Tagged: Dosa

Accidentally Vegan: Indian Groceries

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No money to go to India - have India come to you.

Love dosas? curries? samosas? Wish you could whip up Indian delicacies like a pro, but have no idea where to start? Head on down to your local Indian grocery store, where you’ll find an amazing wealth of vegan-friendly imported goods. I’ve always been a sucker for the exotic flavors found in Indian food, and since returning from a three week honeymoon in India (best trip ever!), I can’t get enough of them. I’d love to say that my kitchen is full of exotic spices and flours, but in reality, my kitchen is full of frozen dosas and bags of pre-mixed curry powders. Whether your magic happens in the microwave, or on the stove, you won’t walk away from an Indian grocery store empty handed.

As a regular Indian grocery store shopper, there are a couple of things you’ll start to notice, the most important being the green dot. A large segment of the Indian population is vegetarian (including no eggs), so to make shopping easier, they devised a system of dots. The green dot means that the food does not contain meat or eggs. If you see this green dot, you are in luck – as it means all you have to look out for is dairy (or rarely, honey). Be watchful for yogurt, curds, whey, milk, paneer, and ghee (except for vanaspati ghee which is hydrogenated vegetable oil). Things you don’t have to be wary of include: jaggery (unrefined sugar), asafoetida (an onion-like plant), dal (lentil), ajwain (spice), gram (spice), maida (flour) and amchur (mango). These are the main funky sounding (but entirely vegan) ingredients I’ve run across, but let’s just say that it never hurts to have a smart phone handy or a friendly grocery clerk around to help you out, as you’re likely to run into other strange ingredients.

Not what it sounds like.Shopping the Indian grocery aisles always brings out the middle schooler in me, as I giggle my way past the “dhudhi bread” and the “cook fresh fatafat”. I always get a chuckle out of the instructions on the packaging that tell me to add a tea cup of water, as I dutifully rummage through my cupboards to find my finest china tea cup to complete my recipe. I often ruminate on what you could possibly make with a bag of frozen gooseberries or pointed gourds, as I load up on my bulk bags of samosas. Not everything in the grocery store is completely foreign though, as you’re likely to find the Pilsbury Doughboy’s face smiling up at you from a package of frozen roti. Our gluten-free friends should fear not, as Indian cuisine has a lot to offer, with a majority of goods being comprised of rice and lentil flours. You can load up on dosas, uttapams, and idli to your heart’s content.

While perusing the frozen section, make sure to keep an eye out for a vegan-friendly brand of dosa, uttapam, idli, roti, vada, dhokla (my favorite!), khandvi, kebab, samosa, sambhar and kachuri. Most of these are sold at a mind blowing $1.99 – college students rejoice! While in the chat (Indian snack) section, keep an eye out for KurKure (I could eat bags of the “Masala Munch” flavor), soan papdi (magical cardamom dessert – watch out for ghee in some brands), Thums Up (Indian version of coca-cola), and a myriad of cereal-like snack mixes.

There are Indian grocery stores in every major city I’ve lived in or visited. Austin is no exception, and we have quite a few to choose from! Some are better (i.e., have a larger frozen section for the terminally lazy) than others. My personal favorite is Gandhi Bazar on W Parmer Ln. Not because it’s the largest, but because it’s next to one of my favorite Indian restaurants, Curry in Hurry (they were in too much hurry to include an “a”). If you’re in the area, make sure to check them both out – you won’t regret it.

Vegan Week in Review

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Nomad Dosa has announced that they are moving to South Congress! Their new address, 1603 S. Congress, is in the same food truck lot as vegan-friendly Hey Cupcake! They’ll be at their new location by May 19th with new hours of operation: Monday-Sunday, 11:30 am-8:30 pm. I can’t wait to be able to run around SoCo and grab a dosa for dinner and a cupcake for dessert!

ATX Vegan Drinks last Friday was a blast. It was great to see so many new faces. We’ve got pictures of the event up in our gallery. Our next event is in the works, so stay tuned for details.

