Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak from The Lotus and the Artichoke MALAYSIA vegan cookbook

In the five weeks that I spent exploring Malaysia, Singapore, and Borneo there were a few dishes that I just had to try whenever I had the chance.

Nasi Lemak is a national favorite – and one of my favorites, too! The name technically means “fatty rice” but “creamy rice” sounds a least a little bit better. Traditionally, as with this recipe, Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in creamy, coconut milk – often along with fresh herbs and spices such as pandan (which you can replace with bay leaves if that’s what you’ve got.) The bright yellow hue comes from turmeric. Though it’s a breakfast dish, it can be eaten at any time of the day, and many variations cross firmly into Savory Culinary Territory. I eat this all times of the day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, whatever!

I tried Nasi Lemak in lots of places: Kuala Lampur, Penang, Malacca, and Singapore.

Inspired by those dishes and their accompaniments – and my own imagination, I’ve created a complete meal set: Coconut Pandan Rice served with stir-fried Lemongrass Ginger Tofu, crunchy, charred Spicy Nuts, and a delicious sweet-chili sauce known as Sambal Belacan.

These are actually four different recipes from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA which I’ve put together in this one post. You can of course substitute or simplify the dishes for a less involved meal set designed how you like it. Nasi Lemak is equally awesome even when it’s just served with the fresh cucumber, lime slices, and nuts. I love going all out and doing the Lemongrass Tofu cubes, too. Also, I find the hot, spicy Samabal Belecan completes the dish fantastically.

How to eat it? Mix it up and eat it with your hands!

Serve this meal set up on a banana leaf, wash your hands, mix everything together, and dive in… wild and forkless. (By the way, frozen banana leaves are often available at your local Asian import grocery shop. Just thaw them, rinse them, and eat off of them.) If you prefer a more modern approach: Make it all, arrange it perfectly on plates, eat it with a fork and spoon. It’s up to you!

Nasi Lemak

Malaysian Coconut Pandan Rice with Lemongrass Ginger Tofu, Spicy Nuts & Sambal Belacan

recipes from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

serves 3 to 4 / time 60 min

Coconut Pandan Rice:

  • 2 cups (375 g) broken jasmine rice or basmati rice
  • 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) water
  • 1 2/3 cup (400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 2 pandan leaves or bay leaves
  • fried onions for garnish
  • 1/2 small cucumber sliced
  • lime slices for garnish
  1. Rinse and drain rice thoroughly.
  2. Bring water and coconut milk to low boil in a medium pot with good lid. Stir in rice, salt, turmeric, and pandan (or bay leaves). Return to simmer. Cover and steam until most liquid is absorbed, 12–15 min. Remove from heat. Stir a few times. Cover and let sit 10 min. Remove and discard leaves before serving.
  3. Garnish with fried onions, cucumber, and lime slices.

Lemongrass Ginger Tofu:

  • 14 oz (400 g) firm tofu cut in cubes or strips
  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) pineapple chopped
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass finely chopped
  • 3/4 in (2 cm) fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 1 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (Shoyu)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • fresh coriander or parsley leaves chopped, for garnish
  1. Cut tofu in slabs and wrap in clean kitchen towel. Weight with a heavy cutting board and press out extra moisture, 15–20 min. Unwrap and cut in cubes or strips.
  2. Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok on medium high heat. Add chopped shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and ground coriander. Fry, stirring constantly, until shallots being to soften and brown, 2–3 min.
  3. Add tofu cubes. Mix well. Fry, stirring regularly, until tofu cubes are golden brown and crispy on the edges, 5–8 min.
  4. Add chopped pineapple, lime (or lemon) juice, soy sauce, and salt. Fry, stirring regularly, another 5–10 min. Remove from heat.

Spicy Nuts:

  • 1/2 cup (50 g) peanuts
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) cashews
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder or paprika ground
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Heat a medium frying pan on medium heat. Dry roast peanuts and cashews, stirring regularly, until light golden brown and dark spots begin to appear, 4–7 min. Do not burn.
  2. Add chili powder (or paprika), sugar and salt. Mix well. Continue to cook another 2–3 min, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted and nuts are well coated. Remove from heat. Allow to cool.

Sambal Belacan:

  • 2–3 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 5 large (90 g) red chilies chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce (Shoyu)
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  1. Blend all ingredients in a small food processor or blender until smooth, adding more oil (or some water) as needed.
  2. Heat a small frying pan on medium heat. Add blended spice paste to pan and fry, stirring regularly, until sauce darkens, thickens, and oil separates, 8–12 min.
(available as printed cookbook & ebook in English & German)
Malaysia vegan cookbook cover blockprint

Penang Laksa

Penang Laksa Noodle Soup

Incredibly, I’d been in Malaysia for almost two weeks before I got to try Laksa, the legendary noodle soup. Even before the trip, I’d read about the intensely loved, powerful and fiery, somewhat-sour soup in food blogs and food guides to Malaysia. I’d checked out plenty of recipes and seen lots of super tasty photos.

Once I got to Malaysia, whenever I asked locals what dishes I had to try, I heard again and again: Laksa! Okay, great, but where? And the answer was: Penang!

Penang was hands-down my favorite place to eat on the Malaysia trip. (Singapore was a fairly close second. Penang was just more artsy, soulful, and real). I collected maps with locations of the best street food in Georgetown (Penang) and scoured the web and my travel guides for addresses of must-try vegetarian restaurants. On my second day in town, I had lunch at the vegan restaurant Sushi Kitchen, and met the chef/owner, who made a list for me of Must-See places and dishes.

That night I went to Luk Yea Yan, a vegetarian Chinese restaurant known for fantastic flavors and inexpensive eats. I ordered up the Laksa soup. Three minutes later my oversized bowl of hot, steaming, bright red soup arrived – with countless ingredients and toppings piled up to the rim. There were at least three kinds of noodles, tofu cubes, soya and seitan chunks, numerous vegetables, about four kinds of fresh herbs – and balanced on top: a soup spoon with a thick, red curry paste on it. I’d read about this…

Traditionally Laksa is usually served with a generous spoonful of rempeh – spicy red curry paste for you to stir in to the hot red broth yourself. I knew what to do. I did it.

