The first time I ate Indian food, I was at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. and I hated it. The food was bland and boring and left such a bad taste in my mouth that it took me about three years before I tried it again. That time, well let’s just say that in our house, Indian food is on the menu at least once a week.
The dish was lamb vindaloo (sorry lamb!) and it was everything I had been promised Indian food would be. Well-seasoned, flavorful as hell, and spicy. It blew me away and from that moment on, I was hooked. The addiction was formed.
And it was that memory that inspired me to re-create the Kartoffel Vindaloo in all it’s spicy glory.
You’re probably wondering why I named this recipe Kartoffel Vindaloo intsead of regular ol’ potato vindaloo? The simple answer is that after spending almost a decade living in Germany, I’ve decided that I prefer the word kartoffel to the word potato, that’s all. 🙂
Let’s just get this out in the open right now; I do NOT have a clay Tandoori oven so, sure, technically this isn’t a real vegan Tandoori. But I used all the delicious flavors that mean Tandoori to me, so here we are.
I’m not going to let myself get boggled down in the details when I have a perfectly good stove, oven and air fryer. You work with what ya got, and this is what I got.
Vegan Chickpea & Quinoa Tandoori.
If you’re into one pot vegan meals, then you’ll be happy to know that you can pop this all into one pot and minimize your dish load. I didn’t do that, but it’s only because I like to have different flavors and textures on my plate. Instead of popping everything in one pot, I used the air fryer for the sweet potatoes and the oven to crisp up the chickpeas.
Life as we know it under normal circumstances is…a distant memory. You know that as well as I do, and as such, we have all been doing the best we can as often as we can. For the purposes of today’s blog, that means making sure you get a good chunk of whole foods in your vegan diet.
When was the last time you ordered/cooked a meal without soy or seitan? How about the last time you cooked a meal, period? Or one that consisted mostly of vegetables, grains, beans and/or legumes? It’s not a judgment, believe me. Some weeks I have to really go through the photos to find a meal without pasta or tofu or vegan burgers. It happens and I’ve forgiven myself.
Good because today we have a quick and easy vegan chickpea masala for those nights when you just need something simple, whole and plant based to eat.
The chickpeas are the main source of protein in this, but the good thing about a plant based, vegan whole food diet is that you get tons of essential vitamins and nutrients from ALL of the ingredients.
To get this vegan dinner started, you start with the onion, ginger and hot chili peppers. If you’re using oil, add that into the pan, otherwise look the vegetables cook until fragrant, adding water or waste-free broth a little at a time.
Add the garlic along with any herbs and spices such as: cumin, turmeric, curry, smoky paprika, garam masala seasoning and chili powder. Stir until well coated and then add the chickpeas (rinsed & drained) and cherry/grape tomatoes or just canned crushed tomatoes which is what I used, because this was a day before shopping meal for us.
Add some broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick. You want to let this liquid reduce a little so the end result is thick and creamy.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add coconut milk (for cooking) at the last five or so minutes, making sure to taste as you go and adjust for flavor preferences.
Serve on a bed of rice and that’s a pretty darn quick and easy vegan recipes, perfect for lunch or dinner.
If you need a little extra spice, jalapenos or Sriracha will do the trick, but my hubs thought it had a nice little kick to it, emphasis on little.
The other thing I loved about this vegan chana masala? It’s super calorie friendly, even with the creamy coconut milk added to it.
Quick and easy and delicious, so next time you’re in need of a whole food vegan meal, consider hitting up your pantry for that can of beans you haven’t used in forever and toss’em in a pot.
As you guys know, my love for all forms of Asian cuisine knows no bounds. None. Okay well, I can veganize pretty much anything so I guess–technically–that is a boundary, but the point is that I just love the flavor profiles and I’m always happy to find something new.
Imagine my surprise when it was my partner’s turn to choose a meal and he chose Gobi Manchurian. I was skeptical at first, not because of the flavors, but because I cringe a little when it comes to anything that is deep fried. I’m not quite at my goal weight yet and I’ve been more relaxed about indulging in the things I love, but all that extra oil is where I draw the line.
Draw. The. Line.
But I’m a trooper. And an experimenter. So I decided to veganize it and healthy it up, and it was a challenge. Though, not as big a challenge as I anticipated, so let’s get to it, shall we?
