Archive for January, 2010

Green Dal

Dal is easy, tasty and healthy.  What more could you want?  Eat it with some veggies, and rice or chapati for a quick delicious meal.


2 C dry split green peas

4 C water

3/4 C unsweetened milk substitute (I use So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage)

1/2 small onion

1 TBS canola oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp anardana

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp salt

cilantro for garnish


1.  Rinse the split peas, and then simmer over medium heat in 4 C water for 30 minutes, or until tender, but not falling apart.

2.  While the peas are simmering, heat the canola oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, cumin seeds and anardana.  Saute for 3-5 minutes, or until the onions turn clear.

3.  Add the garlic and saute another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Add the curry powder and salt, stir to distribute and remove from heat.

5.  When the peas are done cooking, stir in the onion mixture and the milk substitute.  Lower heat to med-low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve.


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Whole Wheat Chapati

In India, bread and rice are not eaten at the same meal, it’s an either/or relationship.  If you’ve never tried to eat your curry or dal with just some chapati (aka roti) or naan, believe me, you won’t be disappointed!  I admit, I was a little skeptical at first, since I could not imagine having Indian food without rice, but just having a couple of chapatis makes a light, satisfying meal.


2 C Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp salt

1 TBS olive oil

1 C warm water +/- 1/4 C


1.  In medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.  Then stir in the olive oil and 3/4 C of the warm water.

2.  Turn out onto a flat surface to kneed the dough.  Kneed a few times.  If there is a lot of flour hanging around, drizzle some of the extra water onto it.  Continue to kneed for a minute or two, adding enough water to create a soft, but not sticky dough.

3.  Cover with a towel and let sit for up to 2 hours, but at least half an hour.

4.  Heat griddle, or cast iron skillet to medium low.

5.  Cut dough into 12 sections and roll each into a ball.

6.  Roll out two pieces of dough, as thin as you can.  Let them rest for a minute.  Then give one piece another turn with your rolling pin to flatten out a little more.  Take that dough and place it bottom side down in the skillet.  Take another ball and roll it out.  Flip the chapati in the skillet (you should see brown freckles on the cooked side).  Give a second rolling to the dough you rolled out at the beginning.  Flip the chapati again (again, once you see some brown freckles), but leave only for 10 seconds or so.  Remove from heat.  Repeat this process of cooking, rolling, flipping, re-rolling, flipping, remove, until all chapatis have been cooked.

Serve with your favorite dal or curry!


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Vegetable Biryani

This is certainly not the most traditional biryani recipe (I just cannot replicate the flavor you get in restaurants, they must have some mystery spice), but after much trial and error, I’ve managed a tasty flavor mixture.  But if anybody knows what the secret ingredient to authentic flavor is, please let me know!



1.5 C brown basmati rice

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 tsp turmeric

2 1/4 C water


1 small gold potato

canola oil, as needed

1/2 small yellow onion

1/2 tsp each:  cumin seeds, coriander seeds, anardana

2 cloves garlic

1 serrano chili (optional)

1/2 tsp each: garam masala, curry powder

1 tsp ground each: cumin, ground coriander, salt

1 medium carrot

1/2 head of broccoli

1/2 red bell pepper

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 C green peas, thawed

1/2 C chopped cilantro


1.  Soak the rice in a large bowl of cold water for at least an hour.  Pour out the water and refill with fresh water, and then drain completely.

2.  In a large skillet, heat the rice, water, olive oil, turmeric and salt over high heat until the water just begins to simmer.  Then turn heat down to medium or medium-low (just enough to maintain a simmer, but not boil) and cook covered for 18-20 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed.

3.  Set aside and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

4.  While the rice is cooking, heat a spoonful or two of canola oil to medium in a non-stick skillet.  Cook the potatoes for 4 minutes without stirring.

5.  Then stir them up, add the onion, garlic, chili and cumin and coriander seeds, and cook another 4 minutes.

6.  Add the ground spices and salt and stir to mix.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the carrots, and more oil if needed.  Cook for 3 minutes.

7.  Add the lemon zest, broccoli and bell pepper.  Cook for 3 minutes.

8.  Add the thawed green peas.  Cook for 3 minutes.

9.  Fluff the rice with a fork and combine it with the veggies.  Stir in the cilantro and serve!


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Coconut Potatoes

These coconut potatoes are a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet, and have a shot of lime juice to slice through the richness.  They are great accompaniment to some curried chickpeas and steamed veg.


