In My Kitchen, February 2014

Azuki Bean Dip February, like all cold months, is when my kitchen sees a lot of me. Perhaps because it’s the warmest, coziest place in the house. Perhaps because there’s never a better time to bake bread, one of my favorite things to do.

I love my beans and lentils and this February, in my kitchen, I have invited some new legume friends and some old and I am looking forward to eating them one by one.

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BeansOn a recent trip to my local Asian store I picked up a bag of brilliant red Azuki beans (bottom left) which I had never cooked with before. Then I found a bag of red mung beans (top right) at my Indian grocery store — again a bean I have never cooked with, although green mung beans are a staple in my pantry. Also from the Indian store came the green chana — green garbanzo beans (bottom right) that I remember seeing my mom use back in India. And finally, from Whole Foods, came an old favorite– French puy lentils whose peppery taste goes perfectly with just about any Indian dal recipe. They are particularly good in this Cauliflower Dal.

Sourdough StarterIn my kitchen I have revived my sourdough starter which had been sitting around, neglected, for months. But sourdough starter is hardy stuff and with some attention it is possible to coax it back to good health. Mine is now back and bubbling away in its jar and in this batch of dough for a high-hydration whole wheat sandwich bread I am testing out (if the recipe works, I promise to share it).

Bread dough


Leafy veggiesIn my kitchen this month are fresh, healthy vegetables that I cannot wait to cook up. The Yu Choy (right), which I found at the Asian grocery store, is a new leafy for me. It is a variety of Chinese broccoli with thinner stems and since Desi and I love broccoli I am really looking forward to making something wonderful with it. Also in my kitchen this month is my favorite leafy vegetable– one I usually can only find in the Indian store: Methi or Fenugreek leaves (left). This pleasantly bitter vegetable is eaten all over India not just for its amazing flavor but also its health properties — it is said to lower blood sugar and cholesterol and is quite the wonder veggie. It’s also a versatile veggie that you can cook up in a subzi or a curry. I love it most in Methi Chaman, a brilliant green preparation that goes beautifully with rotis.


Another wonder veggie waiting to be devoured in my kitchen — also an Indian favorite– is the bitter gourd or karela. Bitter gourds, warty and very bitter in taste, can be intimidating to someone not used to them but like methi leaves they possess amazing, health-giving qualities. Desi and I love karela– he more than me — and one of our favorite ways to eat Karela is in this Rajma Bean Curry. At the Indian store I also picked up these little globular eggplants– one of my favorite veggies ever.

Adzuki Bean DipIn my kitchen I just cooked up those wonderful Azuki beans into a Curried Azuki Bean dip. I wanted to try a different sort of dip for my Superbowl evening, one that was healthy and fat-free, and I think I got a winner with this one. I added some smoky garam masala and some sundried tomatoes and they gave the dip the perfect yin and yang.

This In My Kitchen post goes to Celia of the blog  Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, who started and hosts this wonderful meme each month. Head on over to her blog to peek into the kitchens of many fabulous cooks. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Thanks, Celia!

Curried Azuki Bean Dip, Fat-Free
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dip
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup dry Azuki beans, rinsed
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder or curry powder
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes (you can use the oil-packed ones if that’s what you have but that would add a small amount of fat to the recipe)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (use more or less to your taste)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup packed parsley leaves
  • Salt to taste
  1. Place the beans in a saucepan, add enough water to cover the beans by an inch, and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cover with a lid, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook 45 minutes to an hour or until the beans are tender. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Drain the beans once they’ve cooled and add them to a food processor or blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend well. I like some texture but you can make this dip smoother by blending it longer, if you wish.
  3. Garnish the dip with some red pepper flakes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or crudites.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 97 Carbohydrates: 18.3 grams Fiber: 4.8 grams Protein: 6.2 grams



Crockpot Black-Eyed Peas Stew, Fat-Free

black-eyed peas stewAfter cooking up all of that flavorful vegetable stock this week, I couldn’t wait to use it. But the last thing I wanted to do was spend an hour in the kitchen cooking because, well, sometimes there just are better things to do.  So I did what I do when I want a great-tasting meal without having to spend more than 15 minutes in the kitchen– I made a slow cooker black-eyed peas stew. A fat-free one.

I have had this rather, ahem, healthy craving for black-eyed peas for weeks now and last weekend, grocery-shopping in the frozen vegetable aisle (one of my favorite haunts for healthy and frugal veggies), I found a bag of frozen black-eyed peas. No soaking required! I did a little dance in my head. Later, back home when I smelled them simmering in the crockpot along with an intoxicating medley of chipotle, adobo and cumin, I did another dance. This time not in my head.

