Firstly, hope everyone is enjoying your holidays and a very Happy 2020 to all!
As you all know all my trips be it small or big is surrounded by nothing but Food, Food and Food 🙂
So we decided to take a short drive with fam to Lancaster, PA just to break from routine. During my drive to PA, I was browsing vegetarian places for food stops as always and to my surprise came across plenty of options. During my stay and later on with numerous conversations with restaurant owners I came to know that a huge population in that area was vegan/ vegetarian.
I decided to pick a few that seemed interesting to me. So here goes :
The first one we tried was on Christmas Day and happened to be the one that was open and was packed.
1) Oka Asian Fusion
Primarily Japanese cuisine, Oka’ s menu was packed with delicious Sushi/ Hand Rolls of various kinds. The interesting part of the menu was a vegetarian section which had a good number of vegetarian choices for sushi rolls.
We decided to try the Avocado Peanut Sushi roll. And trust me guys – I am not a huge fan of sushi at all. This one was delicious and I have to admit that I ordered another plate of it after wiping clean the first plate:))
The menu also offered some fusion dishes like the vegetarian pad thai and spicy basil with tofu that we also tried and was delicious as well.
2) Issei Noodle
A small warm and cozy restaurant which smells delicious as you walk in. Once again, one of popularly recommended places which had plenty vegetarian options since the menu has a vegetarian section.
This place is known for its exceptional Ramen bowls so we ordered
Spicy Tan Tan Ramen :
Although it was not on the vegetarian section of the menu the waitress gave us the option of customizing this dish minus meat and fish sauce and substituting with fried tofu and people when I tell you – how delicious this dish was – I inhaled the dish and it was gone.
So hearty and healthy !
Haru Warm Ramen : was the next dish we ordered which again the waitress offered to substitute the pork and shrimp with tofu and vegetables. This dish was equally delicious.
The kids love curry dishes so they ordered a Red Curry dish with rice which was made mild and was so hearty too.
Last but not the least we ordered dessert which were 3 flavors of house made Mochi – Coconut flavor, Mango and the Red Bean. It melts in your mouth and by far the best Mochi I have had.
This casual urban vegan joint was so refreshing. The owner Rob makes his own Seitan from scratch and food is delicious.
We ordered a butternut squash pizza with caramelized onions , vegan Banh Mi and buffalo cauliflower. I would say each dish tasted so fresh and I understand all the vegetables and mushrooms are sourced locally.
This place has no freezer or uses no microwave so the food is pretty much fresh and made to order.
For dessert we ordered a Vegan orange cake to be honest to which I had very low expectations. How can one be successful baking a cake without eggs, cream and butter ??? But my friends – it simply blew my mind off. The cake was delicious with fresh oranges when you slice through. A place worth visiting and giving a shot for sure.
This global vegetarian Restaurant I cannot emphasize how much I loved visiting.
Owners Puerto Rican Chef Christina Maldonado and Kolkata descent Srirupa Dasgupta create a global vegetarian menu which features a variety of dishes not limited to:
Syrian Rice, Green bean sauté, Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Syrian Kale, Cuban black beans, Yucca, Yellow rice with Pigeon Peas and fried sweet Plantains.
Christina, when I mentioned Love for extreme spice levels got a small container out which had this sauce – made out of ghost peppers, green chili, habanero and star anise. Mind you we had to get 2 more of those small containers and wiped it clean and ordered a TO GO 🙂 – WARNING – It is extremely spicy!!! I grew up eating high level of spice so thoroughly enjoyed it.
Christina and Srirupa are not only extremely talented Chefs as you can tell the food is homely and super flavorful yet healthy and delicious. They are women who also wanted to give back to the community by training refugees and who bought in their household dishes to the table and giving them a new life.
In Bengali language “Upohar ” means a gift.
Upohar is truly such a gift to the community and I say this since I have eaten at so many traditional Indian fare buffet places – this one was truly exceptional and global bringing Cuisines from all over the world to the table and to top it all – VEGETARIAN !!
Last but not the least – ORDER the FLAN people. By far the best FLAN and yes I am not ashamed to say I had Christina pack a second order of flan to take back home along with my container of ghost pepper concoction ( wink wink)!!!
Thank you Christina for the awesome experience. And I look forward to coming back here more…..HIGHLY RECOMMEND !!
Until next time … lots of love and wishing you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year and most importantly a healthy 2020 !!
Last weekend, I was at this brunch place in Montclair, New Jersey- Absolutely fabulous and I was thrilled to see their Vegan and Vegetarian selections on the menu.
After pondering over an extensive menu:) and the indecisive person that I am esp when it comes to food- I decided to try their Vegetarian Chickpea burger with baked Sweet Potato Fries. I must tell you this that during my stay at Double Tree in L A prior to filming Master Chef, I happened to order their Vegetarian burger made of chickpeas and it was falling apart/ crumbling to say the least and dry!!!!