1.5 lbs gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 C water, or veggie broth

1 thai green chili, diced (optional)

1 tsp salt

canola oil, as needed

2 TBS shredded coconut

juice from 1/2 a lime

1/2 C cilantro, rinsed and chopped


1.  Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat.  Add the potatoes, salt, and water (or broth).  Cover and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove cover, stir and cook 3-4 minutes longer.

2.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add the diced chili.

3.  Add 1-2 tsp canola oil, to coat the bottom of the pan.  Cook uncovered for 4 minutes.  Stir, add more oil if needed and cook 4 minutes more.  Repeat again, for a total of 12 minutes.

4.  Add coconut, stir and cook for a final 3 minutes.

5.  Remove from heat.  Squeeze half of a lime over potatoes.  Add cilantro, and serve.


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I used to love the pierogis at Veselka in NYC, but of course most pierogis have egg or sour cream in the dough.  It only occurred to me recently that I could attempt to make them vegan.  The filling can be pretty much anything mixed into mashed potatoes, but the dough is the tricky vegan part.  I used some plain coconut milk yogurt for the first batch of dough I tried, and at first I thought it tasted a little weird.  But after making other doughs without the yogurt, I appreciated the richness it brought to the flavor profile.  This is definitely one of my “work in progress” recipes, so I would love to hear suggestions for it!  These freeze great (raw or cooked), so make a bunch and keep them for later!

Ingredients: makes 2-3 dozen, depending on dough thickness


3 C All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 oz plain vegan yogurt

1/2 – 3/4 C water


2.5 lbs baked golden potatoes

2 tsp canola oil

1/2 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 medium head broccoli, diced

2 TBS Earth Balance buttery sticks

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Scrub potatoes, prick with a fork, wrap in foil and bake for 60-75 minutes (depending on size), or until easier pierced with a fork.

2.  While potatoes are baking, prepare dough.  Add all dough ingredients to a large bowl, starting with 1/4 C water.  Stir until liquids are absorbed, and add more water as needed.

3.  Turn onto lightly floured surface and kneed for 1 minute, until you have a smooth dough.  Avoid overworking.  Wrap in plastic and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat canola oil over medium.  Cook onions until they turn clear.  Add the garlic.  Continue sauteing until onions are slightly browned.  Add broccoli, Earth Balance, salt and pepper.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until broccoli turns bright green.

5.  Once potatoes are fully cooked, mash them in a large bowl.  Add broccoli mixture and blend thoroughly.

6.  Divide dough into quarters.  Roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thick, or less.  Cut with a round 3-4 inch cookie cutter.  Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each round.  Dab a small amount of water along the edge of the dough.  Pull two sides of the dough up, and pinch together to seal the pierogi. (The dough in these pictures will look different than yours, because I experimented with the dough recipe a couple of times, but only took pics once.)

7.  Cook the pierogis either by boiling for approximately 4 minutes, or fried.  To fry, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet over medium-low heat.  Cook pierogis on one side for 4-5, or until golden brown, with the pan covered.  Then turn to cook on the other side, again with the pan covered.

Serve warm with caramelized onions, or freeze to eat later!


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This week’s granola features pecans richly baked in brown rice syrup, deliciously reminiscent of pecan pie.  With a shot of ground chocolate added to the mix, I’ve got a granola that might be a little too addictive, but a few spoonfuls in your coconut milk yogurt will be a great way to start the day!


4 TBS melted Earth Balance

3 C thick oats

1/2 C ground dark chocolate

1 C pecan halves

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 C brown rice syrup

1 TBS turbinado sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line a 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper.

2.  Melt the Earth Balance in a small bowl in the microwave.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together all ingredients.

4.  Spread mixture in the prepared pan.  Bake for 40 minutes, stirring two or three times.

5.  Remove from oven, and allow to cool.  After about 10 minutes, while it’s still warm, break the granola up into pieces, because once it’s totally cool, it will be stuck in whatever size chunks you make.


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Tex-Mex meets New-Mex Fiesta

Here’s a menu I created for Jo’s post-dissertation defense (“Dark Matter”) party Spring 2008. It was a huge hit for both the vegans and omni’s alike. It served about 40 people buffet-style, with plenty for morning-after leftovers. I used about 3 doz tamales and made about 2 dry C of the quinoa. I didn’t scale up any of the recipes (except for the quinoa and the margaritas). It was BYOB, and we had a house Sangria for the guests, but naturally some wanted my wonderful margaritas. So we went through about 2-3 full pitchers, which used a total of a full bottle of tequila and about 1.5 bottles of triple sec.