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Slow cooker black-eyed peas stewBut honestly, this stew is just SO GOOD. Smoky and spicy and warm and comforting — and super, super healthy — all at the same time. Even better, like I promised, it takes no more than 15 minutes to put together. You do need to plan ahead, though, since this is a slow cooker recipe. Don’t plan on eating within 15 minutes. This is the perfect recipe to throw together before going to bed. When you wake up in the morning and smell the aroma, trust me, you will be the one dancing.
Here’s the recipe. And if you’re in the mood for more fat-free crockpot goodness, don’t forget to check out  this  Fat-Free Crockpot Chili — perfect eats for the Superbowl.

Enjoy, all!

black-eyed peas stew

Black-Eyed Peas Slow Cooker Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 8
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, cut in a ½-inch dice or thinly sliced in rounds
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in a ½-inch dice
  • 1 large bell pepper, cut in a ½-inch dice. I used green but you can use any color.
  • 1 sweet potato, cut in a ½-inch dice (optional but very tasty)
  • 3 cups black eyed peas (if using frozen, like I did, you can use these without any prep. If using dried, use 1 cup dried peas and soak overnight or at least 8 hours, then drain and rinse)
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried, crumbled sage
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish
  1. Place all the ingredients in a crockpot, add the stock and mix well.
  2. Cover the crockpot and cook on a high setting for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours or until all the vegetables and black-eyed peas are tender.
  3. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with brown rice, quinoa, or crusty whole wheat bread.

 Fat free Black-Eyed Peas Stew

Vegan Gumbo, Fat-Free and Gluten-Free

Bean and Okra GumboWhen I was a child, a young woman with a huge straw basket balanced over her head would make the rounds of my neighborhood every week or so. She would knock on doors, peddling fresh fish that her husband had just hauled in that morning from the sea that hugs Bombay’s shoreline. Everyone simply called her “Kolin” which is the Marathi word for fisherwoman.

Kolin was a striking woman– mahogany skinned with large eyes shaped like almonds and gold earrings so big and so heavy, they had pulled her earlobes almost down to her chin. She was always dressed in a colorful saree with a gold border and at her waist, where the saree tucked in, she had fashioned a little purse with the fabric in which she kept all the bills and coins she had collected from her customers.

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I dreaded Kolin’s visits. Partly because of her rather abrasive tongue that always told you exactly what she thought, and partly because I hated the smell of the fish that lingered in the air for hours after she had left. But I was never so terrified as the occasional day when Kolin would bring what my parents considered a special treat: crabs. The little creatures would be alive as Kolin picked them out of a wire cage in her basket, snapped their claws and put them in a steel tin my mother would hold out. Some would escape and run all over the apartment, scurrying into every corner of the room, trying to hide from the inevitable. It was such a terrifying sight that I could never bring myself to eat a crab through all of my childhood.

gf bean gumboYears later, a friend who loves her seafood argued with me that crabs do not really feel pain or fear death: they just don’t have the mental capacity to do it, she insisted. But it is not an argument that is easily made to someone who had seen the terror of those little crabs in a Bombay apartment trying to save their skins. According to the Humane Society of the United States, lobsters, crabs, and other crustaceans are complex creatures who can remember things they learn. Crustaceans feel pain and may not immediately die when one part of their body is destroyed, which may mean they experience prolonged suffering before dying.

It is not just the creatures we eat that suffer and die. Driving home  the other day, I was listening to a segment on NPR’s All Things Considered that reminded me of another reason why seafood is just not a good idea. The report discussed the massive numbers of mammals that are injured or die globally each year in fishing “incidents” — around 650,000. Casualties happen in all sorts of fisheries, ranging from tuna to squid, shrimp, swordfish and bottom-dwelling fish. At the bottom of the ocean, sea mammals can get trapped in trawls. The mammals affected include dolphins, whales, seals, porpoises, manatees and so on.

Something worth chewing over.


Bean GumboAs nature turned the world into a cold, icy mush over this past week, I found myself craving for something warm and comforting and nutritious to put into my tummy. It seemed the perfect time to stir up a seafood-free gumbo — something I’d been planning on making for a long time.

One of the things I love about eating vegan is that I never have to be one of those people who has to rush at the last minute to buy milk or eggs because a storm is coming and the supermarket may not be open or accessible for days afterward. I don’t have to worry about a power failure turning all that  meat in my freezer into an unsanitary nightmare.  Give me some beans,  rice,  frozen veggies and soymilk — all of which are usually already in my pantry — and I’m all set.

