Vegan baked biryani {gluten-free, soy-free}

This was actually going to be a quinoa biryani, but when I started experimenting with rice, I realised using quinoa would compromise the dish. It just won’t cut it the same way basmati rice does.

I love this biryani because it’s a one pot ‘set and forget’ wonder! All you need to do is start cooking it on the stove then transfer to the oven where it will do it’s thing. A meal this easy feels like cheating.

I recently discovered chat masala at a Indian cooking class I went to and now I’m using it on everything. If you don’t have it, you can omit it.

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Vegan baked biryani {gluten-free, soy-free}
Serves 4-6

1 tbsp cumin seeds
5 green cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon quill
1 dried chilli
1 red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
2 carrots, diced
200g green beans, ends removed and halved
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups basmati rice
Handful toasted cashews
Handful raisins or sultanas
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tbsp dairy-free butter
Spring onion, to serve
Chat masala, to serve
Homemade chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Heat some oil in a dutch oven over a medium heat on the stove. Add spices and let cook until fragrant. Then add onion and cook until it becomes translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Next, add carrot, green beans, salt and pepper, bay leaf and rice, stir to combine. Then carefully pour in 6 cups of filtered water. Stir, then bring to a boil.

Cover with oven-proof lid or sheet of foil and place in the oven for 20 minutes.

At this point, give it a quick stir to make sure rice isn’t catching on the bottom. If it is, or the rice is getting a bit too dry, add around 1/4 cup water.

Add cashews, raisins, peas and dairy-free butter. Mix through and return to oven, uncovered for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve with finely chopped spring onions, a sprinkle of chat masala and homemade chutney.

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Vegan summer palak paneer | Easy sheet pan dinner

I’ve been on a mission recently: to find vegan sheet pan dinners that can save me on weeknights. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. There’s plenty of chicken sheet pan dinners, plenty of taco ones and plenty of nacho ones, but very few are vegan, and more interesting than roasted vegetables.

Sometimes I make the marinade from this recipe and turn it into a veganised palak paneer, which is what I started doing last week when I realised I could turn it into an easy sheet pan dinner. The first attempt wasn’t so great – I undercooked the mushrooms, burnt the marinade and added too much coconut milk. But every attempt since has been simply delicious. And guess what? It only takes 35 minutes.

This palak paneer is probably quite different to what you’ve seen and eaten. My take on the Indian classic is light, fresh and vibrant – the perfect food to enjoy on a hot summer’s day. The umami and saltiness of the marinade meets the sweetness of the red onion and cherry tomatoes.

Sheet pan palak paneer

Vegan summer palak paneer
Serves 2

200g organic, non-GMO tofu, sliced into rectangles
4 tbsp + 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, divided
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup filtered water
1 red onion, halved and sliced
12 cherry tomatoes
100g baby spinach
3-4 tbsp coconut milk

Heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Place the tofu in a shallow bowl and add 4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt and water. Mix until combined well and tofu is coated.

Place the tofu on a greased oven tray. Add the red onion and cherry tomatoes, and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Remove tray from the oven and add baby spinach to the pan. Don’t mix it through yet as it will wilt down in the oven.

After 10 more minutes of cooking time, remove tray and mix everything around. Gently push your spoon on the tomatoes – they should be soft enough that their juices ooze out.

Drizzle the coconut oil onto the pan and the ingredients, then sprinkle additional 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes and return the pan to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve atop some fresh spinach on a bed of steamed basmati rice.

Vegan tarka dal

Our home is coming along. The American walnut floating shelves are almost finished, which means my cookbooks will soon have their forever home and the next nook of our house will be complete.

I know I’ve already posted a dal recipe on here previously but stay with me on this one, because that was before this tarka dal was born. I thought my hidden veg dal was good but I don’t always have eggplant handy. If I’m going to make dal without much in the way of extra veg, I have to make sure it has lots of flavour. There’s no point having dal if it doesn’t have layers upon layers of flavour… that’s where my recipe for tarka dal comes in.

Tarka dal ingredients rTarka dal r

Vegan tarka dal
Serves 4

1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3cm piece of ginger, finely grated
8 curry leaves
3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours
1 cup yellow split peas, washed and soaked for 2 hours
3 cups filtered water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
Fresh coriander

Heat coconut oil in a saucepan then cook mustard and cumin seeds until fragrant. Add onions to the pan and let caramelise.

Add garlic, ginger and curry leaves to the pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, cashews, turmeric and chilli powder, then add lentils, split peas, water and salt. Stir until combined.

Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer for approx. 30 minutes or until lentils and split peas have softened. Stir occasionally to avoid it catching on the bottom of the saucepan. Mix through garam masala and cook a further 5-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and use a hand blender to blitz the tomatoes and cashews.

Serve with fresh coriander and basmati rice.

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal

The sunroom is my favourite room in the house, especially in winter. Golden rays of sun filter through the windows and make me feel like I myself am a glowing beam of sun. I notice a difference in how I feel when I sit in this room, I feel really good. And then I look at my plant children around me and I feel really happy. If they’re thriving from living in the sunroom then I must be thriving, too. I’m pretty glad about that, because I am about to turn another year older. 

I’ve been on the hunt for the best dal recipe for years. I wanted one that had more depth to its flavour. The simple ones I had tried were too one dimensional in taste, while the complicated recipes were not worth my time. I was reading a recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt  recently where he recommended roasting eggplant, removing the skin and blitzing it up to add to ramen. I wondered if it would work for dal so I gave it a shot. I wanted this dal to be really flavoursome so I decided to pierce the skin of the eggplant before roasting and stuffed it with garlic cloves. 

Did it work? You bet it did. 

Dal 2rDal r

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal
Serves 4

1 1/2 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours (if timing allows)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 litre filtered water
1 bay leaf
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
1 eggplant, pierced and stuffed with 4-6 peeled garlic cloves then roasted for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala

Tip lentils into a medium saucepan. Cover with the water and add turmeric and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water has reduced and the lentils are soft.

After roasting the eggplant, remove its skin and mash the flesh in a bowl, ensuring the garlic is mashed and mixed well. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and allow it to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until fragrant then add curry leaves and stir for 1 minute.

Tip the onion mix into the saucepan of red lentils and stir. Add mashed eggplant, salt and garam masala and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season further if required.

Serve with brown rice, fresh herbs and tamarind chutney.