Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup with Cashews

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

Inspired by the most recent edition of No Croutons Required, featuring carrots, I decided to simmer up this most wholesome carrot soup inspired by Anna of Diary of a Lady Bird. We all know that carrots are one of the most nutritious of vegetables, containing lots of beta carotene that aid eyesight and overall health. Easy to grow in your backyard, and such a tasty treat raw or cooked, this has always been a staple ingredient in my crisper. Such a delight to fill the soup out with lentils and spices and cashew nuts. I served it with quinoa for an especially satisfying and nourishing meal. I imagine the addition of some fresh or preserved pumpkin would be quite a delight combined with the following ingredients.

Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup with Cashews

4 - 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
1 400 ml can of coconut milk
2 pounds of carrots, grated or finely chopped
1 1/4 cups of red lentils, rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup raw cashews, broken into bits
1 tbsp of vindaloo paste
1 - 2 chili peppers
dash of turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 c chopped coriander (cliantro) or parsley, leaves and stems
1/2 c greek-style yogurt of kefir (optional)
chopped coriander leaves or parsley for garnish
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

In a large pot, bring the vegetable stock and coconut milk to a boil. Add the carrots and lentils, reduce to heat to medium low and cover and simmer until the carrots and lentils are tender - roughly 10 - 15 minutes.

While the carrots and lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cashews. Stir and fry until the onion is soft and the cashews begin to brown. Stir in the vindaloo paste, chopped herbs and ground spices. Stir and fry for a minute or two. Transfer to the pot with the carrots and lentils.

Blend the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a blender or food processor. Simmer for another few minutes, add the salt and pepper and serve. Garnish with parsley or coriander and add a dollop of yogurt of kefir if desired and a sprinkling of red chili flakes.

Serves 6.

Other vegetable soups from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you will be sure to enjoy:

Curried Indian Vegetable Soup
Indian Chickpea and Pumpkin Soup
Spicy Mung Bean Soup with Coconut Milk

On the top of the reading stack: Field Guide to Herbs & Spices: How to Identify, Select, and Use Virtually Every Seasoning At the Market

Audio Accompaniment: Le Onde by Ludovico Einaudi

Yogurt Cornbread

Inspired by my Black-Eyed Pea Salsa, I decided to make this yogurt cornbread that I adapted from The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger to serve along with it. Ms. Hensperger has lots of wonderful ideas for cornbread, along with other great ideas for quickbreads. This is a book I will continue to explore and I highly recommend it. This is a nice moist cornbread, with a bit of a kick because of the addition of jalapeno peppers (my addition in place of orange zest which is called for in the original recipe).

Yogurt Cornbread
1 cup of cornmeal
1 cup of unbleached white flour or spelt flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 Jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
a dash of cayenne pepper
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of buttermilk
1 1/4 cups of yogurt or kefir
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

Generously butter an 8 inch cake pan and set aside.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, jalapeno pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, yogurt and butter. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the bread. Let sit for 15 minutes and cut into wedges and serve.

More cornbread recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Classic Cornbread
Cornbread with Black Olives and Jalapeno Peppers
Jalapeno Cornbread

On the top of the reading stack: Encounter by Milan Kundera

Audio Accompaniment: Relative Silence

Herbal Giveaway

I am excited to announce that I am hosting another giveaway. Kroeger Herb Company recently treated me to some of their herbal products, and now my readers have a chance to win their choice of two of these products by commenting on this post — and an additional chance to win if they subscribe to Kroeger's newsletter. Just leave a comment for a chance to win any two of the Evening Primrose Oil, Healthy Gut, Milk Thistle or Liver Formula products made by Kroeger Herbs. Let me know in your comment which two products you would prefer and also if you have subscribed to the newsletter. Two winners will be chosen at random. I will host this giveaway until Sunday, the 5th, of September. Please note this giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the US only.

Milk Thistle is a complete concentrate that is recommended for liver health. Complete concentrates such as this are made without using harmful additives or unnatural ingredients and are produced through a proprietary process of water and or alcohol extraction. An additional bonus is the vegetarian source capsules.

