Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vegan India

Bay leaves, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon pods and mustard seeds on a white plate
Bay leaves, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon pods and mustard seeds 
A few year back, my mum and I took a trip to India. Specifically, we went to Mumbai and we stayed there for a week. We were lucky to have a couple of people taking us around the city who are native to the place. One of the questions that they asked us when we first arrived was if we wanted to eat vegan or eat meat. On the first night, my mum and I chose meat. We then realised that our hosts could not eat meat so we were left with these giant servings of food. The lamb curry we got served that night was amazing but everyday after that, we chose vegan.

Eating vegan food in India was an eye-opening experience. I really got to discover that cooking with spices opens the door to a whole new world. All of a sudden, potatoes stopped being lumps to be flavored with salt. Potatoes became all kinds of spiced and curried dishes. From the wet sauces that added succulence to food to the dry sprinkling of spices on food, my mum and I were wow-ed by the food we ate.

That experience in India totally changed my perspective towards food. Now I am discovering vegan food and Indian food in my own kitchen. I am by no means veering towards becoming totally vegan but I am finding that meat no longer drives my meals. I find that I am eating more vegetables during the week supplemented by meat when I feel I need it. On the weekends, I eat meat more often. Meat has actually become sort of a luxury to me. Not because I can't afford it but because I am enjoying buying better and different cuts of meat. I also find that I am doing different preparations to bring out more flavors.

One of the things that made me slow to get into cooking Indian cooking is the amount of spices required for each dish. However, the more recipes I try, the more my arsenal of spices grows so I no longer need to buy too much when I want to try something new.

Chana Dal or Yellow Lentils with Bay Leaves and Turmeric
Chana Dal or Yellow Lentils with Bay Leaves and Turmeric 

Anyway, this past weekend, I made Cholar Dal. It is a recipe I discovered on one of my favorite blogs, Holy Cow Vegan. It is made with this absolutely gorgeous yellow lentil that also tastes incredible. While I was researching the yellow lentil, I already found a recipe on Veg Recipes of India that I will making soon to take advantage of the big bag of yellow lentil I bought.

A packed lunch of brown rice and cholar dal in a pyrex dish
My packed lunch is brown basmati rice with Cholar Dal

In the interest of ethics, I am not putting up a recipe for the Cholar Dal because I basically just followed the recipe here.  Give it a try and you will love the sweetness and nuttiness of this dal.

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