A half dozen flavors immediately exploded in my mouth: tamarind, chili, lime, pineapple, cilantro, mint. This was followed by a second wave of flavors: an army of vegetables, tofu, and seitan slices. I slurped down the noodles and paddled pieces of everything with my chopsticks into my hungry jaws. I had to take a break a few times to catch my breath and cool the spice alarm with generous draws on my lemon iced tea. When I was done, my forehead was light with perspiration and my lips and tongue were tingling and alive.

There was never a doubt whatsoever that I would include a vegan recipe for Penang Laksa in my new Malaysia cookbook. Several weeks later (after having tried vegan Laksa soup at least three other times in Malaysia) I was back in my kitchen in Germany and set to work. It took a few attempts to master the recipe, each try better than the last. And then I had it: my own epic Laksa recipe!

Since then, I’ve made it probably ten more times, including for several dinner parties large and small, and plenty of times for lunch. It’s best on cold, cloudy days to fire up your mood and open you up! But I’ve also made it lots of other times, even in the summer, well… just because it’s so awesome and is always a dish guests talk about long after the meal.

Penang Laksa

classic Malaysian noodle soup

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

serves 2 to 3 / time 45 min

  • 5 oz (150 g) seitan sliced
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) smoked tofu sliced
  • 1/3 cup (45 g) pineapple chopped
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil 
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce or Vegan Fish Sauce
  • 7 oz (200 g) udon noodles (cooked)
  • 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) water 
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) coconut milk 
  • 1 kefir lime leaf or 1 tsp lime zest 
  • fresh mint leaves chopped
  • fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • fresh thai basil leaves chopped
  • bean sprouts for garnish

laksa spice paste:

  • 4 candlenuts or 2 Tbs cashews soaked 20 min in hot water, drained
  • 1 stalk lemongrass chopped
  • 1/2–1 large red chili chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 3/4 in (2 cm) fresh galangal or ginger chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika ground (more as desired, for red color)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander ground
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar or agave syrup 
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (seedless)
  • 2 Tbs lime juice or lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil 
  1. If using dried Udon: Cook, rinse, and drain 3.5 oz (100 g) noodles according to package instructions.
  2. Blend spice paste ingredients in a small food processor until smooth.
  3. Heat 1 Tbs oil a large pot or wok on medium high heat. Add sliced seitan and smoked tofu. Fry, turning regularly until edges are browned and crispy, 3–5 min.
  4. Stir in chopped pineapple. Continue to stir-fry, 2–3 min. Add soy sauce (or Vegan Fish Sauce). Fry 2–3 min. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
  5. Return pot or wok to medium high heat. Fry blended spice paste until it darkens and oil starts to separate, stirring constantly, 3–5 min.
  6. Gradually stir in water, coconut milk and kefir lime leaf (or lime zest). Bring to simmer. Add cooked udon noodles. Return to simmer. Cook until noodles have slightly softened, 3–5 min.
  7. Stir in fried seitan, tofu, and pineapple. Turn off heat. Cover until ready to serve.
  8. Portion soup and noodles into bowls. Garnish with chopped herbs and bean sprouts. Serve.

My first Laksa in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Laksa - Instagram

Penang Laksa Malaysian Noodle Soup by The Lotus and the Artichoke - Instagram (Jan 2017)

Panang Laksa vegan recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MALAYSIA

(available as printed cookbook & ebook – in English & German)

Malaysia vegan cookbook cover blockprint

Apple Pineapple Empanadas

Empanadas de Manzana y Piña

When I was living in the small town of Lo de Marcos, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, we’d often take day trips to Sayulita. Sayulita, like San Pancho and Lo de Marcos, used to be just a sleepy fishing village. All three towns are just up the coast from Puerto Vallerta – which has been in the tourist guidebooks for quite some time. In the 1960s and 1970s, PV was built up for tourism (kind of like planned tourism destinations Acapulco and Cancun). It was also around this time that surfers “discovered” Sayulita, which remained pretty much a secret for a while.

Over the next few decades, tourism and expat enclaves grew and migrated along the Nayarit coast, creating what it is now: cities, towns, and villages coming to terms with all of the holiday traffic and escape artists. In addition to surfing, Sayulita is popular for weddings and honeymoons, yoga retreats, artistic and culinary workshop getaways, souvenir and craft shopping, and of course: respite from the louder and brasher cities.

For me, Sayulita will always be about empanadas.

Going to Sayulita always meant going to my favorite little hole-in-the-wall empanada take-out bakery. We’d leave Lo de Marcos in the morning on the local bus, ride about half an hour south, down the coast along jungle and oceanview roads. The bus stand was a good, hot, 10 to 15 minute walk to the “downtown”. As we approached the main town square, my mouth would already be watering, anxious to see what kind of empanadas were there. You see, this is part of why we tried to leave early and arrive before lunch. By mid afternoon, the bakery would always sell out of at least one of my favorites: Empanadas de Manzana (with apple filling) and Empanadas Espinaca y Papas (spinach & potato filling).

This place only made and sold empanadas, and nothing else. You’d just walk up to the counter, see what was listed on the chalkboard, and then place your order. The baked pastries never got a chance to cool off. Usually they rarely spent a few minutes on the counter in their baskets before they’d be bought, carried away, and devoured.

I’d buy a bunch of whatever vegan empanadas they had, and then bring them back to the park for a family picnic. The rest of the day was usually spent sipping coconut water or fresh juice, watching surfers (and absolute beginner surfer lessons taking place on the beach), strolling around, and then, once we got hungry again, enjoying an excellent meal at La Esperanza, or our favorite taquería (whose name I’ve long since forgotten) just off the main street.

Sayulita Mexico

Justin P. Moore, Lo de Marcos, Mexico with Surfboard, Feb 2014

This photo of me with my surfboard in Lo de Marcos has nothing to do with Empanadas. Unless perhaps I ate empanadas that morning in Sayulita. Which is entirely possible.

Back in Germany, I got to work perfecting my Empanada recipe

Sure they’re great with just apple, but adding fresh pineapple is mind-blowing. I love the tropical touch, which is a really powerful, nostalgic reminder of the my months spent living next to the beach in Mexico.