Healthy Gut is a new herbal product offered by Kroeger and this combination of Camomile, Spearmint, Gentian, Marjoram, Wintergreen, Slippery Elm and Meadowsweet soothes the tummy and helps the body to maintain a healthy digestive system. Again, this product is made with vegetarian source capsules.

Lung Formula aids healthy lung function. This herbal combination consists of Garlic, Rosehips, Rosemary, Echinacea and Thyme. This product is gluten free, contains no yeast, wheat, corn, rice or preservatives. I again will note that the capsules are vegetarian friendly.

Evening Primrose Oil is something I have been taking for years along with flax seed oil to help with menstrual cramps and also to boost my daily dose of essential amino acids. It is also helpful for women going through menopause and for healthy blood pressure and high cholesterol. Other ingredients include Vegetable Cellulose, Beeswax, Mixed Tocopherols.

I encourage you to check out the other products offered by Kroeger to go along with a healthy diet.

Whole Cabbage Stuffed with Coleslaw

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
If you want to impress your dinner guests, then you simply must try this coleslaw that is served in a hollowed out cabbage. Adapted slightly from one of my favorite Indian cookbooks, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi, you would surely not go wrong if you brought this to a potluck or picnic. I was inspired to make this for a friend who had a hankering for coleslaw as he had fond memories of coleslaw from his childhood. It is not necessary to serve the coleslaw in the hollowed out cabbage, but I could not resist the presentation.

I particularly like this salad not only because it is a bit spicy, but also because it does not contain mayonnaise, as most traditional coleslaws do. If you want a coleslaw with a twist, then this is the recipe for you.

This is my contribution to this month's No Croutons Required Challenge, if I am not too late! The theme this month is carrots.
Whole Cabbage Stuffed with Coleslaw

1 large cabbage (savoy or any large green or red cabbage
4 medium carrots, shredded
3 hot green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh dill, chopped (or fresh coriander)
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 cup of yogurt or kefir or buttermilk
1/2 cup of heavy cream
juice from 2 fresh limes
2 tablespoon of ghee or sesame oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds

Trim the rough leaves from the outside of the cabbage and cut off the base so the cabbage sits flat. Cut off the top third of the cabbage with a large knife and set aside. Hollow out the center of the cabbage and shred enough of the cabbage to roughly equal the shredded carrots (nibble on the remains of the raw cabbage- it's good for you).

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, chilies, ginger, dill and salt and pepper. Toss well to mix.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt and the cream. Continue to whisk and pour in the lime juice. When the dressing is creamy, pour it over the carrots and cabbage.

In a small frying pan or pot, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat. When hot, toss in the black mustard seeds and fry, stirring occasionally, until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to pop. Pour the fried seeds into the salad and toss well. Scoop as much of the salad as you can into the cabbage shell and serve cold or at room temperature. Any remaining salad can be served in a separate serving dish.

Serves 6 - 8

You might also enjoy Creamy Coleslaw from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen

Other summer salad recipes you might wish to try:
Mexican-Style Potato Salad With Avocado and JalapeƱo
Quinoa and White Bean Salad with Wasabi and Roasted Asparagus
Lazy Summer Cottage Cheese & Fruit Salad
Potato Salad with a Blue Cheese Dressing

On the top of the reading stack: Encounter by Milan Kundera

Audio Accompaniment: Bach, a light rain, and no doozers

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

This unusual chunky black-eyed pea salsa is a delicious medley of flavors and textures, with the soft and earthy black-eyed peas combined with tangy tomatoes, sweet crunchy corn, black olives and a blend of fresh herbs and spices. Try it with nacho chips or alongside fresh cooked homemade cornbread for a unique and tasty summer meal.

Read this recipe »

Fresh Cherry Buttermilk Scones

Fresh Cherry Buttermilk Scones

Cooks who enjoy sweet and savory treats can never have enough recipes for biscuits and scones. I probably make such quick breads at least once a week. I couldn't resist taking advantage of the cherry season and I whipped up a batch of these for friends and family. They certainly did not last long. The only drawback is the laborious task of pitting the cherries, even though I have a cherry pitter. Make sure you don't wear a white shirt when working with these most delicious of fruits, or at least you might want to wear an apron.

