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Chana Masala and Kale

L. and I have been trying to embrace this whole Meatless Monday movement. In general we’re fans of vegetarian food, but don’t think about incorporating it into our menu often enough.

Last night I made Orangette’s Chana Masala. It was so divine and delicious. Even as I was cooking and tasting it, I could tell the pay off was going to be huge. The dish was well-spiced, but not hot, full of tomato and onion flavors. It was incredible and I had to fight not to consume the entire bowl right then and there.

I followed Orangette’s recipe to a tee, with the following exceptions:

– I topped ours with a serving of tofu, to balance the carbs and protein ratio. In general, I would have preferred the protein to come from paneer but our local market didn’t have any. Apparently you can use Queso Blanco for a substitute but I know paneer is super easy to make at home. My co-worker Seema is always talking about how she makes it in the morning before work. Maybe I’ll give that a try.

– We didn’t have any garam masala on hand. Garam Masala is actually a spice blend and I was able to find the right combo of spices on the internet. The combo we used was the second one listed here. To be honest though, we did not mix up a whole 1/4 cup. I just tossed in a little bit of each with the spices.

– We had ground cardamom and not cardamom pods, so we substituted 1 tsp per pod. The actual ratio is 1/6 tsp per pod, so we were probably a touch heavy on the cardamom.

Next week I plan to use Orangette’s recipe as a base, but substitute okra for the chickpeas, making one of my favorites: bhindi masala! I’m also going to make some Naan because the dish was crying out for some yummy bread to scoop up the sauce.


Tonight for dinner I am making, a veggie stir-fry using a bunch of stuff we picked up at Trader Joe’s today. (I am a TJs addict.) In the mix are onions, peppers, mushroom, bok choy, carrots and snow peas. I’ve put them in a sauce with soy, basil, siracha and terriyaki.

I’m serving it over some doctored up Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. I made it with some chicken broth, scallions, basil, garlic and sirracha.

Part of my move towards getting back on track with healthy eating is trying to have at least one vegetarian meal a week.

I love Trader Joe’s Chicken-less strips because they are a lot more versatile and sturdy than plain tofu. Sometimes I’ll go to the store and pick up some tofu and think I’ll figure out something to do with it, but I never do. With the chicken-less strips, I just substitute them in a dish where I’d use chicken. Taste wise – they won’t fool anyone into thinking they’re chicken, but they’re still delicious. The strips taste like slightly spicy tofu.

Overall, dinner was delicious. We are out on the front steps since it’s so hot inside today.

I packed up the leftover for lunch and I’m so looking forward to enjoying them later this week.


Cristen, a New York City school teacher who loves to cook, even if she's not always amazing at it. Lives in Queens with her husband and two pit bulls. Total cheese addict. Fan of anything savory and sweet, espescially Thai food. Likes to eat seasonally. Trying to be a locavore. Learning how to explain what she likes in a red wine: dry, medium bodied with hints of fruit. If I could only have one network on my TV, it would be the Food Network. I cannot get enough of competitive cooking shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef. I adore Anthony Bourdain more than I probably should.

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