Ottawans love the oasis of calm in the interior of the Peace Garden at 47 Clarence Street. It is the little flower-filled restaurant where owner Devakripa presides over a medley of delicious Indian and Thai dishes, all of them vegetarian or vegan.
Vegans differ from vegetarians in that vegetarians do eat eggs and fish—that is, if they are lacto-ovo vegetarians. If they are lacto vegetarians, they eat dairy products; if they are ovo-vegetarians, they eat eggs.
There are always three soups at the Peace Garden, usually a miso soup containing tofu, a bean-based soup or dal, and a vegetable soup. Various wraps and chutneys, salads and sweets are there to tempt patrons from morning to night.
Pushparani, one of the chefs, told me that she never uses a recipe and cooks from memories of savoury foods she has eaten in the past.
Below are recipes I have on hand that bring to mind dishes I have savoured at the Peace Garden.
Makes 4 servings
250 ml (1 cup) split red lentils, washed
800 ml (6 1/4 cups) water
20 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) ghee
3 ml (3/4 tsp) whole cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 dried red chilies
5 cm (2-inch) stick cinnamon
4 cardamoms, crushed
3 ml (3/4 tsp) ground turmeric
2 ml (1/2 tsp) chili powder
6 ml (1 1/4 tsp) ground cumin
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) sugar
25 ml (2 tbsp) desiccated coconut
15 ml (1 tbsp) raisins
Bring lentils and water to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Skim off foam. Lower heat, partially cover, and simmer for about an hour or until lentils are soft. Heat ghee in a small skillet and add cumin seeds, bay leaves, chilies, cinnamon, and cardamoms. Let sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add all other ingredients, including the coconut and fry for a couple of minutes. Mix the ghee and spice mixture with the dal and stir. Serve with rice, bread or potato curry.
250 g (1/2 lb) unsalted butter
Heat butter in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until a white residue becomes golden and sinks to the bottom. Remove from heat, strain and cool. Pour into glass jar with cover and store in a cool place until ready to use.
Makes 4 servings
22 ml (1 1/2 tbsp) vegetable oil
3 ml (3/4 tsp) black mustard seeds
1 ml (1/4 tsp) fenugreek seeds
2 ml (1/2 tsp) turmeric
2 ml (1/2 tsp) chopped fresh ginger
15 ml (1 tbsp) minced fresh coriander
5 ml (1 tsp) finely chopped fresh green chili
2 medium onions, sliced
500 g (1 lb) boiled, cubed potatoes
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds, then add turmeric, ginger, green chilies, coriander, onions and fry until soft. Add the potatoes and stir gently. Salt to taste. If too dry, sprinkle a little water on the potatoes. Cook until light brown. Serve hot.
Makes 4 servings
1 large eggplant
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, finely chopped
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
25-40 ml (2-3 tbsp) mustard oil
Place eggplant under a preheated broiler for about 15 minutes, turning often, until the skin becomes black and the flesh soft. Cool and peel the skin. Mash, then add remaining ingredients and mix well. Served at room temperature.
Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings, and Doctor’s Review, among others. She is currently the European editor of Taste & Travel International. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org