A Really Good Chana Masala

There are a lot of chana masala recipes out there that are perfectly good, but this is the chana masala you should make tonight. It’s what I want when I order chana masala in a restaurant. It’s what I look for when I dive into a beautiful thali plate.

A Really Good Chana Masala Recipe

Chana masala, the wildly popular dish from the Indian subcontinent made of chickpeas (chana) simmered in a feisty, spice-forward tomato sauce. It’s one of those gateway preparations that introduce people to the food of India and Pakistan, and I’ve enjoyed versions of it all over the world. I’ve had it in Bangkok, I’ve had it in Rome, I’ve had it in Jodhpur, and I’ve had it in Istanbul. I’ve formed strong opinions, and there were a number of variables I wanted to (finally) get right for a go-to version I would make regularly in my own kitchen. It has taken me a while to crack the code!

A Really Good Chana Masala Recipe

Chana masala varies from region to region, across borders, and from cook to cook. This is the version of chana masala I hope for and crave when I order it at a restaurant. What you tend to get in a restaurant is often overly oily, sadly seasoned, boring. This is not that. This is a Technicolor version of chana masala. It’s spicy, racy, and balanced. There’s kick from cayenne, serrano, and chana masala powder. There’s a bit of sour from the tomatoes, from the mango powder and pomegranate seeds in the chana masala powder.

A Really Good Chana Masala Recipe

As I was working on this recipe there were a number of things I wanted to focus on. First, I wanted to get the flavor and texture right (of course). Texture is really important, and my favorite chana masalas often lack clear definition between the chickpeas and the sauce, in a good way. They have this third thing going on, a crumbled texture of sorts, which I learned is from broken up chickpeas. You’ll see that reflected here.

Second, I think one of the things that intimidates people about cooking Indian, or Pakistani, or Sri Lankan food at home is those long ingredient lists (so many good-for-you spices). I’ve written this recipe so you’ll have enough of the simmer sauce for two meals. One for now, one to freeze for later. Double that and you’ve got four meals…

A Really Good Chana Masala Recipe

Which chickpeas to use? The answer is simple, whatever you have on hand. If you have chickpeas you’ve cooked from dried (like these turmeric soaked chickpeas), use those. If it’s a Wednesday night, and all you have is canned chickpeas, go for it! Either way, your chana masala will be delicious.

Thick or thin: Some chana masala is thin and soupy, other times it is thick, and more cohesive. It’s all a matter of personal preference – I tend to like mine somewhere in the middle.

Chana masala powder: You need to source good chana masala powder. It matters (meaning, don’t leave it out), and you’re not going to make it at home – it has mango powder, ground pomegranate seeds, dried musk melon, and a long list of other wonderful but challenging to source ingredients. I’ve been using this MDH chana masala powder, and I like it. Spicy! Tangy! Good sprinkled on all sorts of things.

Pair with: Eat chana masala with rice, eat it with flat bread, eat as a component in a thali plate, eat it spooned over your favorite grains. I love it with a simple side of cauliflower, and often I’ll throw in a handful of shredded kale or spinach, to get my greens in – a perfect one dish meal.

Hope you love this recipe!

Continue reading A Really Good Chana Masala…

Cultured Vegan Sour Cream

Cultured Vegan Sour Cream

Tangy vegan sour cream is here! Let us show you how.

This 5-ingredient recipe starts with soaked cashews. Cashews create the perfect creamy, thick base that’s neutral in flavor. Once soaked and blended, add your probiotics to get the culturing process started.

This sour cream does best with a 48-hour rest/culturing time. The longer it rests at room temperature, the thicker and tangier it will become (just like our 2-Ingredient Coconut Yogurt!).

Cultured Vegan Sour Cream from Minimalist Baker →

Coconut Rhubarb Amaranth Porridge

Coconut Rhubarb Amaranth Porridge | Naturally Ella

I have mentioned before that when I first started using amaranth, it wasn’t love at first bite. Amaranth was definitely a grain I was slow to add to my cooking. However, this porridge was one of the first recipes that I really learned to love this pseudo-grain. One of the major flavor discoveries along the way: toast the amaranth before you cook it. The flavor profile completely changes and I found I much preferred the flavor of toasted amaranth over the raw flavor.

Read more and see the recipe.