I suggest using a good, buttery vegan margarine. Don’t use cheap stuff, and try to find something that is recommended for baking. Cheaper margarines have too much water in them, and you’ll miss out on the rich, creamy flavor for your dough. In Germany I use Alsan, and in the U.S.A. Earth Balance makes some good stuff that will work for baking. (If you’ve got other suggestions for readers, please leave a comment below!)

Also, keep an eye on your goodies in the oven! If you overbake them, you’ll be disappointed by the texture. Since I’m really not that great of a baker, I actually take the empanadas out of the oven a minute or two before I think they’re done. A bit soft and chewy is always better than hard and dry! Keep fresh, hot empanadas covered or wrapped with a damp dishtowel so they don’t dry out, too. Oh, and always be careful with the first bite – I don’t even know how many times I’ve burned my tongue on blazing hot empanada filling!

Enjoy!

Apple Pineapple Empanadas

Empanadas de Manzana y Piña

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MEXICO!

makes 8 to 10 / time 45 min +

dough:

  • 3 cups (375 g) flour (all-purpose / Type 550)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 8 Tbs (110 g) margarine
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) cold water
  • 2 Tbs soy milk or rice milk for glaze optional
  1. Combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder in large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut margarine into thinly sliced pieces and add to bowl. Using hands, knead margarine into flour mix.
  3. Gradually add in cold water, continue kneading a few minutes until dough is rubbery and smooth. If needed use slightly more flour or water.
  4. Pull and form into 8–10 equal sized balls and return to bowl. Cover and let sit 20 min.

apple & pineapple filling:

  • 2 medium apples peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (140 g) pineapple finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  1. Combine chopped apples and pineapple with cinnamon and sugar in large bowl. Mix well.
  2. Pour 2 Tbs soy milk (or water) into cup or small bowl.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C / level 6.
  4. On floured surface, roll out a dough ball with rolling pin (or bottle) to 1/4 in (1 cm) thickness. Using a medium bowl or saucer as a guide, cut circle with knife. Roll up and save trim.
  5. Put 2 Tbs filling onto a dough circle. Dip finger in soy milk (or water) and trace around outer edge to help seal. Fold over in half and press edges firmly with a fork to seal.
  6. Brush top with soy (or rice) milk, if desired, for glaze. Carefully transfer to baking tray. Repeat for all empanadas.
  7. Bake until golden brown and edges start to crisp and darken, about 20–25 min.
  8. Allow to cool 5 min before serving: Filling is very hot!

Variations:

Other fillings: Experiment with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, chopped pears, walnuts, hazelnuts, banana, chocolate… or whatever else you come up with!

The Lotus and the Artichoke - MEXICO vegan cookbook cover

recipe from The Lotus and the Artichoke – MEXICO!

Arugula Mallum

Arugula Mallum - stir-fried Sri Lankan greens & coconut

Sri Lankan Mallum (or Mallung) is a dish typically made with stir-fried greens (or cabbage) and grated coconut.

While traveling for 10 weeks in Sri Lanka, I was served and learned how to cook half a dozen varieties of Mallum. Many involved local leafy greens that were kind of a cross between kale and spinach, and often sort of like collard greens. When I got back to Germany, I experimented with recreating the leafy greens mallum, and found that arugula worked quite well. It’s especially great for using up arugula in the fridge that’s no longer fresh enough for a salad or is too bitter to be eaten raw. Kind of like cooking with spinach, when cooked, the arugula will get a lot smaller and you’ll end up with less that you expected!

This is the recipe that I used for my third travel-inspired vegan cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKAI called it Rocket Greens Curry. Curry perhaps isn’t really the best word. Mallums are mallums, just like chutneys are chutneys, even if we might want to call it a sauce.

You can serve this dish as one of many with a Sri Lankan meal, or as a starter – kind of a warm salad.

I make it when I have lots of greens to use up, or if I’m serving dal curry, beetroot curry, and Jackfruit Curry, and rice. The four curries together are four different colors, which provides a stunning visual element to the meal. If I’m ambitious and make more dishes to go with the meal, I go for Deviled Chickpeas or Soymeats Curry. The play of different colors, shapes, textures, and unique flavors always impresses dinner guests. Continue reading

Deviled Chickpeas – Kadala Thel Dala

Deviled Chickpeas - Kadala Thel Dala from The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA vegan cookbook

This is another one of my favorite, quick-and-easy Sri Lankan recipes. I tried many versions of this spicy chickpea curry dish all over Sri Lanka during my 10 week adventure all across and around the island.

You can serve it as a main dish, but technically it’s a short eat (the Sri Lankan term for snack or appetizer or small meal.) Like most short eats, it’s a common snack from street food vendors, but also appears on restaurant menus and is often available from many take-out places… and on buses as a cheap finger food snack – in it’s much drier variation.

Traditionally it’s not served in a curry sauce, but is made “dry”. (This is something I found a lot in India and Sri Lanka — also with dishes such as Vegetable Manchurian or Gobi 65, and such.) I like cooking Kadala Thel Dala all kinds of ways, but usually make it without a really runny, liquid-y curry. Limiting the amount of chopped tomatoes (and cutting larger pieces) as well as using enough grated coconut (to soak up liquid) gets the chickpea curry to desired consistency. Note that rinsing and draining your chickpeas very well before cooking will help, and adding a few minutes of stir-frying on high, while constantly stirring, will also get rid of excess liquid.

Like my Jackfruit Curry, this dish is very popular with all types of eaters, it can be made spicy or not spicy (great for kids!), and is an excellent introduction to Sri Lankan flavors. It’s another one of my go-to recipes for dinner parties, cooking classes, cooking shows. I make it at home pretty often, too.

In addition to being in my third vegan cookbook The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA, it’s been published in several vegan magazines in Germany. It’s such a simple and satisfying recipe. Also I love this photo! The little green hand-painted demon guy is on a decorative wooden thing I picked up at a shop in touristy – but gorgeous – Galle Fort, not too far from Unawatuna, and where we spent our last two weeks on the southwest coast in the beach village of Dalawella. Continue reading

Sri Lanka Vegan Cookbook on Kickstarter

The Lotus and the Artichoke SRI LANKA Vegan Cookbook on Kickstarter

The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA! is on Kickstarter!