– Doron Petersan, of Sticky Fingers Bakery and Cupcake Wars fame will be at MonkeyWrench Books on Sunday, May 20th for a book signing of her new book, Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes. There will be a vegan dessert potluck at 6pm and the book talk/signing will start at 7pm. With recipes for everything from cupcakes and cookies to cheesecake and biscotti, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

– I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise, but the idea of being stuck on a boat, without decent vegan options, sounded more like my worst nightmare than a vacation. The all-veg “Holistic Holiday at Sea” cruise has been around for a a while now, but now there is another decent veg option just announced from Holland America. Their entire line of cruise ships has added an all-vegetarian menu (with vegan options) to their main dining rooms. Hopefully, this will be a trend that continues to all the other cruise lines.

Veggie Haggis– VegNews has created a round-up of some of the oddest products ever veganized, including caviar, duck, foie gras, and haggis. This list caught my attention, as I have had a can of vegan haggis sitting in my kitchen for months now, which I have been hesitant to try. Growing up, I wasn’t the most adventurous eater, but as a vegan, I’ve been trying to open myself up to new foods. How many of these unique products have you tried?

Local Organic Dosas from an Airsteam Near You

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[Editor’s note: According to a tweet from Nomad Dosa, the trailer is closed until further notice. Here’s to hoping they open up again soon! Also, their domain name appears to have been taken over by cybersquatters, so we’ve removed all hyperlinks that previously pointed to their website from this post.]

Nomad Dosa opened last Wednesday at 3421½ N IH 35, one big block south of the Fiesta Mart on 38½ St near Concordia Ave and Robinson Ave. Chef and proprietor Todd Davis, trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, works to provide his customers with an all-around “quality experience,” from the flavor profile, to the friendly faces behind the counter, to the shopping list. We were lucky enough to get a taste of the vegan Mangonana Lassi and the lentil sambar during the soft opening on Saturday. Both impressed us so much that we had to return today for the full menu experience.

Nomad Dosa Trailer

The menu guides customers through a streamlined ordering process. First, you choose between a dosa, dosa set, or a rice bowl. Next, you choose a filling, toppings, and a dipping sauce. Marie tried a dosa with the Holy Cow filling (creamy spiced potatoes, sauteed onions, roasted cashews, and green peas), stuffed with raw chopped onions, and coconut chutney on the side. Marie says, “the mild rating of the coconut chutney is accurate,” so if your tongue recoils from heat, this chutney flavor is a good bet. The dosa tasted fresh and light and was not weighted down with too much oil.

I chose a dosa set. The dosa set features two small dosa flat rounds with a filling on the side, as opposed to the regular dosa which features one large round with the filling stuffed in. I ordered the Kerala Kokonut filling (mixed vegetables, garlic, ginger, with coconut curry), topped with romaine lettuce and bell peppers, with the cilantro chutney on the side.  The cilantro chutney definitely has a kick. If you order the dosa set, then you can stuff your filling into the rounds and eat them like tacos (please note the inauthenticity of this method). We also tried idli (steamed lentil and rice cakes) and vada (savory Indian donuts) on the side. The Kerala Kokonut filling and the vada were our favorites, but we recommend you give everything a try. (As part of a promotion for the soft-opening, we tried our food for free, in exchange for food pantry donations.)

Dosa

The only non-vegan items on the menu are the India Jones filling and an always optional cheese topping. All menu items are gluten-free, wheat-free, and soy-free. Nomad Dosa prioritizes using “the best food available from local family farmers who practice organic and sustainable ways of growing crops.” They do other neat things like fermenting their own dosa batter and making their own coconut milk.

A major life event, a trip around the country, and a love of dosa inspired Todd to start up his trailer and “share this delicious and nourishing food with others.” Marie and I had the opportunity to chat with him about his new venture, and we’re really excited about this new addition to the Austin food scene. Currently, Nomad Dosa is open from 11:00am till 3:00pm Monday through Saturday. If business demands it they may open for dinner and Sundays too. We are so excited about this new food trailer, that we’ve already scheduled a VRA meetup; so please make haste and show this new food trailer some love!