No Croutons Required - The Winner for March

The theme for March was to come up with a spicy soup or salad along with menu suggestions to celebrate my birthday month. Thanks to everyone who submitted their recipes. The votes are in and Janet of The Taste Space wins the challenge this month with this mouthwatering Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards. Such a timely submission, as I am planning an Ethiopian feast in the near future. Congratulations Janet.

Jacqueline will be hosting the April edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Lentil Pomegranate Stew with Beets and Spinach

Spring seems to have finally arrived, but soups and stews are enjoyed in our household year round. The birds are chirping, the days are longer and the sun is shining after a rather dismal Canadian winter.

lentil bean pomegranate stew with beat and spinach

Inspired by Janet's Iraqi Pomegranate Stew (Shorbat Rumman), I came up with my own version of this delightful and nourishing dish. Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and combined with legumes and rice, along with spinach and some spice, this dish is bursting with flavour. Somewhat tangy, sweet and spicy with a hint of salty goodness, this is an ideal dish to serve to eager dinner guests who appreciate ethnic dishes as much as I do. I am thinking cooked red kidney beans would be a good substitute for the lentils if you want a more substantial stew - of course, a few adjustments would be necessary for the recipe. I have in mind my friends overseas who are headed into the winter season.

You may want to serve it with some crusty bread, along with a grain dish and a side salad for a extra dose of healthy goodness.

Lentil Pomegranate Stew with Beets and SpinachLentil Pomegranate Stew with Beets and Spinach
Recipe by
Adapted from The Taste Space
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Published on March 28, 2012

A rich. colorful and nourishing Iraqi stew that packs plenty of tangy, sweet and spicy flavors

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 small beets, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4- 5 sun-dried tomatoes
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • a few handfuls of spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and stir until brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Now add the jalapeños and spices, and stir for another minute. Next add the lentils and vegetable stock, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 40-50 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 - 30 minutes, then drain and chop. Set aside.

  • Add the beets and rice to the pan and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary. Stir in the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, lime juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and parsley. Simmer for another 10 - 15 minutes.

  • Add the spinach, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and serve, garnished with sprinklings of dill, ground cinnamon and black pepper.

Makes 4 - 6 servings
middle eastern lentil stew with beets

More Middle Eastern Recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Marinated Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus with Olives
Middle Eastern Chickpea and Olive Salad
Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup
Shakshouka (Tunisian Tomato & Pepper Stew with Eggs)

On the top of the reading stack: works by Shirley Jackson

Audio Accompaniment: Demdike Stare

Chickpea Salad with Chat Masala, Mango and Pomegranate Seeds

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
chickpea mango salad

Sweet and tart are the terms my husband used to describe this most healthy Indian chickpea salad with mango, spices and pomegranate seeds. Tangy chat masala pairs so well with the chickpeas and sweet tamarind and pomegranate seeds. Perfectly suitable for vegans as well as vegetarians, and if you serve this with rice (I am smitten right now with Jasmine rice) you are in for a balanced and satisfying meal. Easy to assemble once you are done the chopping and fight with the mango, this is one fine salad that would go well with almost any Indian entrée. If you want to fill out the meal, considering serving with some homemade rotis.

This salad is not too spicy and so might be a good introduction to dinner guests that are not used to many of the more fiery dishes so common to India. Decent quality chat masala blends are easily available at Indian and most Asian grocers, but I highly recommend making your own homemade spice powders when possible. The chat masala for this recipe I blended myself, and as for ground coriander the best way to make your dishes special and especially pleasing is to grind up your own coriander seeds as well. I've adapted this recipe from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra.

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My sweetie adores gingerbread. I looked through some of my cookbooks and baked this up for him as well as for my best friend. Easy to prepare and, although I am a savory gal myself, this must be one of the best gingerbread recipes I have ever tasted. You might want to serve it with fresh whipped cream or a cream cheese frosting, but my friend Basil said he enjoyed it more just on its own because he could get a better sense of the flavor. Either way, gingerbread fans won't want to pass this recipe up.