Today I launched my third Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign… for my third vegan cookbook full of recipes, stories, art, and photographs inspired by my world travels. This time it’s all about SRI LANKA, where I traveled for 10 weeks this last winter, eating and cooking everywhere possible, learning new cooking methods and spices, and getting to know the country, the people, and the traditions of Sri Lanka.

UPDATE: The Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign was extremely successful. The new cookbook has been printed and was released on November, 21, 2015.

How can you get a copy of my new cookbook?

Order The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA (English or German) directly from Ventil Verlag!

or send me an email to order a signed copy of the cookbook with stickers & bookmark… directly from me.

The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA travel map

My SRI LANKA Cookbook:

  • My 3rd cookbook of vegan recipes inspired by my travels, stays with families, and cooking in the kitchens of restaurants worldwide
  • 160 pages – with over 60 full page color photos
  • Stories, art, and recipes inspired by 10 weeks of travel all over Sri Lanka
  • Explore diverse Sri Lankan cuisine from the capital, countryside, mountains and coastal towns, including South Indian Tamil specialties from the Northern and Eastern regions – only recently accessible since end of civil clashes in 2009
  • Every day classic dishes, impress-anyone curries, fancy feasts, street food superstars, awesome salads and fresh treats, great snacks, and crazy delicious sweets
  • Discover new flavors, tasty spices and easy, awesome cooking skills
  • Great for cooks of all levels, from beginner to advanced
  • recipes use easy-to-find ingredients (cook everything anywhere!)
  • Delicious, easy-to-follow recipes designed to satisfy and impress eaters of all ages, tastes, and minds.

Check out the video on KICKSTARTER

The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA promo video (YouTube)

The Lotus and the Artichoke SRI LANKA Peacock miniature painting

Jackfruit Curry Dinner from The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA!

Some of the RECIPES…

  • Jackfruit Curry
  • Masala Mushroom Dosa
  • Cauliflower Cashew Korma Curry
  • Red Beet Curry
  • Mango Pineapple Curry
  • Pumpkin Dal Curry
  • Cabbage Curry – Mellum
  • Rocket Coconut Curry – Gowa Atu
  • Spicy Seitan Kottu & Vegetable Kottu
  • Wild Greens & Ginger Mango Dressing
  • Lotus Root Salad – Nalum Ala Salada
  • Coconut Carrot Radish Salad
  • Idly & Vada – Rice Lentil Dumplings & Fritters
  • Sri Lankan Crepes – Vegetable Roti & more
  • Streetfood Veg Rolls
  • Deviled Chickpeas – Kadala Thel Dala
  • Hoppers – Appa
  • Coconut Chili Chutney (Pol Sambol)
  • Coriander Chutney
  • Mango Chutney
  • Ladoo Sweets
  • Delicious Date Cake
  • Coconut Pockets
  • Coconut Rice Balls – Konda Kevum
  • Tapioca Pudding – Payasam
  • Coconut Rice Syrup Squares – Kalu Dodol
  • Banana Pancakes
  • Spiced Coconut Pudding – Watalappam
  • …and many more!

Deviled Chickpeas - Kadala Thel Dala from The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA vegan cookbook

Wild Greens & Ginger Mango dressing

Idly Vada Sri Lankan South Indian lunchbox tiffin

Mint Sambol - The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA

Sweet Semolina Squares (Kesari) from The Lotus and the Artichoke - SRI LANKA vegan cookbook

Order a copy of my new cookbook:

Order The Lotus and the Artichoke – SRI LANKA (English or German) directly from Ventil Verlag!

or send me an email to order a signed copy of the cookbook with stickers & bookmark… directly from me.

JPM and The Lotus and the Artichoke SRI LANKA vegan cookbook at Chaostheorie in Berlin

My first copies of my new vegan cookbook SRI LANKA arrived!

22 Lessons from The Vegan Zombie Germany Tour

From September 23 to October 1, 2014, I was on tour with Chris & Jon from The Vegan Zombie. We visited 7 cities in 9 days and put on book signings, cooking demos & dinner parties all across Germany. All together we drove over 4000 km, sold hundreds of our vegan cookbooks, and met hundreds of amazing people. We also filmed videos for our partners and sponsors, made tour videos every day, and even filmed a cooking video together for TVZ on YouTube. It was a wild adventure, with lots of ups and downs.

The Vegan Zombie - The Lotus and the Artichoke Germany Tour 2014

Get our cookbooks here:

Watch tour videos on YouTube here.

22 Lessons from The Vegan Zombie Germany Tour

1. You are always an ambassador.

Everywhere you go, you are an important representative of your ideals and identity. Wherever I was on tour, I struggled to manage frustrations and expectations. A prime example of this was on the drive back from Frankfurt to Berlin. At an autobahn rest stop I asked about the veggie burger and was told it was definitely vegan. I was shown the ingredients list and ordered it, because I was hungry as hell and it looked “safe”. Well, I got a super sad looking burger smothered in mayo, and fries that tasted extremely suspicious. I sent it all back to the kitchen and really tried not to get upset. Quickly, I became aware that my attitude and behavior form ideas about what vegans are like. I really did my best to be understanding and fair, despite dealing with poor customer service and a lot of crappy excuses and misinformation. It’s important to remember: Not everyone understands my reasons and convictions for my lifestyle and dietary choices. What I do and say help form others’ ideas of vegans. I strive to be a good example of an open-minded, non-dogmatic vegan traveler. If I leave a situation and people think less of vegans or the many reasons I strive for this lifestyle, I have failed.

2. Matcha. Espresso. Yes, please.

Driving all night, spending hours in the kitchen and on the road is not easy. I travel with my matcha bowl and whisk. I have a matcha every morning to help me focus and get into my day’s groove. It’s important to take breaks from cooking and managing and have an espresso in the afternoon. I do prefer the soft glow of matcha green tea, but hey, the world isn’t fully outfitted with matcha bars. Yet. Particularly on the longer drives, coffee helped me get through some sleepy and exhausted times. It’s not just about the caffeine: Sticking to routine is helpful to stay balanced and in tune.

