The kitchen is often the heartbeat of the home. It is the place where we experience a kind of communion–bonding through the sustenance of our everyday foods. Lenten cooking can be daunting, even for those practiced vegans or vegetarians. As a mother of young children, I often find it difficult to remember keep non-fasting ingredients “on the side” to ensure that grown-ups can fast at a greater level than the children. I’m often just happy that I got the food to the table on time!
But here’s a recipe from the Indian arena I’ve fallen in love with for Lent: Pav Bhaji. This is a flexible recipe that has plenty of room for personalization and experimentation. I like to make a super large batch and save some for a quick meal to pull out of the freezer later, as it reheats beautifully on the stove or in the microwave. It requires a way to blend or mash the ingredients together, and of course tweak the spices to suit your tastes. I tend to blend the mix until quite smooth, and my littles don’t seem to notice that they’re eating a big flavorful mound of healthy vegetables.
Serves 6 / allow 45 minutes start to finish
Masala Spices (adjust to taste)
I like to make a big batch and keep it in a baby food jar so I can just have it on hand.
1 T turmeric
1 t red chili powder
1 t coriander
1 t ginger
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t clove
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t fennel
1/2 t sugar
For any of these vegetables, you can substitute frozen or canned alternatives, though fresh tastes best. Other vegetables to add: frozen peas, sweet peppers, scallions, or sweet potatoes.
2 medium potatos, cubed
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, cubed
1 C cauliflower, chopped
1/4 C green beans
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 T lemon juice
In a large pot, boil water to cook your potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans until soft.
While that is cooking, heat oil in a small fry pan, and fry your onion, pepper, and garlic until golden. Remove from heat. Drain your large pot and add the fry pan ingredients, along with your tomatoes, masala spices, and lemon juice. Mash with a potato masher or immersion blender, then heat through, simmering about 10 minutes.
Serve over Basmati rice with naan (vegetarian) or pita (vegan), and garnish with fresh cilantro.