My Vegan

My Vegan

MY VEGAN

Inevitably, I fell for another handsome charmer, who convinced me that we were meant to get married and make babies together. I wanted more children, and he was socially acceptable, with all the right boxes checked. I would be the mommy, and he would be the daddy. I closed up my catering business and headed to Baltimore, where this charmer had a firmly established party and event planning and decorating shop. I was going to do nothing but be a housewife and raise the babies we each had separately, as well as the ones we would make together. I ended up taking over the company two years into the marriage, and he ended up staying home with the baby girl I produced for him, as well as my son.

In the early part of 2001, I was served divorce papers. I’m sure he was more worried about losing the company than the child I had married him to father, but he planned the divorce proceedings with a scorched earth philosophy. Overnight I was left homeless, penniless, and childless. He controlled the company and all the assets, plus froze any joint accounts I could have used to hire lawyers to fight him for custody of the children. It was a complete blitzkrieg that involved every heinous accusation of child and spousal abuse that one could imagine, as well as the horror of having our marriage held up to small home town scrutiny, with self serving fairytales lewd enough to make Jerry Springer blush. I would have happily disappeared to the other side of the world and given him every asset he wanted, except for my son and the small girl child he was holding hostage.

This story is not about him. It is not about the divorce. Although I am sure there are hundreds of people who still want all the prurient details or think they know what happened in the privacy of our bedroom, there is nothing I would rather forget more than that year and a half battle I fought to regain custody of my girl child. There is nothing I would rather forget than the son’s father who swooped in to get custody of a child he had spent maybe 100 days with in eight years. Some things simply have to be endured and gain nothing from the retelling.

So I was alone. I was completely and utterly without the friends I thought were mine at work; my mother who moved into the bedroom my husband and I had shared, or my grandmother who was afraid of her current mayoral race being tainted by the drama. It is a very dark day in your life when you realize that everyone who professed to love you were only committed conditionally. The work I did and the material possessions I had thought were important, suddenly meant nothing. It is at that moment when we are most naked and bare, that we find out who we are and what our flesh can endure.

Through a friend, I was given the name of a woman in the city, which had a room for rent in her townhouse. Shell-shocked and less than a week into losing my kids, house, business, job and livelihood, I showed up on her doorstep, which straddled the inner city and Johns Hopkins, and walked into a townhouse that held no furniture other than a kitchen table and a mattress on the floor. Nothing at all but a dark haired blue eyed creature who looked as exotic as her lack of materialism was foreign. She was busy unpacking groceries into a refrigerator that looked remarkably empty of anything but beer.

“Tonight’s my graduation party,” she said by way of introduction.

“How many people are you having?” (Always the professional)

“I’m not really sure… I invited everyone I know, plus my family is here from Boston.”

“And you have eight six-packs of beer? (Aghast) What food?”

“I bought some dips.” She held up three 8 oz packages of hummus.

“Do you have a budget?”

“I spent it.”

Ok. I can do this, I thought. (It felt remarkably good to think that for a minute)

‘Oh I’m vegan. Do you know what that means?”

“Sure.” I say. (Not too sure)

“No animal’s products at all, OK?”

“Sure.” I say. (Fuck me, I think)

Moving in was a matter of seconds since I was not allowed to remove any of my personal possessions from my house. They were all marital assets that would be sold. I had what was on my back and little else. The “bag,” which had been packed for me by my “loving” husband, consisted of eight formal wear dresses, five pairs of ridiculously high fuck me heels, no panties, no tennis shoes, and no casual wear. I had what I stood in and I had no money to even go to a thrift store to purchase anything else.

So within an hour, I was knee deep in real groceries, which her mother (Momma Bethel) had run out to buy at my behest and was cooking with the horrifying aluminum pots and dollar store pans that furnished this graduate student’s kitchen. It turns out my new roommate was getting her doctorate In Conflict Resolution with a gazillion honors, and she had never heard of something called a lock or a closed door. The flow of visitors was immense, like a tidal wave of well wishers who flooded through the house, all looking for a place to sit (there were none) and congregating in the postage stamp of a kitchen. The party hadn’t even begun and I had met at least thirty relatives. They were Armenian and come from a huge clan somewhere north of Boston. I didn’t really know where Armenia was. Is that close to Turkey I asked?

Crickets.

Six hours later, the party deluge began. We were through my new roommate, Lorig’s six-packs of Gucci microbrew beer in about fifteen minutes, but between her mother and me, we had put together a feast to feed the hordes that descended. I realized that this woman was clearly a celebrity in the community. Her townhouse straddled the “chi-chi” townhouses of Johns Hopkins, but it was the inner city that our front door faced. This was not a child of the elite doctoral class, but a warrior for the inner city. I heard words like “mediation,” “community empowerment” and “collective reasoning.” Each person who came to the buffet I had set up on the microscopic kitchen island, filled in little pieces of the puzzle. I listened and spoke only when spoken to. I did not want to become attached to anyone or anything then, but I must admit that I was impressed and awed.

It turned out that this strange being I was now living with for a full nine hours, had taken out a graduate student loan to fund a Community Mediation Center while getting her doctorate and had built a module that allowed for individual and community conflict resolution to be self-empowering. Through a unique training process that she had developed, she taught volunteer mediators to be impartial. The individuals and court systems where they used her community-based mediation process made decisions that worked for them, rather than having authority figures make the decisions in their ‘best interest.’  It was a blend of many different mediation styles that had roots in Native American culture, and many others far more enlightened than our own in creating peace. For someone who had just been a victim of a court system which favored the one with the best lawyer, the most money, the best lie or the ability to cry on command, it sounded too good to be true.

Over the next month the two of us grew into a pattern. She often worked fourteen hour days and I went to my court ordered therapist almost every day, visiting my lawyer several times a week to answer the spectacular amount of pleadings and pending motions. But most of all I sat and stared at the world from our front doorstep, trying to figure out how I fit into it anymore. I tried to run, I tried to read, but most of all I just cooked for my new roommate. She was my lifeline to the world, and sometimes the only person I engaged with all day who wasn’t paid to be with me. She was vegan for moral and ethical reasons which were incredibly well thought out and reasoned. Like most brilliant people, she had not figured out the practical application of how to live in a world that didn’t speak her language. It seemed as if up until now she had existed on Clif and Lara bars, prepackaged miso soup, Tofurkey and peanut butter. She literally didn’t care about food. Seriously. Like her heroes before her who had begun hunger strikes as a non-violent method for political change, I realized that to her food was simply a means to an end. It was fuel. Nothing more. The usage of which allowed her to perform at optimum capability. I could not grasp this indifference to food, but I literally had nothing else to do that didn’t make my head pound or bring on an incipient anxiety attack and hyperventilation. So I tried to think of new exotic dishes that would entice her to change her opinion. Each day I tried to woo her to my way of thinking. Smell, eat, taste… the curries and moles and tagines were merely the detritus over which we spent hours long into the night discussing philosophy, politics, theology, literature…anything but what was in front of me.

And so, for that summer of 2001, I cooked and cooked and cooked and cooked. Without a professional kitchen, without a decent set of pots and pans, and for the first time, entirely devoid of animal products. I attempted to build a new life, and through that incredibly hot and sultry Baltimore summer, I sweated and cried and cooked and cried some more, and still the wound would not stop bleeding. I was finally diagnosed by my court appointed therapist with PTSD and the litany of their current forms of torture brought on panic attacks every time I was newly victimized. But all the therapy or self-awareness in the world wasn’t going to get my kids back, and without them, I probably wasn’t going to survive. If my estranged husband had taken all the stuff and just left me the kids, I would have sailed off into the sunset and left him alone forever counting the 401k and money market funds. I did not have the one thing I needed to breathe, and I gasped for air and my children throughout that excruciatingly hot summer. I sat and bided my time and was a good little girl, because I reasoned that eventually the courts would see the truth. I had to get my children back in whatever way possible. I was pretending to be someone who didn’t care about sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but I hadn’t become the person I pretended to be.

