My first homemade Indian dinner was difficult for me to plan. I didn’t want to make the usual Chickpea Curry, but rather something with lots of veggies and a great blend of spices. With all my new cookbooks I had an overwhelming amount of choices and became confused by so many regional variations of recipes. But finally I was inspired by a recipe I already had on hand from a local chef, “Vegetable Pulao,” and by “Indian Spiced Cauliflower” from More Soy of Cooking. I first began with a visit to the Gandhi Bazar.
I bought relishes (which were too oily), coriander chutney (amazingly wonderful), spices, frozen Parathi, and Crispy Cashew Cookies, just in case my cupcakes didn’t work out. (I wanted a cookie soooo bad, and fortunately, they were so crispy they actually crumbled – so I could have one!) Gandhi Bazar was a fabulous grocery store. I have never seen so many dals – dry, split, roasted – and so many spices in all my life. I saw Pillsbury brand Naan and Roti in the freezer! There was rose water and mustard oil in huge bottles, and pastes and curry flavors I never knew existed. And the prices seemed very reasonable. I paid $14 for my things. The green chutney was the most expensive at $2.99 (and the best purchase). I was thrilled to find the green cardamom pods and the asafoetida. I looked up asafoetida on Wikipedia and found that it is also called Devil’s Dung and Stinking Gum, and has a sulfurous odor. I guess that’s an accurate assessment. I can’t really describe how it smells in the bottle, although “dung” didn’t come to mind. I just used a half teaspoon in the cauliflower dish, and it definitely adds an Indian flavor.
The Vegetable Pulao is made with texmati rice, carrots, onions, green peas (frozen), and chickpeas, and is seasoned with bay leaves, green cardamom pods, whole cloves, cumin seeds, stick cinnamon, and a pinch of saffron (tumeric for tonight). It’s garnished with cashews and golden raisins fried in a bit of margarine. The cardamom and the garnish put it over the top. It is incredibly fragrant and totally delicious.
I’m sure it would look prettier with chunkier veggies, but I can only eat tiny pieces in one spot in my mouth without too much pain.
For the Spiced Cauliflower, I changed the ingredients a bit and added the asafoetida, but otherwise followed the recipe. I liked the cumin and cilantro in it, but I actually thought it was pretty bland. I also used more tofu instead of mushrooms (didn’t seem Indian, but maybe would have soaked up more flavor) and added fresh spinach, and I also added a fried onion garnish. The fried onions and a dip in the green chutney helped to make this a quite tasty dish in the end. It took awhile to prepare, and since it wasn’t very flavorful on its own, I don’t know if I’ll make it again. It needs a little work.
I guess it's one of those dishes that looks better than it tastes.
We pan fried the frozen parathi and also served the various store bought relishes and chutneys. Here's our table.
Chase liked the Pulao so much, you get another look at it.
And here are the all the condiments. See how oily the relish is?
Mango seemed to be the proper ingredient for a sweet treat. I used the "Pineapple Right Side Up Cupcakes" recipe from VCTOTW and instead of pineapple, pureed some fresh mango and changed up the spices a bit. These cupcakes are small, only half-filled liners. I made the basic vanilla buttercream frosting and added in toasted coconut for the topper. The mango flavor wasn’t really there, but the little cakes, as always, turned out perfectly, and the coconut topping was a great complement.
This dinner was fun to make. The Pulao was outstanding and didn’t take long to prepare – or eat! I could have left Gandhi Bazar and gone next door to Curry in a Hurry, and I may do that one day. But this meal was definitely delicious Indian fare and definitely vegan!
In other news…….. I forgot to mention on my Wednesday post about a longtime veg restaurant that caught fire. Mother’s Café and Garden opened here in 1980 and has been loved since that time. Ruthie ate there, at my recommendation, when she was in Austin for a visit during Christmas. Early Wednesday morning a homeless man stopped on Mother’s outdoor patio, built a fire, and fell asleep. A cook arrived at 5:00 a.m. to prep breakfast, and shortly thereafter a passerby noticed flames on the patio. A fire department is just blocks away, but the deck and all the beautiful trees were destroyed, and the restaurant suffered heavy smoke damage. Estimated repair cost – half a million dollars. The poor homeless man said he was just trying to keep warm and didn’t mean to fall asleep with a fire going. He received a warning citation for trespassing. So sad.
In still other news…… I went back to the periodontist on Friday to get my stitches out, but didn’t. I am healing nicely, but hardly any stitches have dissolved and there is one particularly painful knot I wish would go away. They wouldn’t take out any stitches, so I had to get more pain pills, the low dose kind, so I can function. I’m still eating mostly mush. I made more kale soup – it’s so good. I’ve missed my daily salads so much! So I’ve started wilting my greens and letting them cool, then adding dressing – voila!