3. The universe provides

I tried to manage and plan all aspects of the tour so we always had places to stay in all of the cities that we visited. Sometimes this wasn’t really possible and plans changed quickly. Sometimes you just have to push through and drive on and know that all the arrangements will be sorted. Staying in hotels is boring and impersonal. I prefer to go to events and talk to new and old friends if we need a place to stay. We always found people that gave us a couch or bed to sleep in. It always worked out, and our hosts were awesome. I always felt grateful. We arrived in Solingen in the morning after a six hour drive and were offered bunk beds and a shower at the venue. In Hamburg, we finished the cooking show and quickly found hosts for the night. In Berlin, we were fortunate to have a neighbor give the boys a bed and couch when we realized another night at my place would be too crowded. In Mainz, when we were all at the end of our rope after over a week on the road – countless hours of cooking and driving – we knew the hotel room would prove too small for the three of us. My friend Jens took me to his house and gave me a bed. When you focus on opportunity and stay positive, it’s amazing how things go your way. Also with the driving, there were times we worried we’d never cover the distances we needed to in time and that we’d miss events or arrive late. I kept optimistic and drove on. The roads cleared, extra helpers were always there in the kitchen, and we managed to make every event awesome.

4. Make time for sightseeing.

Because we were on such an aggressive schedule, we were left with little time for sightseeing and relaxing. So we ended up seeing lots of the autobahn and kitchens all across Germany, but the boys didn’t get to see nearly as much of the actual cities and country that we traveled in, and I regretted this. Fortunately, our friends in Hamburg woke up early and took the guys out for some morning sightseeing. This was when I realized just how little of all the cities we were seeing. Not only did we never have time for restaurants, but we never got to really just walk around and take in some of the great sites and culture that Germany offers.

5. Too much is better than too little.

Somehow, we always managed to buy more groceries and make more food than we needed. There were often leftover brownies, an extra pot of soup, half a crate of unused avocados, or twice as many frozen bananas as we needed. Still , this is much better than running out of the yummy stuff that fans and dinner party guests had traveled far and wide to share with us. Also, even though we definitely did too much in a crazy, short period of time, I prefer it over not having done enough.

6. Bikes rule. Cars suck.

In Hamburg, I was able to borrow a bike and was on a rainy night bike ride. In the morning I got to ride around, too. It ruled, and really put me in a good mood. Germany cities are usually great for bikes. So much more relaxing and interactive to be on a bike touring around than sitting in a car for hours on end. Cars are death traps and weapons. Bikes don’t need parking spots, endless amounts of fuel, and get you around cities much better. The tour would not have been possible without a car, but yeah… the bike time was sweet. I need to fix up my bikes in Berlin and get out more.

7. Drive at night.

I hate traffic. I’d rather drive all night and get somewhere in half the time, than have a leisurely lie-in and long breakfast and spend twice as long stuck in a car. Often stuck in a line of cars and construction sites. Several times, particularly when I was alone, but also with Chris and Jon, I rolled down the window and turned up the music and enjoyed the highway. That’s not really possible during the day when there are 5 times as many cars on the road, and all the constructions site and accidents are grinding traffic to a halt. Also, I should have shared the driving more. I was nervous because I’ve had so many bad experiences with rental cars and insurance.

8. Shop early, shop smart.

Several times on the tour we had to squeeze in a visit to the shops to get our ingredients for cooking shows and dinner parties. It was totally stressful. I really wish I’d planned this aspect of the tour better so we could’ve had more time to get everything we needed. It would have been much better to have organized all the groceries and ingredients in the car so we always knew what we had and didn’t have to play guessing games with the spice supply.

9. Watch out for Porsches. And Ferraris.

Stay right on the highway and expect that when the autobahn speed limits disappear, Hans & Dieter will come blazing up the left lane in their sporty convertible going 240 kmph. Driving on the autobahn is awesome, and it was great to have a modern rental car that can keep up, but I’m often taken aback by how fast and sudden the speed demons come ripping past you.

Essen Veganz The Vegan Zombie Germany Tour 2014

10. Cookbook fans = The best.

Everywhere we went we met incredible people. In every city, at every event, we came into contact with some really great folks. In Frankfurt, the boys got a walking tour around town from our new friends. We talked for hours with super cool fans in all of the Veganz stores. We met mega-fans at every stop, including the young lady who brought us vegan spare ribs. Another super fan brought crocheted Vegan Zombie dolls for the guys. So cool! Every time we set up the table with our books, we got into conversations with our neighbors, biz partners and fans. People brought us food, gave us hugs, made us laugh, let us pet their dogs. I totally love experiencing everyone’s stories and enthusiasm. People were also wonderful for helping us out with tour logistics: arranging places to stay, directing us to grocery stores and parking spots, taking us around town, cooking for or with us, helping us set up, loading the car… all kinds of support and help!

11. Two days on, One day off.

The next time I plan a tour, I will make sure that there are rest days. We often went 2 or even 3 days with little or no sleep, and this was my biggest regret of the tour. My mood goes south when I haven’t slept, and simple tasks and decisions take three times as long. We hit 7 cities in 9 days, and I really wish we’d had at least 12 days. It was totally nuts! We could have had more time off for sightseeing, sleeping, chilling with friends and fans, etc.

12. Sleep is good.

As I just mentioned, we were really sleep deprived on the tour. It led to short tempers, fussiness, and lack of focus. When I watch the videos of our TV interviews and see photos of the tour, I realize I was not nearly as awake and rested as I felt. I was running on adrenaline and excitement and some magical energy reserve for the majority of the tour. At one point we didn’t really sleep for 3 days: After cooking and hosting a dinner party in Munich all day, we drove all night to Solingen for the VeggieFest where we did cooking shows and our cookbook table, then drove all night to Berlin. Then we cooked breakfast at Chaostheorie, then did a dinner party at Fast Rabbit. It’s insane that it all worked out. We averaged about 4 hours of sleep a night on the tour, and had events Every Single Day. Totally crazy. I think we literally became Vegan Zombies, or at least I think I did. The tour was tons of fun, but we would’ve enjoyed it even more and appreciated the time together much more if we’d had at least six hours of good sleep every night. Most important lesson of the tour, definitely.