It turned out that the local Farmer’s Market was outside my bedroom window on Saturday mornings. Whenever Lorig didn’t have an early morning mediation or training on Saturday, we would walk the market together, talk to the farmers, and pick out things that I could possibly entice her to eat. I was still childless, but I began to have a job talking care of Lorig and all the little urchins who came and went unchecked into our house. They were virtually motherless themselves. With the exception of one particularly enchanting doe-eyed three year old, they didn’t make my heart ache. When I wasn’t with Lorig at the Community Mediation Program, which turned out to be three more long blocks into the inner city, or enduring the new tortures my baby’s father, my mother and the cadre of attorneys invented for me almost daily, I was in our little row house kitchen cooking as though my sanity depended on it. We had no air conditioning, (this went along with the lack of furniture apparently) and the sweat would roll down my body in rivulets, unchecked and often mixed with tears, as I chopped and diced and stewed and steamed and pickled my way through the summer. I used to joke with Lorig that the meals weren’t entirely vegan, since they probably contained more than a drop of two of me. I rediscovered techniques for vegetarian cooking from the hippie hey days in California and developed all new ones based on a classic French training that was turned upside down for lack of butter and cream and pork fat. Our basement was surprisingly large, and we turned it into our larder and root cellar. At the end of the summer there were literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of quart Ball jars that had preserved vegetables and soups and stews, as well as pickled everything. If it was a vegetable and it came through our farmers market, it was preserved in a dozen recipe variations in our basement.

Lorig had that unique gift of being able to figure out what you needed, and then steer you in a direction that you probably would have fought over, had you known what she was up to. So within days of defining my skill set, she set out to use that skill set for the greater good, as only she could do, and as much as my mental condition would allow her to. Community potlucks at the mediation center, peace vigil soup dinners, meals for mediator training; she would volunteer me and I would follow behind her. I became enmeshed in her world and began to trust her. But most importantly, I began to love her. I had sworn up and down and sideways that I would never trust another living soul, and I would never love anyone again but my own children, but I could be myself with this strange and quixotic creature, whose lack of materialism and veganism was beginning to grow on me.  I began to heal slowly and was able to survive the continued legal onslaught of the divorce with a balance and center that allowed me to breathe but not strangle. Lorig was a terrible tease, and I began to laugh again, mostly at my own expense. I started to run again. I started to find my situation even humorous at times, and I became brave again.

For the year Lorig and I lived together, I moonlighted under an alias, off the books as an anonymous caterer in a restaurant that was as impersonal as I could possibly find. Caterers are the bastard red-headed stepchildren of the restaurant industry, and no one in the business (the real business of the nightly line) gives a rat’s ass about who you are and where you come from… it was perfect for me. I had no creative control of the kitchen. I was given horrific tasks such as making Waldorf salad for 250 following a recipe I could have improved in my sleep. My nightly job was rote, and the only thing that mattered about it was the money that allowed me to keep buying food to cook with and continuing to pay my lawyers a tiny pittance towards the overwhelming bottom line. I spent my days answering phones, mediating, cooking for volunteers and anyone else I could feed, and reinventing my whole persona from soccer mom to damaged EMO thrift store hipster. I reasoned that I couldn’t be vegan because I was a chef, but right then I really wasn’t one so what did it matter. Maybe being a chef was something I wasn’t going to do anymore. Maybe I could be vegan, I reasoned, and so I dabbled with being vegan 98% of the time. In our little hood rat row house, there was no furniture and no meat, and anyone I cared about cooking for was at the very least vegetarian and didn’t care that they ate on the floor.  Maybe I could reinvent myself, not to care about furniture and food, (God knows I didn’t care about eating it), and then I would be OK? I could be this new person and not take the old one with me into the new life. I didn’t need the career, the trappings of success, the job; I only needed my children back. If the devil had offered me a deal that I give him my right hand for those children, I would have happily shaken hands with my left for the duration of my life.

Lorig rescued me from the darkest place I had ever known. She was my lifeline, my hero, my role model. I spent that year watching her path and emulating it as my own road map. I had never seen a value system like hers. She believed that your life should be spent in the service of others, in making the world a better place. It was that simple, really, and she wasn’t this boring granola crunchy prissy do-gooder, but a biker chick who could drink and swear as hard as I could. I loved and worshiped her completely. Throughout that year, I learned how to listen without thinking about my response. I learned to listen, and actually hear what people were saying. But most importantly, I learned to actually hear another voice other than my own piping up constantly. She had begun a community mediation program that relied on volunteer mediators, and that summer I trained to be the person who was a conduit for conflict resolution, rather than focusing on my own bloody battlefield.

