Yes, I am a vegan dum dum, and thanks to the amazing blog, Vegan Yum Yum for existing so I could mock myself in the title. I’ve never gone out of my way to cook or bake vegan, but I’m sure I’ve turned out a few dishes, such as a vegetable something or other, that could be placed in the vegan category. Let me tell you, it is tough to cook something vegan, especially considering the fact that I’m a butter drenched carnivore.
I love Indian food, but this challenge was far removed from some of the Indian cuisine I’ve had. The furthest I’ve gone is vegetarian Indian, so this was like stepping off a cliff into a quicksand like concoction of seitan and sugar, minus the bone char, and I’ll get to that later.
This just might be the ugliest plating and photo in the history of food on the net. My filling looks like dog food, and decoratively, what was I thinking with the plum chutney and hot chile peanut powder?
Before I get to the challenge, would you believe I got my lens back last Saturday and it literally rolled off the table and broke again?? Third time! Someone or something is trying to tell me something..like, spend the money; buy a better built lens! Plus, I broke my toe 2 weeks ago. A lot of brokens in the past year! In any event, I had to use the old point and shoot again. My photos are starting to depress me.
This month’s Daring Cooks challenge, hosted by debyi of Healthy Vegan Kitchen, (Thanks, deb!), dared us non-vegans (and vegans, of course) to prepare Indian Dosas, with a vegan filling and a vegan sauce – completely devoid of all animal products. Here’s the deal..
Requirements: Must be free of animal products, this will be a challenge for you “regular” cooks out there, but its worth it. So that means, no cows milk, butter, meat, poultry, fish, chicken/beef broth, etc. This dish is also 99% oil free, using only what you need to keep the dosas from sticking (I used a quick spritz of cooking spray on the first dosa only), which isn’t too bad with a nonstick pan. You can use a different filling/sauce if you like, but it must be free of animal products.
Ummm..errr..uhhhh. OK, I can DO THIS; I WILL DO THIS, and it will be SOOO tasty that people will be licking their plates like puppies searching for more kibble in their empty bowls!
Well, that was not to be.
First off, I have this weird thing about curry, sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t. I can’t come to a decision, and it’s been a back and forth battle for years. Since I decided to make this recipe exactly how Debyi posted it (NO fusing, no twists), from the dosa pancakes to the coconut sauce, I was inundated with curry, loads of tablespoons of curry, even a little in the dosas. I knew this could be a bad thing for me, but NOPE, I was going to conquer this recipe verbatim, no additions or subtractions, only allowing myself a little leeway for some sides to serve with the dosas.
Well, thank god for those sides, because outside of the pancakes, this recipe just didn’t do it for me, or others who tasted it. Maybe it was because being so unfamiliar with vegan cooking, I didn’t execute it properly, but, like I said above, I followed the recipe exactly how it was written, and I’m pretty good at that.
Not being able to use ghee to make the dosas was kind of tough since I’ve made them in the past, but I did rub my non-stick skillet with half an onion, which is a traditional way of cooking dosas..ghee or no ghee. The dosas were actually okay, albeit a little bland. The filling is what I didn’t flip over. I love garbanzo beans (chickypeas! What I call them), and now I wish I took another direction with them since all that curry and tomato paste was overwhelming, and the texture sort of thick and dry. I tried to fix it with some lemon juice and cilantro, but sadly, it was not to be.
The sauce seemed promising, especially since many Daring Cooks seemed to like it, but whoops, lots of curry again, and the consistency was a little too watery for my liking. I even added some toasted coconut powder (left over from the Skate challenge) to try and thicken it up more as it was cooking, but no luck. I suppose spelt flour doesn’t have the magic thickening powers that all-purpose flour does. Maybe I should have tried cornstarch? Arrowroot starch? Potato starch? Tapioca flour? Teff Flour? (I’ve had Teff Brownies before, so a little more familiar with the taste) Herein lies the ‘Dum Dum’, since I was clueless as to whether these were acceptable thickeners in the vegan world. I know, I know, I should have asked, but as I’ve said a dozen times already, I wanted to tackle this as written.
On a brighter note, I made this amazing spiced plum chutney and a wonderfully hot peanut-red chile powdered chutney. The spiced plum chutney was one I’ve gorged on at Tabla in NYC, so it was a great surprise to see the recipe posted online.
Here comes my next ‘Dum Dum’ moment.
Floyd Cardoz’s recipe calls for granulated sugar. I never saw granulated sugar in any or most recipes on vegan blogs, so this time I did ask. Deb was kind enough to guide to me toward something called Florida Crystals, but that sounded kind of elusive in terms of finding it, and well, odd. Just the word ‘crystals’ conjured up thoughts of sparkly flecks of carcinogens. I know it’s probably fine, but after a little research of my own, I found out that granulated sugar is acceptable, if it’s not processed with bone char.
HUH? What’s bone char? Well, bone definitely connotes ‘animal’, so that made sense. However, I wasn’t going to stand in the supermarket aisle reading the back of every bag of granulated sugar to make sure it didn’t contain bone char. Thankfully, turbinado sugar aka sugar in the raw, is acceptable, so I used that with good results.
I forgot to add, I served the dosas with rice, which soaked up the sauce nicely so it didn’t feel as watery.
That said, by the time I took these horrid photos, my parsley garnish had wilted, but I didn’t notice until I uploaded the photos later on. Vegan brain haze. I think I need some sugar with bone char.
All in all, I wouldn’t say DON’T try this, as you may get better results than I did. If I were to do it again, I’d use a different filling and futz with the sauce a little more. Many really enjoyed this recipe and as always, the creativity is awesome and outstanding; definitely worth some surfing!
UPDATE: A friend just popped by and ate what was left of the dosas, sauce and filling. He loved it, and even used the extra dosas to make ham and cheese dosas. Interesting.
This recipe comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take a while to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if need be. You can serve them as a main course with rice and veggies, or as an appetizer. This does take a little planning ahead, so make sure you read the recipe through before starting.
griddle or skillet
ladle (or large spoon)
vegetable peeler &/or knife
food processor or bean masher
1 cup (120gm/8oz) spelt flour (or all-purpose, gluten free flour)
½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
cooking spray, if needed
1 batch Curried Garbanzo Filling (see below), heated
1 batch Coconut Curry Sauce (see below), heated
¼ cup (125gm) grated coconut
¼ cucumber, sliced
1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding the almond milk and water, whisking until smooth.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray your pan with a thin layer of cooking spray, if needed.
3. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.
Curried Garbanzo Filling
This filling works great as a rice bowl topping or as a wrap too, so don’t be afraid to make a full batch.
5 cloves garlic
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
2 medium hot banana chilies, minced
2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric
4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)
½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste
1 .Heat a large saucepan over medium to low heat. Add the garlic, veggies, and spices, cooking until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Mash the chickypeas by hand, or in a food processor. Add the chickypeas and tomato paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.
Coconut Onion Curry Sauce
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
3 TBSP (30gm) spelt flour (or all-purpose GF flour)
3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut milk
3 large tomatoes, diced
1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
2. Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add the flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
3. Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
4. Let it simmer for half an hour.