13. Bring a sleeping bag.

Maybe it all goes back to being a boy scout when I was young: I like to be prepared. Not knowing I’d ever need it for the tour, but not wanting to rely on others, I packed my trusty travel sleeping bag. In Hamburg, I stayed with a friend who’d just moved into a new place and didn’t have much more than a mattress, let alone blankets and furniture. She camped out on the living room sofa with a borrowed blanket, and I slept fantastically (even if only for about 4 hours) in my sleeping bag on the bare mattress. Waking up in a sleeping bag reminds me of camping trips, and sleeper trains in Asia. I love it.

14. Showers are good. Bathtubs rule.

I honestly don’t remember the last time I lived in a place with a bathtub. I miss taking a hot bath once in a while. So it was so great that the apartment we had in Frankfurt had one. Whenever I travel and there is a bathtub, I get happy. We were lucky on this tour actually. We pretty much always found time to shower and bathe and freshen up before or after a long day on the road and/on our feet.

15. Shut up & cook!

I won’t lie, I can be a pain in the arse in the kitchen. Crowded kitchens are tough. In Mainz, there were up to six of us in the kitchen cooking 5 courses for 50 people. And two reporters following us around with notepads and video cameras. It’s best to focus on your tasks and let others focus on theirs. I have to learn to let go more, and speak less. The dinner parties were the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of the tour, but they were also high stress and fast paced. We worked much better when we just did our work and left our egos and emotions out of things. Also, it’s awesome to work with professionals. Christoph at Fast Rabbit is a godsend. That guy can work so fast, and so smooth. Without him, the Berlin Dinner Party would’ve been hell. He’s got so much experience, and killer kitchen skills. It’s a gift to work with him. All of us work and cook differently, and Chris, Jon and I were managing so many things to make these events happen. Sometimes I got frustrated or overwhelmed by the amount of work and lack of time. But every time I watched the videos Chris made from the tour and events, I realized how crucial his tasks were, and I realized getting antsy or anxious didn’t really help anything. Jon is also great in the kitchen, and was brilliant with the cleanup. When you’re staring at 20 butternut squash that need to be cut up, or 100 dirty dishes, or realize 22 plates of dessert have to go out in 5 minutes, it’s easy to freak out. Breathe. Divide and Conquer. Realize it will all get done. And it did.

16. Reporters can make me crazy.

I love TV folks, magazine journalists, newspaper reporters, and bloggers. We love promotion and exposure. What I don’t like is having a camera in my face for 4 hours when I’m trying to prep, cook and serve a giant dinner party. I need to learn how to set clear rules and time limits for press people. Or else I’ll tell them exactly what I’m thinking and how much they’re in the way at crucial times. And they’ll make video interviews of me looking exhausted, frustrated and foolish. At least twice, I look like total crap on video because I was way too tired and focused on other stuff. I need to be better prepared for it. Or just be faster at answering questions and getting it out of the way early and efficiently.

Want to see me exhausted after 6 hours of driving, 4 hours of cooking 50 meals… doing a video interview in German? Yes, I actually said “Cheesecake” when I meant “Cheesesteak”. WTF!

17. Kitchens are quirky.

Don’t expect every kitchen you work in to have fancy blenders, good knives, predictable ovens, the right pots and pans, or all the spices you need. I know this, as I’ve done dinner parties, cooking demos and classes in dozens of kitchens. Still, I get bent out of shape most of the time I have to get things done in a kitchen I don’t know. We did pretty well, all things considered. For future tours I need to get more informed in advance about kitchen equipment and think about traveling with more of my own gear. Looking back, it’s pretty amazing we pulled off as much as we did with what we had. In Mainz, Jon made 2 giant pots of blended soup with a single immersion blender, and I made frozen banana sorbet for almost 50 people using a basic blender. All because I’d assumed we’d have a Vitamix or other high-performance blender, since I’m used to always having one. Or more. Chris also managed to bake incredible brownies working in small kitchens all across Germany, and with ovens of all sizes, shapes and (irregular) temperatures.

18. Learn how to draw unicorns.

When I sign cookbooks, I always offer to draw some fun pictures and write a cute dedication. In Mainz I learned the hard way that I don’t know how to draw unicorns off the top of my head. My deepest apologies to the dinner party guest who got some kind of lopsided horse bear with a horn drawn on the title page of her copy The Lotus and the Artichoke.

19. Find time alone.

3 guys driving, cooking, and hanging out almost 24 hours a day for 9 days is a LOT. We did okay at finding personal time and personal space. A few times we had our own rooms and place to stay. This helped a lot. The next time around, I’ll try to find more opportunities for everyone to tend to themselves and keep a bit of their private, personal routines. We didn’t get much time for exercise, music, computer geek time, phone/skype calls, emails and such. I also wish I’d had more time to read and mediate on the tour. Thankfully, cooking is a great meditation. The stereo in the car was great for rocking out a few times. I enjoyed time with family in Berlin, and would’ve gone nuts without seeing my son any longer than I did. And getting on a bike in Hamburg was also a blessing. Next time we’ll have more time.

20. Oktoberfest is hilarious.

We only spent an hour and a half at Oktoberfest after the book signing event at Veganz in Munich. But it was great. I’ve been to Oktoberfest twice before and enjoyed it, even though there are a lot of sloppy drunks around. It’s just fun to walk around, eat a pretzel as big as your head, have a drink, watch the amusement park rides, and get into the spirit of an intense gathering. I’m really glad Chris and Jon got to see it, too. Our friend Claudi (Claudi goes vegan) was a terrific host, and it was great to have her with us. Next time we’ll arrive earlier so we can get to the vegan food booth!

21. Relax & enjoy.

Sure, we had some time on the tour to just chill, chat and enjoy ourselves. Even aside from a lack of sightseeing and sleep, I wish we’d been more chilled out and really appreciated how amazing and incredible the tour was. We did well. We had a super successful tour, made all of our events, sold hundreds of books, cooked for hundreds of people, and learned an insane amount about ourselves, each other, the scene, the kitchen, cooking, and other people. It’s super important to take moments, no matter how short, to just breathe and smile.

