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Lemon Rasam - one of Gandhi's favorite recipes.

Celebrating World Vegetarian Day with Gandhi and Lemon Rasam

In our house we live by Michael Pollan’s addage: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”  This week we’re going one step further, invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s strict vegetarian diet in honor of World Vegetarian Day (October 1st). While most people think of Gandhi as a famous pacifist, he also had a lot to say about eating a pant-based diet, led in great part by his compassion and respect for the lives of even the smallest creatures. Not one to mince words, Gandhi wasn’t afraid to puts his beliefs in black and white:  No flocks that range the valley free To slaughter I condemn Taught by the power that pities me I learn to pity them – Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Our daughter Ava has been eating mostly vegetarian for a while now, so she was particularly happy to celebrate World Vegetarian Day with a new-to-us dish. What to eat for World Vegetarian Day? While we have hundreds of vegetarian and vegan recipes from around the world, I thought it’d be fun to try a dish Gandhi might have enjoyed …

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Iced Korean Buckwheat Noodles | Mul-naengmyeon

Perhaps you’ve had chilled soup, but have you ever had soup on ice? Korean naengmyeon is just that – a brothy, noodle soup topped with spicy cucumber, Asian pear, daikon radish, hard-boiled egg, and ice. While the soup starts out mild in flavor, adding vinegar, mustard oil (or paste), and even a spoonful of kimchee takes the soup to a whole new flavor profile – the catch is this seasoning is usually done at the table, so everyone can control how their naengmyeon tastes. Do you want it spicy? Sour? Heavy on the pear? The choice is yours. Have you ever had Asian pear? I love Ava’s face, here! She wasn’t sure about the Asian pear, but ended up eating nearly an entire pear herself by the end of dinner. While you could substitute bosc pears or just leave them off, crisp Asian pears are incredibly floral as compared to standard pears… they remind me a lot of star fruit in that way. Tips: – I made my own seasoned broth, adding dried mushrooms and kelp powder, but if you’re in …

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Zambia’s Spiced Tilapia Stew

  “Leading a race does not mean that you will win it.” Zambian Proverb It’s a chilly, wintery, blustery sort of day. Even the trees shudder, their leaves falling down in chatterings. Thankfully, Zambia makes quick work of dissipating the cold, with this Spiced Tilapia Stew.  Each bite pops with fresh lime juice, tomatoes, and Napa cabbage. A dusting of cumin, mustard seeds, fresh ginger and garlic give the broth depth. But it’s the Thai Bird chilies that’ll clear your sinuses.  Even just one in the pot promises a mellow tingle in every spoonful.   This is another kind of DIY soup, because of the garnishes. Children will especially enjoy squeezing lime juice on their soup and sprinkling their bowl with parsley.  Adults will enjoy seeing how many Thai Bird chili peppers they can handle. My husband added an entire sliced chili to his bowl; though he was sniffling and coughing from the heat, he then proceeded to add more. A note on the Tilapia: traditional Zambian stews often use dried tilapia. We’ve used fresh because …

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Sweet Potato Simboro

It only takes five minutes of grating sweet potatoes to make me wax poetic on the brilliance of the food processor. Friends, I certainly don’t have biceps of steel. Most days, I don’t even see my biceps beneath the jiggle. Today’s recipe for Simboro gave them a work out. I first learned about Simboro from a reader named Benjamin who spent some time in Vanuatu. This comforting side dish is made with a grated starch, like cassava, sweet potato, or yam, wrapped in “island cabbage,” then simmered in coconut milk. As much as it pained my muscles… I treated the grating like a ritual – a rite of passage – a way to imagine myself in Vanuatu telling tourists “THIS way to the beach.” Thirty minutes later, only my pride had kept me from pulling out the food processor. Because, the fact of the matter is that the sweet potato could just as easily be run through the grater attachment on your food processor, then ground finer in the processor bowl to achieve similar results… leaving …

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Harvest Stew | Dimlama

If it were up to me, every gardener would know about Dimlama, the Uzbek one-pot answer to harvest-time (no canning required). While every Uzbek family makes it a little differently, potatoes, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes are standard fare, as is a hearty sprinkling of whole cumin seeds. The key to dimlama rests in the layering. First of all, lamb is browned, then onions are added in the mix. One they submit to browning, the remaining vegetables are layered (and, once they’re added, you never stir the pot!). The final layer is always cabbage, which helps seal in the moisture. When the vegetables release their juices, they drip down to the bottom of the pan and deglaze all those nummy browned bits. The result? A luscious brown gravy worthy of being sopped up by a nice piece of Central Asian Yogurt Naan. Serves 6 Ingredients: 1/2-1 lb cubed lamb or beef 1 large onion, sliced in quarter moons 5 small yellow potatoes cut in half 2-3 large carrots, peeled & sliced 2 red peppers, sliced in strips 2 …

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Bean n’ Barley Soup | Ričet

Slovenia is known for her soups – each bite captures the taste of the earth and sky, rolling hills and grand mountains. They are the answer to frosted windows, the worst sort of bone-chill, and that scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. Slovenian soup is the sunshine to your snowy day. Today, in particular, we explore Ričet, one of the more beloved soups found throughout Slovenia. She’s made with barley, a soft, earthy grain that reminds me faintly of pasta, but chewier and more wholesome. When paired with beans, carrots, potatoes, onion, and garlic, an entire meal is made. A slice of rye bread on the side would be grand. While Ričet could certainly be made vegan, traditional Slovenian soups would include sausage or, as I have done, bacon. This adds another layer of complexity, making it all the more likely that I’ll be reaching for a bowl of Ričet when the winter snows float down. Makes 3+ quarts Ingredients: 1 1/4 cup barley 1 1/4 cup dried pinto beans water 4 large carrots, chopped 2 …