Adapted from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, a book that challenges politically correct nutrition and diet dictocrats, I am fortunate to own a copy of this. A vegetarian I will remain, but her recipes and researched advice is well worth the read. The use of preservatives, low-fat dairy and additives certainly contributes to poor health in the modern age. Not everything in our present time is a good thing, and looking back to ancient times is worthwhile sometimes. The book includes more than 700 recipes along with nutritional advice and guidance. No actual pictures, but some cute illustrations are included.

Recipe by
Adapted from Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats
Published on March 23, 2012

A rich, flavorful and healthy gingerbread treat made with fresh ginger

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  • 2 2/3 cups spelt flour
  • 2 cups whole fat yogurt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup Demerara sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Combine the flour and yogurt in a large bowl, and let stand at room temperature for 12 - 24 hours.

  • In another bowl, cream together the sugar, butter, molasses and eggs. Stir in the fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ground ginger, dry mustard, salt and baking powder. Transfer to the bowl with the flour and yogurt, and blend.

  • Butter and flour a 9 × 13 inch glass baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350°. Transfer all of the ingredients to the prepared pan and bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean.

  • Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 -15 minutes. Slice and serve with fresh whipped cream if desired.

Makes 8 - 16 servings
gingerbread with whipped cream

Other sweet treats you will enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chocolate Brownies with Fresh Ginger
Chocolate Nut Butter No Bake Fudge
Nigella's Fresh Gingerbread with Lemon Icing

On the top of the reading stack: Short stories and novels of Shirley Jackson

Audio Accompaniment: Klaus Schulze + Pete Namlook

No Croutons Required - Spicy Dishes and a Birthday Celebration

The theme for March was to come up with a spicy vegetarian soup or salad. March is my birthday month and my readers will know how much I crave spice at my dinner table. I also asked for suggestions from those who submitted a recipe to suggest what they would serve for me to go along with their dish. Certainly inspired creations here and thanks to everyone for their entries and best wishes. Please vote for your favorite dish in the comment section or via email. Do note that my submission is not in the vote.

First up is Janet of The Taste Space with this mouthwatering Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards. This is timely submission, as I have been planning an Ethiopian feast soon. Janet brings together traditional elements of Ethiopian cuisine and here we have coconut oil, red onion, garlic, ginger, berbere, squash, yellow split peas and collard greens. She would serve this along with Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce and finish off the meal with Moroccan Cinnamon Orange Salad and Raw Mango Paradise Bars. I couldn't ask for a better birthday meal. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Next up is Debby who posts at Cooking up a Storm in a Teacup. This inventive Mexican-style Green Lentil Chili Cocoa Soup is made up of celery, parsley, cabbage leaves, broccoli, carrot, green lentils, onion, garlic, harissa, chili flakes, some cocoa powder and served along with yogurt or creme fraiche or cream. This gorgeous dish would go along well with basmati rice and for dessert, Poached Pears with a Cinnamon, Cardamom and Rosemary Sauce. How's that for a special birthday meal? (Oxford, United Kingdom)

Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf submits this colorful Smoky Beet Tomato Soup that has me hungry right just now. I adore beets. Here they are combined with onions, tomatoes, roasted cumin powder, seasoning and topped with sour cream or creme fraiche or thick yogurt. Easy, tangy, smoky and slightly sweet, though Sweatha's menu suggestion is drafted with kids in mind, it sounds wonderful to me. To start with Caramelized Onion, Rosemary and Tomato Flatizza served with the soup and then for a main course, Peanut Butter Pasta and Tutti Frutti Bread and Strawberries and Cream for dessert. Yes please. (Bangalore, India)

Fuss Free Flavours is Helen Best-Shaw's motto and I agree. Just have a look at this Root Veg & Lentil Thai Coconut Soup that would surely please any birthday girl with a taste for spice. An adaptable soup that always is a great idea to make when you are focused on waste not want not, this satisfying soup consists of onion, carrots, parsnips, swede, Thai curry paste, red lentils, coconut milk and seasonings. Served with homemade butter on Root Vegetable Bread, I would not even need to ask for dessert. (West London, United Kingdom)

