meatless mondays

©from maggie's farm 2011
our passage to india

©from maggie's farm 2011
just as india is a vast and exotic land, full of mysteries around each corner, each region a unique culture in and of itself, so it is with indian food.  it is a cuisine with so many regional differences that one finds it difficult to put a finger on it's commonalities, however one thing you will find in all indian food is spice.  countless spices.  visit an indian food market and get lost in the spice aisle.  the names, the colors, the scents, the textures; boxes, bottles, packets, glassine envelopes, barrels-full.  the fragrances of an indian food market are redolent with the spices commonly found in indian food: cumin, black and brown mustard seed, fenugreek, clove, chiles, peppers, coriander, turmeric, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, fennel, bay leaves, garam masala, and more, and seasonings such as ginger, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. commonly used oils are peanut, mustard oil, and ghee.  most indian homemakers have at least 25 different spices and seasonings in their pantry.  their dishes are largely vegetarian--if meat is eaten, it will be found on special occasions. dishes can be spicy, or not, and daals, or lentils, and curries (which is the name the british used to describe the common use of some meats, but primarily vegetables cooked in flavorful spices and seasoning in stewed sauces and gravies) are the building blocks of every meal, complemented with relishes, raita, chutney's, fruit pickles, and pickled onions.  coconut meat, oil, and milk are commonly used (as in the dishes below) in curries and daals, and rice, grains, nuts, fresh and dried fruits, teas, and the delicious naan, the most common bread of india, round out the pantry. historically, a robust spice trade and colonization by aryans, persians, arabs, the british, and portuguese have had strong influences on indian cuisine, and culture, in which very literally, variety is the spice of life. 

©from maggie's farm 2011

©from maggie's farm 2011
the beauty of living in a country such as ours, the 'melting pot' of the cultures and customs found all around the world, is that we can experience the best of those places, and plates, without even leaving the comfort of our own home.  our passage to india, today, will be found through the exotic flavors and luscious colors of a 'meatless monday' plate:
  • spicy red lentil daal
  • basmati rice with almonds and currants
  • spiced indian cabbage
  • coconut cucumber raita
  • served with naan, darjeeling tea, and rosewater mint cooler

spicy red lentil daal
ingredients: 1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed + 1 can coconut milk + 1/2-1 tablespoon each: dried chile, crushed, cumin seed, brown mustard seed, fenugreek, coriander, and cardamom pod + 1 tablespoon mustard oil (or peanut oil, alternatively) + 1 tablespoon tomato paste + 1 onion, chopped, browned in ghee, or oil, alternatively + 1/2 tablespoon salt, or more, to taste+ juice of 1/2 lime

©from maggie's farm 2011
in a large saucepan, toast spices in oil until mustard seeds begin to pop.  add coconut milk with lentils. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  add onions and tomato paste, stir well. as lentils thicken, monitor liquid level, and add water if necessary. continue to simmer 15 minutes longer, or until cooked to desired consistency.  (can range from soupy to glutenous--your preference) correct seasoning with salt and lime juice.  serves 4 as a side dish.

©from maggie's farm 2011
 basmati rice with almonds and currants
ingredients: 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed + 1 and 3/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon ghee, or peanut oil, alternatively + 1 tablespoon, each, cumin seed, coriander, melequeta pepper (optional, but sooooo goood), cardamom pods + handful whole, raw almonds + 1/2 cup dried currants + zest of one lime 

©from maggie's farm 2011
soak rice in water for twenty minutes. brown spices in ghee or oil until fragrances are released. add currants, rice and water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover with well fitting lid or aluminum foil, snugly.  simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  remove from burner, and allow to sit, covered for 10 minutes.  remove lid, add lime zest, toss with a fork to loosen.  serves 4.

©from maggie's farm 2011
spiced indian cabbage
ingredients: small head red cabbage, sliced, divided + 1 large or two small onions, sliced + 1 bunch cilantro,  stems chopped finely, leaves reserved + 1 tablespoon, each, garam masala, brown mustard seed, dried chile, crushed , and mustard oil, or ghee or peanut oil, alternatively+ 1 can coconut milk + salt, to taste

©from maggie's farm 2011
brown onion in oil until limp.  add spices and saute until mustard seeds begin to pop. add half can of coconut milk and half sliced cabbage.  simmer until cabbage is limp.  add remaining cabbage and cilantro stems.  simmer until second batch of cabbage is just tender.  toss with cilantro leaves prior to serving.  serves 6.

coconut cucumber raita

ingredients: 1 small carton greek-style yogurt + 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely diced, + 1 tsp kosher salt, + 1 cup seasoned rice vinegar + 1 t dill weed + 1 T black mustard seed + 1/2 c shredded coconut + 1T peanut oil
combine vinegar, salt, and cucumber and allow to marinate 4 hours, or as long as overnight.  saute mustard seed in oil until seeds begin to pop. add coconut and toss to blend.  in a small bowl, combine drained cucumbers, dill weed, mustard and coconut mixture, with yogurt.  allow flavors to marry one hour prior to serving.

©from maggie's farm 2011
naan is a leavened, oven-baked flatbread which, in variations, can be found all over asia and the middle east.  in india, it is commonly used as a utensil; in fact is the only utensil used at most indian tables, as it is traditional for the people of india to use (only) their right hand to feed themselves.  naan is used to pile a bit of each dish, to eat out of hand.  naan can be found in regular supermarkets, packaged, often in the bread or deli section.  if you'd like to tackle naan yourself, the recipe found here, at, is a good place to start.  you might even move on to adding dried fruits or nuts to your homemade naan, just as you'll find in india. 

©from maggie's farm 2011
superfoods we've used:
in addition to the greek-style yogurt, chile peppers, and tomato we've discussed in previous posts, we've used:
muscle enhancers
these flat beans don't just make delicious soups. they're packed with protein, not to mention b vitamins  zinc, and a whopping 12 grams of fiber per one cup serving.  eat 1/2 to 1 cup, twice a week, to support muscle building and digestive health.
inflammation fighter
curcumin, the polyphenol that gives the spice its tang and yellow hue, has antitumor, antiarthritis, and anti-inflammatory properties. studies show that it also inhibits the growth of plaques associated with alzheimer's. sprinkle half a tablespoon on fish, chicken, grains, soups, or stews to add color and flavor.
inflammation fighter
these energy-rich snacks lower bad cholesterol, thanks to plant sterols, and benefit diabetics by lowering blood sugar. they're also rich in amino acids, which bolster testosterone levels and muscle growth.  eat a third of a cup a day with the skins on. the skin is full of antioxidants.

thank you for dropping by today. we'll see you in a few days for wordless wednesday, pictures of patriotism,  putting us is in the mood for celebrating the upcoming fourth of july holiday.

have a great week!


  1. Anonymous27 June, 2011

    I love starting my day reading Notes for Maggie's Farm!

  2. Anonymous28 June, 2011

    Isn't it just wonderful. I can't wait to try these recipe's. Thank you Maggie.

  3. ah, thanks, friends! starting my day with y'all, and copious amounts of dark coffee, is starts my day off right, too.


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