Quinoa Tomato Avocado with Carrot Ginger Sesame

Quinoa Tomato Avocado Salad - Carrot Ginger Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Here’s a quick and healthy vegan recipe for one of my favorite salads. It’s great for lunch on its own, or as an appetizer before a soup or lighter meal. Instead of quinoa, you can use other grains like couscous or bulgar, or use the dressing, avocado and tomato on fresh greens, like spinach or arugula.

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Paradise Pineapple Pancakes

Paradise Pineapple Pancakes - Thailand - The Lotus and the Artichoke

In December 2000, I flew to Bangkok with a backpack and a few changes of clothes, a small stack of books, my first digital camera, a new state-of-the-art mini-disc player with Beatles and Red House Painters albums and some of my other favorite traveling music. I read most of my Lonely Planet – Thailand book on the plane and even slept a little with my head on the window. Soon we landed in Bangkok. It was my second trip to Asia, and I’d read so much and seen so many foreign films about the region and culture, but it still totally blew me away.

From my first day there, I started a tradition of eating pineapple pancakes for breakfast at the guesthouse in a little alley behind Khao San Road. During the day, I rode in auto-rickshaws with unscrupulous and amusing drivers, explored the temples and markets, my favorites being the giant reclining buddha at Wat Pho, and day trips to the incredible floating markets. I was also delighted to find great used bookstores on Khao San road. I actually read the first 70 pages of Alex Garland’s The Beach (which takes place in Thailand) while standing at the shelf in the bookstore before paying a few bucks for the tattered paperback and finding a café to finish the book.

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Gibanica – Balkan Cheese Pie

Gibanica - Croatian Cheese Pie - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

This recipe is inspired by the famous Gibanica cheese pastry pies served throughout the Balkans. It’s a popular breakfast meal and savory snack I saw on menus and in bakeries in Montenegro and Croatia during my visit in October 2012. There are countless variations, including pastry pies with spinach, poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fillings.

My recipe for vegan gibanica is best described as a curious cross between vegan quiche, lasagna, and strudel – all recipes which I just happen to have previously made for The Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook and this website. It’s no coincidence that the dish closely resembles Turkish and Greek cheese pastries, börek and tiropita. A glance at a map and we all know why. The Balkan states and their neighbors have their own variations (and names) for burek.

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Grah – Balkan Bean Stew

Grah - Balkan Bean Stew - Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian - The Lotus and the Artichoke

When two of my good friends announced they’d be moving to Herceg Novi, Montenegro for several months this year, I was excited for them and thrilled at the opportunity to visit them in a new part of world. After they settled in, started with the language, and began making local friends, I booked my flight to Dubrovnik. I ordered a Serbo-Croatian phrasebook and I started reading about cultural and culinary traditions, politics, and the history of the region. My friends arranged for me to rent a studio apartment in their building, with a balcony overlooking the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic Sea. For our visit to Dubrovnik, they booked a furnished flat with Rock Palace Apartments, and we got a kitschy and fun Jimi Hendrix themed place for a few days on the hillside overlooking the old city.

My biggest supporter of The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Cookbook Kickstarter project made an amazing contribution which made the entire trip possible! For the reward, I’d signed up to visit a new place and bring back recipes based on the food there, plus lots of photography and artwork. So, along with briefly exploring two new countries with my location independent friends Ryan and Angela (of Jets Like Taxis), I got to sample and learn about traditional Balkan food. This included Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian, and Bosnian culinary customs. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the local food is considerably influenced by neighboring cuisines: Mediterranean, Turkish, Greek, Italian, as well as Central and Eastern European cooking.

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Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

My first visit to Turkey was in late 2003. I’ve been back a couple of times, usually for brief visits on the way to India via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.