This menu would also serve nicely as a buffet at a big Super Bowl Party this coming February! 🙂

Main Munchers:

Basic Roasted Vegetables (Roasted Red Bell, Corn, Zucchini, Red Onion) served with tortilla chips
Black Bean tamales with Tomatillo Salsa and Pico de Gallo
New Mexican Veg & Quinoa (with Tomatillos, Green Chilies, Black Beans, Corn, and Spinach)
Spicy nuts and seeds
Jo’s Favorite Roasted Potatoes
Zucchini fritters – my secret recipe, sorry folks – maybe I’ll let it go one day when we put out a Primate cookbook 😉
Fresh fruit salad

Dessert and Drinks:

Sugar Cookies (in drop form, not specially shaped)
House Sangria
Margaritas (Pitcher)

Happy Hosting!

On This Day In History: Classic 3-Bean Salad


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I like to use roasted veg quite often in various recipes – enchiladas, fajitas, soft tacos, topping for salads or nachos, pizzas, paninis, etc. But when I was searching to see if I posted anything about the SOP for roasting vegetables, the Primate contained no such post! *Gasp* So here is the Standard Operating Procedure for roasting veg as a base for any recipe you like! Here I show then served on a bed of fresh baby spinach and warm quinoa… Enjoy!


Red bell pepper
Red onion
Yellow onion
Garlic cloves
Corn kernels
…any other veg you can think of to julienne (summer squash, zucchini, etc)
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 TBSP olive or canola oil (depending on how much veg you use – with 2 Red bells, 1 small yellow onion, 1/2 large red onion, ~5-6 cloves garlic, I used 1 TBSP olive)


1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Julienne veg, separate garlic into their individual cloves but leave them in their peel.
3. In a large bowl, sprinkle the veg somewhat generously with salt, and some black pepper. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of olive or canola oil. Toss to distribute evenly.
4. Spread veggies flat on a baking/cookie sheet covered with parchment or Silpat.
5. Roast for about 25-30 minutes. Remove peels from garlic, toss, and serve as you please.

*Use these veggies in just about anything you desire. They will keep in the fridge a few days, so they’d be perfect to roast up on a Sunday to keep for lunches or additions to dinners during the week.

Happy Roasting!


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The wind chill in Alexandria yesterday was subzero.  Yes, Fahrenheit.  When I took Kirsche to the dog park, after about 10 minutes my fingers were painfully frozen and I couldn’t even feel my chin.  It was not awesome.  However, my feet and ankles were warm and comfy thanks to the best Christmas present ever:  a pair of ToeWarmers Kelly Boots ($94).  These boots have a synthetic upper and faux fur lining.  They are waterproof and definitely live up to their Toe Warmers name!  They also have a great, grippy sole to keep you from slipping around in the snow.

Even though the websites I’ve seen say they have a side zipper, they don’t.  They slip on, which is is great when you come home with icy stiff fingers and your pants are covered in snow.  You don’t have to manipulate any laces, just kick them right off!

Toe Warmers offer a number of vegan-friendly styles (though not all of them are, so make sure it’s not a leather upper), some with laces or zippers, if that’s your preference.  They usually come in black or brown.  All of them are offered in medium, wide or extra wide, so you can be sure of a great fit, especially if you have trouble finding shoes that are wide enough.

These shoes are made in Canada (and you know those Canadians know from cold weather!).  I’ve found some at Amazon, PlanetShoes, and other such places, so you should shop around if you are looking for a particular style.  So far, this winter is pretty brutal, and I’m not even that far north.  A good pair of waterproof, insulated boots is a must!

Toe Warmers did not solicit this review, I just love how warm they keep my tootsies!

On This Day in History: Green Saffron Pilaf


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By now, regular readers are probably aware of my chai obsession (chai, chai shortbread cookies).  Today as I was deciding what flavor granola I want to have for breakfast this week, it suddenly hit me:  chai spice granola!


4 TBSP Earth Balance vegan butter

1/2 C oat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 C vegan granulated or turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 C thick-cut oats

1/4 C brown rice syrup

2 TBSP agave nectar

1/2 C whole almonds

1/2 C pecan halves


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a large baking pan, or line with parchment paper.

2.  Add the Earth Balance, baking soda, sugar and spices to your food processor.  Blend until the mixture clumps, about 10 seconds.

3.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well blended.

4.  Spread into prepared baking pan.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until toasty brown, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.

5.  Remove from oven and let thoroughly cool.  Granola will crisp up nicely as it cools down.  Enjoy!



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