This one that I tried at Montclair was phenomenal!!!! Moist, crisp, dense and came with onion, tomato, sprouts:) and pickle!
OK now, I was also thinking of coming up with a bunch of dishes with Tempeh and have been experimenting in my kitchen. Suddenly, after we finish brunch, I run across the street to WHOLE FOODS and my husband thinks I have lost it as always 🙂 I grab an organic slab of 5 GRAIN TEMPEH. Now many of you may wonder what TEMPEH is?
TEMPEH is made of natural culturing process with organic grains like soybeans, brown rice, millet, barley, rye, apple cider vinegar and tempeh culture (typically Rhisopus oligosporus)LOL (thats my inner Microbiologist speaking out). It is low in calories and a great substitute to meat due to its HIGH PROTEIN content. Tempeh originated in Indonesia and has a distinctive nutty taste and nougat-like textured.
The thing about TEMPEH I have learnt over the past few months is that it easily absorbs the flavors of the other foods with which it is cooked making it adaptable to many types of dishes. I tried substituting TEMPEH with the Indian Cottage Cheese that I use in my traditional Curry and it turned out delicious!!!
According to my research- the soy protein in tempeh tends to lower cholesterol levels, while consuming protein from animal sources tends to raise them, since they also include saturated fat and cholesterol.
I can go on and on about health benefits and effect of TEMPEH on cholesterol ………After 3 days of trips to the park with kids, I decided to take a break today and cook up something with the Tempeh that I had picked at Whole Foods. I decide to make an awesome burger with TEMPEH. I love beets and so decided to use a beet sauce and bake some squash chips to go with my burger. The key is to season my tempeh with a bunch of my toasted spices and to use a binding agent !! The binding agent that I used in this case was CHICK PEAS and it turned out beautiful. I could use potatoes but chose to give Chick peas a shot! I use olive oil and use fresh GRAY SQUASH from my Farmers Market to bake some chips to go with my TEMPEH burger:)
My Love Story with Mushrooms
Mushrooms-Plant of immortality?? Growing up in India, we never ate mushrooms and was never cooked in my household or my husband’s ! Me and my husband never tried mushrooms here since we were never raised eating one back home. So I had to do some research to make a delicioussssss dish that would get us to love shrooms!
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium, yet they provide important nutrients, including selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D. It is such an excellent substitute to meat for vegetarians like me and my husband. I came up with this dish and OMG !!!!!!and there s never turning back on the shroomssss ever again:)
I make this delicious sauce with cilantro, basil and coconut milk(very little!!!) and pan sear the mushrooms with onions and peppers. The best part is yet to come- Candied Ginger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Trust me -its heavenly and I mean it. You must try this dish and you will fall in love with mushrooms. My husband did and he’s a hard one to crack( LOL )
I plate the dish with some of my cilantro basil coconut milk sauce and place the pan seared mushrooms with onions and peppers and on top for the garnish——-its Candied Gingerrrrrrrrr.
This is one of my most prized possessions and so email me if you would like to try this and I will send you the recipe:)
I received so much great feedback from my “Absolutely healthy Cauliflower dish” that it inspired me to make another one- this even better because of the coriander yogurt sauce.
The recipe is very similar but this time with a slight variation. I place the cauli florets in a baking pan along with Pecans and then sprinkle some salt, 2 tsp of turmeric, 1 tsp of chilli powder and 1 tsp cumin – coriander powder. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Heat a pan with oil, add chopped onions and 4-5 cloves garlic with salt and sauté till they caramelize. Transfer the toasted pecans and the florets on to the pan with Caramelized onions and garlic.
For the sauce, chop a bunch of coriander leaves/ cilantro and put it in a blender with yogurt. Blend to a smooth consistency and add salt to taste. Now transfer the green sauce to pan with cauliflower, onions and pecans. Plate and Enjoy!!!!! Absolutely healthy yet delicioussssss:)
Extra virgin Olive Oil
1/2 head of Cauliflower
1 large Onion
3 cloves of garlic
5-6 Mint leaves
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Pinch of turmeric
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp lemon pepper powder
1/2 cup low fat or Greek yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Mint leaves and dried red chilly
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the cauliflower to small florets.
Take a bowl and add 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. To this add all spices, salt, cayenne and whisk well.
Now take a baking pan and transfer the almonds and cauliflower florets. Drizzle the oil mixed with spices onto the florets and toss well so they are evenly coated. Place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes.
Now take a bowl, add yoghurt, salt and whisk in the lemon juice and 1/2 tsp EVOO. Add some mint leaves and mix well.
Now chop the onion lengthwise and finely chop the garlic.
Heat a pan add some EVOO, add the chopped garlic and onions and sauté till onions caramelize a little.
Now after 20 minutes, transfer the cauliflower and almonds from the baking pan to the pan on the gas which has the onions and garlic.
Transfer to a plate and spread the yoghurt over it. For garnish place a sprig of mint and a dried red chilly- enjoy this Currylicious healthy dish and let me know if you liked it:)