This recipe had a few moving parts to it, but honestly it was pretty simple. Mostly.
In my household, my partner and I are both self-employed which means that there are nights that roll around when we’re both so absorbed with work that it’s ten or eleven o’clock before one of us realizes that dinnertime has come and gone. We’re not proud of it, but it’s a fact of life and there you have it.
When those nights happen and you live someplace where there are no vegan food options, or very few, you have to be efficient and creative. My go-to quick and easy vegan meal when it’s my night to cook, usually involves some type of vegan noodle dish, because noodles are my jam.
For my partner, it’s usually rice. Or pasta. Or potatoes.
On this night, it was a crispy tofu biryani.
If you’re not familiar with it, biryani is an Indian rice dish made with spices and protein, traditionally animal protein but we don’t do that here, so we’ve used TVP chunks, because they have plenty of protein and are the perfect meat substitute in this Indian rice dish.
This easy vegan tofu biryani has a simple list of ingredients:
Jasmine rice Peanut oil Textured vegetable protein (TVP) Onion Ginger Bell pepper Coconut milk (for cooking) Veggiegurt Indian spices
Cook the rice according to instructions, a pinch of turmeric gives it that gorgeous yellow color and smoky flavor.
Rehydrate the TVP and drain, the coat in veggigurt and Indian spices (curry, garam masala, chilies, ginger, garlic, cinnamon & cloves, or whatever spice blend you have handy), then set aside. I have this tandoori masala that I really love, it’s smoky and spicy, but not too spicy if you have someone who can’t handle anything over a 5 on the spice scale.
Use half the oil to sauté the onion, bell pepper and additional spices, and use the other half to pop the TVP in the air fryer to get it nice and crispy. This can also be achieved on the stove but you’ll need to use a lot more oil. If you have the time, consider baking it on high in the oven.
When everything is done, toss it all together and add more seasoning as needed. Serve and enjoy!
What’s your go-to vegan dish when you need something quick and easy?
This week has been pretty hectic–sorry I skipped Wednesday–but I really wanted to share yet another delicious cauliflower recipe for vegans. Everyone loves to joke about the ‘glow up’ cauliflower has had lately but if you loved cauliflower back when there was just steaming, roasting, sauteeing options, you’ll love this vegan take on butter chicken.
If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you’ve probably seen butter chicken on the recipe and thought, “Butter & chicken? No thanks.” And then you tasted it and your world was absolutely rocked.
Am I right?
Well preapare yourself for this super creamy vegan version of Butter Cauliflower.
The ingredient list on this meal is pretty simple:
Cauliflower Jasmine rice Tomato paste Coconut milk (creamy, but feel free to get coconut cream if your waistline can afford it!) Peanut oil Onion Ginger Cornstarch (or tapioca starch) Coconut oil Garlic Spices:turmeric, smoky paprika, yellow curry powder, garam masala, ginger powder, salt & pepper
The reason there are two types of oil on the ingredient list is because my partner loves our air fryer and decided to give the cauliflower a little crisp before tossing it on the creamy vegan coconut sauce. It takes about 15 minutes on 200C/180F in the air fryer.
Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and add garlic & ginger until it starts to brown and becomes fragrant. This is about when my hunger usually kicks in. Toss in the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes then add the spices (turmeric, garam masala, etc…) and cook for another 1 minute.
Add tomato paste an coconut milk, but if you don’t want this too thick or you want it more soup-like, mix it with water. Otherwise, cook until the sauce starts to thicken and reduce a little, about 15 minutes or so. Then toss in the crispy cauliflower and serve it on a bed of rice, turmeric in your rice is totally optional.
You can serve this with noodles if you want to give it an Asian flare, or just get creative with your grains and use bulgur or couscous. Whatever floats your boat.
As I mentioned earlier, thanks to the creamy coconut milk, this is a fairly decadent vegan dish as far as I’m concerned, but it was crazy delicious. Below I’ve posted the calorie content of this vegan meal for two, courtesy of Cronometer, which I use to track my meals, snacks, booze and anything else I put in my mouth and you really should too!
