The Indian Vegan Kitchen

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Table of Contents
 
 
 
A PERIGEE BOOK
Published by the Penguin Group
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Copyright © 2009 by Madhu Gadia
 
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
 
Gadia, Madhu.
Includes index.
eISBN : 978-1-101-14541-8
1.Vegetarian cookery. 2. Cookery, Indian. I.Title.
TX837.G28 2009
641.5954—dc22 2009020079
 
 
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE:The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written.The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision.The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
 
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Dedicated to
my husband,
Shashi,
and my children,
Manisha and Nitin
Acknowledgments
I AM
OVERWHELMED AND
overjoyed by the support and encouragement of so many people that words alone cannot express my gratitude. You made writing this book a wonderful journey that I will treasure forever. I read this quote on a Success Poster, and it best describes how I feel toward each and everyone of you: “There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others.” Thank you for lending me a hand.
First and foremost I want to thank my mother, Satya Vati Gupta, who never tires of talking about food. Even now, after two cookbooks and years of cooking myself, I call her when a new recipe doesn’t work, or I’m in need of good old motherly advice on what’s for dinner. She has an amazing understanding of Indian cooking and lives and breathes good food. She is the real foodie.
My late father, Vimal Kishore Gupta—I really miss him. He’s my hero, the one who taught me the value of family and good, old-fashioned hard work. He always knew the right thing to say to inspire me and make me feel that everything was right in my world.
My husband, Shashi, for his love, support, and encouragement. He pretty much tasted all the recipes in this book, for often that was dinner. I could not have done it without him.
My son, Nitin, whose excitement about Mom’s writing a vegan cookbook was contagious. But that’s how he is. He popped in and out of the house and willingly tasted the food. He would bring his friends over for taste-testing and tell them all about the dishes and the new cookbook. He brought excitement to the project.
My daughter, Manisha, who was too far to come popping in for taste-testing, but her enthusiasm on the phone was invaluable. She gets excited about my writing as well as the recipes. She is a good writer in her own right and is always willing to give constructive comments.
My son-in-law, Ravi Bewtra, who is always there with encouraging words and positive energy. I am blessed, for now I have two sons.
My brother and sisters: Ajay, Veena, Meenakshi, and Shelly—I can always count on their encouragement, love, and support. I can call them any time for a little gloating or a whining session. My sister-in-law, Anjali, and brothers-in-law, Rajeev Nath, Praveen Bhatia, and Rob McNicol, are equally wonderful and supportive. They all keep me grounded and make my world complete.
My friends in Ames, Iowa: Vandana and Suresh, Amita and Vinay, Simi and Giri, Rema and Shree, Rajshree and Sanjeev, and Rama and Sridhar—I want to thank each and every one of them for their kind words, jokes, and willingness to taste the recipes. They are all from different regions of India and food experts in their own right. They are always willing to share their recipes, expertise, and come and help me at the drop of a hat. You guys rock.
My friend, colleague, and confidant Connie Buss: Thank you for believing in me and for always being there.
My helper, Emily Fifield, for working with me when I needed it. She dropped everything, worked weekends, and made my project a priority for two weeks when I felt overwhelmed with deadlines. She’s a quick learner and a conscientious worker—just the kind of person I needed to help me do the nutritional analysis.
My agent, Bob Silverstein of Quicksilver Books, for believing in me and my book proposal. Thank you for bringing this book to light.
My editor, Marian Lizzi, editor-in-chief at Perigee Books, for giving me an opportunity to write this book, for her encouraging words, and for her amazing guidance. Words alone cannot express my gratitude. This book is what it is because of her.
Introduction
THIS
BOOK IS for anyone, vegan or not, looking for great-tasting, authentic, easy-to-follow Indian recipes.
I grew up surrounded with vegetarian food. In India, being vegetarian is considered “normal” and eating meat is the anomaly, at least in my community. Even meat eaters eat vegetarian meals several times a week. Only when I left India did I ever need to ask, “Do you have anything vegetarian?”
Indian vegetarian is clearly defined as a plant-based diet that includes milk and milk products—thus, a lacto-vegetarian way of eating. If you eat anything else, such as eggs or fish, then you must qualify it as an exception—for example, I’m a vegetarian but I eat eggs. Indians are very proud of their vegetarian heritage and lifestyle and celebrate it with fervor.
Today, I have a whole new appreciation for nonvegetarians who choose to become vegetarians or vegans. Initially, when I started writing this cookbook, I thought it would be a breeze, expecting that I would only have to eliminate milk. I soon realized how difficult it is to think—and cook—outside the box. I did not realize how extensively and automatically I add milk products in dishes. Once I got over that hurdle, it was a rich experience with amazing results.
Health benefits of eating plant-based meals are well recognized but it did not happen overnight. Working as a dietitian, I have seen the traditional American diet change over the last couple of decades. I live in the midwest, where meat and potatoes are the staple, and encouraging people to eat more vegetables is a constant challenge. In the mid-1990s, a fellow dietitian observed my vegetarian meal and stated that if she does not have some protein (meat) with a meal, she has a low- blood sugar reaction and does not feel good. I knew what she was saying was scientifically valid, for that’s what we were taught, but I knew I had enough protein at that meal as well as throughout the day. A few years later, I was out with the same dietitian when she ordered a vegetarian meal. I looked at her with surprise and she just smiled. In the last few years, several health organizations such as the American Institute of Cancer Research and the American Heart Association have focused on encouraging people to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Many health professionals are recommending that people eat vegetarian meals at least once a week. To help Americans reduce their consumption of saturated fat and to help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer—four of the leading causes of death in America—a national public health campaign called Meatless Monday (a non-profit organization) is working in conjunction with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to make it easier for people to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. Twenty-eight other public health schools also support the campaign. The program follows the nutrition guidelines of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the American Heart Association.
Although the acceptance of vegetarian meals has increased by leaps and bounds, truly delicious and vibrant plant-based meals can still be hard to come by. Many vegetarian dishes are either bland or laden with cheese, cream, and eggs, making them high in fat and saturated fat and therefore not always healthier than meat-based meals. Although this is certainly beginning to change, a vegetarian or vegan who’s looking for variety, flavor, and new options is increasingly turning to ethnic specialties.
Although it includes dairy, the Indian vegetarian diet is naturally close to a vegan diet. Legumes (dal) and whole grains (roti, or whole wheat flatbread) take center stage in a natural, plant-based way of eating. The vegetarian diet among Indians is as ingrained culturally, psychologically, and socially as the nonvegetarian diet is in the rest of the world. Since vegetarianism in India has been a way of life for centuries, the meals are gloriously vegetarian and not a replica of nonvegetarian dishes.
Americans often judge a vegetarian meal by how closely it resembles a nonvegetarian meal (and I understand why). Can the vegetarian meal be nutritionally balanced, appetizing, and hearty without the meat? Is it going to be as gratifying as Mom’s meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans
without
the meat loaf? These are the common questions on the minds of those who are trying to eat one vegetarian meal per day, trying to feed a family, are converting to vegetarianism, or are vegans.
Indian vegetarians or vegans are not trying to make a meatless meal look, taste, smell, or feel like a meal with meat. In fact, the Indian objective is dramatically opposite. To Indians, a vegetarian meal (with or without milk) is hearty, appetizing, nutritionally well balanced, satisfying, and has a special flair and distinction of its own.

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