We had dinner with our friends Colette and David the other night and they made this awesome mejadra. It’s from Ottolenghi (who else?) and I’ve been wanting to try it forever but have just never gotten around to it. So, with a kick in the pants from our dear friends, and Ottolenghi’s cookbook always at the ready, I whipped this up for dinner last night and it was fabulous, especially with a side of Ottolenghi’s cucumber salad. For those of you wondering, mejadra, also know as Mujaddara, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra is a dish of cooked lentils together with rice and garnished with sautéed onions. Mujaddara is the Arabic word for smallpox because of the look of the the lentils among the rice. The first recorded recipe for mujaddara appears in Kitab al-Tabikh, a cookbook compiled in 1226 by al-Baghdadi in Iraq. Because of its importance in the Arabic diet, a saying in the Eastern Arab world is, “A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara.” It’s almost that good.



1 cup sunflower oil

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils

2 tsps cumin seed

1½ tbsp coriander seeds

1 cup basmati rice

2 tbsps olive oil

½ tsp ground turmeric

1½ tsp ground allspice

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

Salt and black pepper

2 cups water

Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-size heavy-based saucepan. When very hot, carefully add a third of the sliced onion. Fry for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice, golden-brown colour and turns crispy. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with two more batches of onion.

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain into a colander.

Wipe clean the saucepan in which you fried the onion and drop in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over a medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two, until they release those distinctive aromas. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the cooked lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. Finally, tip the rice and lentils into a large mixing bowl. Add half the fried onion and stir gently with a fork. Pile up in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.

chana masala

May 19, 2012

chana masala, vegan indian food, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

One of the things I love most about having a food blog is that people now send me recipes. I get them all the time from friends and family alike. “Hey, why don’t you try to veganize this chili burger?” Absolutely! The latest was from my friend Pamela with the note “I made this tonight. It was super good. We had it with black rice and garlic naan bread. The small rascals even ate it!” How could I not give it a whirl? It’s from Canadian Living. It’s fabulous. And it’s a welcome change from the Indian food the kids like to order that I’m sure is packed with ghee. Black rice and garlic naan bread are wonderful accompaniments, as is aloo gobi. Presto, dinner’s ready.

3 tbsps olive oil

2 onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsps grated fresh ginger

2 tsps chili powder

2 tsps ground coriander

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps garam masala

1 cup water

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 tsps packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

40 oz chickpeas, cooked (or 2 cans drained and rinsed)

2 tbsps lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Stir in chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala. Cook until fragrant but be sure not to burn the spices; about 1 minute.

Stir in 1 cup water, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, and chickpeas, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve piping hot.

amazing maple beans

November 26, 2011

Every once in awhile we eat at Ruby Watchco since they are so good at accommodating other-than-meat-eating-tastes. Once they served me maple baked beans which were to die for. I’ve been dreaming of those beans ever since. Finally the other night I experimented and landed on a dish that made me smile with delight. Stew up this pot of amazing maple beans and be amazed – sweet, delectable, nourishing, and great on their own or as a side dish to grilled veggies and steamed greens. (Psssttt … the secret is Kozlik’s Amazing Maple Mustard. Pass it on.)

4 1/2 cups cooked beans, navy, kidney, adzuki, or any other type

3 tbsps olive oil

1 large sweet onion

3 tbsps blackstrap molasses

3 tbsps maple syrup

3 tbsps Kozlik’s Amazing Maple Mustard

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

I cup stewed tomatoes

1 tsp sea salt

If cooking your own beans, soak for 8 hours, drain, place in a pot with fresh water, and cook until done. Then drain and set aside. If not, rinse and drain canned bean and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender and starting to brown. Add molasses, maple syrup, mustard, apple cider vinegar and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until flavours meld and the mixture reduces slightly. Add beans and sea salt to taste. Let simmer for another 20 – 30 minutes until beans are incorporated into the flavours of this dish and the house is filled with smell and you can’t wait any longer to eat them.

Serve in a big bowl with a hunk of hearty whole grain bread or as a side to steamed greens and grilled veggies.

sweet potato chili

November 3, 2011

Last week I saw 3 or 4 different recipes for sweet potato chili in different places. Weird but wonderful. I decided to shamelessly follow the trend and post my own. Sweet potatoes go over big in our house, and as we head into the depths of fall, it’s always good to have a recipe on hand that can warm the heart and brighten up even the darkest of November nights. And don’t be jealous of my authentic vintage red Dansk dish, this chili looks good in any pot especially with a healthy garnish of cilantro and green onion.

2 tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 red peppers, chopped

1 full bulb garlic (about 8 cloves), minced

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 1/2 cups corn (fresh or canned)

1 cup kidney beans, cooked

1 cup black or funky heritage beans, cooked

4 cups stewed tomatoes

some slow-roasted tomatoes if you have them

1 sweet potato, chopped

sea salt and pepper

cilantro, chopped

green onion, chopped

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers and saute for about 8 minutes until they turn soft and brown. Stir in the garlic and spices. Reduce the heat and cook until everything turns fragrant, about 2 or 3 minutes but be careful not to burn the spices. Stir in the corn, beans, stewed tomatoes, sl0w-roasted tomatoes (if you have them, if not don’t worry), and sweet potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes until flavours meld and the liquid boils down a bit. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve alone or alongside some rice. Garnish liberally with chopped cilantro and chopped green onion.


