In attempt to cut back on what was (again!) becoming “bacon-fest” at our house, I have been trying to interject more vegan/vegetarian meals. Fortunately, the season has been allowing us to gorge ourselves on loads of fruit and veggies, but I just needed some spice. Not to mention that the weather here in Seattle is more conducive to eating stew than BBQ. I love Indian food, but have yet been able to find the perfect channa masala. So far, I have tried out 4 different recipes for this particular chickpea stew and none of them have had that “homey” taste I was looking for. I order this dish every time I go out for Indian food, but would prefer to make this at home for myself. If only I could nail it down! Ironically, just yesterday I found a binder-clipped copy of an Indian cookbook from a friend of mine, whose mother had sent it to him when he moved to the U.S. from India. I am placing odds on the next recipe being “the one.”
For this attempt at perfection, I went to a trusted source for creative vegetarian fare, Cafe Flora. Cafe Flora is a long-standing icon among Seattle’s health conscious. When I first moved to Seattle back in 1999, my soon-to-be spouse was a vegetarian. It was fun to try out new restaurants with him. When you aren’t eating meat, you quickly realize how many restaurants think that by offering a salad they have met the needs of their vegetarian customers. I began to turn my focus towards finding food that was by far more interesting than a spinach salad. Something that I could emulate at home or at least use for inspiration. Indian restaurants were always easy to dine in, as they were likely to have more than half of the menu dedicated to being meatless. When we found an “alternative” restaurant that was also experimenting with foods and styles from different cultures, I was in love. We don’t frequent this restaurant that often these days, but honestly, we don’t frequent any of them that often. Being without a job forces you to be choosey. And cheap.
In addition to making their Indian Chickpea Stew (a.k.a. Channa Masala), I made red quinoa to serve as a base for the stew. I also made a side of Artichoke Croquettes with a lemon foam. Their recipe called for a lemon cream sauce, but mine didn’t set up, so foam it is. This was tasty, especially the croquettes, but still not the one I seek. The search will continue.