22. Give thanks!

Thank you to everyone who made this tour possible and excellent. Above all, I thank Jon & Chris from The Vegan Zombie for their trust, patience and power on this wild ride. I had an unforgettable time! Big thanks to all our partners & sponsors, and all the kitchens & couches along the way. A special thanks to everyone who came out to see us at our book signing events, cooking shows, dinner parties, and other events. Here are just some of the people we love:

Get our cookbooks here:

Watch tour videos on YouTube here.

German Lebkuchen

German Lebkuchen Cookies - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Cookbook

German Lebkuchen - Traditional Christmas Cookies

makes 12-14 / time 45 min

Cookie dough:

  • 2/3 cup / 100 g almonds ground
  • 2/3 cup / 100 g hazelnuts ground
  • 2/3 cup / 150 g sugar
  • 1/3 cup / 50 g flour
  • 3 Tbsn soy flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsn apricot or orange marmelade
  • 1/4 cup / 25 g candied lemon peel (Zitronat) or dried figs finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup / 25 g candied orange peel (Orangeat) or dried dates finely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 to 14 baking wafers (70 mm)

Spice mix:

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ground
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom ground
  • 1/4 tsp cloves ground
  • pinch black pepper ground
  • pinch nutmeg ground
  • 2 Tbsn cocoa powder OPTIONAL

For decoration:

  • Orange zest, almonds, hazelnuts, candied orange and lime peel
  1. In a medium bowl, mix soy flour, sugar, marmalade, water well until mixture is smooth.
  2. In a food processor, chop candied orange and lemon peels or dates and figs very finely. (If using dates and figs, add 1/2 Tbsn orange zest + 1/2 Tbsn lemon zest.)
  3. In a large bowl, mix ground nuts, flour, salt, vanilla, and spice mix. Add contents of other bowl and chopped peels or dried fruit. Mix well to form smooth and moist dough.
  4. Refrigerate 1 hr, or preferably, overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C / level 5.
  6. Line baking tray with baking paper. Top a baking wafer with a heaping tablespoon of dough. Press down to form round and mostly flat cookies. Repeat with rest of the dough and wafers. Place well-spaced on baking tray. No baking wafers? Form flat and round cookies with a spoon and place directly on baking paper.
  7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Note: Cookies will still be soft and similar shape when done.
  8. Remove from oven, allow to cool.

3 types of icing:

Chocolate icing:

  • 2 oz / 50 g dark chocolate
  1. Melt chocolate in medium pot set into larger pot of hot water.
  2. Apply melted chocolate with spoon or baking brush on cooled cookies. Garnish carefully, let cookies dry.

Plain icing:

  • 3 Tbsn water
  • 2 Tbsn sugar
  1. Mix water and sugar in small pot on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.
  2. Brush on/pour over with spoon on cooled cookies. Garnish carefully, let cookies dry.

White icing:

  • 3 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbs coconut milk or soy cream
  1. Whisk powdered sugar and coconut milk or soy milk in small bowl. Mix well until thick and creamy, adding sugar or liquid as needed.
  2. Spread icing over cookies with spoon to fully cover. Garnish carefully, let cookies dry.

German Christmas Cookies - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

German Gingerbread Christmas Cookies with Matcha Sorbet and Blueberry Sorbet - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Blackberry Beet Smoothie

Blackberry Beet Smoothie - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

For years, I’d been dreaming of getting an awesome blender and making the transition from juice guy to smoothie guy. I’ve been into juicing for almost a decade, making a fresh juice about 4 or 5 times a week. When I go through phases of more raw living and detox days, and especially when I do a juice fast a few times a year, my juicer gets some serious play in the kitchen. Well, life took an amazing turn for me about two weeks ago…

I got a super duper, high-powered blender: a Vitamix Super TNC 5200. And I’m in love. I knew I’d love it, but I didn’t know I’d love it this much. It’s awesome for smoothies (duh!) but I also use it at least once more nearly every day for sauces, soups, spreads, desserts… in other words, all kind of prep work and kitchen fun. I also never expected it’d replace pretty much all of my favorite kitchen appliances, or at least fill them with envy. It’s kind of crazy how I just don’t need my small or large food processor anymore, and even my trusty coffee grinder, which I used daily for grinding nuts and spices has taken a back seat. Poor guys! Anyone want a used blender / food processor? Seriously, come and pick it up in Berlin.

Let’s be honest. These things are pricey, especially if you live in Europe, as I do, and get these goodies as imports from the U.S.. I keep telling people when they ask me: Could it possibly be worth the investment? Well, if you cook and blend a lot, and if you love smoothies; Yes. Find the funds, take the plunge. (In the intro to my cookbook, I talk about getting the best tools you can afford, and considering practical needs, priorities, as well as budget.) Soon, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without a power blender. All the blenders I had over the years were difficult to clean and I avoided using them. This one’s a totally different story: Simple to clean and practically indestructible. It’s fun. It’s awesome.

Of course, there are other brands and models. It shouldn’t be too hard to find something that you can afford. And if you’re already buying smoothies outside the house regularly, in a few months you’d probably have spent the same amount of money. (Based on my current Smoothie Addiction, I’d be spending over 50€ a week if I was buying them, not making them at home. Instead, I probably spend about 5 or 6€ a week on fresh, mostly organic ingredients for juices and smoothies.)

Since I love to travel, I’m already starting to wonder how I’ll feel when I leave home for a few weeks or months (for example, this coming winter during my planned Mexico trip) and won’t have my beloved smoothies just about every morning. I guess I’ll be back to the stick blender, which fits well enough in my backpack and does the job. After all, I got by in India for a year without a juicer, and the stick (immersion) blender and small food processor I got there were enough. For several weeks in Africa I was always able to get by with a simple citrus press. So yeah, I’ll survive.

Enough about the blender! Give me the smoothie!

This smoothie recipe, a Blackberry Beet Smoothie (with lots of other fun stuff in it, too) is part of a series of smoothies I plan to post about. Many of them have stories that relate to my travels and places I’ve lived in the 40+ countries I’ve seen. But this one is just fun and delicious. I’ve always loved beets and berries. I could talk about how beets remind me of India and berries about my childhood days of scouting trips in the forests of Northeastern America. Nah… Let’s get on to the tasty stuff.

