I taught myself to cook as a vegetarian in my late teens. At that time, there wasn’t really such a thing as North American plant-based cuisine the way there is now. Instead, I turned to ingredients and techniques from culinary traditions that had been flavouring legumes and vegetables for millennia—from Asia, India, the Middle East…basically, most of the world. .
Although tofu and soy sauce are staples in my fridge and I’m pretty sure I’m 60 percent hummus by volume, my first true culinary love was Indian food. In my tiny apartment kitchen with banged-up cheap pots, I seasoned lentils with cumin, coriander, and turmeric, added yogurt to garlicky spinach, stewed chickpeas with coconut milk, and braised cabbage with mustard seeds. I started countless pots of food with that heady formula of onions, garlic, spices, and tomatoes. I couldn’t believe that it was so easy to make intense, complex flavours with so few ingredients and in so little time.
Then, as now, I didn’t really follow recipes, preferring to read over a variety of blogs and cookbooks, and play around based on what I had and what I liked. In doing this I made a lot of mistakes and ended up with some seriously mediocre meals, but it’s how I learned to be a creative, confident home cook. My cooking skills and repertoire have changed enormously since those early days, but one thing is the same: I continue to be in awe of the art of creating tantalizing food with humble ingredients.
I made this dal in my stories if you’d like to see, and we had it along with a potato and cabbage curry, and simple green salad with vinaigrette. There are limitless ways to combine plant-based ingredients for nutritious meals that don’t sacrifice on flavour! #indianfood #instantpot #bluezones