On that first visit, I spent eight days exploring Istanbul, and took a ride out to the Black Sea and stayed in the sleepy seaside town of Amasra. Particularly in Istanbul, I recall afternoons of drinking tea and reading books. The days were beautifully punctuated by the competing calls to worship from mosques with their minarets pointed into the heavens. Continue reading

West African Spinach Peanut Stew with Fufu

West African Spinach Peanut Stew with Fufu - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

In October of 2009, I spent 2 weeks in Senegal and The Gambia. Julia had an internship with GADHOH (Gambian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) in Serrekunda, The Gambia, and I went to visit. I also helped film and edit a promotional video to support the girl’s school and I proudly watched Julia teach some science lessons in sign language with St. John’s School for the Deaf.

We met some amazing people and had some great times. The trip was a total adventure, including cross-country journeys in shared taxis, plus rides in donkey carts, rickshaws, ferries, and old school vans. I had to brush up my French to get around in Senegal, which was quite a challenge! If you know me, you know I love languages. For this trip, I even learned some Gambian Sign Language and International Sign Language so I could introduce myself and enjoy basic communications with our hosts and the deaf community.

From Dakar to Banjul to Jinack Island, then back to Dakar over to the hauntingly moving Île de Gorée, we had some great food and enjoyed the amazing landscapes and sunshine. Continue reading

Navratan Vegetable Korma

Navratan Vegetable Korma - North Indian - The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook

Navratan Vegetable Korma is immensely popular all over the world. It’s another one of those Indian dishes with countless variations and incarnations. Having lots of vegetables, fruits and nuts, and the creamy sauce, however, are standard features. Actually, the name “Navratan” implies (at least) 9 different ingredients. I won’t count yours, if you won’t count mine.

It’s no secret that this website and my cookbook feature an abundance of great Indian recipes. Indian food is one of my (many) favorite cuisines! I’ve loved it my whole life, and I’ve been cooking Indian vegetarian food for over 20 years, ever since that first paperback copy of The Higher Taste back in ’91. I also discovered many great recipes during my extended visits to India. It was tricky to decide which recipes to include.

One of my youngest brother’s best friends (and a generous supporter on Kickstarter, not to mention all around great guy) made it clear to me how happy he’d be to get a recipe for his favorite Indian dish: Vegetable Korma. It’s a pleasure to share this with you, B!

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Vegan Meat Pies

Vegetable Lentil Pot Pies - English - The Lotus and the Artichoke

The Americans have their Pot Pies, the British have Steak Pies. There’s also English and Irish Shepard’s Pie and Cottage Pie. And then there are Australian Meat Pies, to which New Zealand also stakes a popularity claim. For the record, South Africans have traditional pies, too, and variations exist throughout other parts of Africa and the Middle-East.

The concept is similar, regardless of the accent of the eater: A pastry (or even potato) crust and a savory filling. The sizes vary greatly, too. From the U.S., I’m familiar with medium-sized pot pies. In England and Ireland, I’ve usually only seen larger pies. And for whatever reason, the traditional steak pies and meat pies of that continent down under are much smaller. They fit in your hand, can be eaten in a few ambitious bites, and are immensely popular for take-out. Or is it take-away? Aye, mate – Let’s not get lost in semantics before the baking even begins!

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Tarte au Citron

Tarte au Citron - Vegan Lemon Pie - The Lotus and the Artichoke - World Travel Recipes

This last summer, I was at a picnic hosted by a French-German couple we’re friends with here in Berlin. It wasn’t the first time their Tarte au Citron made an appearance and was an instant hit. I’d seen it before and wondered if there was a way to make a vegan version. The original, like many famous French culinary creations, consists largely of butter and eggs.

We got to talking at dinner two weeks ago. I was telling them more about the vegan cookbook, and then the Tarte au Citron came up again. “Sure, we’ll give you the recipe! Maybe you can find a way to put it in the cookbook.”

When I got the recipe a few days later, I unfolded the paper anxiously and scanned the list of ingredients. How am I going to do this? I thought to myself. I’m not really a whiz kid when it comes to baking, but I do know the advanced basics of egg replacement, and I have a few pie and quiche crusts I do well. And I can sometimes force myself to actually follow instructions and not tweak everything like I usually do. This was going to be a major challenge. It would certainly require a lot of tweaking.