Read this recipe »

Roasted Beet Salad with Pistachio Pesto and Goat Cheese Served over Fresh Arugula

This is a flavourful summer salad that I came across recently in a newspaper. I didn't wait long to make it, as beets are one of my favorite vegetables and though it was a hot and humid day, I went ahead and roasted the beets anyway. I can tell you that my kitchen was certainly extremely hot, as was I. It was worth the effort though, and this unique dish is really rather simple to prepare. I enjoyed it on the deck with my sweetie in the evening when it wasn't so blistering hot. I also had an opportunity to share some with a special friend who simply adores beets too.
Roasted Beetroot Salad with Pistachio Pesto and Goat Cheese Served over Fresh Arugula

3 pounds of beets, trimmed and unpeeled
1 tablespoon of olive oil
juice from one small lemon
a generous bunch of fresh arugula
4 Clementine oranges, peeled and separated
300 grams of goat cheese, cut into pieces or slices

For the pesto:

1 cup of shelled pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
juice from one lemon
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of water

In a preheated oven, at 400 degrees, roast the beets until fork tender - roughly 60 - 90 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Let the beets cool until you can handle the without burning your fingers . Peel and slice into small rounds. Toss the beetroot with lemon juice and olive oil.

To make the pesto:

Place the pistachio nuts, parsley, mint, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor. Blend until you have a coarse mixture. Now add the lemon juice, olive oil, and blend. Add roughly 1/4 cup of water and blend until you have a pesto that you can drizzle over the beets.

Arrange some of the arugula on plate, top with beets and pieces of the orange. Top with some goat cheese and then drizzle with pesto and serve at room temperature.

Serves 6 - 8.
Other beetroot recipes you may enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Beetroot rasam
Haloumi, Beetroot and Greens Dressed with Tahini and Lemon
Beetroot and Quinoa Salad with Feta and Olives

On the top of the reading stack: The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo

Audio Accompaniment: construction, as usual!

Black-Eyed Pea Sambar

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
My readers can expect many more recipes for black-eyed peas in this space as I have a dear friend who could probably eat these delightful legumes everyday. This recipe was made with homemade sambar powder. Sambars are typically the first course in a South Indian meal. Thick and spicy, often made with tamarind, I made mine with cooked dals. Serve over basmati rice for a most satisfying summer meal or any time of year. Such a staple food is sure to be enjoyed by all who appreciate the creative blends that make up Indian cuisine.

It is a civic holiday here in Canada, and that means the doozers took a day off. What a relief for the neighborhood.
Black-Eyed Pea Sambar

1/4 cup of toor dal
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 cup of dry black-eyed peas
1 small onion, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
2 tablespoons of ghee, or a mixture of butter and oil
1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida powder
2 - 3 whole red dried chilies, broken into bits
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of urad dal
2 teaspoons of sambar powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 5.5 ounce tin of tomato paste
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of corn
1/4 cup of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped

Soak the black-eyed peas in enough water to cover overnight. Drain, transfer to a medium-large pot, along with 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover and cook until the beans are tender - about 40 - 60 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium-large saucepan. Add the toor dal and a 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook until the dal is creamy - roughly 20 - 30 minutes. Set aside without draining.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the asafoetida, red chili peppers, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and urad dal. Stir and fry until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Add the onion, garlic and tomato to the pan, along with a dash of turmeric powder and the sambar powder and salt. Stir well and add the tomato paste, again stirring well to combine.

Now add the cooked toor dal and the liquid, along with an addition 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and add the black-eyed peas. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for roughly 5 - 10 minutes to blend the flavours. Stir in the corn and coriander (or parsley) and simmer for another few minutes. Add more water if you want a thinner sambar and simmer for another few minutes.

Other black-eyed pea dishes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you will be sure to enjoy:
Black-Eyed Peas with Spices and Herbs
Black-Eyed Peas with Fenugreek and Tomatoes
Black-Eyed Pea and Quinoa Croquettes
Black-Eyed Peas with Mustard, Cumin and Curry Leaves

On the top of the reading stack: The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo

Audio Accompaniment: Lawn mowers (no peace from noise!)