Whenever we could, we would steal away to her family mountain camp in Massachusetts. Her mother and I would make food enough to feed an army, and Lorig and I would come back to Baltimore loaded with the exotic spices, grains and Lahmejun. Momma Bethel and I would cook the traditional Armenian foods in the small logging cabin, much the same as the rustic conditions of Lorig and my inner city kitchen, but here we had a wood burning stove outside and oak slab work surfaces set under the trees. Bethel and I would make kibbeh and babaganoush and hummous and tabbouleh and dolmades and on and on until our fingers were sore from rolling.  Later over the campfire beers and marshmallow, I would question Lorig about being vegan, and she would tirelessly answer. I challenged her ethical and moral assumptions, I parried with her nutritional analysis of the vegan diet, and we would debate long into the night over too many beers the merits of being vegan. She was so nonjudgmental that you could almost be convinced that it was not a belief she held with any strength of conviction. If you thought that, then you simply didn’t understand Lorig. She practiced what she preached about personal empowerment and firmly believed that everyone needed to make decisions that worked for them. She never bullied or belittled those who didn’t hold the same belief systems. She simply stated her point of view and background information, and what you did was up to you. While we lived as vegans in our house (I thought this was mostly my choice but you never knew with her), when I was out, I would still eat whatever intrigued me or whatever held still long enough. “I’m a chef.” I’d tell her, “Or I will be again, but I couldn’t possibly be a vegan chef.”

She would smile at me in her way and say, “You never know what you can become, until you try.”

********

Seventeen years later, Lorig is still my hero. I still love her completely. She is the godmother to my two girls and has two beautiful children herself. She is still saving the world one conflict at a time, and I truly believe that if they ever want peace in the Middle East, they need to send Lorig there. My only deep and abiding regret is that as busy as I am being a chef and as busy as she is saving the world from self destruction, we hardly ever see each other. But just knowing she is out there helps. It makes the world a much less frightening and scary place. It makes life worth laughing about and diving into head first. I know she is always there, you see. Ready to soften the fall.

I sent her a text one morning not too long ago.

Me: I was just thinking about you and I wanted you to know how very much I love you. I know we hardly get to see each other, but it makes a huge difference to me just knowing you are in the world and you are my friend.

Lorig: Okay! I’ll send you the money (just kidding) and I love you too. I love watching you fulfill your dreams, even if I only get to see it on Facebook.

Me: I wish I could feed you from my kitchen every day still; I really, really do. Even though you don’t love food, you would feel the love that goes into everything that I make. PS Send money anyway

Lorig: I do love food. I love what it does for community, and that I learned from you.

And so we have now come to the point of the story where food begins to be about community and love and nurturing and healing and life itself. When people ask me ‘why vegan’ I start the story with “How long have you got?” because this is a very long story and we are just at the beginning.

 

MENU FOR A VEGAN BOOT CAMP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INNER CITY WOODS

 

KIBBEH

LAMEJUN PIZZA

EGGPLANT ROLLATINI

ARMENIAN CUCUMBER SALAD

TABOULEH

BULGHUR MEATLESS LOAF

BAKED TOFU

CHANA MASALA

TORTILLA SOUP

LENTIL AND POTATO DAL PATTIES

CORIANDER CHUTNEY

AROMATIC RICE WITH ALLSPICE

 

VEGAN KIBBEH

2 cups fine bulghur

1 eggplant roasted

2 potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed

1 cup TVP reconstituted

1 cup vegetable stock

1 lb Gimme Lean* sausage or other vegan sausage

2 cups caramelized yellow onions

2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp sea salt

Wash bulghur in a very fine sieve. Cover with 2 cups of boiling water and let sit until cool. Mash boiled potatoes and eggplant together with TVP that has been reconstituted in vegetable stock. Mix all of these together with ½ of all spice measurements and 1 cup of caramelized onions. Process until it forms a paste, cover and put in refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile cook vegan sausage and mix with pine nuts and onions and remaining spices. Make kibbeh balls out of bulghur mixture and stuff with sausage mixture. Fry in EVOO until even and brown.

To make kibbeh balls coat your hands in oil and form a gold ball size ball of bulgur mixture. Make a hole through the center of the ball and widen evenly

with your fingers creating a hollow sphere. Fill with stuffing and close opening.