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Slovak Sour Bean Soup

When winter raindrops slide down the glass… when the droplets are  so close to ice that they sting on my wind-chapped face… there’s nothing better than a piping hot bowl of soup. Thankfully for me, Slovakia knows what’s what in this department. The fine people of Slovakia could probably make this staple soup with their eyes shut, and – for the first part, at least – that’s exactly what they do. While the house slumbers under the bright moon, a quiet bowl of bean sits in the shadows, soaking overnight. In the morning, after a big stretch, the softened beans are put to a bubble with bits of bacon (or perhaps a ham hock), potato, and – not to be forgotten – a splash of vinegar. The whole thing is thickened with sour cream and flour (or sometimes cream). The result is a bowl of warm, thick goodness – but of course every family has their own version… versions so good, you’ll want to snag a bite (or three) from under each other’s noses.   While traditional …

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Okra Stew with Beef & Eggplant

“WE YU YεRI PIKIN SE “MAMA DE KUK כKRכ”, PAPA BIN DכN TכK AM. If you hear a child say “Mama is cooking okra,” it’s because Papa said it.”*  When I read this old proverb from Sierra Leone, I get goosebumps. The truth is, children pick up everything from their parents, from what’s for dinner to more serious considerations, like world views, either loaded with prejudice or full of grace. While sipping soup or nibbling rolls, they overhear snippets of conversation; verbal jabs and eye-rolls are noted. And nowhere is this more noticed, than at the dinner table. In fact, I’d like to suggest that this is one and the same: what’s for dinner reflects, in a very serious way, our world views. At every meal, our kids get a double whammy as they witness the foods we eat and refuse to eat. They notice when we squirm and mock our way through other people’s “normal.” Friends, we have the power to shape our children’s very thoughts, yet we so often forget that the main way …

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Caribbean Pumpkin & Coconut Cream Bisque

I know three things for sure: this Caribbean soup cannot wipe out old college debt, or go gift shopping for us… or even stop that dog from barking a few houses over (unless that particular dog likes soup?). That being said, I have personal proof that this soup can help you bring love into the kitchen and give your family just a little escape from the ordinary.As you whip it up, the house will fill with the scent of pumpkin, ginger and coconut cream – that’s when it’ll start. Your family will come wandering in to see what you’re doing. The neighbors will come knocking.  Soon the house will fill with spirited chatter and spoons clinking against bowls. This taste of the islands is the best thing after a week of pumpkin pie and turkey leftovers (but not to0 big of a leap – it’s still pumpkin season after all!).In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (as well as all over the Caribbean), they enjoy this soup, often with some really spicy scotch bonnet peppers, ginger, and …

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Kale, Potato & Chorizo Soup | Caldo Verde

Under the glimmering night skies of Portugal, lines of people snake through the streets, waiting for steaming hot bowls of Caldo Verde. This is the nightclub crowd. The night shift crowd. And the I-can’t-sleep-again-because-I’m-thinking-of-him crowd. I was once a part of this group, wearing high heels until they ached. I was much too young to be out so late at night, but there was nothing like sizzling, steaming European street food to keep the evening’s excitement alive, even at four in the morning when all sensible people had retreated under their comforters. But who needs to go to sleep when there is Caldo Verde? Often sold with a steaming hot chorizo stuffed roll (called Pao com Chourico), this hearty soup is considered by some to be the national dish of Portugal. Each bite is a smooth blend of potatoes, garlic, and onion, with shaved kale and sprinkled with chorizo sausage. Compared to fritters and hot dogs, this is gourmet street food. In my excitement to eat the soup, I forgot to add a healthy drizzle of olive oil, …

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Vegan Spiced Yellow Split Peas | Dhal Baht

If you wake up in Nepal, chances are you’ll be eating Dhal Baht. In fact, you’ll probably also eat Dhal Bhat as the sun bobs below the horizon. Nothing wrong with eating the same dish twice in one day. There’s a beautiful simplicity in waking up and knowing that, as certain as the sun will circle the sky, there will be Dhal Bhat. Ah, yes. There’s something to be said for consistency. And for not having to make quite so many decisions during the day. I’m not sure what in my life is that certain. Perhaps my daily cups of tea. All day long I drink glass after glass of the stuff. This fancy name simply means lentils, split peas, or other pulses (dhal) with rice (baht), but each bite reveals so much more. This might as well be the national dish of Nepal. While rice doesn’t grow well in the mountains, this is a dish from the valleys. The seasonings in Dhal vary widely, but most commonly this soup-of-sorts contains tomato, turmeric, ginger, onion, and garlic. …

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Burmese Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup | ohn-no-khao-swe

Oh, yes. Even on the hottest day in steamy, tropical Myanmar, you’ll find gaping bowls heaped with noodles, chicken, and silky coconut curry. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick. It doesn’t matter if your skin is tacky with salty sweat.  “Ohn no khao swe” is what’s for dinner. . You can call it Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup, if you’d like. To a local, this curry topped with egg and a garden of garnishes is breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s as easy to find in rambling shacks as it is in roadside stalls. I can’t get over how easy it is to make. Chop a few things, toss them in a pot and simmer. After a happy mingle serve with noodles and enough garnishes to bring out even the Grinch’s smile, not to mention little Miss Ava (have I told you lately how much kids like to help build their own meals?). . The secret to making a great ohn-no-khao-swe is in the toppings. More specifically, in assembling your own bowl, just as you like it. If you do …