking it would be "Chana Masala" since it has some chana masala spice mix in it.  I am still not sure if it is considered "Chana Masala" or not, but it is super yummy.

MDH Chana Masala 100g
"Chana Masala"
spice mix.

You use the white chickpeas (kabuli chana).  I buy these from Whole Foods since I can get them organic there.  If you are going to do this type of cooking all of the time, look to buy them organic and in bulk.  This recipe is incredibly easy.  You chop a few things up and put them in the cooker with the dried chickpeas.  Yep, dried and unsoaked.  Seriously folks, zero preparation.  Even at the most expensive place in town (Whole Foods), the organic chickpeas in bulk are 1.99 a pound.  

I buy my legumes in bulk and keep
them in glass jars.  They are such a colorful addition in the kitchen!

Kabuli Chana (Garbanzo Bean) 2 Lbs
"Kabuli Chana"

This differed a little from "Chana Masala" that we get at the restaurants.  It doesn't have much tomato so it isn't as "red" in color.  We did have fun watching a Punjabi man make a very complicated version of "Chana Masala" on YouTube.  He put mango powder and pomegranate seeds in as separate ingredients.  The garam masala in this gives it an earthy cinnamon/cardamom flavor.  I buy my Garam Masala (organic) from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I wish they also carried the "Chana Masala" mix because I still haven't found any that don't just totally overload on the salt.  The best I could do is find one where salt is the third ingredient.  So I reduced the salt even more.  I do use Sea Salt, but mine is not coursely ground so I basically have cut the salt in half for every single one of these recipes.  I think she uses coursely ground salt and I also think Indians like salt.
More than one use for a bag of beans.
The chickpeas in this turn out so soft.  You will love this dish!
How do you guys make "Vegan Chana Masala"??  Does anyone know of a place to buy "Chana Masala" spice with ZERO salt? So far, Hubby's faves right now are this Chana Masala and the Black Lentils/Dal Makhani.