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Roasted Walnut Brownies

Roasted Walnut Brownies - Sweets - The Lotus and the Artichoke - World Travel Recipes

You probably know Germany has a long, outstanding tradition of great desserts. Especially on my first visits to Germany in the late 90s, I enjoyed many apple strudels, cherry, plum, and peach cakes, and lots of other fruity and nutty delights. Germany is also famous for Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies), Stollen (fruitcakes), and tons of other decadent treats, increasingly available as vegan adaptations. The best, of course, come from home kitchens. In addition to the pastry shops and bakeries, the cafés almost always have great sweets, too.

In these cafés, you’ll see something that looks a lot like a brownie. There might even be a card next to it that says: Brownies. However – I grew up (mostly) in the United States – with awesome brownies at home, friends’ homes, from school bake sales, and just about anywhere else baked goods are found. Sadly, most of these German “Brownies” are imposters. They’re lackluster chocolate cake cut in the shape of a brownie! Fluffy and cake-like, and maybe pretty, but not gooey or chocolatey. I stopped ordering them years ago, probably after the third or fourth time someone told me: “No, no, this one really is a brownie!” Only to be fooled again.

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Endive Sprout Boats with Sesame Soy

Endive Sprout Boats with Soy Sesame Dressing - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Cookbook

This is a fun salad that I came up with sometime last year. The inspiration comes from salads I’ve had at restaurants and homes across Europe, especially in Germany and France. I’d seen endives (chicory) prior to moving to Europe over ten years ago, but they seem to be much more popular and celebrated on this side of the Atlantic. That said, I have had some great endive salads in Montreal, too.

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Blintzes

Blintzes . The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

I grew up with blintzes. I have always loved the funny little things. My grandmother, originally from Chicago, made huge batches of them for our family dinners when we visited. She learned how to make blintzes from my great grandmother. She also passed down family recipes for borscht and all kinds of other Russian/Ukrainian classics.

From them, my mother learned the art of blintzes. She, too, often made them for special occasions. It was a common request for birthday dinners among my brothers and I. Some of my earliest kitchen memories are of my grandmother and mother at the stove cooking up tall stacks of blintz pancakes in a special crepe pan. I remember being just a bit taller than the kitchen counter, looking at eye-level into a big bowl of cottage cheese and mashed crackers. I’d watch the blintzes being filled, rolled, fried in vegetable shortening, piled up on plates, and put on the dining table with bowls of sour cream and jars of cherry preserves.

When kids at school asked me what my favorite food was, I’d usually tell them: BLINTZES! All too often I had to explain what they were. That seemed pretty weird to me. Didn’t everyone’s mother and grandmother know how to make awesome cheese-stuffed crepes?

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German Zwiebelkuchen

German Zwiebelkuchen with smoked tofu - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

When I announced that I would be adding 5 traditional German recipes to the cookbook, including a recipe for vegan Zwiebelkuchen, one of my Kickstarter backers wrote to me with a special request.

His birthday is tomorrow and he asked if I’d share the Zwiebelkuchen recipe earlier so he could make it and serve it with traditional Federweißer (“new wine”) for a birthday party. I told him I’d get to work on testing and finishing the recipe and would get it to him today. I made it last night and it turned out even better than I hoped!

Zwiebelkuchen is sort of like a cross between French quiche and Italian thick-crust pizza, but it’s also reminiscent of German Flammkuchen, which has a thinner crust and less toppings. This is a tasty savoury cake which actually has a lot less onion flavor than one might expect. The result is a delicious and hearty meal which stirs memories. It takes some time and involves a lot of steps, but it’s well worth the effort!

