Friday, February 16, 2007

Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu

Well, I ate my lunch a little bit earlier than normal today because I had no idea what I would think about it and wanted to be able to give my honest opinion about it in my post. I ended up getting home a little late last night so I didn't have time (or energy) to start slinging stuff around in the kitchen and cooking. So I went to the freezer to see what I had hanging around in there for emergency back-up. I always like to keep a few storebought vegan goodies in there for times just like last night when I don't have the time to make something totally from scratch.

Well, I found Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu sitting there just begging me to bring it for lunch today. So I did. Now, I have noticed from poking my nose into every vegan related site I can find online that a lot of vegans are really into Indian food. I am actually ashamed to say that I have only tried Indian food once before in my life. And I don't know why that is because that first time I tried it I really liked it, and after eating the meal that I brought today, I am happy to report that I also liked it really well. Maybe it's because I have this impression that it might be difficult to actually eat vegan in an actual Indian Restaurant. From what I have read, almost everything has yogurt and/or ghee in it. Maybe that's true, or maybe it's not. I don't know. At any rate, Indian food appears to be a popular thing for vegans to make at home, so I really need to roll my sleeves up and start trying some of the recipes that are floating around out there.

Kittee has some Indian recipes on her website that sound really good. And it doesn't look like this stuff is hard to make. In fact, I think I have a lot of the things that I already need at home because I did discover this cool Indian grocery near where I work and it is the ONLY place I buy spices at now. It is so much cheaper than the grocery store. So during some of my shopping trips there I have managed to pick up huge bags of Curry Powder and Garam Masala, as well as a few other things that I have no idea how to use. I had just seen them mentioned in popular recipes on vegan websites and then saw them in the store so I thought I should pick them up while I was there so I would have them on hand whenever the urge hit me to try cooking some Indian cuisine.

Anyway, today's lunchbox required absolutely no work on my part because Amy's Kitchen did all of the work for me. All I did was remove the items from the container that they came frozen in and distribute them into the lunchbox containers. I actually don't even know how you are supposed to eat this, or what's supposed to mix with what, so I ended up mixing some of the Basmati Rice with both the Mattar Tofu and the Dal. It was really, really good.

The Mattar Tofu actually reminded me of the Scrambled Tofu recipe from VwaV because it contained chunks of tofu and obviously lots of Turmeric. In fact, I think if I just mixed up a bunch of peas with my scrambled tofu, it would be amazingly similar to this dish. And I love scrambled tofu, so needless to say, I also liked this.

The Dal was also quite delicious. This was my first time ever eating it. I really like all of those fragrant spices in there, which I guess are the hallmark of Indian cooking. My boss says that she fixes this all the time and that she just chops an onion and cooks it until nicely browned, then sprinkles like 1 Tbsp. of Garam Masala over it and cooks it for a few second until really fragrant and then mixes it with some cooked lentils, sometimes adding some canned tomatoes or who knows what else. It sounds really simple, and she says that it's delicious. Since I have all of the spices already, I have a feeling I will be experimenting with Indian cooking quite soon.

To fill that last empty space in the lunchbox, I just brought along some more Steamed Mixed Vegetables. There's broccoli, green beans and carrots in there and I just, once again, put them in the lunchbox frozen, they thawed out by lunch time, and then I just microwaved them for a quick minute or so to heat them up.

So that does it for Friday. I just finished eating this a few minutes ago and I really enjoyed it. It makes me want to learn a lot more about cooking Indian food and finding out how difficult (or easy?) it would be to eat vegan in a regular Indian restaurant. If anyone has any tips or suggestions on vegan Indian restaurant dining, I would like to hear them. Especially which dishes might be easily veganized, and which dishes taste really good, etc.

Thanks for reading my blog today and I'll see everybody on Monday.

I won't promise anything, but I may do a quick post tomorrow (on Saturday) because I am planning on making a bunch of vegan cupcakes to take to a birthday party. If they turn out really good, which I'm sure they will, I will take a pic or two and do a post on them. And obviously, I will be using a recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa & Terry.

Have a great weekend!


Kristin Marie said...

Hey Ken!
My usual routine is to heat up my lunch, then sit down at the computer to eat it while I read your blog.

Today felt a little like the Twilight Zone as I pulled up your blog and realized we were eating the exact same thing! (Except mine is still in the little white tray, and I am having a Larabar for dessert.)

