Batter Licker

June 14, 2011

grilled chaat masala-spiced corn (corn à la Amit)

I’m no corn fanatic. I virtually abandoned the sweet, summer vegetable when it insisted on wrapping itself around the wires that slowly and painfully pulled my teeth in line during the far-too-many years I spent wearing braces throughout junior high and high school. At a time when appearance and avoiding classmates’ ridicule seemed all-important, the potato reigned as my slathered-in-butter-and-salt starchy vegetable of choice.

Even after the braces came off, it took awhile to readjust to certain foods, corn included, because several years wearing teeth cages had made me a tad OCD about keeping my teeth food remnant-free. Quite a few years later, my friend Amit introduced me to some grilled corn whose flavor finally justified the inevitable tooth-picking.

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Rather than slathering sweet, starchily rich corn in butter and off-setting the sweetness with salt, Amit grilled the corn until it was completely black. (more…)

March 17, 2011

aloo palak dal (indian-spiced lentils, spinach and potatoes)

To those of you who didn’t jump the gun like I did to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with cabbage and celery root in drunken mustard last week (and then again last weekend with a full-on family shebang), I hope you’re wearing green clothes, drinking and cooking with whiskey and beer, picking on your favorite leprechaun, and planning to make cheesy corned beef hash bread tomorrow with your leftovers.

As for me, it’s time for more whiskey and beer some Indian food that’s equally cheap as cabbage and potatoes (but isn’t boiled to death while everyone is distracted by adult beverages and rowdy conversations and then smothered in a spicy mustard disguise at the dinner table because obviously, after several whiskey shots and black and tans, this is the best cabbage ever!).

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One of the benefits of eating vegan (or reducing meat and processed foods, at least) during the week is how cheap my grocery bill has become. I’m talking $20 per week for two people cheap, which, compared to my formerly $60-70 per week bill, is ridiculously low. I should probably go buy a new toy to play with a very necessary device for my kitchen to reward myself.

The other major benefit comes in the form of Indian food. (more…)

May 4, 2010

chana punjabi

You could say I have a thing for beans – spicy, flavorful beans – specifically of the lentil and chickpea variety, and especially those flavored with Indian spices. You might even call this an unhealthy obsession, except that the beans themselves are very nutritious and, even so, I make sure to eat other, non-bean foods too. Like saag paneer, or tikka masala.

Before Indian food, I never understood the allure of beans (being from San Diego, refried beans – a burrito necessity – were, of course, an exception). And before moving to San Francisco five years ago, I had never had Indian food. Go ahead and gasp. But, again, being from coastal North County San Diego, we didn’t really, um, have Indians there.

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I now recognize this to be a great tragedy – culturally, culinarily, and otherwise. But at the time, I didn’t know better, and so I was more than happy to chomp on the authentic Mexican food served up at Cessy’s and consider myself more “in touch” with and “appreciative” of other cultures than the kids scarfing down animal-style burgers from In-N-Out. Luckily, my post-grad job brought me up to the city, where Mehfil changed my life forever (more…)

April 22, 2010

kale and jalapeño red lentil dal with cumin-red pepper tempering oil

Filed under: beans,indian,vegan — Tags: , , , , , , — Kristen @ 6:30 pm

I’m a big fan of warm, mushy-but-not-slimy comfort foods. Any mashed potatoes that I’ve ever come into contact with while having access to a spoon, a fork, or – in truly desperate situations – just a finger could affirm that much, but all traces of them would have disappeared by now. Same goes for refried bean-filled burritos. So when I happen upon a warm, mushy, comfort food that’s actually healthy, I get a little obsessed. Just ask lentils.

These babies have been my go-to food for those many cold, grey, and just plain sad- and grumpy-looking days in San Francisco from November through April. They’ve not only warmed my belly and my spirit along with it, but also have kept me eating healthily and feeling full (both of which kept me from digging into too many bowls of mashed potatoes and mac and cheese this winter).

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But enough of the healthy-and-filling yada-yada-ing … these lentils are also yummy! The kale basically melts into the lentils, while the jalapeño adds a little peppery bite. Mixed with the tempering oil, the lentils take on the smokey flavor of cumin and the spicy-sweet flavor of paprika. (more…)

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