 

EGGPLANT ROLLATINI

Sundried tomato pesto

½ cup basil puree made from basil leaves and olive oil

½ cup vegan or regular ricotta cheese

2 Italian eggplants cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices

¼ cup roasted pine nuts or walnuts

½ cup whole basil or arugula leaves

¼ cup rehydrated sundried tomatoes chopped

¼ cup EVOO

Safflower for brushing eggplant

Sea salt flakes

White pepper

The hardest part of this recipe is keeping the eggplant from falling apart during the cooking process. Hand cut the eggplant lengthwise into slices which at least a half an inch thick, and brush with safflower oil. Then heat an oiled sizzle pan with a cross hatch pattern over very high heat and mark eggplant. This helps the eggplant hold together. Place eggplant on an oiled sheet pan in 350 degree oven until just tender. You may have to brush with safflower oil if it looks dry. Sprinkle eggplant with salt and white pepper. Assemble rollatini by placing one piece of eggplant flat and brushing it with basil puree. Put one TB tomato pesto, one TB cheese, a few pine nuts, one or two chopped sundrieds and couple of leaves on the fat part and roll.

 

LAMEJUN PIZZA

4 pocket less pita

1 cup TVP reconstituted

4 TB tomato paste

4 TB pepper paste or two roasted red peppers pureed

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp allspice

½ tsp sumac

¼ cup Akvar

½ cup roasted caramelized onions

¼ cup caramelized garlic cloves

1 eggplant

¼ cup sundried tomatoes

8-12 artichoke hearts

Roast eggplant whole in the oven and scoop out insides when cooked through. Sautee’ TVP with caramelized onions, spices, tomato paste, pepper paste and Akvar, fold in cooked eggplant and cook until all flavors melded. Stir in chopped artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes.

Spread paste evenly on the top of pitas. The method I like to use is to heat a heavy pan with very high heat, dry sear the back of pita, and then pop under the broiler until topping is sizzling. Stuff with Armenian cucumber salad and baby greens.

 

ARMENIAN CUCUMBER SALAD

4 Armenian cucumbers sliced very thinly

8-10 small heirloom tomatoes, quartered

½ red onions sliced very thinly

2-4 cloves fresh garlic

½ tsp sumac

Handful of mint and parsley leaves slivered

1 tsp sea salt

3 TB extra virgin olive oil

1 TB lemon juice

1 TB red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp zaatar (OPTION)

Prep all vegetables and mint leaves. Mash the garlic cloves with sea salt and 1 TB olive oil and then whisk in remaining oil, lemon juice, vinegar, sumac and zaatar. Toss with veggies and herbs.

OPTION: add ½ cup of pomegranate seeds

 

TABOULEH

1 cup uncooked fine bulghur

1 cup hot vegetable stock

1 tsp EVOO plus ¼ cup EVOO

1 cup diced tomato

2 peeled, seeded and diced cucumber

½ red onion, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves peeled, smashed and finely diced

½ bunch finely diced parsley

¼ cup finely diced fresh mint

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt flakes

½ tsp ground white pepper

Heat vegetable stock over high heat with EVOO. Put bulghur into a large bowl and pour the vegetable stock and 1 tsp EVOO over the top and mix well with a spoon. Seal the bowl with plastic wrap and let steam for 15 minutes. After bowl cools down, fluff bulghur with a fork so there are no clumps. Mash garlic cloves with sea salt and 1 TB EVOO; then whisk all the other wet ingredients in and mix with bulghur and vegetables.

 

MEATLESS LOAF

2 cups fine bulghur

1 cup tomato juice

1 1/4 cup vegetable stock

1 TB EVOO

1 tsp dried oregano

½ cup caramelized roasted onions

¼ cup caramelized roasted garlic

¼ cup diced roasted red peppers

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, diced

2 TB vegan butter

1 tsp herbal sea salt

1 tsp white pepper

½ tsp oregano

2 cups Roasted Tomato Soup (see previous post —)

Heat vegetable stock and tomato juice to boiling. Add one TB EVOO and ½ tsp oregano, Mix bulgur in thoroughly, cover with cling film and steam. Boil potatoes and mash with vegan butter

Mix steamed and fluffed bulgur with roasted onions, garlic, peppers, and potatoes, half of tomato soup and spices and seasonings. Put in casserole, cover and bake topped with remaining tomato soup poured over top for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover and bake ten minutes more.

OPTION: Add one roasted and peeled mashed eggplant to bulgur mix.

OPTION: Top with any vegan cheese after uncovering casserole in last ten minutes.

