Tag Archives: chana masala

I love my freezer (and typing, it seems!).

Phew, it’s been a crazy few weeks. I went on a cruise holiday, then developed both a sinus infection and a chest infection at the same damn time within a few days of getting home, which totally wiped me out for a fortnight. I’ve been back at work since last week, and figured an update was necessary.

So, cruise ships then. They are to vegans as garlic and crosses are to vampires. While there is an entire lack of photographic evidence, it’s entirely possible to eat well and be vegan on a cruise, despite their “catering for vegetarians, but not vegans”.

While I may have had a both a good choice of cruise company (Royal Caribbean) and a little repetition in my meals, I ate like a king while on board and was not once made to feel like an awkward guest.

Breakfast:

We went buffet style every morning. My plate largely involved a trip to the huge fruit salad bar, plus fried potatoes and mushrooms from the grill, then a sweep over to the bread baskets for fresh rolls and margarine. No soy milk, unfortunately, so orange juice and herbal tea for me.

Lunch:

When on board, we went back to the buffet for lunch, and I had loads of options. Huge salad bar, including multiple kinds of salad leaves, lots of different vegetables and awesome toppings like sunflower seeds and walnuts and dried fruits, with an assortment of dressings – though I stuck with my “boring” favourite of balsamic vinegar for the most part. I usually went with a vaguely small portion of pasta and tomato sauce of the day after that, often with some sauerkraut on the side as they had dishes of it for hot dog toppings and I took advantage of it being accidentally vegan! I could have asked for a pizza to be made up without cheese, but I didn’t bother as I couldn’t have eaten a whole one by myself!

Dinner:

Formal dining room for dinner, except one night when we hit up Johnny Rockets upstairs and I got to have my first vegan boca burger, which was good, but not as good as my usual Fry’s burger. Still, I’m glad I have now tried one and can move on with my life (unlike my obsession with getting my mitts on some Veganaise and Justin’s PB cups). Service in the formal dining room was amaaaazing. There was always a vegan starter and the mains included a vegetarian special which changed each evening, and was pretty much all vegan without the condiments. I had homemade soy meatballs in lentil chilli, tacos (minus the sour cream), an amazing spinach salad…if by some chance the main veggie option wasn’t vegan, their “classic” menu always had a pasta dish with tomato sauce. The only thing lacking was dessert, which was very heavy on the dairy and eggs. I asked on my first night if they had anything vegan and they made me up a fabulous fruit platter, which I had most nights.

Downsides….you’d want to like veggies and fruit, as you’ll eat a lot of them. Probably for the best though – I didn’t put on any weight during my trip, which is possibly a record for me.

Repetition does happen, especially on the pasta front, but I ate really well for the week. I’d really have liked a non-fruit dessert on even one evening (that wasn’t just cookies in my bunk that I brought on board myself). If you can do strawberries, and you can do strawberry souffle, then you can dunk a few in some dark chocolate without too much hassle.

Whole grains. With the exception of the (non-vegan) soda-type bread, there were none. Pasta was white, bread was white, rice was white. I’m used to brown rice and pasta and not much white bread these days, so my stomach got a little unhappy towards the end of the week.

If you’re not ok with filling your salad plate within ten feet of cheese pizza or a carvery station, then this might not be for you. Personally, meat doesn’t make me feel ill (with the exception of really disgusting things like veal or foie gras) so I can just look past it and get to the good stuff.

Another note – it’s best to avoid looking at other people’s plates. The sheer gluttony is astounding. I’m not talking about a second slice of pizza here…I’m talking about people eating 3 double cheeseburgers with sides for lunch, then getting seconds. Yes, it’s personal choice, but I just don’t get it….eating oneself to death just seems like an awful waste.

 

The day after getting home, some vegetable-and-bean overload was required, along with some cake, in as short and low effort a manner as possible 🙂

2013-10-08 18.06.49Giant cauliflower from the organic farm down the road. Best bargain I’ve ever had!

Apply rice of choice to rice cooker, or to pot.

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Chop (some!) cauli into small, bite sized florets (makes for fast cooking!) and sprinkle with salt, turmeric and whole cumin seed and dribble over a little olive oil, if that’s your thing. Stick in oven.