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General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso's Chicken - Vegan Chinese - The Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook of world travel recipes

I’ve experimented and refined this Vegan General Tso’s Chicken recipe for over ten years. I always have fun making it, and the results are always delicious. This month when I made a few changes, I really nailed it, and I’m ready to go public. It finally tastes almost as amazing as the General Tso’s Chicken made by my favorite vegetarian Chinese restaurant in the world: New Harmony in Philadelphia. I’ve been to a lot of vegetarian Chinese places in a lot of cities and countries. This place stands out. And this dish is one you’ll never forget. Mildly spicy, a touch of citrus and sweet. Crunchy batter-fried chewy seitan in a crazy tasty sauce. Such good stuff!

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Vegan Paneer Makhani

Vegan Paneer Makhani - North Indian - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Travel Adventures

I could talk about Paneer Makhani for hours. I have so many stories about and memories of this dish, mostly from my visits to India, but also from great Indian restaurants around the world and the many variations of it.

This dish actually parades about under many names. This is true with many incredible Indian recipes. Anyone who’s been to more than two Indian restaurants or eaten at home with Indian families understands this. In fact, I’ve found myself in passionate debates and confusing conversations revolving around these naming issues! Every family has their own idea of what a dish is and isn’t, what it’s called, and what it contains. Or doesn’t. Imagine trying to get a concise definition of pizza, with all it’s shapes, colors, toppings, and flavors – You start to get an idea how complicated the naming game is.

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Kickstarter at 108% – New Goals

JPM in the kitchen - Vegan Cookbook Kickstarter 105% funded! New Goals!

Yesterday, The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Cookbook on Kickstarter passed the initial funding goal of $6500 and sped on to 105% funding. Currently, we’re at 108%… and going strong!

UPDATE October 10: We’re now over 200% funded and have less than 24 hours to reach our final goal of $14,000!

Words can hardly express my excitement and intense gratitude. That’s why I made this little painting for the occasion!

Because we’ve gotten our initial amount in pledges, the project is a definite GO, the first printing of the cookbook is possible. We still have another 19 days to bring in more funds for our extended goals. There’s still time for more pre-orders of the cookbook and selecting other cool rewards and project perks.

 SUCCESS! GOAL: $8,000 – GET STICKY!

  • All rewards at $25 and above will include a pack of 8 awesome, artsy The Lotus and the Artichoke stickers.
  • Starting Now: Any backer who increases their pledge $3 or more also gets a sticker pack!

 SUCCESS! GOAL: $10,000 – ÜBER-VEG!

  • I will add 5 new, vegan German recipes to the cookbook
  • This chapter will be included in the first edition of the cookbook and ebook scheduled to ship in December 2012.
  • A bigger, better cookbook with even more delicious recipes, mouth-watering photos, fun stories, and cool art.
  • All rewards to German addresses will get FREE shipping.
  • Already added shipping? I’ll give you some great extras so you’re über-happy!

 SUCCESS! GOAL: $12,000 – BANGKOK & BEYOND!

  • I will add 5 new, vegan Southeast Asian recipes to the cookbook. More fun from my travels and culinary adventures in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
  • These recipes will be included in the first edition of the cookbook and ebook scheduled to ship in December 2012.
  • The cookbook gets even better, even tastier, and even bigger!

GOAL: $14,000 – DAS KOCHBUCH!

  • We can fund the first printing of the cookbook and publication of the ebook in German. German editions will be available and shipped in March 2013.
  • All backers who choose a reward including an English copy of the cookbook (or ebook!) can also receive the German ebook FREE.
  • Any backer who selects a reward including a printed English cookbook can also get a printed copy of the German cookbook, if they increase their pledge by $15 or more.
  • New reward options for existing backers who want German cookbooks!

If you’re wondering what in the world this is all about, perhaps it’s because you haven’t visited the Kickstarter project page or seen my last post on the Kickstarter launch. Take a look and find out more about how the cookbook project and first printing is being funded.

And don’t worry, if none of this business and promotion stuff is your cup of tea… Very soon I’ll be back to posting more recipes inspired by my world travels and wild adventures and experiments in the kitchen.