I had everything I needed for the gumbo on hand. Okra, beans, onions, green peppers, herbs, and even some Cajun seasoning that I had picked up months ago. And then, just to get a little edgier, I decided to make my gumbo fat-free. There seemed to be so much going in with all those different flavors — beans, herbs, veggies– that the fat just seemed totally redundant.  I threw in some sage and chipotle for their smoky deliciousness, and I made the gumbo gluten-free by making the roux with brown rice flour instead of whole-wheat– an idea that totally worked.

The recipe’s really easy and comes together faster than you would imagine.  I served it with some wholesome brown rice, but crusty bread or quinoa would go really well with this too.

Wishing everyone a great weekend– hope you have plenty of time to live, love, and laze around, not in any particular order.

Bean Gumbo

Fat-Free Vegan Gumbo
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Louisiana
Serves: 8
  • 2 tbsp brown rice flour
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 2 cups button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh okra, cut into rings
  • 1 cup pureed tomatoes
  • 3 cups of canned red beans, drained and rinsed. (If using dry beans, start with 1 cup of beans, soak them overnight, then cook in a pot with enough water to cover the beans. Let the water come to a boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot and then cook about 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add more water if the beans get dry.)
  • 1 tbsp dry sage
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 chipotle chili, minced, with 1 tsp of the adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  1. Heat a large pot and add the brown rice flour. Roast, stirring constantly over medium-low heat, until the roux is a couple of shades darker. Remove immediately to a bowl.
  2. In the same pot, add the onions, carrots and garlic along with a quarter cup of water or vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the water has evaporated.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers and mushrooms and cook, stirring, for another five minutes. Add the chipotle chili and adobo sauce, tamari, herbs and the Cajun seasoning and mix well.
  4. Now add the beans and the okra and stir well to mix. Add the brown rice flour back to the pot and stir in. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and allow the gumbo to come to a boil over medium-high heat. If the gumbo is too thick, add more water or stock. Lower the heat to a simmer and let everything cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add more salt if needed. Turn off the heat. You can also throw in some vegan sausage if you like — cut it into rounds. That would add a small amount of fat to the gumbo, but it would also send the protein content soaring higher.
  6. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 122 Carbohydrates: 23.6 g Fiber: 6 g Protein: 7.1 g



Fat-Free Crock Pot Mushroom Chili | Eat to Live Cookbook Giveaway

crock pot chili

Eat to Live Cookbook

It’s been a while since I had a giveaway for you, largely because I’ve been simply too busy to take on and fulfill commitments. But I am thrilled to announce today a cookbook giveaway that’s just perfect to ring in the New Year, resolutions and all: Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live cookbook.

Dr. Fuhrman, for those of you who may not know, is a physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods. He has written three New York Times bestsellers, and you might have seen him in the PBS special “3 Steps to Incredible Health.”

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I have long been a fan of Dr. Fuhrman so I was only too happy when I was asked to review the book which is packed with 200 recipes for everything from smoothies to breakfast recipes, dips, salads, soups, main dishes, fast food and desserts. Most recipes are vegan– in fact, the non-vegan recipe section is separated out at the end of the book so you don’t have to go there unless you want to.

But this is not just a cookbook. Dr. Fuhrman includes valuable tips on living a “nutritarian” lifestyle– a lifestyle that focuses on eating nutrient-rich, natural foods. Nutritarians, he adds, recognize that plant foods have disease preventive, therapeutic and life-extending properties.

Okay, so as vegans you already knew that, but it does feel good to have a doctor confirm it, doesn’t it? The book also includes practical tips, like how to pick out the perfect fruit– something I haven’t mastered after years of being an eater and a cook. Do you know, for instance, how to tell the difference between a ripe starfruit and an unripe one?

The book even includes a list of Dr. Fuhrman’s top 25 super foods and an Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score system for many common foods in our diets.

fat-free vegan crockpot chiliI bookmarked a ton of recipes as I flipped through this book, including Dr. Fuhrman’s Famous Anti-Cancer Soup, Lemon Cauliflower Risotto, Quinoa Mango Salad, Goji Berry Walnut Squares with Chocolate Drizzle, and many more, but the first recipe I tried was the Crockpot Mushroom Chili  because the recipe had instant appeal in these frigid days of winter. It contains a mix of vegetables and beans and was rich and smoky and absolutely delicious. Even better, it was fat-free and salt-free. A single serving of this chili packs 21 grams of protein and nearly 15 grams of fiber. How amazing is that?

Even Desi, my resident omnivore, loved the chili– despite the fact that it was healthy. You know how those guys are! This is definitely going to be my go-to book in the new year.

The folks at HarperOne are giving away one copy of Eat to Live to a reader of Holy Cow! You don’t have to be a blogger to enter, but you do need to live in the United States. All you have to do is enter below and then leave me a comment on this post telling me what’s your New Year’s resolution. It doesn’t have to be food-related, but I’d love to hear!

