Vegan Indian Food, Part I

Today’s run: 3 hilly-ish miles.

The excitement during today’s run: A train derailed near our house, forcing a 2-3 day evacuation for folks who lived close by (closer than we were, fortunately).

We make and eat a lot of Indian food in this house. A. Lot. I could probably do an entire month of Indian-inspired posts.

I made this a few days ago. It is based on a recipe by my college roommate, Geeta, who keeps a blog about food and allergy-friendly recipes. Geeta is of Indian descent, and from her I learned not only how to cook Indian food from her, but also how to love, love, love Indian food. I have many fond memories of our colleges days together, cooking in the tiny, shared dorm kitchen…..rice, wonderful seeds and spices, potatoes, peas, lentils…..YUM! Geeta’s mom used to pack spices in bulk for her to keep at school, and she kept them in a big drawer in our room. I learned a lot about Indian food when we lived together: the importance of cooking the spices in oil, the importance of salt as a flavor, the wonderful flavor of whole spices, either cooked right in or ground freshly for the recipe; the warm homey-ness of daals on a cold day…..all such wonderful memories, and wonderful lessons! Even though Geeta and I haven’t seen each other in years, we keep up with each other through social media. I love reading her blog posts; even when they’re not about Indian food, it still reminds me of her spirit and presence.

My husband also has a serious love for Indian food. He spent some time in London and really grew to love Indian (and Thai) food. We cook Indian-type meals every few weeks, and we have raffled off Indian dinners as part of his students’ fundraisers. I have a few good vegetarian/vegan Indian recipes, but really I feel like I learned the most from cooking with Geeta and reading her blog.

You know that thick, creamy texture that is present in so many Indian dishes? The trick is to use enough oil, and to blend the onion/garlic mixture….I never would have figured this out had Geeta not told me. Several of her recipes call for this trick, and it makes SUCH a difference.

Geeta posted this recipe for mung bean daal the other day.  I used yellow split peas because that’s what I had on hand, and they worked just fine. I didn’t have any curry leaves; after a quick search, I substituted a little dried basil and lemon. I did happen to have asofoedita on hand, and I really think it makes a difference when making Indian food – it actually makes your kitchen smell like a real Indian restaurant.

Geeta has beautiful pictures on her post, but I did take a few of my own….somehow my daal just doesn’t look as good as hers! It still tasted yummy, though. It was gently-spiced, creamy and comforting. The large amount of garlic in it gave the daal such body and depth. Delish!

Geeta’s blog is

Not everything is vegan, or even vegetarian, but many of her recipes are easily made vegan. I’ll post about some in the future, I’m sure.


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