Janice is a Farmersgirl with much flare. She sends along this Curried Parsnip Soup that surely would be a good starter. Healthy parsnips, onion, curry paste and vegetable stock garnished with fresh parsley, this modest yet elegant soup is sure to delight your diners and stimulate their appetites. Followed with a Flemish Leek Tart and the meal finished with some Heavenly Meringues, certainly a happy birthday girl I would be.(Scotland, United Kingdom)

Next up is Karen of Lavender and Lovage with this gorgeous Spiced Red Lentil and Carrot Soup with Frazzled Onions. Spring is in the air, but such comforting soups are still in place for chilly evenings. Carrots are softened in rapeseed oil and then come together with red lentils, vegetable stock, cumin, Madras curry powder, frazzled onions and topped with creme fraiche. Served with Naan bread, this would be one delightful meal and a perfect way to celebrate a spicy girl's birthday. (France / England)

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe has been a long time supporter of NCR. She never disappoints and for my spicy request, she submits this mouthwatering Oriental Fried Noodle Salad. Based on a famous recipe, cabbage, capsicum, tofu bacon, spring onion and fried noodles are dressed with rice wine vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, soy sauce, raw sugar and chili paste. Served with her Spinach and Chickpea Burgers, corn on the cob and for dessert, a Honey, Yogurt and Chocolate cake, I would be in birthday heaven. (Melbourne, Australia)

Indian Bean Stew
My contribution this month is an Indian Bean Stew with a selection of legumes and spices. Black chickpeas, yellow chickpeas, kidney beans, mung beans and urad dal come together with a paste made up of onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeno pepper, cloves, red chilies, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and cayenne and simmered with tomatoes, curry leaves, asafoetida and coconut milk and garnished with fresh parsley. Serve with a bed of hot rice, some yogurt to cut the heat, Besan Roti and for dessert Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Mixed Berries. (London, Ontario, Canada)

Ruth of Makey-Cakey is now up. She cooked up this delicious Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup. This blended soup is made up of onion, carrots, tomatoes, a mixture of barley, red lentils, puy lentils and yellow split peas, cumin, turmeric, chili powder and olive oil. The menu suggestions is just divine. Ruth suggests serving this soup with Marinated Feta, some crusty Quick Cider Bread, a zingy Fennel Chickpea and Chili Salad, a Roasted Carrot and Cumin Dip and for dessert this tempting Upside Down Pear and Chocolate Cake. What a feast! (UK)

Our final entry is from Lyndsy who posts at Lauf(-) und Leckerei. Her first time cooking with fresh leeks, we have here an interesting and flavorful Leek and Apple Soup. Leeks are fried in olive oil and then paprika, caraway, turmeric liquid, vegetable broth, chili pepper, seasoning, lemon juice and apple come together in this soup and then garnished with fried buttered apple and dry toasted sunflower seeds. Served with some Couscous Poppers, this would certainly be a pleasing meal. Yes, please and cheese. (Freiberg, Germany)

Jacqueline will be hosting the April edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Homemade Vegetarian Thai Green Curry Paste

thai curry paste

After pad thai, green curry is one of Thailand's most famous contributions to world cooking. The paste from which it derives both its color and its name forms the base of a wide variety of vegetable and meat dishes in the form of stir fries, dry curries and soups. Commercial green curry pastes are easily available, but as time goes by I've more and more adopted the practice of making my own homemade pastes — just as with spice blends, the additional time spent preparing your own is rewarded with incredibly fresh, vibrant and authentic flavors and aromas that the commercial varieties can't really compete with.

And this green curry paste recipe is no exception — the aroma alone is astonishingly clear, pungent and exotic, and the taste is extraordinarily vivid. Green curry pastes are typically made with fish sauce and sometimes shrimp paste as well, so this homemade version presents another advantage to vegetarians.