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Take that tub of leftover chana masala out of the freezer, run under the cold tap….

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…then upend into saucepan over the lowest heat possible. Once it begins to loosen up, have at it with a butter knife to break it into smaller chunks. Once it has defrosted, turn up the heat and warm through, watching for rogue ice cubes.

Stick all of the above unceremoniously on plate, with some chutney if you have it, wish that the lighting was better, then shrug and devour.

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Remember that your cat missed you too as he purrs like a steam engine.

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Then have some cake and tea on the sofa…

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…before cursing when you remember both the giant pile of washing and the  block of tofu in a tub of water in the fridge that you meant to chuck out before you left and will now be demanding voting rights. (It’s Isa’s pumpkin muffin from VWAV, turned into a cupcake, with cream cheese frosting).

Nothing’s ever perfect!

 

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The morning after.

So I’m on attempt three with this post. WordPress does not like “The morning after” either, it seems.

Last night, being Friday, was our usual Friday night gaming session, which has been running for about five years now. People drop over around seven, I feed everyone, then we play some game or other – rpgs or board games mostly, but also card games and other bits and pieces. It’s really good fun and rounds off the week nicely. There are usually six of us, which is also a great number for most games.

While there may be six people, I generally cook for ten as at least half the group seem to have hollow legs. There’s one vegan, me, two will-eat-anything omnis (including HusBeast), one more fussy omni (I think this is the only time in the week he really eats veggies that aren’t on a pizza), one high level coeliac and one allergic-to-dairy-and-eggs. Simple vegan, analog-free food is the easiest and tastiest for all.

pots

A huge pot of chana masala bubbling away on the hob, and a pan of coconut toasting. Off to the right is my beloved rice cooker. When it finishes I fluff the rice up and just before serving mix through the coconut. Deeee-licious.

To go with this I make my carrot salad. The recipe may seem a little slapdash, but it’s really a “to taste” recipe. To make it, you’ll need

Carrots. I advise organic – it’s well worth it here. I used 500g for six people.

Fresh ginger root – big-thumb sized piece.

Sliced almonds – a good handful. Don’t go overboard though. They should be tasty surprises among the carrots, not the dominating taste.

Fresh coriander

Fresh red chilli

1 lemon

First off, toast the almonds in a hot, dry frying pan. Keep an eye on them though as they really can go from pale and boring to burnt and unuseable in a few seconds.

prep for salad

 

Chop the lemon in half for juicing (this one was about the size of a big lime) and peel the ginger root. Grate the carrots. I’d recommend breaking out the food processor if one’s available. If not, use the most coarse side of your grater and grate directly into the serving bowl to preserve the carrotty juices. Once that’s done, deal with the chilli.

If you’re a little wary of spice, use a big chilli as they tend to be much milder – some of the tiny ones would blow your head off! This recipe doesn’t use the chilli for heat either, just flavour, so take the chilli, chop off the stem, split it lengthways and then peel out the membrane and seeds. I’d advise doing this directly over the bin/compost bag, especially if there are little people or furbabies at home as it stops bits going astray in between chopping board and bin. Slice the chilli very finely.

lemonfaced

Grate the ginger directly onto the carrot in the serving bowl, again to preserve any juice that will try to escape. I use a microplane for this as it makes short work of any stringy bits. Move the grater around as you go. It makes mixing easier later.

microplane

Squeeze the lemon all over, sprinkle the chilli on and then ignore for ten minutes while you get on with some stirring. Don’t be tempted to add salt!

Just before serving, chop the coriander and sprinkle on.

ready to mix

I love the colours!

Add the almonds and then stick your hands in and mix away, trying to get as even a blend as possible. By this point, you’ll have become painfully aware of any papercuts you may have. It’s worth it, I promise.

tahdah

Taah daah! From scratch toasted coconut rice, chana masala and carrot salad. Dee-licious.

This salad is really versatile, which is one of the things I love about it. If I’m making a very mild curry I might up the chilli or coriander. If I’m making something with lots of coconut milk that’s really creamy, I’ll add a little more lemon as a foil for the fat. It goes very nicely with almost all curries or Indian dishes and if there are leftovers they’re great in a wrap or pitta with hummus and a few raisins!

No leftovers today though…time for a rummage in the presses!