To cap off my week of vegetarianism, I finished off with an Indian-inspired menu, shared with two of my favorite people:
- Lentil dal
- Tangy shredded cabbage salad
- Cucumber scallion raita
- Fluffy jasmine rice
My week of non-meat went very well. I already eat about 2/3 of my meals without meat, and I do feel like my body “runs cleaner” without too many animal products. I think I may ultimately go 95% pescatarian, not even eating a lot of fish due to the overfishing issues we’re currently faced with. However, I do enjoy meat, and I do like the flexibility of being able to choose my foods, so I’ll continue on in my “flexatarian” lifestyle for the time being.
At the risk of sounding very, very cocky, this was one of the best dinners I’ve ever made. Instant place in the list of menus I keep in my back pocket. The lentils were delicious and savory, pairing wonderfully on a bed of fluffy rice.
The cabbage salad was simple but delicious, with the fresh crisp of the raw cabbage providing a great contrast to the softer dal and rice.
Finally, a dollop of the yogurt added a surprising lightness to the overall meal. I wasn’t sure what to initially think about it, but am so happy I added the raita to the menu.
Tangy Shredded Cabbage Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 4 cups tightly packed, shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 a head)
- 1 small red serrano/jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
- The juice of half a lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar (the original recipe only calls for 1/2 a spoonful, but I increased it to this)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, chile, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You are looking for a well-balanced, sweet and sour taste.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. When seeds top popping, immediately pour the oil over the cabbage salad and toss well.
- Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to blossom.
- Serve cold or at room temperature.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen: Everyday Yellow Dal
- 2 cups yellow split peas (lentils), soaked in cold water for 1 hour (I didn’t use yellow lentils and also didn’t soak them for the full hour, but they cooked up just fine)
- 2 large tomatoes (about 8 ounces), cut into wedges (I only had one)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen.
- After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether.
- Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add the cilantro, butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Cucumber Scallion Raita
Taken from Smitten Kitchen
- 1/4 cup finely chopped English (seedless cucumber)
- 1 thinly sliced scallion
- 3/4 cup yogurt (I used Greek)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt