One of my most favorite dishes in this world is Meditteranean- nothing like crunchy falafels with some home made tahini, creamy hummus and babaganoush!
Tahini sauce is nothing but roasted sesame along with Olive oil, lemon, salt and garlic. Its the most delicious dip ever. Hummus is also easy to make with chickpeas, garlic cloves, lemon, oilve oil, tahini and salt.
Babaganoush is slightly tricky to make since it involves smoking the eggplant or aubergine in flame to cook and peel off the outer layers. I personally throw the chunks of eggplant after peeling the outer skin into my Vitamix with salt, olive oil, garlic cloves, freshly squeezed lemon and tahini paste. Finally garnish with parsley and mint.
I have always looked at meat balls in a sauce and wanted to create the same exact vegetarian or vegan version of it. So here goes:
Ingredients for the spinach balls:
1 cup of spinach finely chopped
1/2 cup potato cooked really well
Spices- turmeric, salt, cayenne, garam masala or curry powder, coriander and cumin seeds crushed-all 1/2 teaspoon
Rice flour- 1tablespoon
Oil for frying- any
Take a big bowl, add all your spices and mix well, add chopped up spinach and toss then throw in the well cooked potatoes and mix with your hands to make a dough. Let it rest in the fridge for a half hour. Once you take it out prior to frying them add 1 tablespoon of rice flour and mix well again. Rice flour gives you that golden brown surface.
Take a frying pan, add oil and you could either deep fry if you like it really golden brown or you could shallow fry and it still tastes delicious.
Ingredients for the Sauce:
Onions- 2 large chopped
1 tsp Ginger garlic paste or 1/2 inch of fresh ginger and 5 cloves of garlic
Green Chili- 2
Tomatoes- 4 diced
Salt to taste and 1 tsp of turmeric powder and curry powder
Place a pan under medium flame and saute ginger garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil and as soon as garlic starts to turn golden, throw in chopped onions, green chili’s and diced tomatoes along with the spices and salt and let it cook down with a lid to a pasty consistency. Blend this to a sauce with 1/4 cup water and cook for another 5 minutes until simmer and then transfer the spinach balls.
I belong to the Southern part of India and we make a lot of traditional dips otherwise popularly known as “Chutneys”
in the Indian food culture. One can play with this idea and make so many variations of chutneys once you have a basic understanding of making a chutney.
I have picked 3 of my best Chutneys for you—-
1) Coconut Chutney
Toast 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen but thawed coconut in a pan under medium flame with 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with chopped green chili, 2 teaspoon of roasted Bengal gram lentils and salt to taste. Blend in a food processor or blender to turn into a semi smooth paste.
Garnish with Cilantro, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
2) Tomato Chutney
Take a pan under medium flame and add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, 1 cup of chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds,
1 teaspoon of red cayenne/ chili powder, 1/2 inch of grated fresh ginger or paste, 3 garlic cloves finely chopped and sauté with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste and blend to a fine paste. Garnish with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
3) TRADITIONAL “THOGAYAL” OR LENTIL CHUTNEY WITH COCONUT
For this chutney, you need 2 teaspoons of Black gram lentils or Black Lentils – although its called black gram these lentils are white on the outside with black seed inside -its called ” Urad dal” in the Indian food culture. You also need 1 teaspoon of Split chickpeas which is yellow in color. Toast both these in a pan under low flame with a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add 1/2 cup of coconut- fresh or frozen grated thawed- and toast with salt and 2/3 fresh red chilis. If you don’t have fresh red chili substitute using cayenne powder. Throw all of this in a blender and grind with as little water as possible. I also add a small piece of fresh tamarind. If not available you can add a teaspoon of lemon juice for acidity. In my household growing up this was one chutney that was never garnished and was gobbled up before it got to the table:)
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 !!
One of our annual visits to Virginia is with our stay at one of my favorite resorts called Landsdowne resort. One of the most beautiful properties that I have ever stayed at, Landsdowne is kid friendly and my kids always have lot of fun at the swimming pool and making smores. The Spa is awesome, Happy hour at Coton & Rye, these are few out of many things we enjoy during our stay at Landsdowne. Landsdowne Resort is very kid friendly and has a nice indoor heated pool and a hot tub and they have a huge fire pit which is usually used almost every time we go to roast S’mores at night. Kids love roasting S’mores in the cold winter nights and we usually tend to go around Christmas time the resort has a huge Christmas tree that is decorated ever so beautifully and the whole atmosphere is so festive. We also enjoy hot breakfast served at our room every morning which gives us the luxury of sleeping in and what more can you ask for:)
Chef MARCUS REPP is one of the most talented chefs who comes up with these exotic creative dishes for my favorite restaurants within Landsdowne like Coton and Rye, Piedmont’s table and Riverside Hearth. Chef Marcus handpicks fresh vegetables from various local farms and designs exceptional menus for the restaurants within the resort. He is my absolute favorite.
This year, I wanted to venture out a bit and check out a few local restaurants with vegetarian options. So here goes,
A good Indian restaurant with very good ambiance and a bar. I found the food to be good, the reason being I am a person who is not a big fan of Saag Paneer. My husband loves Saag and so we decided to order the dish. I kid you not THE SAAG is out of this world and I literally ended up licking my fingers eating up the Saag from my plate. We ordered North Indian style Paneer which was very good and its not on the menu so you need to ask for it. It had no cream and was made of simple ginger garlic, onion tomato gravy and was simple and delicious.
We ordered some Naan bread and some onion kulcha and this was a slight disappointment for me. I wished for the bread to be crispier and hot when it arrived. But oh well, overall a good experience.
2) CATOCTIN CREEK DISTILLERY:
One of the best part of the trip was a visit to Catoctin Creek Distillery. The guy gave us a brief tour of the process and had a great sense of humor. The tour was enjoyable and informative with lots of chuckles and giggles. For 10$, you can take advantage of the tour as well as order a flight ( which offers 3 different whiskies you can try and taste).
There was a nice and small burger joint down the street and we ordered some fries to go with it and made the experience very enjoyable.
3) BARCELONA RESTON:
Once again, by far a very hip upscale joint with fun music and bar with excellent Spanish tapas food. We ordered a bunch of small plates like Pita with Hummus, Shishito Peppers, Eggplant dish and the best was the Vegetarian Paella.
For dessert, the flan was exceptional and Churros with chocolate dip(not on the menu, you must ask for it) is a Must try.
Loudon County is a beautiful place to pick if you like calm, quiet and a beautiful enjoyable vacation. Even better, stay at Landsdowne Resort and have the best vacation ever in scenic beauty of loudon county!