Amy's whole meals are all really good and I eat them quite often for lunch. I would like to bring more homemade lunches to work, but am in the process of getting my house on the market, so I spend most nights working on that goal. Once it is sold and we move closer to work, I am definitely going to try some of your recommended recipes!

Because I am not a true vegan, I will also eat Amy's Veggie Loaf. I am practically addicted to it!

My main reason for being "almost" vegan is for health reasons, so I do eat honey and occasionally seafood if there are no veggie options when away from home. I don't know if I'll ever be 100% vegan because I don't think I can live without leather shoes!! I know that sounds awful, but my job right now practically requires it. I guess we can't be perfect!

Liz said...

I also love Indian food but have been afraid to make anything myself, even though I've bought a bunch of spices. If you like Amy's Indian meals (I do, too) then you might want to try stuff from Tasty Bite. Their meals are vacuum sealed in special pouches and don't require refrigeration. Not everything is vegan, but some are. You can sort items on their web site to show only vegan options. Besides Inadian, they also have Thai dishes. Some are more like side orders and some are complete meals with rice. Every item I've tried so far has been delicious. I like buying the side dishes (all kinds of lentils, potatoes, spinach...) and making my own rice.

You can even order them online if you can't find them locally. This stuff is actually made in India, too!

Anna said...

I would totally recommend this book for cooking vegan Indian food. There are no pictures so you've no idea how the food is supposed to look but the recipes are fast and easy and everything I've made so far has been great! You regulate the heat of the food to your taste by adding more or less chillis, we always go for a lot less as we like spice but not heat.

Good luck with your Indian cooking adventure, it's lovely food!

Brooke said...

I've never really had much Indian food either...time to try more! I'll have to check out that Amy's meal.

NightOwl said...

Kristin Marie, I just want to say thank you for being as vegan as possible. We all have different journeys and paths and lives and that's okay. Just the fact that you try and are conscious about what you eat is great. And nobody is perfect! Thank goodness, imagine how boring that would be! :)
Ken, one of my favorite Indian dishes is aloo gobi: cauliflower, potatoes, and peas. YUM! All vegan. Most Indian restaurants are more than happy to help you figure out vegan options, so go give it a try. You'll love it, I promise.

Vegan*asm said...

Indian food is one of my favorites. Before going vegan, I always said my comfort food was Saag Paneer, which is chuncks of cheese cooked in chopped spinach with different spices. My friend recently made a vegan version using kale which was amazing. Vegan indian dishes are so simple to make, and eating at Indian restaurants as a vegan isn't too hard. Just make sure to ask which dishes contain ghee or yogurt, and usually the chef will accomodate you if you ask nicely.

Melanie said...

we have a couple of indian restaurants in town now, and they will make things for you without the butter and such if you want. Sitar will, at least, and they are happy to do it if you call and give them a heads-up. i had a friend visiting recently who is allergic to dairy and they seemed to actually enjoy breaking up their routine a little bit to do a fresh meal for her that included no dairy. (nor wheat, nor citrus....the list goes on) but bottom line they were really cool about it.

for making Indian at home, you can really get that authentic flavor just by caramelizing a bunch of onions in a pan with a little oil. i mean, cook those suckers until they're practically falling apart into jam, that's how you want them. add your masala spices to them as they're cooking and they're kind of like "Indian boullion" you can store in the fridge/freezer to use in whatever you're making to turn it into Indian food. when i used to be at the forest service, it was a running joke amongst my coworkers that they could tell when i'd been making my Indian food base, because the smell of crockpot-cooked onions would soak into my uniform coat and follow me around the next day a bit. some might think it's awful to smell of aromatic, spiced fried onions, but i sure can think of worse things. ;) the nice thing about it is that using coconut milk is also totally culturally correct for Indian food, so you can make really rich, creamy gravies with a bit of the onion jam and some coconut milk and it's so easy.

Melanie said...

Vegan*asm - you know, that fresh paneer cheese is so mild-tasting that tofu really *is* just a fine sub for it. it works just fine in the gulab jamun, too - the freeze-dried tofu can be used instead of the milk powder. besides gulab is all about the rosewater syrup anyway, right?

Vegan*asm said...

Melanie- you are right about the tofu being a good sub for paneer. What my friend did was marinate tofu cubes in a paste of ginger, garlic, and salt, which gave it that nice taste salty taste the cheese would give. I love gulab jamun, and haven't even thought about using freeze-dried tofu. Thanks!

Qing-jao said...

Thanks for writing this.