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Mixed Bean Indian Stew

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Legumes are an important source of proteins for vegetarians, especially when combined or served alongside with grains, and give the body that needed boost of fibre. It is a shame that so many vegetarians and vegans rely on unfermented soy products and pasta. If you miss hotdogs and burgers, well maybe you should keep on eating the real thing instead of buying the processed alternatives that sort of taste like meat but pretty much contain only empty calories and additives. Not that wieners and greasy burgers are a good choice to include in your diet in the first place. Pasta is a good source of complex carbohydrates, but it should not be the mainstay of your diet either. We need to eat a variety of foods, including not only beans and grains, but fruits and vegetables as well. On my blog you will find lots of Indian vegetarian recipes that will nourish you and satisfy your palate. I am a versatile cook, and even if you don't enjoy Indian food there are plenty of other recipes that can grace your table.

Mixed bean Indian Stew with spices

This Indian-style stew contains a variety of legumes and, served along with rice or any Indian flatbread, is most satisfying indeed. I like my Indian dishes hot, and if you do too you may want to add a wee bit of fire paste to the pot near the end of the cooking time. Serve with some yogurt to temper the heat if desired.

This is my contribution to this month's No Croutons Required. To celebrate my birthday month, I am asking for spicy soups or salads along with menu suggestions. I will accept entries until the 20th of this month.

Mixed Bean Indian StewMixed Bean Indian Stew
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 16, 2012

A rich, dark and earthy, and filling spicy curry using a mix of beans for a contrast of tastes and textures

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  • 1/4 cup dried black chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup dried yellow chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup dried whole mung beans
  • 1/4 cup dried split skinless urad dal
    Indian paste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 8 - 10 whole cloves
  • 6 - 8 dried whole red chilies
  • 6-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • handful of dried curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
  • Rinse the beans well and soak overnight with enough water to cover. Drain and transfer to a large pot along with 3 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.

  • In a blender (I used my magic bullet), combine the onion, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, cloves, dried chilies, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin and cayenne. Blend until you have a smooth paste.

  • In a medium-sized skillet or saucepan, heat the ghee (or butter or oil) over medium heat. When hot, add the paste to the pan and stir and fry for 5 minutes. Now add the tomato, curry leaves, asafoetida and salt. Cook for another 8 - 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the cooked sauce to the beans, along with the coconut milk and simmer for another 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary to reach your desired consistency.

  • Garnish with parsley or coriander and serve hot.

Makes 6 - 8 servings
Indian mixed bean curry

More Indian legume recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chickpea Vindaloo
Dal Kootu
Mung Bean Paneer
Spicy Mung Bean Soup with Coconut Milk

On the top of the reading stack: cookbooks

Audio Accompaniment: Mutek stuff

Puy Lentil and Tomato Soup

puy lentil soup

Dark green-brown with fine bluish speckles, Puy lentils are always an attractive item in the pantry and an even more attractive option for quick but elegant soups and salads. Also known as French green lentils, these little lentils have a subtle earthy and peppery flavor and hold their shape perfectly when cooked, looking like little brown pearls in this simple, fast and wonderfully fragrant tomato and dried herb soup.

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Lemon Curd Oatmeal

oatmeal with lemon curd

Oatmeal porridge was a staple breakfast food for previous generations of Canadians, and it's so quick and easy to make in the morning that there's no reason why it shouldn't become a staple for this hurried generation as well. Naturally sweet and soothing with a delightful nuttiness, oats are the perfect grain for starting the day, loaded with good energy, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, fiber and B vitamins. Instant oats ought to be avoided not only as an almost misnomer — cooking regular rolled or steel-cut oats take hardly any more time at all — but because most of the nutrients are lost during a high temperature precooking stage, and the results contain preservatives and artificial sweeteners. Rolled or steel-cut oats, meanwhile, are almost as good as using the whole oat groats, because they've only been lightly processed with a very light steaming and rolling or cutting. The time saved is a matter of mere minutes, compared to a significant loss of the natural taste and nutritional value of oats.

