The authors of World Food Cafe, Chris & Carolyn Caldicott, are vegetarians who travelled the globe in the early 1990’s compiling recipes for the present-day World Food Cafe restaurant located in the UK.
In their travels through the Middle East, the authors’ describe one of their favorite dishes was found in the meat-centric country of Oman where highway rest stops would dish out “…eggplant in pureed date and yogurt sauce, and mounds of rose water rice.”Eggplant in a Pureed Date Sauce
My take is very simple, quick and could be made into a meal served with plain unsweetened soy or coconut yogurt (or homemade cashew cream, recipe follows), peanuts, rice and chickpeas: Add to a saute pan, 1 peeled & cubed eggplant + 1 red onion chopped. Blend 1 TBS fresh lemon juice with 4 pitted Medjool dates along with 1 cup vegetable broth and add to pan. Saute on low for 30 minutes until the eggplant is falling apart. Add a touch of water if sticking.Cashew Cream: Soak 1 cup raw cashews between 2 hours-overnight. Drain and rinse the cashews then add to a blender (high-powered will come out smoother) or a food processor along with 3-4 TBS water. Start with less water adding more to get the cream blending. Less water = thicker cream. This cream is delicious mixed into smoothies, stirred into hot cocoa or in processed frozen banana “soft serve”.😊
Now to the tropical southern Thailand peninsula where Thai basil and eggplant, coconut curries, & fresh spicy pastes abound. While in the Gulf of Thailand the Caldicotts stayed in inexpensive huts on the beach, cooking off of a “paraffin” (kerosene) stove outside their hut to save money, and shopping at nearby markets in search of Thai-based ingredients with which to cook their meals.
Curry pastes can be made fresh using Thai ingredients like “…lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal, black pepper, basil, ginger, tamarind, coconut milk, peanuts, & cilantro.” I cut corners to save time using store-bought curry paste and leftover potatoes.
For this hearty, ready-in-10-minute curry: Saute in a soup pot (or a deep skillet) 1 large minced shallot, pinch of peeled fresh ginger minced (optional), 1/4 chopped fresh jalapeno (optional) & 3 cloves garlic + 1/2 block of tempeh diced into cubes (I used Trader Joe’s brand). Let this mix cook for about 5 minutes (I use Tamari–a low-sodium & gluten-free soy sauce–about 2 TBS + sprinkling veggie broth when sticking).
Next add 1 cup (+ maybe 1/2 cup more) of veggie broth & turn up the heat until it boils then to a low simmer adding 5 tsp of curry paste (I used Thai & True panang curry paste found at Whole Foods), a few handfuls of chopped sugar snap or snow peas, 1-2 small pre-cooked potatoes (I used golden) cubed, and 1 cup of cooked kidney beans. Turn heat up again for 3 minutes then down to low & add a can of coconut milk, simmering until warm (without letting it boil).Enjoy this soup over freshly chopped spinach, rice, a squirt of fresh lime, and Sriracha sauce.
Mixed Vegetable Curry with Tomato Sauce & Chickpeas:
This around-the-world recipe is from India but with an American twist (to ease prep time): I used curry powder instead of a blend of spices to make the curry; I didn’t make a chutney garnish but chopped up some dates for sweetness; and instead of the yogurt garnish called ratia, I made cashew cream with lightly toasted cumin seeds (recipe found here).
Indian food reflects my style of cooking with the staple foods consisting of beans/lentils, vegetables, fruits & grains. Bread or chapati is often used for soaking up the sauce from the curry or dipping in the lentils (my husband likes this).😊
Dishes usually include several sides of garnish that are made in many different ways: Chutney can be a sweet add-in to a dal or curry, or used as a dip, and raita is a cool yogurt side that sometimes has cucumber and toasted cumin seeds stirred in. These side dishes help sweeten & cool the taste buds from the spicy hot dishes.