October 16, 2011

I’m a little confused about what farinata actually is. If you google it, most links lead you to the conclusion that it’s a chickpea flatbread like socca. Yet my new cookbook on Tuscan cooking has it as a stew from Pistoia, a region of Tuscany just west and north of Florence. It doesn’t really matter as recipes are regional by their very nature, and adaptable, and transformable, and personal. So my farinata is a polenta stew – the epitome of peasant, homegrown, comfort food. Picture a little stone house in a Tuscan valley with a small kitchen garden outside full of fall bounty like carrots, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, and herbs. Now add a little wine, a few beans, some polenta and you’ve got a meal that will warm the bellies of the whole family. Cheap. Easy. Filling. Tasty. With leftovers for lunch in the field the next day.

1 1/2 cups dried borlotti beans (or another kind of dried bean), soaked overnight in water to cover, and drained

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 sage leaves

1 bay leaf

3 1/2 oz cavolo nero cabbage

4 tbsps olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1 cup dried polenta

chopped herbs including thyme, rosemary, oregano

sea salt and pepper

4 tbsps grated pecorino cheese, optional

Place beans in a large pot with plenty of water, one garlic clove, sage leaves, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook beans until tender, seasoning with salt towards the end of the cooking time (this is important – if you add salt too early your beans won’t cook).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add the cabbage and simmer for about 5 minutes until cabbage is tender. Drain and chop.

Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven or large pot and add the onions. Cook until tender. Add carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute until tender. Add tomatoes and chopped herbs. Let simmer for about 3 minutes. Add white wine and let it reduce by about 1/2.

Drain the beans, discard the sage and bay leaves, reserving the cooking liquid. Place half the whole beans in the dutch oven with the other other vegetables. Mash half the beans and garlic clove with a potato masher until they turn into a paste. Add them to the dutch oven along with the cabbage and 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid from the beans.Let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pour 4 1/2 cups of the rest of the remaining cooking liquid into the dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper and then sprinkle in the polenta. Cook, stirring regularly and adding more cooking liquid or water if necessary, for 40 minutes, until thickened and cooked through.

If you want to make this farinata true Tuscan style, stir in 4 tbsps grated pecorino cheese. Either way, ladle into bowls and serve with crunchy artisanal toast and a glass of wine from the region.

Viva la Mexico! We were in Tulum last week and got bitten by the Mexican foodie bug – guacamole, pico de gallo, black beans and blackened rice. I’m having a hard time coming back to the snow and cold as I dream of blue water and white beaches so to nurse my holiday hangover we are having a weekend of Mexican food. First on the menu is Black Bean Stew with Chipotle and Tomatoes. A little Blackened Rice on the side with a dollop of salsa and you’re transported to the Mayan Riviera. I can smell the ocean.

1 1/2 cups black beans, sorted and rinsed

2 tsps fresh epazote  (a Mexican herb which I don’t have on hand so I just skipped this ingredient)

1 onion, quartered

1/2 tsp dried oregano


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili

1 cup chopped tomatoes (or I used slow-roasted tomatoes)

4 cilantro sprigs


Drain the beans, cover them wiht 6 cups fresh water, and boil them hard for 10 minutes, skimming of any foam that collects on the surface. Add the epazote, onion, and oregano. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are partially tender, about 45 minutes. Add about 1 tsp salt and continue cooking until completely tender, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Heat oil in a roomy skillet or saucepan over fairly high heat. Add the onion and saute for 4 to 5 minutes to soften. Add the beans, chile, tomatoes, and cilantro, lower the heat, and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. If the beans are dry, add a bit more water. Taste them for salt, then turn the beans into a dish and garnish with more cilantro.

Adapted from Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

The Mung bean, also known as green bean, choroko in Swahili, mung, mongo, moong, moogor moog dal, mash bean, munggo or monggo, green gram, golden gram, and green soy, is the seed of vigna radiata, which is native to Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. Whatever name you want to give this little green bean, it packs a nutritional punch of iron, protein, Vitamin C, and tonnes of other life-supporting things. And it’s one of the most cherished foods in ayurveda believed to balance all three doshas. Who can argue with that?

This recipe is from Vij’s new cookbook: Vij’s At Home: Relax, Honey. Love the subtitle. Love the recipe. Serve it with Spicy Cauliflower Steaks and – presto – you’ve got Saturday night dinner relaxing in front of the fire on a drizzly almost-ides-of-March.

1 cup mung beans

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tbsp cumin seeds

3 tbsps chopped garlic

2 cups puréed tomatoes

2 tbsps chopped ginger

2 tbsps ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp crushed cayenne pepper

3 cups of water

2 cups coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Wash and drain mung beans and set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high for 1 minute. Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for 45 seconds, or until they are a darker brown. Add garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until brown but not burned. Stir in tomatoes, then add ginger, coriander, turmeric, salt and cayenne. Stir and sauté masala for 5 minutes, or until oil glistens. Add water and mung beans, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste beans to make sure they are cooked (I reduced the amount of water needed; if the mixture is drying out and you need more simply add 1/2 cup at a time).

Stir in coconut milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat (if you want to thicken your curry some more, you can let it simmer on medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes). Stir in cilantro and serve.