Good luck, all.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

vegan mushroom crockpot chili

Crock Pot Mushroom Chili
(c) HarperOne
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or packaged in BPA-free cartons
  • 3 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans or 2 15-ounce cans low-sodium or no-salt-added kidney beans
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • Dash of cayenne pepper or to taste
  1. Combine all infredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 286 Fat: 2.5 g Carbohydrates: 55 g Fiber: 14.9 g Protein: 21 g


Whew, so aren’t you glad that 2013 is coming to a close? I know I am.

This was a busy year for me, and a rather eventful one for Holy Cow! In November I moved the blog to a WordPress platform from Blogger, where she had lived since birth, and the move was fairly smooth although not uneventful. I lost many subscribers despite my best efforts, and so many of you were kind enough to sign up all over again. Thanks for sticking with me. I do appreciate the love, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

After a rather slow period, I have also tried harder to keep up with the blog and post new recipes in these last couple of months. Desi, my resident critic, recently reminded me that I am not writing as much as I did on the blog– you just post a recipe intro and the recipe, he complained. If you have missed the chatter too, I love you for it and admit that I miss chatting with you. I hope to do more of it in the new year– it”s definitely one of my key resolutions.

Here’s wishing all of my readers have on the cards a brilliant new year, where all of your wishes come true. Happy new year, everyone!

My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry with No Added Fats

My favorite dish to cook and eat has always been My Dad’s “Not-Mutton” Mushroom Curry– a recipe I shared long ago here at Holy Cow! It is a spicy, saucy vegan curry made using the same flavor base my father used when he cooked his very special mutton curry for our family each Sunday, when I was growing up.

The vegan version I first shared contains far less fat than my father’s curry did, because I both cut down on the amount of oil added to the dish and because, of course, I cut out on all that fat that meat inevitably introduces to a dish. As I explore ways to make my recipes even leaner than they already are, I decided to challenge myself this weekend: to see if I could make a version of my dad’s not-mutton mushroom curry with no added fats whatsoever, without losing any of that wonderful flavor.

I must say I surprised myself– very pleasantly. I left out completely the two tablespoons of oil that I had used in my earlier version, and I cut down on the coconut milk. But I also modified the process to add more flavor without adding more oil. For instance, I roasted the garlic and the chillies, and I added green bell peppers. It had been a suggestion from a reader who’d tried the recipe, and it was a really good one.

I also used a different spice mix: instead of the garam masala that my father mixed up each time he made the dish, I used Kolhapuri Masala. This is a zingy red masala from Kolhapur, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra known for its fiery chillies. I chose it because it has more ingredients than garam masala does, and therefore it adds more depth to the dish– very important when you’re cooking without fat. Since Desi can’t stand too much heat in his food, the chillies I use to mix up my Kolhapuri masala are just the moderately spicy dry red chillies I keep in my pantry and not the super-spicy ones. Still, the flavor’s quite special. I always keep a jar of Kolhapuri masala around for those evenings when I need to come up with something really special really fast.

Here are the recipes, then, for my no-fat-added version of My Dad’s “Not-Mutton” Mushroom Curry, and for that very special Kolhapuri masala. Enjoy, all!



Kolhapuri Masala
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Spice paste
Cuisine: Indian
  • 8 dry red chillies
  • 1 cup coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 12 cloves
  • 12 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp mace
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 2-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 4 large bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  1. Roast all the ingredients one at a time (except the turmeric), until they are a couple of shades darker and aromatic. Roast the garlic and the onion until dark spots appear, but don’t let them burn.
  2. Remove everything to a dish to cool, and then place in a blender. Blend into a coarse powder. I sometimes add some coconut milk, blend the masala into a paste and then freeze it, but you can skip that because we are trying to cut out fats from our diet.
My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry with No Added Fats
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A healthier version of my already healthy recipe for My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry. There are no added oils in this recipe.
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut in ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 large green pepper, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1-inch finger of ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 2 green chillies
  • ¼ cup Kolhapuri Masala
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  1. Heat a large pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the onions. Roast, stirring frequently, until brown spots appear.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and saute another two minutes.
  3. Remove the onions, ginger and garlic to a blender. Add the tomato puree, green chillies, and half the coconut milk.
  4. Add enough water and blend into a smooth paste.
  5. Heat the same pan and add the kolhapuri masala to it along with the rest of the coconut milk. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the potatoes, mushrooms, and green bell pepper and stir to coat everything.
  6. Add the blended masala paste and add enough water so the veggies are almost but not quite submerged. Bring everything to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Slap a lid on the pan and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Season with salt to taste. Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve hot with rice, roti, naan, or a crusty bread.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.