Monthly Archives: April 2010


What a complex blend of flavours!

This lentil and vegetable dish is absolutely divine: red lentils, coconut milk, carrots, garlic, mint, cardamom, cinnamon, curry, cumin, cilantro and even paneer!

Can it get any better?

Well, just wait until you taste it!

I have had Troth Wells’ The World in Your Kitchen since I moved to Calgary in the early 1990’s and after tasting the dish that I made tonight I have regrets.

I regret not making this dish sooner.

On cool and rainy spring day this dish was just what I needed.  I had enjoyed a warming bowl of vegetarian chili for lunch at the Upper Crust, before having to slog back to work with a firm grip on the edge of my umbrella so the wind wouldn’t take it away.  After walking home from the bus stop tonight, this dish had the same warming effect (or perhaps it was because I kept standing over the hot stove  sampling the Dhansak as it simmered away)!

I cooked and ate alone tonight, as EPC was out with a friend for dinner.  I am sure that he had a great time, but I think once he gets a taste of what I had for dinner he may have regrets as well.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced and quartered
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup red lentils, cooked *see instructions below
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons, fresh mint, chopped
1 cup of paneer cheese
2 tablespoons of cashews
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • Heat the oil over medium heat and stir fry the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon stick, and m pods for a few seconds.
  • Add the onion, garlic and carrot and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes
  • Add the tomatoes and bell peppers.  Raise the heat and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the cooked lentils, curry powder, coconut milk, cilantro, mint and salt and stir well.
  • Add the paneer and cashews and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and stir before serving

*Rinse and drain the lentils.  Put them in a pot with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender – about 20 minutes.  Drain and reserve.

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Layered Vegetable and Polenta Casserole

It took me a while to get into polenta.

I love things with cornmeal, but seeing a log of polenta at the grocery store made it look very unappetizing.  Polenta was one cornmeal specialty that I needed to warm up to.

This weekend, I decided to throw away my polenta reservations and concoct a Layered Vegetable Polenta Casserole in response to a suggestion at the bottom of a  basic polenta recipe in one of my cookbooks.  I was feeling pretty lazy, so instead of making my own polenta I  picked up a 1 pound log of polenta from the grocery store.  Not that polenta is difficult to make, but slicing the polenta into rounds for my casserole would be even easier!

I decided to go with a tomato marinara type sauce and went with zucchini, eggplant and yellow pepper with a bit of feta cheese.  Eggplant really brings a nice texture to baked vegetable dishes, a contrast to the crunch of the pepper and zucchini.

The feta cheese added a nice salty tang to the dish, but looked rather uninspiring.  The goat’s milk feta that I bought neither crumbled or melted well.  Next time, I will use a blend of Italian cheeses.

Aside from that, it turned out wonderful and EPC even stated that he felt the polenta was the best part.  I would have to agree, I savoured each bite and went back for seconds.

With my polenta apprehension a thing of the past, I think you will be seeing a lot more of it at Cookbook Cooks.

Layered Vegetable and Polenta Casserole

1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Japanese eggplant, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
28 ounce can diced tomato
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili peppers
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2-3/4 pound of polenta (sold in 1 pound round)
175 g of crumbled feta cheese, or a generous 1 cup of shredded cheese of your choice

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and continue to saute for 3 minutes, stirring often so the garlic does not stick.
  • Add zucchini, eggplant and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano and chilies.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°C
  • Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch rounds
  • Cover the bottom of a 2 quart casserole dish with a thin layer of sauce (be careful  not to use more than 1/3). Top with a layer of polenta.  Top with half the remaining sauce and half the cheese.  Top with another layer of polenta, sauce and cheese.
  • Bake at 350°C for 20-25 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

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Thai Chickpea Curry

I borrowed Vatcharin Bhumichitr’s Thai Vegetarian Cooking from my Mom a few years ago when I was visiting her and my Dad and I still have it.

I haven’t delved too far into the cookbook.  In fact, I think I have only made 4 recipes, but the recipe that I am going to share with you today gives this book its deserving place on my cookbook shelf.  This is recipe is so great that Lorna Sass adapted it for her wonderful book Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure.  You can find Lorna’s pressure cooker version of this recipe here.

The first words out of my husband’s mouth, after he finished chewing and swallowing were, “if I got this at a restaurant I would be really happy!”  (That means he really likes the dish).  The funny thing is I have made this dish a few times before, but he can’t remember.  Which brings me to a cute habit that my husband has.  He keeps a little notebook on his dresser where he writes down the recipes that I have made (or that he has made) that he really likes.  That way he won’t forget about them.  Since starting this blog we have rarely eaten the same thing twice and I think that he figures that with every dish I am delving into new uncharted territory.

I guess for Thai food, this is uncharted territory. Having chickpeas, or any bean, in a dish is quite unusual for Thai food.  I can say I have never seen a dish with chickpeas or any other bean on the menu at a Thai restaurant.  Vatcharin came across this recipe at a forest monastery west of Bangkok, so although not a common Thai recipe, it certainly is as authentic as it is delicious.

The recipe calls for coriander roots and, as I am sure you can imagine, these are difficult to find.  If I do find them at all, there is often just a small nub of the root left attached to the stalk, so you need to use quite a few of these nubs to equal 2 roots.  Personally, I do not find that the flavour is lacking without the roots, so you can avoid a special trip to the Asian market to search them out and just go ahead without.

Thai Chickpea Curry

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 coriander roots, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 400 ml can of light or regular coconut milk
1 tablespoon of curry powder
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

10 basil leaves, coarsely chopped

  • Using a mortar and pestle pound the garlic, peppercorns and coriander roots, if using, to form a paste.
  • Heat the oil and fry the paste for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the coconut and stir well.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, bring to boil and simmer, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the basil leaves and stir until wilted.
  • Serve over brown rice.

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Moroccan Inspired Vegetable Stew

Feel like you could use more vegetables in your diet, but the thought of a plate full of veggies isn’t enticing enough for you to move from thought to action?

Well then, this stew is for you!

I adapted this recipe from a cookbook I signed out from the library, The Shoshoni Cookbook by Anne Saks and Faith Hill.  The recipes in this cookbook are based on the meals served at the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat just outside of Boulder, Colorado.  I guess the guests were always asking for their recipes, so they decided to put out a cookbook.  This is the first of three Shoshoni cookbooks.

Lots of yam, potato, turnip, eggplant, bell pepper, celery, zucchini and tomatoes make up the body of this stew – with a can of chickpeas tossed in for protein.  It is very low in fat, but the fibre-rich vegetables and chickpeas mean you leave the table satisfied and full.

I think it is the combination of Moroccan inspired spices mingling with the sweet dates and tangy lemon that make this dish so delicious.  Although it sounds exotic, it is a simple dish and if you get right down to chopping it can be ready in almost the same amount of time as it takes to make a pot of brown basmati rice.

Moroccan Inspired Vegetable Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup yam, peeled and cubed
1 cup turnip, peeled and cubed
1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup eggplant, peeled and diced
1/2 cup water
1 medium zucchini, cubed
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 yellow pepper, diced
3 tomatoes chopped
1 19 ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon corriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup dates, chopped (dried prunes would be nice as well)
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste

  • In a large saucepan heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic until transparent.
  • Add the yam, eggplant, potato, and water.  Cover and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the remaining vegetables, chickpeas and dates and saute until tender, but not mushy.
  • Add the seasonings and stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes

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