Mm, chaat

Sev Dahi Batata Puri 

Chaat is my favorite food group.

I could eat it all day, every day and not get tired of it. It’s bursting with flavor – sweet, spicy, crunchy, with each bite packing a punch. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many Indian restaurants so that I am always able to satisfy my chaat craving.

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

A French-Inspired Evening

First stop: Paris Baguette 

So many delicious pastries to chose from.

A croissant, blueberry cream cheese pastry, and a cake donut

Next stop: Crepevine

The colorful menu written on chalkboards

The California crepe (bell peppers, avocado, sauteed onions, and cheese with chipotle sauce and salsa) with a side of potatoes and salad. True confession: I will order anything that has avocados in it.

Al this French-ness is making me wish I was walking on the Champs- Elysees at this moment. I guess downtown Palo Alto will have to do for now. I can’t complain too much when it looks like this.

I think trees should be lit up all year round (and not just during the holidays). Don’t you?

The Vegetarian Diaries

I think it is possible to be a vegetarian and a lover of food at the same time. I may not eat meat or fish, but that doesn’t stop me from trying different cuisines and restaurants. Perhaps I have been lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of choices for vegetarians.

Regardless, I thought it would be fun to share what I eat when I go out to a restaurant. And no, it’s not a salad or soup. I’m talking real food.

This week I went to a local Mexican restaurant. I LOVE it. Whenever we would return from month long visits to India, my first meal of choice would be Mexican food. Honestly, how can you not like a cuisine in which guacamole is one of the main ingredients?

I ordered the nachos (can you believe these were in the appetizer section?). I opted for black beans because I love them, but also because they are vegetarian.

In case anyone is interested, I added the book Eating Animals to my GoodReads list. Just as he is about to become a father, the author Jonathan Safran Foer, takes a look into the food that we eat, why we eat it, along with a few trips to factory farms in the middle of the night. I am looking forward to reading it!

Fancy Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches were my favorite growing up (along with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches). I still enjoy eating one, but like to think my tastes have refined a little. Now with gourmet grilled cheese all the rage (like at The Melt) it inspired me to experiment with a classic.

As with last time, I used ingredients that were already in the fridge to create a unique and flavorful sandwich.

The spread: Trader Joe’s sourdough bread, pepper jack cheese, pesto, and an onion

The assembly: I like making pieces of cheese so that it spread all over the bread, getting all gooey and oozes cheese.

The finished product.

Do you like grilled cheese? What is your favorite variation on the sandwich staple?

Thai Red Curry

I am a huge fan of Thai food. Like huge. If I was having a “last meal” of sorts, Thai food would definitely be on that list (so would CPK’s tostada pizza.)

It’s only until recently (the last 10 years) that I really started my love affair with Thai food and only until very recently (the past year) that I started cooking it.

I was intimidated at first, but it is actually pretty easy. All you really need are two things: coconut milk and red curry paste, which you can pick up at any grocery store or Asian supermarket. You can add vegetables and/or tofu to the mix.

Here is a good detailed recipe.

Do you like Thai food? What is your favorite dish and have you made it at home?

To be vegan or not?

This weekend was spent in Seattle and Vancouver, visiting family. The weather was surprisingly great (it only rained at night) and a majority of the trip was spent eating, sleeping, and talking..pretty much the best kind of vacation!

One of the meals was spent at Araya’s Place. Araya’s is a vegan Thai place in downtown Seattle. We opted for the buffet instead of ordering off the menu..and let me tell you, the food was amazing! Thai is one of my favorite cuisines and if I lived in Seattle there’s no doubt that I would be at Araya’s every week. For those that eat meat, you won’t even feel like you are missing anything.

Thai iced coffee, pad thai, fried rice, and green curry.

Araya’s had a lot of pamphlets about the vegan lifestyle, which got me thinking: could I be a vegan? I am already a vegetarian, so it would just mean cutting all dairy products of out my diet. To be honest, I don’t really care much for eggs..I never really crave them. Since I’ve picked up Ener-G Egg Replacer (a boxed, non perishable powder that you can find at Whole Foods or ordered online) I don’t even use eggs when I bake. So really all that I would be giving up is cheese, which I love. Oh, and milk. That would be a big one.

I think I will make an effort to become vegan (or at least eat less dairy products) because the paraphernalia I read indicated that even cage free, free-range, and organic egg farms still engage in inhuman activities to the hens.

Have you gone (or thought about going) vegan? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

In case you are interested, here are some egg replacements for baking:

Energ E Egg Replacer  – My personal favorite choice for egg replacer. It works well with everything, except brownies.

Potato Starch = 2 Teaspoons + 1 Teaspoon water for 1 egg

Corn Starch = 2 teaspoons + I teaspoon water for egg

Soy Powder = 1 teaspoon + 2 teaspoons water for 1 egg

Ground Flax Seed = 1 Teaspoon + 3 teaspoon water for 1 egg

Banana = 1/2 banana for 1 egg

Applesauce = 1/4 cup applesauce for 1 egg

Good Vegetarian Food..it’s possible!

When I inform someone that I am a vegetarian and have been for most of my life, I get a look of dismay, followed by the question (and one of my biggest pet peeves), “Well, what do you eat then? Steamed vegetables?” No, I do not eat steamed vegetables..who in their right mind would?

It is possible to be a vegetarian and eat good food. For instance, when I go out for Thai food, I substitute tofu for any sort of meat. In Mexican food, I order with black beans as those are most likely not cooked in lard. I even eat fast food..Subway has a veggie delight sandwich, Burger King has the veggie whopper, Taco Bell has the seven layer (you can also substitute meat with beans for any other item) and In N Out has a grilled cheese animal style. And of course we are forgetting the delicious sides that come with these kinds of meals: egg rolls, guacamole, salsa, chips, fries, and onion rings. The list can go on..

And don’t even get me started on the yummy desserts! (The number one reason I could never be a vegan. That, and cheese.)

I have also discovered that vegetarian sushi is possible, and pretty tasty to boot! (I don’t eat fish. Another one of my pet peeves is people thinking I do, despite knowing I am a vegetarian!) My first experience with sushi was a year and a half ago, on a girls’ weekend in San Francisco. I had always wanted to try it, but never knew what to order. Luckily my friend, who is a vegetarian herself and a huge sushi fan, was with me. Since then I was hooked.

This week I went again to a local sushi place and they were very accommodating! My friend and I were able to make our own roll with cucumbers and avocado, with bits of tempura inside. It was delicious. A side benefit: most of the rolls on the menu were $10..ours was only $5.50!

This is the roll we ordered:

Vegetarians do not survive on steamed vegetables alone–there are plenty of wonderful options out there!