Tag Archives: meatless

It’s All Been Done Before

Yes, I’ve already posted a recipe for a version of Chana Masala. But, this one’s far more authentic. And, even easier than the first.

And, as if the Chana Masala wasn’t enough, the pickled onions are guaranteed to be your go-to condiment for any meal, Indian or otherwise.

Authentic Chana Masala
Courtesy of Rajni and that Indian dinner from so long ago

1 TBS butter
1 large onion, diced
1/2 seranno chili
2 tomatoes, diced with seeds
1 TBS chana masala
1 TBS salt
2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup water
3 TBS cilantro, chopped

Over a medium flame, heat the butter and saute the onions and serrano chili, along with 1/2 TBS salt, about 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Then, add the tomatoes, with seeds and juice into the onions. Stir and add in the rest of the salt and chana masala and cook 2 minutes. Add water and chickpeas and bring the mixture to a simmer, heating for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and pickled onions (recipe follows).

Serves 6 as a main dish

Pickled Onions
2 red onions, cut into slivers
Juice of 1 lemon
3 TBS white vinegar
1 TBS salt

Combine all of the ingredients and marinate at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve at room temperature.


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Important Life Lessons, These

I’ve been known to start a kitchen fire or two. It’s not my fault, really. It’s usually just that I’m over zealous in keeping my stove top clean and the combination of paper towel and open flame, well, you get the idea.

So, I think it’s only fair that this recipe comes with a warning: paneer is fairly moist and will cause the oil to splatter. Just go with it, accepting that it will be worth it in the end. You can just clean up the stove top later.

But, watch your hands.

I may still have a small burn on my hand from a dinner cooked so very long ago. All the more shameful since I wasn’t really doing the cooking. I know, I know.

And, perhaps, plan on having an extra shirt on hand, so that when you do sit down to eat, you’re not covered in oil.

Of course, as I’m writing this, it occurs to be that, perhaps, I’m a little more OCD and accident prone than most.

In other words: disregard the paragraphs above. Simply get cooking and enjoy! But, remember to keep the paper towels far away from the open flame.

That advice remains universally applicable.

Matter Paneer

1 pound paneer, cubed
Corn Oil (for frying)
2 large tomatoes, diced with seeds
1 large onion, diced
1 TBS butter
1/2 serrano chili, diced
2 TBS Chana Masala
1 TBS garam masala
1 box frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 cup water
Splash Heavy Cream
3 TBS cilantro, chopped finely

In a large fying pan, using corn oil, brown the paneer on all sides. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter, then add the onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the serrano chile, chana masala, and garam masala and heat for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the tomatoes to the pan, along with the seeds and juice and heat 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a simmer, heating about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas and heat. Then add the paneer and stir so that it is evenly distributed throughout. Finish with a splash of heavy cream to taste and garnish with cilantro.

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Making Good

I promised you more Indian recipes quite some time ago. At last, I’m making good. Better late than never, I’d say. Particularly in this case.

This recipe for Moong Dal comes courtesy of my friend Rajni. It may be one of my favorite of all of her dishes. And, that’s saying something. Seriously. By now you’ve, hopefully, already tried her raita so you know how good it is.

Stay tuned and I’ll get to the rest of her recipes in due time. I promise, they’re worth the wait.

Rajni’s Moong Dal

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can still make this recipe. Simply rinse the lentils and boil according to the instructions on the package (or, failing that, boil for about 20 minutes, until they’re soft).

1 cup whole green lentils
2 cups water
1 seranno chili, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 TBS butter
1 tsp ginger
2 tomatoes, chopped with seeds
3 TBS garam masala
1 TBS light brown sugar
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS salt
pepper to taste

Using a pressure cooker, cook the lentils, per manufacturer’s instructions. Set the cooked lentils aside.

In a large fying pan, saute onions, ginger, chili, and 1 TBS salt until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes, their seeds and juice and the garam masala. Stir to combine and saute 2 minutes.

Add the lentils and stir. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Add 2 cups of water, stir in the brown sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Once the sauce has thickened, finish with the lemon juice.

Serves 4

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Pure Gold

It’s true beets don’t immediately call summer to mind.

In fact, the first time I had a variation on this salad was last winter, while dining with a friend at ‘inoteca, at her suggestion.

I’ll admit it, I thought the dish seemed very uninspired from its menu description. I mean, beets? Not when there was pasta to be had! And, pancetta!

How could a lowly vegetable compete?

Through alchemy, as it turns out.

When the flavors of this salad meld together, they become something else entirely. The acidic from the oranges and vinegar mellows out the earthiness of the beets, highlighting their sweetness, and the crunch of the hazelnuts makes for a filling and satisfying bite.

By using golden beets instead, it becomes the perfect summer salad. They’re sweeter, for one, giving the salad an even lighter taste. The vegetables also call to mind one of my favorite activities—strolling in farmer’s markets when all of the produce is at its peak.

