20 November 2009


[Via the NYT.]

14 November 2009

Balti Night, Take Two: Vegan Balti

We had Balti (a/k/a curry in a wok— see our last post on this for more on what Balti is) again this week. The vegan version is a bit different than the one hundred and thirty seven (minus one hundred and thirty three) step process described last time. The idea is to use whatever veggies you have on hand. We happened to have chard and potatoes, but you could do this with just about any veggies you have.

A Basic Vegan Balti

Step One: Make Some Garam Masala

See the recipe in Balti, Take One. You'll only need 1/2 a teaspoon for this.

Step Two: Make the Balti Sauce

You can do all this in the wok. Ideally, this is a one pot meal, even though there's lots of shifting things about to make that happen.

  • Some vegetable oil for sauteing the veggies
  • 1 Tbs. grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • half of a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes together with the juice
  • 2 or 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 /2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cardamon pod, smashed with the flat your knife
  • 3/4 tsp. methi (dried, ground fenugreek leaves)
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
Toast and grind the cumin and coriander. Heat the oil and then add the ginger and garlic and swirl about in the oil, sauteing them for a short while without letting them burn. Add the onions to the pan and saute for several minutes until soft and translucent. Add 4-1/2 ounces of water and bring to a boil, then add all of the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and simmer for half an hour. Remove the hard bits (the bay leaves and the stray cardamon pods) and then blend it up with an immersion blender or throw it all in a blender. Reserve in a bowl for use later when making the balti proper.

Step Three: Prep the Veggies

Just as an example:
  • Boil some potatoes, say four or five medium sized ones, then drain and dice them;
  • Boil or steam some chard until tender, drain, squeeze the water out in a towel and chop it;
  • Open up an 8 ounce can of chick peas, or cook some up if you can plan far enough ahead to be able to do so; and/or
  • Get yourself a cup or two of frozen green peas.
Step Four: Make Balti Happen Now
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. Balti Spice
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • The other half of that can of tomatoes, juice and all
  • The Balti Sauce from Step Two, but not necessarily all of it
  • a handful of finely chopped cilantro
  • salt, probably
Fire up the wok and heat some oil in it. Stir fry the garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Add the chard; keep stir frying to break it up a bit. Add the diced potatoes and Balti Spice and stir fry for a bit longer. Add the tomatoes, chick peas, green peas and enough of the Balti Sauce to make a nice thick curry. Let this simmer for a few minutes, just long enough for all the ingredients to heat through and then stir in the cilantro. The idea is that you can have all the things from Step 1 through Step 3 ready well in advance and then plow through Step Four in minutes and have dinner done on a moment's notice, provided you have your starch sort out (see below).

Serve your Balti curry with some nan or chapatis if you want to be all Balti about it, but it's good over brown rice too.

06 November 2009

Vegan Pizza Night

Vegan pizza can be unsatisfying, but this week we made a good one with some odds and ends:

  • mushroom chips
  • caramelized onions
  • tapenade
  • roasted cauliflower
  • chopped, steamed chard
  • sliced red peppers
  • not quite white sauce
For the not quite white sauce we took two cups of the cashew "ricotta" from the Veganomicon (made using silken tofu and enough lemon juice to make it a good bit looser than ricotta) and folded into it about one half a cup of diced red tomatoes with their juices. I'm sure this doesn't seem worthy of a post but it was one of the better vegan pizzas I've had.

And because this was a spur of the moment thing, we picked up the dough, which was Rosario's whole wheat pizza dough—it's really good.

Can anyone comment on Rosario's in New Harbor? Is it just a bakery, or is it a pizza place too?

And because I ate all the pizza before I could take a picture, here's a pizza lolcat:

03 November 2009

Little Lad's, Take Three

Little Lad's [warning: worst flash intro to a website ever] in Portland had its third (that I know of) change in management a couple months ago.


  • The annoying endless loop of proselytizing, christian vegans has ended. Amen!
  • The "buffet" is now behind closed doors, so you can't see what you're getting before you get it and you can't control your own portion sizes. Instead you just order what you want from a chalkboard. On the other hand, the food is exposed to less germs this way, which is just fine with me.
  • Patron's are no longer greeted with "Hey Captain!" I really miss that, but not as much as I hated the TV they used to have.
The buffet still has the same general stuff in it: sloppy vegan fare a la 1970s. But it's warm, healthy stuff that's mostly Food, and sometimes that's totally enough.