Until I sat down with Gary Mulchandani, at Kailash Parbat NY, to discuss filming this episode of Lost Vegetarian Presents I had never heard of Sindhi culture or Sindhi cuisine. Over the past few years the regional specifics of Chinese cuisine have been becoming more popular around NYC, but Indian cuisine hasn’t had the same thing happen. I vaguely knew there was a difference between northern and southern Indian cuisine, but the truth is I couldn’t tell you exactly what that difference was. There are thousands of cultures in India, all with their own identities. So it was a pleasure to learn about one of them, the Sindhi culture.
And yet as I watched Gary cook (he’s not one of the cooks at the restaurant, but part of his training to manage Kailash Parbat in NYC involved him learning how to make everything) it was something simple and familiar that made me take notice. The Sindhi curry starts with a specific technique in which gram (chickpea) flour is smoked slowly in oil. It was a technique that would be recognizable to anyone who has ever made a French roux; though I’m guessing the Sindhi version pre-dates the roux by a few thousand years.
Obviously a couple of conversations doesn’t make me an expert, and everyone’s family has a different recipe for Sindhi curry. I feel privileged to have gotten a glimpse into a culture I didn’t know anything about, and to be the recipient of Gary’s generosity.
Camera – Donny Tsang (http://www.donnytsang.com/)
Camera – Matt Yule (https://www.youtube.com/user/YuleBrothers)
Music – Bayard Russell (https://bayardrussell.wordpress.com/)
Kailash Parbat NY — 99 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016
Confession time: for years after I became a vegetarian, I continued to eat kimchi. I knew that it was made with dried fish, or fish paste, but I couldn’t help myself. Kimchi is just that good. But after a while I put an end to it; I would have to do without. Cut to February, when I was at the Gotham West Market when I spotted Mama O’s Vegan Kimchi at the Brooklyn Kitchen outpost there and I immediately bought a jar to bring home. I tasted it two different ways: as is, straight out of the jar, and also cooked in a recipe (which I’ll post about another time). The kimchi wasn’t as pungent as the real stuff and not nearly spicy enough, but the cabbage was crisp and it was nicely salty. Then two weeks later I was checking out the new Whole Foods here in Brooklyn, and I saw Mother-In-Law’s Vegan Kimchi. I tried it in exactly the same two ways as I had the Mama O’s. Here was the wonderful fermented funkiness I had been missing for these past few years; if I didn’t know it was vegan, I would have sworn it was the real deal. The spice level was also higher, a definite plus for me.
For a long time I’d been scouring labels of every kimchi bottle I found looking for a vegetarian one. I’d seen both Mama O’s and Mother-In-Law’s kimchis in various specialty stores around NYC, but never the vegan varieties. Now that I’ve tasted both, I’m ready to pick a favorite. Although both are good, Mother-In-Law is by far the one I prefer, both raw and cooked. So if you’re like me and have been searching for a vegetarian jar to fill that kimchi-sized hole in your life, you know what to do. (It should be pointed out that as a fermented product each jar of kimchi may be at a different stage, and so a single jar may not be enough to represent an entire company.)
Mama O’s Kimchi
So I was in Union Market the other day and saw some lobster mushrooms for sale. These odd looking fungi are mottled orange and very firm, and smell strongly of seafood. I picked some up, as I am wont to do with items I’ve never used before. I sent out a call for help on twitter, asking what i should do with the mushrooms, but did not receive a single reply. It’s okay though, I decided I would try to make lobster rolls with them, and realized it would be fairly easy to make them vegan. So here’s what I did.
I sliced the mushrooms into thin strips, and browned them in some olive oil with some salt. As they were browning I mixed some Vegenaise (a vegan mayo alternative) with some fresh lemon juice and some chopped scallion greens. I removed the browned mushrooms directly into the “mayo” and mixed thoroughly.
Lobster rolls are traditionally served on split-top hot dog buns, but those usually contain dairy. Instead I bought a loaf of simple yeast bread and created my own split-top roll. I loaded the mushrooms into the split and garnished with some more chopped scallions.
The aroma of the lobster mushrooms made me fear that they would have a strong seafood flavor, but they actually had a great, earthy mushrooms flavor. I also made a vegetarian version, in which I browned the mushrooms in butter, but I actually preferred the vegan version.
My cousin Wendy is a vegan, so when we eat out together it can sometimes be a problem. For her birthday she invited some of us out to the Natural Gourmet Institute‘s Friday night dinner. For $40 the students at the Institute cook and serve a three course dinner to you. The meal was quite good, though not perfect; these are, after all students. I will say I had a good time and some of the food was excellent. Click on the link above to find out how to make reservations.
Curried roasted cauliflower in saffron “ailoi”
Roasted Brussels Sprouts in smoky tomato “cream”
Kale chips with horseradish cream
Lentils and bulgur with olives, raisins, and caramelized onions, braised radishes, microgreen salad, and celeriac sauce
Chocolate tart in pistachio crust with salty caramel and candied kumquats
Ever since Hanco’s opened their 7th Avenue branch, I’ve been eating their tofu banh mi at least once a week. Then a few weeks ago I was at the Farmer’s Market and spotted a beautiful daikon radish and an idea began to form in my head. Why not make my own banh mi? I grabbed a daikon, some carrots, a few demi-baguettes, a sprig of cilantro, and some eggplants (among other things) and began to plan.
Click to continue…
While planning my food truck crawl in LA I wanted to do more than just eating and than blogging about what I ate. Inspired by what Serious Eats and California Taco Trucks are doing on their site for street food vendors, I set out to come up with my own set of questions to ask each vendor. So much has been talked and blogged about the food from the street vendors I decided to concentrate on more of the social aspects of this new wave of food trucks. And also to find out how the city of Los Angeles has shaped the way of street food vending.
*Photo provided by The Franken-Stand
1) Please state your name, name your food truck, the type of food you serve, and how long have your food truck been in operation?
My name is Raymund and I own/operate Franken’s (aka The Franken-Stand.) It is quite an honor to be included in your food truck mission, Thank you. I can tell right away you may not know much about us. We are a Spooky-Theme Mobile Cuisine! We offer 100% Plant-Based Gourmet Franks. We are not a food truck. Franken’s is the one and only Vegan Hot Dog Stand in Los Angeles. The Franken-Stand has been haunting L.A. for over a year and a half and have seen tons of food trucks within our time, spring on the scene. But, I am confident to say that even though we are not a truck and we only work out of one food facility.. we still stand out amongst the massive gathering of food trucks in our town. I do not know of one food truck here that is entirely vegan, though many have some vegan options. There is not one that is dedicated to the spooky side of life. So, with these things in mind.. we kind of are not in the food truck loop of things. We do not associate with any of them. Franken’s books events all over. We do private parties, festivals, music shows, art shows, independent theatres, museums, etc.. and since we are so compact it makes it a lot easier to be “a part” of the happenings and just be parked around it. That is our goal. We are there because people want us there.
Click to learn more about The Franken-Stand
Recently my 2 of my friends made the move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They had settled into the dreaded “Valley” of Los Angeles. When every Angelinos talk or think about the “Valley”, they have a disgusted tone of voice, “eewww the Valley?” Personally I have never been to the Valley nor do I know where the Valley is. When I googled map my friends’ address, it told me it would take 1.2hours. Greeeeaaat. So the next day, I gave myself enough time for the trek and off I went to this magical Valley place. Well 5.5hours later, I was tired, sleepy and hungry. What I nor my friends realized were that we would be sitting on a patio drinking sangria and having some good Mexican food at Hugo’s in Studio City.
Click here to continue with the adventure