Then, there’s the color. What color! It’s practically like eating sunshine.

And, who wouldn’t like that?

Golden Beet Salad
Inspired by ‘inoteca

4 Golden Beets*
2 Oranges, Supremed and Juiced
1/4 cup Hazelnuts, diced
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1 TBS Mint
2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for roasting the beets
Salt and Pepper to taste

*You can substitute red beets here, just take care when you’re peeling them as they stain things easily. And, note that your final product won’t be quite as sweet.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Wash the beets and coat them with olive oil. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of roasting, place the chopped hazelnuts in the oven, in a separate dish, to brown.

Remove the hazelnuts and beets and allow them to cool. Once the beets have cooled sufficiently, peel them and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

Supreme the oranges. The orange segments should be combined with your diced beets. Add the chopped mint to the oranges and beets.

Juice the discarded parts of the orange into a small bowl. Combine the orange juice with red wine vinegar and olive oil, whisking until the mixture is well combined into a dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the beets, oranges, and mint, tossing until everything is well coated.

Immediately before serving, top the salad with the chopped hazelnuts and the grated romano cheese.

Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as an appetizer

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Have Salad, Will Picnic

After a week filled with ice cream flavored with beer and steak and all sort of high-in-fat treats, I think something a little healthier is in order, if only so that we can get back to the ice cream with a somewhat lightened load of guilt.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s true that bacon makes everything better, but it’s equally true that with minimal effort, particularly at this time of year, vegetables can shine.

In this case, string beans are the star of the show. By blanching them in hot water and then shocking them in ice cold, the bright green color and crunch remain intact, making them the perfect foil for creamy boiled potatoes and juicy tomatoes. The whole thing is finished off with a bright, acidic dressing, helping to make the salad refreshing while still being filling.

The salad is mayo-free, so it’s the prefect take-along for all of the summer picnics and bar-b-ques that you’ll be attending, assuming you can bring yourself to share it.

String Bean and Potato Salad

1 lb potatoes (fingerlings or small red bliss work well here)
1/2 lb string beans, cut into 2″ pieces
1/2 lb grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 shallot, sliced into rings
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 batch of shallot vinaigrette (recipe follows)

In a pot of salted water, boil the potatoes. Cool and, if you’re using small potatoes, quarter them. Otherwise, dice the potatoes into uniform cubes.

Boil string beans in salted water until they are bright green and tender, about 5 minutes. Strain and place them immediately into salted water.

Once the potatoes and string beans have cooled, combine them with the halved tomatoes and shallot slices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the vegetables with shallot vinaigrette.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Shallot Vinaigrette

1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS lemon juice
2 tsp each red wine and sherry vinegar
1/4 shallot, finely diced
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil, depending on your desired level of acidity (I use 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice and vinegars in a large bowl. Add shallots and salt and pepper. Whisk all ingredients together, until they are well combined.

Add the olive oil in a slow stream, stirring the mustard/vinegar mixture constantly, until the vinaigrette has emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Curry in a hurry

chana masala

I order Indian food far more than I should. I can’t help it, and the fact that I live a stone’s throw away from New York’s Curry Hill certainly doesn’t make it any easier.

There’s just something about the cuisine with its heady mix of spices that I love. Perhaps its because the food makes me nostalgic for my student days in London, living on Drummond Street when my flatmates and I would scour every restaurant on the block for the best deals, eventually finding a place with a £5 thali and BYOB that became a staple. Or, it’s the intense flavor that characterizes the dishes, making them filling without being heavy.


I’ve had this nagging sense that I could save myself a ton of money if I could simply learn how to cook Indian food myself. And, yet it’s the cooking that’s always eluded me. Each dish would be good, but, not quite there. Or, that was true until I found the recipe below.

The ingredients were mostly things I had on hand, or at the very least was familiar with, and the method couldn’t be more simple. The trick here is making sure that your spices are toasted well before adding any of the liquid. Let them go until they fill your kitchen with perfume. You’ll be able to tell when they’re ready just by the smell. Another trick, I suppose, is getting pointers from a South Indian friend whose mother taught her how to cook (see note below).

onions onions and spice

So, finally, curry from my own kitchen! And, now, yours, too.

The best part, aside from tailoring your dinner to your own personal tastes? Knowing it’ll be on your table in far less time than delivery.