Oats are also so easy to dress up with fresh or dried fruit, nuts, butter, milk or cream, or sweetened with maple syrup or brown sugar. But I've found a new breakfast treat now — stir a spoonful of homemade lemon curd into your hot oatmeal for a delightfully sweet and fresh lemony experience. Enjoy your oats!

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Other fresh morning ideas for lemon curd and oats from Lisa's Kitchen:
Oat Porridge for Two
Oat Porridge and Fruit
Chai Spice Oatmeal
Lemon Curd Ricotta Pancakes

White Bean and Mushroom Soup with Butternut Squash and Kale

white bean mushroom soup

There are three things that get me through a chilly Canadian winter — a warm blanket and a warm cat both spread on my lap, shivering glances at the calendar waiting for the pages to turn, and a hot steaming bowl of a thick homemade bean and vegetable soup. This soup is just the thing on those days when the winter wind swirls about the house looking for a crack to get through — hearty and nutritious white beans and butternut squash surrounded by a rich and lightly spiced mushroom broth and healthy slices of wilted kale, it's a great way to warm you up and fill you up before composing yourself under some more nice warm blankets for the evening. Apart from some chopping preparation, it's a fast and simple soup to make and enjoy.

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Urad Dal with Toor Dal and Spinach and Parsley

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
urad dal with toor dal and spinach

I adore simple but flavorful dal soups that are easy to digest. The most time consuming process for this recipe is the preparation, but even that won't take long. A creamy and spicy dish that pairs well with rice and naan bread. I always enjoy cooking Indian vegetarian dishes. The aromas are soothing and stimulate the appetite. That is also a reason why I enjoy visiting Indian grocery stores. There is always something new to explore and add to my overstuffed kitchen, and you will find all the ingredients you need for this recipe there.

I adapted this recipe from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra. I have written about this book in the past and often find myself pulling it off the shelf when I am not quite sure what to make for dinner. Though not strictly vegetarian, those who don't eat meat will be sure to find lots of dishes to please their palates and vegans won't be disappointed either. How could you be when you have so many recipes included between the covers?

The book features tried and true recipes from various regions of India including not only main dishes, but spice blends, sides (including rice dishes and vegetable dishes), chutneys and pickles, appetizers and snacks, salads, breads, desserts and beverages. This is one book you will not want to be without, whether you are a seasoned Indian cook or just learning about the unique and varied dishes that originate from and are inspired by Indian cuisine. The suggested menu selections, introductions to the recipes, description of kitchen basics and glossary are very helpful and informative.

Urad Dal with Toor Dal and Spinach and ParsleyUrad Dal with Toor Dal and Spinach and Parsley
Recipe by
Adapted from 1,000 Indian Recipes
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 6, 2012

A simple, creamy and spicy Indian dal curry great for serving as a light dinner with rice or naan bread

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  • 3/4 cup skinless urad dal, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup toor dal or chana dal, rinsed
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 pound spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 - 4 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • dash of mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon garam masala or goda masala for garnish
  • In a large pot, combine the dals, water, turmeric and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the dal is soft , about 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary.

  • Now add the spinach to the pot, along with most of the parsley (reserve a little for garnish) and continue to cook until the spinach is wilted, about 15 minutes.

  • Heat the ghee or oil in a medium-sized saucepan or frying pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds and stir and fry until they darken a few shades. Add the onion to the pan and stir and fry until the onion is golden. Next add the chilies, garlic, ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, fenugreek seeds, paprika, asafetida, mustard powder and salt. Stir and fry for a minute, then add the tomatoes. Continue to cook until this mixture thickens up. Transfer to the pot with the dal and spinach and mix well.