For this veggie curry I used onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, 4 tsp curry powder, pinch cayenne, 2 zucchini, 2 peeled eggplant, head of cauliflower, & 4 cups chopped spinach. I cooked all of this in a soup pot with about 1 cup water for 30-40 minutes. I made the tomato sauce separately then added after the curry was cooked along with 1 15-oz can rinsed/drained garbanzo beans. Note: I could not locate the original, so the photo I used for this curry recipe is of a slightly modified version found here. Super fast tomato sauce: Blend 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes + 1 6-oz can tomato paste in a bowl or heat up in a small pot.
Cookbook: For more books on around-the-world recipes made easy check out Robin Robertson’s array of global vegan cookbooks.
Here’s my take on another Lentil & Veggie Soup: Mixed Vegetable Red Lentil Soup: Blend 1 can of diced tomatoes, small chunk of peeled fresh ginger & 1/4 jalapeno (or more to taste) to make a tomato puree and set aside.
In a large soup pot, chop then saute: 1/2 red onion (or a whole is fine), 3 zucchini, about 2 cups green beans, 1 head of cauliflower, 1.5 tsp chili powder & a pinch of asafetida (aids in digestion). Cook this covered for 5 minutes with a bit of water if sticking. Add the tomato puree and cook for 5 more minutes.
Pick thru and rinse 1 cup split red lentils while tomato mix is cooking. Add to the pot along with 3 cups water. Have 2 more cups hot water to pour in as needed. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 30-40 minutes until the red lentils break apart and are almost mushy & vegetables are well-cooked. This will give the flavors a chance to come together.
I also do a quick dry roast of 1 tsp mustard seeds + 1 tsp cumin seeds in a small pan (roast on low heat until they pop or until flavors are released– careful not to burn) which I add at the end. Squeeze fresh lemon juice & hot sauce if desired. Serve with warm flatbread.
Chilean Porotos Granados
Google translation = “Bean Stew”.
This recipe dates back to the pre-Columbian Mapuche Indians, who were mostly vegetarian and whose staple diet consisted of potatoes, corn, squash & beans. The ingredients are typically fresh cranberry beans, corn, basil, and pumpkin.
I went with my particular taste (cleaning out my pantry in the process) and made a delicious stew in just 30 minutes using fresh in-season corn (thawed frozen corn can be subbed) white beans, tomatoes, & canned pumpkin.
Earlier in the day I made a “pebre” or a garnish of fresh herbs and spicy chiles. It’s best to make this in advance to allow the flavors to come together. I used parsley, lime, jalapeno, garlic, and onion.
Three websites I referred to:
- Smithsonian Magazine’s article on “Best Vegetarian Foods of the World“
- Hungry Sofia’s Porotos Granados recipe
- A little background lesson on the Mapuche Indians and the origin of Porotos Granados.
Colorful Vegan’s 30-Minute White Bean & Corn Stew (with a spicy garnish recipe to follow):
1 large sweet or yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 TBS paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, crushed with a knife
1 can no-salt diced tomatoes
1.5 cups (or more to taste) of fresh corn (from 2 cobs)
1 cup of canned pumpkin
2 cups of cooked white beans
1.5 cups vegetable broth or water (I usually have a fresh vegetable boiling in salted water that I use as my broth. Last night’s broth was from fresh green beans).
In a soup pot, on medium heat, saute the first 5 ingredients for 5 minutes adding broth or oil to keep from sticking. Pour in the tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring often. Next add the corn, canned pumpkin, beans, and broth and turn the heat on low for 30 minutes.
Recipe makes 3 large bowls or 4 small.
1/4 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno (keep seeds only if you like mega-spicy) Note: Use disposable kitchen gloves for chiles or wash hands thoroughly after handling hot chiles.
3/4 juice from 1 lime (or 3 TBS)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup water
Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender except water. Process into a fine texture. Alternatively, all ingredients can be finely minced and combined in a bowl with a whisk.
Transfer the garnish into a jar with a lid and store in fridge. Should stay fresh for about 3-5 days.