I also had a guest-post at Scissors & Spice featuring a vegan North Indian Dum Aloo recipe, which will soon find a home on this site… and in the cookbook.

The Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook on Kickstarter

Vegan Cookbook Kickstarter GO! - Justin in the kitchen

The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Cookbook launched on Kickstarter today!

I can hardly contain my excitement and anticipation! These last two weeks I’ve been so unbelievably busy with the preparations for today. I’m proud to announce the project is finally live, the trailer video for the cookbook is finished and online, and we’ve officially begun the fundraising to back the first printing of The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Recipes from World Adventures.

It also means that as of today, now you can place a pre-order for the cookbook – both printed and as ebook – to be sent to you in early December. Here’s where you can read more about the cookbook and the publication plans.

We have 30 days to reach our goal of $6500.

I want to be as optimistic as possible, but I need to be realistic: I cannot do this without your support.

I really hope to meet and exceed the financial goal and have enough funding to also publish the German version of the cookbook by the end of the year. I’m doing something that means a lot to me. I want it to mean something to you, too. Let’s make it a reality!

Why I need your support:

  • Help fund the first printing of the book (around $5000)
  • Enable me to invest in the cool rewards: stylish t-shirts and tote bags
  • Provide art materials used for the illustration and design of the cookbook and website
  • Give fair compensation for translation, editing, publicity and press helpers
  • Share the inspiration, experience, and adventure with everyone!

Printing books is expensive. Especially when done all nice and fancy like I do. Nice covers, nice paper, lots of full-color photo pages, and a great design. The rewards will be high-quality as well: good shirts, decent cloth carry bags. My art materials are costly: I use good stuff. The prints are done on handmade Japanese hemp paper and I use an excellent German printing ink. The acrylics for paintings are an investment.

Lastly, I do have editorial and translation help on this project. I compensate people properly for their quality involvement. For all these reasons, this project needs greenbacks.

Justin in the Kitchen - Vegan Cookbook Kickstarter Launch

What’s in it for you?

Some of my friends are telling me I’m crazy for pricing my rewards so low. Most people use Kickstarter as a way to just bring in the big bucks and rely on generosity based on that good feeling you get from being nice. I think that’s dandy, but I also want all my backers to get cool stuff and to TALK about the fun perks I built into the project.

On one end of the scale, you can throw in a few bucks and spread the word. If hundreds of people do that, it helps plenty! I’ll be grateful. Pitch in a bit more and you get a cool, personal postcard with fancy stamps from my next trip. Or pre-order the cookbook. Get a stylish T-shirt with some of my art, or get in on the fashionable Berliner hipster game with one of my cloth carry bags. Like my artwork? I’ve also got limited edition blockprints.

I also plan to introduce even more fancy rewards in the next weeks.

Hold on to your hats. There are already some BIG rewards!

Am I nuts to propose I’d go (almost) anywhere in the world on your instructions to create new recipes and artwork? Maybe. I like to think it’s a cool kind of crazy. I’m adventurous enough to accept the bare minimum in financial support to make the trip possible. Would I fly to a new location in Europe, all-expenses included, to stay with locals and learn a new cuisine and create cool new recipes for the book? Yes, I would.

How can I possibly do that for under $1000 – especially if that money’s needed for printing the cookbook? Well, I have lots of experience with traveling on a budget. Back in 2001, I spent 4 months in India and Nepal for less than $2500, including my airfare and all transportation costs. I also spent less than $1000 on a 4-week trip through Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. And it’s just the way my priorities work.

If I want to travel somewhere, I find a way to make it happen.

I’m so into the idea, I’d travel for this project and for fundraising purposes even if it doesn’t financially break even. You see, I have this belief that if you really passionately believe in something you can make it real, one way or another. I believe all things will come together when you really focus. Things fall into place, even if differently than planned. Of course, you’ve got to work hard to make it happen, too. I’ve been very busy!

It’s not all daydreams and visualization exercises over here! I do my homework, too, when it comes to the practical and rational aspects of making a dream materialize. Stuff like moving abroad, learning languages, crossing continents, and launching creative enterprises.