Chana-ish Masala

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

A few notes before you get started:

  • Don’t get discouraged by the amount of spices that this recipe calls for. Once you have them around, the dish is basically a mix of pantry staples. And, what could be easier, or cheaper, than that?
  • And with regard to those spices: Smitten Kitchen’s version of this recipe calls for Amchoor powder. I had no luck finding it despite going to Kalustyan’s, which sells every spice under the sun. It turns out it was there all along, I was just too short to find it. At any rate, I substituted Anardana powder, which is another souring agent made from pomegranate seeds. I’m sure that Amchoor powder, which is made from unripe mangoes, would be lovely as well. In either case, if you don’t want to make the investment in the spices, doubling up the lemon juice should also give you the desired sourness to tie the curry together.
  • About the beans. Traditional chana masala is made exclusively with chickpeas. I used a mixture of chickpeas, red kidney beans and roman beans in the dish pictured here because I like the mix of textures and happened to have those varieties on hand.
  • And, last but not least, a friend of mine whose family hails from Southern India mentioned to me that her mother used to add brown sugar to her curries to give them an added depth and curry leaves for the aromatic smell. I’ve added both here. They’re optional, but well worth it. Together they’ll make your dish taste far more authentic.

1 TBS vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger
1 TBS ground coriander
2 TBS ground cumin
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 anardana powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 28 oz can of tomato puree
1 tsp crushed curry leaves (optional)
2/3 of water
6 cups beans
1/2 salt
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
2 TBS Brown Sugar (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan or dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over a medium heat until browned.

Turn the heat down and add in your spices (everything from coriander to garam masala on the list above). Cook for about 2 minutes, until the spices get fragrant.

Add in your tomatoes, water, brown sugar, and curry leaves and stir. Once the liquid is incorporated with the spiced onion mixture, add in the beans.

Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in salt, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce, and simmer for another 5 minutes so the the flavors have a chance to meld.

Serve with rice.

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Easy Does It

I never much cared for tomatoes growing up. There was the taste, which all too often simply wasn’t of much, and then there was the texture, which was far too occasionally mealy. It was only when I met a man with a membership to a local CSA that I fell in love.

And, can you blame me? Finally, tomatoes that tasted like, well, tomatoes. Firmly fleshed, fragrant, deep red. Had I had these growing up, I’m sure that I would have felt much differently. It was early September and suddenly I wanted to eat them at every meal, including breakfast, while they were still in season.

Then again, I remember my father eating beefsteak tomatoes, garnished with a touch of salt and pepper, as if they were apples throughout my childhood, so, really, it was only a matter of time before this happened.

pasta with oven roasted tomatoes

In the summer, when the crops have reached their peak, I like to prepare them simply as well—my go-to summer salad consists of tomatoes with a splash of lemon juice, cucumbers, red onions and some salt and pepper, that’s it—but it’s not quite summer, yet. And, while the farmer’s markets around me are (finally!) showing signs of Spring, the tomatoes aren’t quite there.

So, what’s a girl to do to get her tomato fix?


Three words: oven roast them

The low heat enhances the flavor, getting every last bit of out. As a quick snack, it’s perfect served with some crusty bread. But, it’s even better with pasta.

What I love about this dish is the ease with which it comes together. You can make it while you’re busy doing something else—chopping up the tomatoes and shallots takes literally no time at all. Then it’s up to the low heat to do most of the work for you. All you need is patience (noticing a theme here, are you?). I like to take the tomatoes out of the oven while they’re still a bit juicy, and use the juices they give off to coat the pasta, but if you leave them a little longer, the pasta water can thin down the sauce as well.

See what I mean? This pasta is forgiving in that way—the perfect dinner for a week night, really.

before after

Perfect, too, for bulking up. Simply add more pasta, tomatoes or beans and you’re well on your way to feeding a crowd.

If you’re looking to bulk the dish beyond that, play up the tapas inspired flavors by adding in some chorizo and topping with grated manchego. Then, ask one of the members of that crowd you’ve ill-advisedly invited over for dinner to bring the Rioja. It’ll be almost like you’re in Spain.


Rigatoni with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

About the tomatoes: I used campari. They’re already sweet and about medium sized. You could certainly use cherry or grape, just half them instead. Or, if you’re using bigger tomatoes, cut them into smaller pieces. They key here is really to keep the size of the pieces fairly uniform so that they cook consistently.

1 lb rigatoni
0.75 lbs tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1 TBS sherry vinegar
1 tsp oregano
1 can (15.5 oz) cannelini beans
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Coat the bottom of a glass, oven-safe dish with olive oil, and place the quartered tomatoes in it. Add the oregano, shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and heat for approximately 1 hour, until the tomatoes have shriveled and the shallots have begun to caramelize. Add in the sherry vinegar and stir. Leave in the oven at a low heat until your pasta is ready.

In the last ten minutes of cooking your tomatoes, cook your pasta in well salted water.

Once the pasta is al dente, remove the tomato mixture from the oven. Drain the cannelini beans and add them to the tomato mixture.

Drain the pasta, preserving a cup of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the tomato and bean mixture. Stir. If the sauce is too thick, add some of your pasta water to thin it out. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4

Click here for a link to a printable version of this recipe.

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