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Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

What you see here is Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake. The chocolate factor is deep and strong. The cake itself is rich, moist, and tender. It’s exactly what you want when you’re craving a homemade chocolate cake – an ace in that regard.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

I love a beautiful, frosted, homemade cake like no one else, but only bake them now-and-then. Because, cake. If it’s there, I want to eat it. All of it. More often than not, I throw together quick and easy loaf cakes (like this, this, and this) and call it a day.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

But, because I brought back a beautiful brass cake server from Simon Marks in Jaipur, and because my birthday was just around the corner, and because Claire Ptak’s Violet Bakery Cookbook was winking at me, I pulled my favorite mixing bowl from the shelf, and checked to see if I had enough buttermilk. This cake was meant to be, I had all the ingredients on hand, and shy of the buttermilk, you probably do too.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

The frosting is Claire’s Marshmallow Icing, it’s also in the same beautiful book. It’s billowy, sweet, vanilla-flecked, and a compelling alternative to buttercream. You’ll want to put it on the cake, and everything else edible in your life. I found myself dipping berries into it, and orange segments, and my fingers.

Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil's Food Cake

Simon, this marshmallow icing reminded me a bit of your incredible cannoli filling at Caffé Palladio. So so so so good!

Continue reading Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake…

Super Cleansing Slaw with Rosemary Dressing

Super Cleansing Slaw with Rosemary Dressing

If you’re in the mood for a tasty, healthy side, snack, or salad base, this recipe is the one for you!

It’s incredibly fresh, colorful, and customizable, and it comes with a new-and-improved tahini dressing. Let’s do this!

This 20-minute recipe starts with shredded fennel, celery, beets, carrots, and fresh parsley and cilantro, which not only creates a hearty base but also provides plenty of health benefits.

Super Cleansing Slaw with Rosemary Dressing from Minimalist Baker →

Pesto Asparagus Egg Skillet

Pesto Asparagus Egg Skillet | Naturally Ella

Post sponsored by Pete and Gerry’s. See below for more details.

This time of year always feels a bit like waking up from a long nap. Coming out of winter, my family still has slow weekend mornings often filled with lots of coffee on the patio and a solid mid-morning brunch. Even though I have more time to make breakfast, I’m still in the mood for quick meals that can easily serve all three (or more!) So, when Pete and Gerry’s asked me to make a brunch that highlights eggs, I knew exactly what I was making. This pesto asparagus egg skillet is just about my perfect weekend breakfast. Plus, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs are Certified Humane so I know the eggs I’m eating are coming from hens that are treated well.

A couple notes about this asparagus egg skillet. I love shaved asparagus because once you get the feel for how to shave it, the asparagus requires hardly any precooking. I typically make pesto ahead of time because I like to keep a batch around for pizza and pasta. I know basil isn’t quite in season yet which means it can be a bit pricey. My favorite hack for this: spinach pesto. Requires a lot less pesto but you still get the wonderful basil flavor!

Read more and see the recipe.

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Rhubarb, Ginger & Strawberry Soup

Rhubarb_strawberry_soup_1

My grandma had rhubarbs growing in her garden and would cook them into a sweet, tangy and unfortunately quite stringy soup with lots of little bits in it. I never liked that soup. I was only 11 when she passed away so I don’t remember a lot about her. But I do still remember that soup. How annoying is that!? One of the few memories you have of a person is something they cooked for you that you didn’t like. Eight year old David preferred supermarket box carton soups and powder soups that you just added water to. That ungrateful little schmuck.

Since then, I have of course come to my senses and learned to appreciate any food that someone cooks for me. Even tangy and stringy rhubarb soup. But since I don’t want to risk being remembered for a stringy soup, we give you a smooth one instead. It’s approved by eight year old David. And his children.

We made this video for our youtube channel to show how easy it is.

Rhubarb_strawberry_soup_2

We like this soup because it’s so simple and fresh and comes together in just over 10 minutes. Just a handful ingredients that you simmer, blend, (chill, if you like) and eat. It has a fruity and tangy flavour and a nice fresh punch from fresh ginger. It’s ideal as a weekday dessert, weekend breakfast or on a brunch table.

The soup begs to be topped with something creamy. We used greek yogurt, but mascarpone, whipped cream, ice cream or any dairy free option would also work. All to your preference.

