With so many vegan cookbooks on the market now, it can be hard to choose a selection for our own kitchen. When I began my vegan journey, there were (literally) 2 or 3 vegan cookbooks at the time. Now, there are hundreds and hundreds (have we broken a thousand yet?), and choosing just a handful can feel overwhelming.
Yet, once in a while a new book comes out that really breaks some new ground. I felt Ricki Heller’s book did so, and I feel the same way about Richa Hingle’s Indian Vegan Kitchen. We have had many vegan cookbooks for comfort foods, soups, gluten-free foods, salads, raw foods, desserts, and many cuisines. However, the authenticity of Indian cuisine was still untapped. Enter Richa Hingle.
If you aren’t familiar with Richa, she is an award winning recipe developer, blogger, and photographer behind VeganRicha.com. Her recipes have been featured on Oprah.com, Huffington Post, Glamour, Babble, VegNews.com, Rediff.com, TheKitchn, Cosmopolitan, MSN, BuzzFeed, and more. Richa grew up in India, and combines her love of vegan cooking and vast knowledge of Indian cuisine in this book.
I am a big fan of Indian spices and flavors, and how much legumes and vegetables are favored. Yet, when our family orders from a restaurant, I find the dishes far too hot – even when I order mild! So, I have tended to created Indian dishes myself, even though I don’t consider myself an expert in the cuisine.
So, I was quite excited to get my hands on Richa’s book to experiment with new recipes! And, there are a lot to get excited about. The book has over 150 recipes, from breakfast and snacks to dals, dry curries, casseroles, and other mains, to flatbreads and desserts. Plus Richa shares ingredient and recipe photos throughout, and a detailed glossary of spices and ingredients, and useful kitchen tools. Truly, if you are interested in Indian cooking, this is your one-stop cookbook… vegan or not. There are many recipes that caught my eye, including:
Kofta Balls in Nut-Free Cream Sauce
Tofu in Velvety Pepita Poppy Seed Sauce
Cauliflower and Yellow Lentils
Sweet and Sour Pumpkin
Gluten-Free Chia Flatbread
Savory Oats Hash (this is a breakfast dish, and I think it would be an awesome dinner!)
Chickpea Tofu in Spicy Madras Sauce
Sweet Chickpea Flour Balls
Pistachio Almond Ice Cream
There are so many more enticing recipes like these, you owe it to yourself to check out this book.
So far I’ve tried two legume dishes – the Masala Lentils, and the Split Peas with Coconut, Sesame, and Tamarind. They were both excellent. You may be wondering how these dishes “went over” with the kiddos. Well, I definitely tempered the spices. As in, did not use much heat at all. Our girls are usually okay with ‘spices’ just not so much whole seeds and hot spices. Plus, when I served these dishes, I’d pair with brown rice or quinoa. For the girls’ servings, I’d adjust how much of the lentils/peas they had with their grains, again just to balance the more assertive spices for their palates. Personally, I don’t even need the grain! I love these legume dishes straight up. Hubby too. We’ve both always loved the robust flavors of Indian dishes. One other note – I also made the dishes oil-free. I realize this is rather inauthentic, as the oil helps to develop the flavors of the spices through the cooking process. However, I wanted to try it for myself, and also for others reading. I imagine the oil-based version has even more flavor impact, but I gotta’ tell you… we were happy!
Richa has allowed me to share the recipe for her Masala Lentils. I truly love this dish and will make it again. I posted a “fusion” pic on instagram, and later had leftovers for lunch in a salad bowl. Vegan food bliss. That’s all.
Masala Lentils (Sabut Masoor) Link to print/share
Prep: 20 minutes | Active: 25 minutes | Inactive: 20 minutes | Serves 4
If you want to impress someone with a dal, make it this one. Don’t be afraid of the number of spices—it is quite simple to make. The spices and garlic are blended to a paste and fried in the oil. A hot sauce (chiles, garlic, and vinegar) in the tadka is another secret to getting the right flavor profile. Serve this as a part of a meal, or with rice or naan or other flatbread. (Recipe from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen Copyright © 2015 by Richa Hingle. Used by permission Vegan Heritage Press, LLC.)
3/4 cup brown lentils, washed and drained
2 cups water
2 to 3 teaspoons safflower or other neutral oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red or white onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek leaves or 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon sweet or hot paprika
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups chopped tomato
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for garnish
1 tablespoon vegan butter (optional)
1. Combine the lentils with 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Partially cover and cook over medium heat until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. While the lentils are cooking, make the tempering. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
3. In a blender, combine the garlic, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, fenugreek, paprika, nutmeg, black pepper, sriracha, and 2 tablespoons of water. Blend to combine well. Add this paste to the onions in the skillet. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Mash the larger tomato pieces.
4. Add the tempering to the lentils. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and spice. Garnish with cilantro and vegan butter, if using, and serve hot.
Thank you Richa for sharing your gift of cooking with our plant-based and vegan community. Wishing you continued success!
Enjoy the recipe, guys! If you have tried recipes from this book, please share your favorites in the comments.