Simple food can be good food. There is a time and a place for complicated dishes that take plenty of time, but only when and if you feel like it. Biryani seems like a dish that could be complicated if you let it, especially if you decide to take forty-five minutes to get those onions properly crispy. Luckily for me, this was a night my husband cooked and the only thing I had to do was come up with what I wanted to eat for dinner this night. 🙂
I chose Biryani because it is a simple but flavorful dish that feels like it takes hours and hours in the kitchen, but an efficient vegan home cook could get it done in under an hour.
The best thing, aside from taste, about this recipe is that the ingredient list is simple.
TVP (I use inedit, but use whatever textured protein you can find)
Red bell pepper
Herbs & Spices
I know, it seems impossible that a dish so simple could produce such a flavor explosion on your tongue but…it’s true.
If you’ve never had a vegan Biryani, I recommend you do a little research so you understand the basics, but basically this is a dry dish compared to a curry, for example. The key here is the fried onions because they add SO MUCH FLAVOR!
While you re-hydrate the soya, get those onions going in oil or vegan butter, cooking them low and slow until they start to turn golden and sweet-ish. Once the soya is ready, let it cool and then toss in veggiegurt and Indian spices. My hubs couldn’t wait to make use of our new air fryer, so that’s how he cooked the soya!
While the soya got nice & crispy, he cooked the Basmati rice in salted water with a teaspoon (or two) of turmeric thrown in for the health benefits and that gorgeous yellow color.
When the onions are close to ready, add the red bell pepper, garlic and ginger to the skillet and you’re good to go. Now toss in the soya and top it on a bed of rice.
You can always substitute one protein for another, using chickpeas, tofu or any other kinds of beans. If you use seitan or tempeh, I’d love to know about it!
I truly enjoyed this dish and I’ll probably add it to the rotation, but I’d love to see your take on a vegan biryani dish.
When the weather turns unexpectedly cold, I want something hot, spicy and heart as hell. In my house, that usually means curries, Asian soups or chili. This week, it meant Tikka.
If you think you’re not a fan of cauliflower, I recommend you try it in a dish like tikka masala or a curry, where all those strong, vibrant flavors seep into the cauliflower (which is crazy low in calories and an excellent source of vitamins C & K). Just to be sure, I coated the cauliflower with a salt & pepper, curry & powdered ginger layer and popped them in the oven to crisp around the edges. This gave the dish a heartier, deeper flavor.
The thing I like best about a dish like this, is that you can use what you have on hand. For me it was cauliflower, potatoes and garbanzo beans, with the basics like ginger, onion, garlic and turmeric. Oh and tomatoes. I used a can of diced tomatoes and added in a few fresh tomatoes as well with an oat cream to thicken it. Coconut milk or cream will work here too, but that’s a matter of taste and preference so do what you want.
One of the reasons I use oil when I cook a dish like this is to infuse all the flavor I can in the dish but adding all the spices while the oil heats up before adding the first batch of vegetables. It’s a trick I learned from a friend and it works, let me know if you agree!
I made the mistake of buying store bought papadums and they were not very good. I forgot how oily they can be and I didn’t use enough oil so they ended up half cripsy & oily and half crunchy but not in a good way. I should have just skipped the papadums and added rice on the side.
Sprinkle some sliced scallions on top and you’re good to go. And if you really like it, have a second bowl.
If you make this dish, tag The Spicy Spatula on social media!
Maybe you don’t know this about me, but I LOVE Indian food. I didn’t always, though. Back in 2003 I was visiting D.C. for a training session right before I began working on the upcoming Presidential election and we were treated to dinner at this little family owned Indian restaurant. This was my very first time eating Indian food and to say it was disappointing would be a massive understatement. It was bland and tasteless and awful.
It wasn’t until 2006 when the hubs and I moved to Los Angeles that I had Indian food again and this time it blew my mind. Seriously guys, blew my mind! Anarkali is the name of the place that turned me into an Indian food addict. The first time we visited, I talked with the owners about the different types of curry and the heat levels, and even what was in the delicious spiced tea they served. It was…transformative. From that moment on, I learned everything I could about Indian cuisine and back then I was a huge carnivore–literally and figuratively–and it hasn’t stopped.
The difference is that now that I’m on a plant based diet, I have to plan a little more because you can’t just soak an animal protein in yogurt and toss into a sauce. But then I discovered the beauty and variety of the lentil. Packed with protein and low in calories, this is one of the vegan superfoods of our time. Dramatic much, right? Seriously though, lentils are the BOMB.