I’m a licorice fan and was surprised by how well it matched the flavors when sprinkled on top of this soup. However if you don’t like licorice, cardamom or vanilla would also be great flavor additions. We also sprinkled some edible flower petals on top because it looked pretty but chopped pistachios will probably taste better and add some crunch 😉

Rhubarb_strawberry_soup_3

Rhubarb, Ginger & Strawberry Soup
Serves 8

Don’t focus too much on the exact amounts. You can use more or less rhubarb, strawberries, dates, water etc. It all depends on how sweet or tart the different fruit is, how large the dates are and how sweet flavor you want.
We usually add vanilla powder to this but it’s so expensive at the moment so we left it out. If you have some at home, add it together with the rhubarb in the sauce pan.

5 stalks rhubarb (1/2 kg / 1 lb / 2 cups chopped)
350 – 500 ml / 1 1/2-2 cups cold filtered water
1 big chunk fresh ginger

1 lime, zest
250 g / 1/2 lb strawberries
8-12 soft dates

To serve
Yogurt (or mascarpone, whipped cream or ice cream)

Licorice powder 
Edible flowers (or replaced with chopped nuts or seeds)

Trim the rhubarb and chop into 1 inch bits. Add to a wide sauce pan along with 1 cup filtered water and freshly grated ginger and lime zest. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let simmer until the rhubarb is starting to dissolve, around 5-8 minutes.

Pour over into a blender. Add strawberries, dates and a little more water. Mix until smooth. Taste and add more dates, strawberries, lime juice or ginger, if needed. And more water if you like it thinner. Place in the fridge too cool or serve it warm. Top with a dollop yogurt and sprinkle with licorice powder and some dried edible flower petals.

Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas

Remember the turmeric-soaked turmeric noodles I used recently in this pad thai recipe? Well, these turmeric-soaked chickpeas build on that idea. I wanted to figure out a way to work turmeric into the chickpeas, and it was actually pretty straight-forward, thankfully. You can make them on the stovetop. You can make them in an Instant Pot – I tested both approaches. Pick whichever method you prefer!

Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas

I’ve been using these chickpeas in all sorts of preparations, and I thought I needed to isolate the recipe on its own, so I can point to the technique when I post a recipe that uses them. You can use them in a lot of recipes that call for chickpeas.

Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas

I’ve used these in hummus, in my favorite chana masala, and in meals like the one you see below. I’ll post that recipe next! Working on it now. All in all these chickpeas are a great way to easily integrate a bit more turmeric into your everyday eats.

Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas

Continue reading Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas…

Vegan White Hot Chocolate

Vegan White Hot Chocolate

This is the recipe you want in your back pocket for chilly, gloomy days or when you’re craving a healthier, comforting pick-me-up. It’s made with 8 simple (wholesome) ingredients in just 10 minutes. Let’s do this!

The base starts with creamy coconut milk, either DIY or light store-bought. If you’re not into coconut, you could also sub just about any other dairy-free milk, like rice or almond!

Vegan White Hot Chocolate from Minimalist Baker →

13 Vegetarian Beet Recipes


13 Vegetarian Beet Recipes

Whenever I hear people talk about spring produce, it’s usually centered around two items: asparagus and strawberries. I’m not saying that’s bad, it’s just there are so many other wonderful spring/early summer items that deserve a share of the spotlight. One of my favorites: beets.

They are irresistible at the farmers’ market. The different varieties with their beautiful greens! It’s easily three different meals in one bunch (thanks to the edible greens). Below are 13 of my favorite vegetarian beet recipes. There’s something for everyone. Unless you think beets taste like dirt. There’s probably nothing for you. (I’m looking at you, mom!)

 

Mains

Cracked Spelt Risotto with Roasted Beets | Vegetarian Beet Recipes

Beets tend to be tossed into salads (as evidence by the next section) but they shouldn’t be ruled out for the star of dinner. Beets make for beautiful pasta, either as a sauce or added to the dough. They also are perfect for adding to risottos and even stuffed in sandwiches. I love the color of the red beets but often pick up chioggia beets because they tend to stain less.

 

Salads

Roasted Beet Salad with Herbs and Greens | Vegetarian Beet Recipes

As mentioned above, the more obvious use for beets is in salads. Grill them or roasted them; either way they are great with greens. If you’re looking to roast beets, try roasting whole with the skin on. Let cool, peel, then dice for the salad. If the skin isn’t too thick, I’ll leave it on (it’s a personal preference!)

 

Snacks/Dessert

Pecan Roasted Beet Dip with Sage | Naturally Ella | Vegetarian Beet Recipes

This category has two of my favorite recipes: the beet dip and the beet cupcakes. Both are great conversation starters and both are delicious. I find the recipes in this category can sometimes turn even the most picky eater into a beet lover.

 

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