(Details on rewards and project backing at the cookbook’s Kickstarter page)

What others are saying about The Lotus and the Artichoke:

What people are saying about my vegan cookbook and food blog

“The Lotus and the Artichoke is a great source for delicious vegan dishes from all over the globe. We love how the detailed recipes are presented along with a personal story from Justin, plus mouth-watering food photography. If you are looking for creative vegan recipes, this is the place!”
Dani & Jess (Germany/USA), Globetrotter Girls

“Judging by the photos and awesome recipes I’ve seen, this is going to be a must-have in your kitchen collection. I’m especially excited because there’s such a focus on world cuisines. I definitely support this project and you should too!”
Paul Jarvis (Canada), author of Eat Awesome

“This is a book that will open your mind to new tastes, new lands, and new adventures. I’m really looking forward to making these recipes with my family and teaching my young children about how our simple food choices can have such a profound impact on our health, the lives of animals, and our planet.”
Kristen Palana (Italy), Aura’s House & Veggie Propaganda

“I’ve had the chance to get to know Justin over the past few months in Berlin. If you spend just a short while talking with him, you’re guaranteed to come away feeling better about yourself… and the universe. His passion for life and interest in travel and food is palpable. And trust me: his cooking is delicious… and I’m not even vegan!”
Adam Groffman (USA), Travels of Adam

“Justin has a true passion, talent and love for sharing beautiful vegan cuisine from around the world. He’s introduced me to so many incredibly delicious dishes and flavours that I had never experienced before. I highly recommend The Lotus and the Artichoke to all food lovers!”
Jennifer Vega (Canada), Sweet On Veg

“I met Justin in Nepal way back in 2001. We quickly discovered a shared obsession with vegetarian world cuisine and began swapping travel stories of exotic dishes we’d had in foreign countries. As a vegetarian chef myself, I really enjoy when fellow veggies “get” international cuisine. We’ve spent years bouncing ideas off one another and evolving recipes. I’m excited that Justin’s committed his ideas to paper – I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this cookbook!”
– Vincent Campellone
(Ireland), Inside Job Catering

“I’m proudly supporting Justin’s The Lotus and the Artichoke because he’s a fellow traveler following his dream and sharing his passion with the world. The food pics leave me drooling!”
Niall Doherty (Ireland), Disrupting the Rabblement

“Justin ist durch die halbe Welt gereist. Seine Rezepte sind einfach die Wucht! Er sucht sich aus allen Spezialitäten nur das Beste raus und mixt es zu etwas ganz eigenem, besonderem zusammen. Man wird immer überrascht und nie enttäuscht!”
Marko Streitenberger (Germany), CLIMA

“This is a must-have cookbook for any lover of good food, art, travel, and adventure. I had the good fortune of experiencing Justin’s cooking while in Berlin a few years ago. Many adventures and fabulous meals later comes the perfect culmination of Justin’s passion for living and sharing the good life creatively. I am looking forward to making these recipes for my family and having a fresh selection of exciting vegan recipes for parties and potlucks!”
Christine Donley (USA), Diary of an Art Luvah: Art and Culture around the Globe

What other people are saying about The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan food blog and cookbook

How you can help:

  • Show your support with a pledge! Remember: everything helps and Kickstarter is ALL or nothing. Let’s all win! Pitch in a few bucks, or…
  • Pick a great reward and sponsor generously!
  • Share my Kickstarter page with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. Be proud of your support!
  • Subscribe to the website newsletter for free recipes straight to your inbox
  • Like my Facebook page – follow the regular updates, enjoy and comment on the photos and features
  • Follow me on twitter: @lotusartichoke RT my tweets, spread good words
  • Contact me for more information about interviews, guest blog posts, feature articles, and other publicity + promotion!