 

BAKED TOFU

2 blocks organic firm tofu

2 TB toasted sesame oil

2 TB tamari

1 TB rice wine vinegar

1 TB rice wine

1 garlic clove minced

3 TB finely minced shallots

1 tsp grated fresh gingerroot

3 TB water

1 tsp hot chili paste, more or less to taste

For best results, tofu should be “pressed” in order to remove excess liquid and absorb the flavors of the marinade. Press tofu blocks between two plates, weighted down with a cast iron pan, large bowl of water, or heavy cans, for about 30 minutes.  Halfway through, you may dump the plate of water and flip the tofu block. To make marinade, simply whisk together the ingredients in a bowl.  After tofu is pressed, cut the block into small cubes or triangles. Place pieces of tofu into baking dish, and cover with the marinade. The tofu can sit overnight in the marinade, or can be prepared right away Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake tofu about 35-45 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

 

CHANA MASALA

6 cups cooked garbanzo beans or chick peas

2 medium onions, peeled and diced very fine

½ cup roasted onion

6 cloves garlic, peeled and diced very fine

5-7 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 TB safflower oil

5 tbsp olive oil plus more as needed

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala

1 can coconut milk

3 Yukon Gold potatoes in a 1 inch dice

1 large can fire roasted Muir Glen tomatoes or about 10 tomatoes oven dried overnight

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup tomato juice

Clean carrots and oven roast them at a high heat with a little safflower oil until caramelized and brewing. In a large skillet or frying pan, sautée onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, Garbanzo beans, roasted onion, spices, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Add vegetable stock, tomato juice, and lemon juice, cover, and simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally; add can of coconut milk and more stock if needed.

 

TORTILLA SOUP

½ cup organic safflower oil

½ cup roasted yellow onion

¼ cup roasted garlic cloves smashed

1 TB vegan butter

1 TB blue corn meal

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

2 cup vegetable stock

2 cups tomato Juice

2 -3 canned chipotle chilies

2 chayote squash or zucchini sliced

1 cup corn

2 cups sliced green cabbage

TOPPINGS:  Fresh diced jalapenos, pickled jalapenos, white or red onion, cilantro, diced tomatoes,  vegan sour cream, fried corn tortilla strips, hot sauce

Pan sear squash and cabbage in one TB safflower until browning and set aside.

Pan roast corn in ¼ cup safflower oil adding cumin and chili powder and saute until aromatic and browning then set aside.

Add roasted onion and garlic to the pan with vegan butter and add blue corn meal to make a roux. When thick and bubbly add vegetable stock, chipotle chilies, tomato juice, reserved vegetables, oregano and heat through.

OPTION: add a cup of cooked pinto or black beans to last step

 

LENTIL DAL PATTIES

1 lb brown or red lentils

1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced

3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3 TB mild curry powder

8 roasted garlic cloves

1 cup roasted onion

1 cup peeled and shredded carrots

½- 1 cup quick oats, ground

3 TB rice flour

1 TB cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp turmeric

Safflower oil for frying

Rinse lentils, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for fifteen minutes. Strain. Put back in pot with vegetable stock just to cover, add potatoes, shredded carrots, ginger, fresh garlic, roasted onions, spices and seasonings. Cook until everything is cooked through. Set aside from heat and strain off any excess liquid; then add just enough ground oatmeal and rice flour to make the consistency of cookie dough. Be careful with the rice flour and add one TB at a time. Form into balls about one inch in diameter, flatten, and then sear in safflower oil. Serve with flatbread, coriander chutney, tatziki and greens, or over aromatic rice.

 

CORIANDER CHUTNEY

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
2 bunches fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh coconut, finely chopped

2 TB coconut oil
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1 inch fresh ginger minced

4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 Fresno chilies, seeded and minced
1 tsp superfine sugar
1 tsp sea salt flakes

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper

Clean cilantro thoroughly, stems and all. Pulse everything in a food processor until a thick paste.

 

AROMATIC RICE WITH ALLSPICE PERFUME

2 cups basmati rice

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp allspice

4 cups vegetable stock

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ cup EVOO

½ tsp salt

¼ cup caramelized onions

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup roasted cashews

 

Heat olive oil over low heat and sautée caramelized onions with spices and rice until rice is golden and spices are aromatic. Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Let cook for 15 minutes. Add raisins and cashews. Steam for about 10 more minutes.

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