Indian Baked Veggie Squares



Anybody that knows how to make great Indian food is a hero of mine. I recently had the pleasure of meeting renowned cookbook author and journalist Anupy Singla at a book signing, and I’m ashamed at what I thought was “traditional” Indian food. I vow to never think that naan or curry powder are considered part of the Indian home cook’s repertoire again! I also vow to share with the world that there are a plethora of traditional recipes that can be made without cream or meat that will satisfy the mind, body and soul. I admit the recipes featured in her cookbook Vegan Indian Cooking require some advance planning – soaking fresh beans overnight, using a slow cooker or food processor, or prepping your spice blends. But these recipes pack a punch, are unbelievably cheap, and can be made in batches so they are perfect to keep in the fridge all week!

This week’s dish for Baked Veggie Squares is a baked vegan version of the traditional fried snack Tukri Pakora. It features an unconventional combination of ingredients and may seem daunting at first, but I am so thrilled with the outcome it has already been established as a remake in our house. I made my version without the Thai chiles, but if you opt to try the original spicy version you will need to remove the stems and simply add them to your vegetable mix in the food processor.

BAKED VEGGIE SQUARES

2 cups white cabbage, grated (1/2 small head)
1 cup zucchini, grated
1/2 potato, peeled and grated
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1-inch piece ginger root, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
3 cups chickpea flour
12-ounce package silken tofu
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 10-inch square baking pan. Using the grater attachment on your food processor, grate all your vegetable ingredients. In a deep bowl, combine the cabbage, cauliflower, zucchini, potato, onion, ginger, and cilantro. Add the flour and mix slowly until well combined using your hands. Using the large blade on your food processor, purée the silken tofu. Then add the tofu, salt, turmeric, red chili powder, baking powder, and oil to the vegetable mixture. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into squares. Serve with your favorite chutney.





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Lentil Curry Bowl

IMG_3378There is no country in the world as strongly associated with vegetarianism as India. With approximately 500 million Indian vegetarians, there are an abundant number of hearty bean and vegetable dishes packed with soulful spices. I especially love browsing the array of sauces and chutneys at the supermarket that each lend their own subtle heat. This easily reproduced Lentil Curry Bowl is sweet and smokey, and the tangy coriander chutney adds a salty balance that will keep fresh in the fridge all week!

LENTIL CURRY BOWL
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tablespoons red Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
12 ounces tomato puree
1 potato, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
Pinch of salt
Cilantro for topping
Swad brand coriander chutney

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the curry paste and spices and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils, tomato purée, potato, red pepper, and broth. Simmer until lots of the liquid has evaporated – continue adding ½ cup of water as needed as the lentils will just keep soaking it up. Repeat this process for about 30-45 minutes until the lentils are soft. Serve in bowl topped with fresh cilantro and heaping tablespoon of coriander chutney.

Moroccan Butternut Squash and Creamy Coconut Soup

IMG_3286-0Another week of freezing temperatures in Chicago sent me scouring for new soup recipes this week. I was looking for bold flavor but creamy in texture, the kind of soup you might savor in a steamy oversized mug and feel inspired by. My search led me to this unexpected butternut squash recipe posted on www.halfbakedharvest.com. Enveloped in the deep Moroccan flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and curry, then swirled with creamy coconut milk, this impressive recipe did not fail to impress and was easily adapted to a soul-satisfying one-pot vegan wonder.

MOROCCAN BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CREAMY COCONUT SOUP
1 head garlic, for roasting (or you may sub 2 cloves garlic, not roasted)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon spicy curry powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped ginger
2 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper, to taste
roughly chopped cilantro and pistachios, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves, pour one teaspoon of olive oil on top of the garlic cloves and cover with foil then roast for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin. Meanwhile, add the coconut oil to a large soup pot set over medium heat, then add the red pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the cubed butternut squash, spicy curry powder, smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes then pour in the coconut milk and veggie broth, reserving just a few spoonfuls of coconut milk. Bring the soup to boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the butternut squash is fork tender. Once the butternut squash is tender, then add the roasted garlic. Use a hand blender to puree the soup, then let simmer for additional 5 minutes. Top with freshly chopped cilantro and pistachio, and drizzle with a splash of coconut milk.

Peanut Udon Lettuce Wrap

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My children are very different animals. Everett, the 2-year old early riser, consumes most of his calories between the hours of 5:00am and 8:00am. The rest of the day he loves irrational hard labor. Like picking up chairs, pushing tables, and gathering armfuls of heavy toy supplies. He would volunteer for decathlon training if he could. He’s disciplined, dedicated, and mild-tempered, and demands to”GOOOOOOOO!” pretty much all the time, which is frustrating at 6:00am when the rest of the house is still asleep and school isn’t even open yet. Oddly, he also prefers a largely vegan diet. He eats fruit, nuts, more fruit, pasta, fruit again, and sometimes beans.

Asher, the 4-year old late riser, consumes most of his calories between the hours of 5:00pm – 8:00pm. He happily sits on the couch reading Lego manuals all day and relatively sedentary. But where Asher lacks in physical interest, he is very cerebral and a true master negotiator. I lose every time. In fact he’s been speaking full sentences since he was 1 and we had to use words to explain to him HOW TO WALK. Yup. Unlike Everett, Asher loves second dinner, and is usually the last kid up from the table at birthday parties. But Legos is Asher’s one true passion and ALL he thinks about. He has amassed a collection large enough to make any grown nerd jealous.

Anyway, what I’m saying is one child is always happy while the other one is always crying. I know this is the universal story of having two kids. So my sanity break is to escape to the kitchen and cook up something wonderful. This week it was Peanut Udon Lettuce Wraps.

PEANUT UDON LETTUCE WRAPS
1 package udon noodles
1 bunch green onions, trimmed and chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
1 red pepper, julienned
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
1 head butter lettuce

PEANUT SAUCE
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced

Mix peanut sauce ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set aside. Boil udon noodles 5 minutes. Remove and rinse under cool water in colander to immediately cool. Combine peanut sauce with noodles thoroughly. Fold in the peppers, cilantro and green onions. Serve in one butter leaf as a tasty lettuce wrap! Or, chop lettuce with ranch dressing and hand to 4-year old as seen below.

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