Poha – Indian Breakfast

Poha - Indian Breakfast - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Travel Adventures

On my first two visits to India in the early to mid-2000s, I had idly or dosa for breakfast almost whenever possible. I’m a huge fan of South Indian breakfasts. Unlike most North American and European breakfasts, which tend to be on the sweeter side (think: cereal, toast with jam or even chocolate spread, pastries, muffins, pancakes), Indian breakfasts are typically spicy and savory… and did I mention: delicious?

Amazingly, it wasn’t until my third and fourth trip to India that I got to know the Indian breakfast hit, poha. These kinds of things happen if you’re too focused on your favorite dishes and foods! That’s why it’s so important to try new things. Be open to suggestions, take chances, and enjoy invitations to home cooked meals! I encountered poha so late in the game probably because it’s much more of a family dish – prepared at home kitchens across India. It’s less likely found on restaurant menus. That said, some hotels (code word for restaurant on the sub-continent) and breakfast spots do offer poha.

The best poha I ever had, as with many Indian dishes, was not at a restaurant, but at a home. A very special home in fact, where I was welcomed and treated like family. If you’ve been following my stories on this blog, you know I lived for a year in Amravati, India – deep in the state of Maharashtra. I had amazingly generous and attentive neighbors, and my host family was particularly endearing and kind.

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Vegan Lassi with Saffron & Mango

Indian: Vegan Lassi with Saffron and Mango - The Lotus and the Artichoke - World Travel Vegan Recipes

Many years ago, on my first India trip, I stayed for several days in the city of Jaipur – The Pink City of Rajasthan. I recall walking for hours, mesmerized by the people and the loud colors and fantastic, flowing saris and shirts. I was constantly taking photographs. I remember riding with insane auto-rickshaw drivers along the crowded, dusty streets, weaving around pedestrians, bicycles, beggars, and cows. Just like in all the books and movies.

I’d only been in India for a few weeks at that point, and I was still very much in New Arrival Mode: The first two to four weeks of being in India – everything is an overwhelming assault on the senses. You’re in near-constant amazement at how wild and vivid life can be. The circus and overloaded charm fade (somewhat) after a few weeks, but usually one or more things happen every day that remind you: you’re in a very different world.

Next to only perhaps seeing the Hawa Mahal, and trekking around some of the old forts, my favorite experience in Jaipur was at a small café that was famous for their saffron lassi. I remember retreating from the hot sun into the shade with my journal and heavily marked-up guidebook, sliding my tired self into a plastic chair, and sipping this amazing, glowing, pink-orange chilled treat. The flavor was intense, exotic, new to me. That fresh saffron lassi straight from the fridge was the best thing in that moment. I contemplated how many I would need to order and drink before it would be too much. I stayed long enough to need a second one, and then got on my way of exploring the streets further.

For something so simple, it’s hard to believe it took me so many years to figure out how to make a good lassi. The secret is the right combination of soy yogurt, water, and ice cubes. I think I’ve got it down good now, so I’m ready to pass on the recipe for my all-vegan rendition of the Indian classic yogurt shake.

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Tempeh Lettuce Tomato

TLT - Tempeh Lettuce Tomato Sandwich - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Travel Adventures

You’ve probably figured out by now that here at The Lotus and the Artichoke, I love world cuisine. The majority of my recipes are inspired by my world travels to far-off countries and enthusiastic experiments with ethnic cooking.

Once in a while, however, I crave some good, old-fashioned comfort food. For me, that means a classic dish from the country where I spent most of my growing up: America. For breakfast and brunch, I’m a pancake kind of guy. But when I’m hungry for a more savory, lunch or dinner bonanza, the totally vegetarian T.L.T. is the way to go. But, but… what about Mac & Cheeze?! Sure… there’s that too, but sometimes it’s just gotta be a sandwich.

This particular dish really takes me back to the old days of diner deliciousness. You’ve probably heard about the classic B.L.T. – Bacon Lettuce Tomato sandwich, but today I want to share with you a healthier and even tastier, more compassionate spin on that: The vegan T.L.T. – Tempeh Lettuce Tomato sandwich superstar.

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