If you don’t have a power blender (yet), you could make this with a standard blender, or even an immersion blender. Just chop the stuff well, and soak the nuts and seeds longer. Or use cashew butter. Be creative, have fun. It’s your smoothie now. Enjoy!

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Kochen ohne Knochen Interview

Interview Kochen ohne Knochen Das Vegane Magazin Justin P. Moore on the balcony

Interview Kochen ohne Knochen Das Vegane Magazin Justin P. Moore layout

I was recently interviewed for Kochen ohne Knochen – Das Vegane Magazin. The original interview is in German, but I’ve translated it here for you to read in English, and added more detail to a few answers. I also included photos from the printed magazine’s design and layout for the article. I’m super pleased with how it turned out.

Justin P. Moore – World Traveler & Vegan

Interview with Kochen ohne Knochen – Das Vegane Magazin
Issue #12

Justin, an American living in Berlin, has traveled to more than 40 countries and compiled over 100 delicious recipes. In his cookbook, The Lotus and the Artichoke (first published in English) which was recently published in German, he documents his culinary adventures from around the world.

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Moroccan Stuffed Squash RELOADED!

Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash Reloaded with Quinoa - The Lotus and the Artichoke

Once in a while I have a recipe that I just keep coming back to and improving and evolving. Lately I’ve been enjoying lots of dinner parties and I’ve been cooking for friends very regularly. I’ve been cooking a lot of stuffed vegetables and experimenting with different fillings.

Just in the last few weeks I’ve cooked either my Tempeh Stuffed Mushrooms, Stuffed Peppers, and Stuffed Squash about a dozen times. (These are all recipes from my vegan cookbook.) It’s just so fun to make a giant batch of tomato rice or spicy quinoa or couscous and mix it up with more spices and other delicious foodstuffs. And then of course to fill up the vegetables and throw them in the oven.

A few days ago one of my good friends gave me an enormous zucchini from his home garden. I totally laughed when I saw the 2.5 kilogram monster squash. Everyone at our picnic was quite amused when I passed around the homegrown gift. It took me a few days to figure out how to best honor the gigantic gourd. And then it came to me yesterday afternoon: Make a killer variation of my Vegan Moroccan Stuffed Squash!

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Vegan French Toast

Vegan French Toast - Breakfast - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Cookbook

Way back in 1992, I published my first recipe for Vegan French Toast in Solace Kitchenzine, an old-fashioned cut & paste, photocopied vegan mini-cookbook fanzine I made as a teenager. I wrote short essays on environmental and social issues, did the artwork, and interviewed bands in the hardcore / punk music scene, mostly in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area, but also from as far away as Boston, California, and Washington D.C. I was an avid pen pal, loved doing mail order in the U.S. and internationally, and took every opportunity to go on road trips with friends to other cities or states to watch bands play, meet new friends, and “distribute” my ‘zine.

It was a really magical time of my youth. In many ways the blog and cookbook project, now almost twenty years later, recall the excitement and interaction of those days. Back then I used to get letters in the mail (you know, the kind with stamps) almost every day. Now, I get enthusiastic emails and Facebook messages from friends and fans. Even years after Solace came out, I’d run into people that told me they knew my ‘zine. It was pretty cool. Though I’ve never been the preachy, dogmatic type, I was always proud when someone told me I helped or encouraged them on the path towards veganism / vegetarianism and daring to eat differently than the mainstream. Nowadays, vegan is a household word. Most restaurants – and relatives! – are way cooler about veggie eating habits. Sure, it still varies from country to country, county to county, and town to town…

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Kickstarter 2: German Cookbook & English Reprint!

Grow the Global Veg Scene! The Lotus and the Artichoke - Painting, JPM in kitchen

The Lotus and the Artichoke is back on Kickstarter to crowdfund the German edition of my cookbook, and to help fund the next English printing this Spring. Join the adventure and help make it happen!

In 2012 my first Kickstarter project The Lotus and the Artichoke – Vegan Cookbook was successful with the help of over 360 amazing backers from around the world. In December, the first edition was printed: 1000 copies in full color, featuring over 100 recipes and more than 90 full-page, mouth-watering photographs. The Lotus and the Artichoke quickly became an international sensation!

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Dum Aloo

Dum Aloo – North Indian Tomato Potato Curry - The Lotus and the Artichoke

This recipe and story first appeared as a guest post on Scissors & Spice. Thanks again, Lynn!

Dum Aloo is one of many unsung heroes of Indian vegetarian cooking, with paneer, kofta, and mixed veg dishes usually stealing the spotlight. If you like potatoes and enjoy creamy, tomato-based curries, this delicious wonder will win you over. Soon you’ll be cooking it regularly and looking out for it on menus.

When I lived in Amravati, India, teaching Art and English for a year at a Cambridge International School, I quickly made friends with much of the neighborhood. From the first day, I was invited to family meals and constantly got amazing offers of home-cooked lunches. It was culinary heaven!

I learned so much about traditional Indian cooking (and a lot of Hindi) from the family of one of the local vegetable cart vendors who lived down the street. In the evenings, I’d often hear a knock at the door or get a short text message, and within minutes the kitchen was alive: full of cheery voices, sizzling sounds, amazing smells, and the incredible, vivid colors of spices and fresh vegetables.

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Vegetable Pad Thai

Vegetable Pad Thai with tofu - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

In the last few weeks I’ve been so super busy getting the design finished for the printed The Lotus and the Artichoke vegan cookbook, I’ve hardly had any time to get new recipes up on the website. The good news is: The cookbook is going to print this week, and I’ve got another time-tested favorite recipe inspired from my travels. This one is also in the cookbook, and it’s just too good not to share!

Along with the pineapple pancakes I recently posted, today’s dish has always been one of my favorite culinary memories of Thailand. I ate Vegetable Pad Thai at the street carts, at nice restaurants, in back alley neighborhood restaurants, and at the simple beach resort on Koh Chang. All over Bangkok you can get street food Pad Thai a dozen different ways. I always got the vegetarian stuff, which usually had tofu and vegetables, but sometimes just vegetables. For about thirty to fifty cents I’d get a steaming bowl of noodles and veg topped with sauce, crushed peanuts, and a lime slice or two. I usually dosed it with some more hot sauce and then sat down on the sidewalk somewhere to chow down.

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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