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Sometimes, I like to do absolutely ridiculous things with my time. I specifically enjoy theme nights, as anyone who attended my Gray Gardens party or NYE ’007 style knows. This past weekend, I decided to spend a few hours putting together an Indian-themed dinner. I had a great recipe for Batata nu Shaak from a co-worker, who also thoughtfully presented me with a bunch of ziploc bags full of spices. For those of you who are not in the know, Batata nu Shaak is a potato dish with about 5 million different spices. This weekend was not only the first time I’ve ever made Indian food, it was also the first time that I’ve worked with such a complex flavor profile.  I can’t believe that I managed to grow up without ever trying Indian food. Now, I eat it all the time. Most Indian recipes do not even need to be veganized, because they rely heavily on staples like potatoes, tomatoes, and chickpeas.
I decided to round out my meal with vegan chana masala, whole wheat naan, and a broccoli and tomato side dish. I’ll post two of the recipes today and two tomorrow, because I need to come up with reasons to keep my public coming back.

Batata nu Shaak
Serves 4 at 158 calories a serving

  • 3 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 1/2 can no salt added chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. kalonji seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp. asafoetida powder
  • 1 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (I of course used raw)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium head and add the mustard, cumin, and kalonji seeds. Let them cook for a few minutes until they start to crackle.
  2. Add the asafoetida, tumeric, and red chili powders.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and ginger and sautee until the tomatoes get soft and tender.
  4. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, sugar, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Add potatoes and 2 cups of water and reduce heat to low, cooking for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and the gravy thickens.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander

Vegan Chana Masala
serves 3 at 186 calories/serving

  • 1 can chickpeas (aka garbonzo beans)
  • 1/2 a diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP. olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 handfuls of spinach, chopped into thin slivers
  1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until soft.
  2. Add the entire can of chickpeas, including the liquid
  3. Stir in lemon juice and spices and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until liquid reduces.
  4. Take your spinach and roll it together until it looks like a fruit roll-up. Slice the roll into very thin slivers. Fluff it with your hand and marvel in your own culinary prowess.
  5. Reduce heat and add spinach. Cook for 5 minutes, or until spinach is just wilted.
  6. Serve immediately.