A Taste of India

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I recently purchased a new cookbook–the first cookbook I’ve bought in several years.  It’s called The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes by Bobbie Hinman.  I eat primarily vegetarian even though I am slowly working my way towards consuming a little more meat these days.  I’m giving up soy protein just in case it is interfering with my medical woes, which means I will be missing out on some of my favorite meat substitutes forever more.  But as long as I have locally produced meat options, I’ll pursue that avenue and I won’t miss the soy one bit.

I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a slut for cookbooks with beautiful photos to get my mouth watering at each recipe, and this book doesn’t have that.  So that has made me a bit more reluctant to just sit down and browse this book like I do with my other cookbooks.  But the first recipe I chose to make, an Indian-inspired Split Pea and Vegetable Soup, was a big winner.  Both my husband and I got comments from co-workers about “how good that smells.”  I’m not gonna lie, it does smell delicious.  And it tastes just as good.  Gotta love those intense mixtures of spices that infuse foods from the Indian subcontinent!

A couple of notes: I’m reporting this recipe as it is written in the cookbook, but I had to make some modifications.  First, I swear I had canned tomatoes.  I am positive I bought some at the grocery store when I was there last week, but alas, they were not to be found in my pantry.  I had a can of Hearty Tomato Soup that I was forced to use as a substitute.  Because of that substitute it had way more tomato flavor than I wanted, so I had to up the spices to give it back its Indian flavor.  Also, I didn’t measure my veggies; I sort of just winged it on this and used what I had in the quantity available.  Lastly, I treated this soup more like a curry and added about 1 cup less water than called for in the recipe, partly because of the addition of the Hearty Tomato Soup, and partly because I didn’t want it to be so soupy because I have been eating it with basmati rice–a very good idea, I might add.  It would also be very good served with naan.

Split Pea and Vegetable Soup (from The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes):

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1 cup diced onion

2 cups diced carrots

1 teaspoon grated ginger root (or use about 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup green split peas, uncooked

1 16 ounce can of chopped tomatoes, undrained

5 1/2 cups water

1 medium potato, diced into 1/4″ pieces

1/4 teaspoon salt

additional salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, carrots, and ginger root.  Cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Add spices and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.  Add up to 1/2 cup of the water to keep the vegetables from sticking to the Dutch oven if needed.  Add remaining ingredients (except additional salt and pepper) and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour or until the vegetables and split peas are tender.  Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

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