  • Serve hot and garnish with garam masala or goda masala and the remaining parsley.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

urad dal with toor dal and spinach and parsley

More Indian split bean recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Urad Dal with Tomatoes, Spices and Coconut
Urad Dal with Fresh Fenugreek
Spicy Vegetable Korma with Chana Dal in a Cashew Coconut Tomato Sauce
Tarka Dal

On the top of the reading stack: "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat

Audio Accompaniment: Kasper Bjørke

Blue Cornmeal Bread with Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Jalapeños

Whenever I am treated to a visit from my charming and cherished father-in-law, I like to treat him to something from my kitchen. He always enjoys my baked goods and, like me, is a fan of cornmeal. I drafted this recipe after some brainstorming. Quick breads like this are a speciality of mine. If you can't find blue cornmeal, use yellow cornmeal instead.

blue cornmeal bread with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and hot peppers

A moist cornbread that packs a bit of a punch, baking the jalapeños results in a slightly sweet flavor that reduces the heat and the goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes lend a delightful, rather understated tartness to the bread. Easy to prepare, and for best results use a seasoned cast-iron skillet. All you need to do to season a cast-iron skillet is to grease the pan with some oil and chuck it into the oven for about an hour at 300°. Let the pan cool and wipe off any excess oil. It is also important to note that if you need to wash your cast iron-skillet in dishwater instead of wiping it down, make sure to dry it right away to prevent rust. As well, seasoning it every once in a while helps to make this a perfect non-stick pan. Generally speaking, teflon skillets should be avoided because as they age, little bits of the toxic chemical component of teflon break up and leak into your food.

cornbread with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes

Blue Cornmeal Bread with Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and JalapenosBlue Cornmeal Bread with Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Jalapeños
Recipe by
Published on March 4, 2012

A moist and ever-so-slightly sweet cornbread packed with sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeños and tart goat cheese

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  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup blue cornmeal
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 14 oz can of creamed corn (or 1 1/4 cups homemade creamed corn)
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 - 5 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and finely chopped
  • 5 1/2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • dash of cayenne
  • Preheat an oven to 375°. Butter a cast-iron skillet or 13 × 9 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat with an handheld mixer or stand mixer until creamy. Now add the cornmeal to the bowl and beat until blended. Add the eggs, one at at time, beating well after each addition.

  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir and add to the bowl with the butter, eggs and cornmeal and beat until well combined. Now stir in the creamed corn, yogurt, jalapeno peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and cayenne.

  • If you are using a cast-iron skillet, heat the buttered skillet in the oven for about 5 minutes. Add more butter to the pan and transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Let sit for 15 - 20 minutes, cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 6 -8 servings

More cornmeal recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Corn Cakes with Blue Cheese and Honey
Cornmeal Crusted Chili
Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Polenta Croutons

On the top of the reading stack: Simply South by Chandra Padmanabhan

Audio Accompaniment: Orphx and other Mutek sounds

February Indian Vegetarian Recipe Roundup

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
As far as I am concerned, one can never have enough Vegetarian Indian recipes on hand. Though I own many high quality Indian cookbooks, I come across a plethora of wonderful creations from my fellow bloggers and so invited them to share one of their favorites this month. A lucky random contributor will receive a copy of Sukham Ayu by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain at my expense. This incredible book will be sure to inspire enthusiastic lovers of Indian cuisine. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this event. Bon Appétit. And now for the entries:

Up first is Janet of The Taste Space with this Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas (Baingan Bharta with Chickpeas) that she adapted from a dish she tried after enjoying it at a friend's party. This blend of "smokey, sultry tomatoes and eggplant" with savory spices sounds and looks simply divine.

My contribution to the event are these rather fancy, but easy to prepare Chickpea Flour Dumplings Simmered in a Spicy Yogurt Sauce. One of my spicier dishes, feel free to tone down the heat but if you enjoy Indian hot as much as I do you won't want to miss out on this dish.

Ramya of My Little Cake Factory submits a Tomato Rice (Veg Pulav) that was inspired by one of her dear family members. Rice is essential to an Indian diet and this one is an ideal choice, especially if you have veggies in the fridge that you need to use up. The spicing here is perfect and even those that live in a household that is not strictly vegetarian will be unable to resist this flavourful and healthy dish.

Rosh of Chef Al Dente shares this recipe for Sarso bina Saag. Inspired by a traditional Punjab classic, mustard greens shine in this easy to prepare healthy dish. Certainly an inspiration to try mustard greens and I will be hunting some down soon to go along with my Makki Di Roti.

Celestial Dragon and the Divine Cherry collectively known as El Pasticcio work their magic and come up with this Bombay Aloo that will surely open up a whole new world for those just beginning to explore the delights, aromas and tastes of Indian cooking in their own kitchen.

A new to me dish - I so love the variety and versatility of Indian cuisine. Ambika of Yen Samayal Arai offers up these Ragi(Finger Millet) Dosa(Crepes) with Kaara with a spicy chutney dip. And we have a small tip: "Rub a cut onion on the tava (if you wish you can use just brush a drop of oil on the onion)if you wish to avoid oil in dosa to get crisp dosa".

Delicio8 comes up with an unexpected dinner after her housemate devoured the leftovers that were supposed to be served for dinner. Surely these filling non-traditional Aloo Paratha made for a delightful and filling meal.

Ambika of Ambika's Kitchen shares this most cherished and traditional recipe for Homemade Rice Papadum (Elai Vadam) that she learned from her mother-in-law. Though a laborious process, even with the help of family members or friends, I am sure these South Indian snacks are well worth the effort. I wish I could help Ambika in the kitchen to learn how to make these.

Priya (Ms. Rosemary) who posts at Goddess of Spice tempts my taste buds with this Paalak Kadhi. Yogurt, chickpea flour, veggies and of course spices come together for a perfect dish that would grace any table and impress your dinner guests.

Corina of Searching for Spice offers up a most mouthwatering Capsicum Subzi. This quick and easy Indian-style stir-fry surely is a good choice for a quick and healthy dinner, especially when served with some rice.

Anjali of Spice n Sugar Tales has me drooling over this Milky Carrot Fudge. A divine sight indeed, even this savory girl could not resist this rather sweet halva. "The carrots go very soft and they drink milk like drunkards left with bottomless beer".

My dear friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes presents this heavenly Aloo Gobhi. I could not resist this home-style combination of potatoes, cauliflower and spices. Of course, spicy girl that I am, I would indeed add more chilies as Jac notes.

I really do need to explore eggplant more often and lovely Soma of eCurry certainly has me wanting to dash off to the kitchen or to her table to try these Harissa Stuffed Eggplants. An indulgent dish and usually served in her household on special occasions, this is one dish that should be on your list of Indian vegetarian recipes to try.

Reeta of Mykaleidoscope shares her mom's Desi-style Pasta dish. Bursting with flavour, and especially good with homemade pasta, this surely is a weekend special. Serve with rice or dal or roti for a delightful meal.

Asmita, a Compulsive Foodie, is up next with Green mixed vegetables “Sai Bhaji”. When she first saw this dish, she cringed at the "green mush" that was put before her, but ended up loving this healthy and flavorful dish that includes lentils. Comforting and satisfying, you can't go wrong with this easy to prepare meal that goes well with rice or bread.

Ramya bakes up one of my favorites - Homemade Naan Bread baked on a tawa. I have always wanted to make my own naan breads and this recipe is certainly an inspiration and they can be cooked in the oven too. No doubt making this staple Indian bread at home is far better than the offerings of most Indian restaurants.

Jayanthi of Sizzlingveggies celebrates with this festive South Indian Avial. This vegetable dish is packed with goodness and to be enjoyed with rice or Adai (lentil crepes).

Eggplant is certainly enjoyed by many Indian cooks and this Eggplant Dish in a Peanut Butter Gravy certainly caught my interest. I really enjoy using peanut butter in savory dishes and Christy of My Kitchen Flavors provides us with a dish that goes well with rice or your favorite Indian flatbread.

I can never resist chickpeas and so we have this offering of Chole Palak from Geetha of Sun Moon and Tomatoes. Quick to mix up, and packed full of healthy ingredients and spinach too and a delightful array of spices, this is one dish that will for sure grace your table.

Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this event. I will likely be hosting another on in the future.

Congratulations to Jayanthi who was picked as the random winner. She submitted a South Indian Avial.