The Vedic Chef: 3 Gourmet, Vegan, Ayurvedic Dinner Dishes

Whether you’re cooking for a special friend, entertaining family, or treating that special someone to a romantic meal, these dishes are guaranteed to make an impression. Hint: Serve them with fresh organic salad or start with a light soup.

Amaranth Crepes With Saffron Sauce

Pitta and Kapha

Crepes are thin pancakes from France. Made with amaranth, a tiny seed related to spinach, these crepes are delightfully nutty, slightly sweet, and malty in flavor. Amaranth is nourishing and benefits the kidneys and urinary system, eliminating excess water and lowering blood pressure. Asparagus purifies the blood and also helps with water retention. An excellent remedy for puffiness under the eyes, it purges the lymphatic system and tightens the skin. It also supplies potassium, calcium, beta-carotene, and vitamins B and C to the body.

A rich tasting, Vata-balancing filling of chestnuts and vegetables, and a golden saffron sauce create a special entrée for any occasion.

This recipe is vegan, and gluten-free if using buckwheat flour.

Ingredients for Crepes:

  • 1/2 cup organic rice flour
  • 1/2 cup organic amaranth flour
  • 1/4 cup organic whole wheat flour or 1/4 cup buckwheat flour (you can also use 1 1/4 cups Bobs gluten free flour)
  • 1 cup organic coconut milk, preferably fresh
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Coconut oil or ghee for frying

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 12 green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots cut in wafer thin slices (use a peeler or cheese slicer for this)
  • 12 asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh chestnuts, roasted, peeled, and halved or dried chestnuts soaked in filtered water for 2 hours, then drained

Ingredients for Sauce:

  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons organic amaranth flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus extra for garnish
  • Herb salt or salt to taste
  • 1/3 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  • 2 cups reserved liquid from steamed vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons cashew cream or blanched almond cream (see below)

Directions:

Place all of the crepe ingredients in a blender or magic bullet and blend thoroughly.

For the filling, place the beans and carrots in a steamer basket inside a saucepan with about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Steam for 3 minutes and then add the asparagus and steam for another 7 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl, add the chestnuts, set aside and reserve the steaming water for the sauce.

For the sauce, first crumble the saffron threads into a small white dish and add 1 tablespoon of steaming liquid. Set aside to infuse the saffron.

In a medium saucepan warm 1 tablespoon of oil over low heat, then add the asafetida, thyme, and amaranth flour. Stir with a wire whisk until the mixture is a smooth paste. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the paste is quite thick. Stir in the remaining spices and seasonings. Whisk in the remaining steaming liquid, lower the heat, and whisk in the saffron liquid and the cashew cream. Remove from heat and cover.

To make each crepe, add coconut oil or ghee to a 10-inch non-stick sauté pan over medium heat. Blend the batter again with a little extra water. Ladle in enough batter to just cover the bottom of the pan, tilting the pan in order to spread the batter thinly. Cook until lightly golden on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Keep crepes in between layers of kitchen towel in a warm place.

To assemble the final dish, place a crepe on the plate, spoon half a cup of the vegetable-chestnut mix on one half of the crepe. Drizzle a 1/4 cup of the warm sauce over the filling and fold each crepe over to enclose the filling making a half moon shape. Drizzle a little sauce over the crepe and sprinkle with nutmeg and paprika. Serve immediately with a salad.

Chef’s notes: Cashew or almond cream can be made easily by soaking the nuts overnight in filtered water. In the morning, blanch the almonds and add fresh filtered water, varying the proportion of water for different thicknesses. Place in a magic bullet and blend thoroughly. For variations try adding a pinch of spice like cardamom, ground fennel seed, paprika, or turmeric.

Vegan Gluten Free Pierogies With Caramelized Shallot and Leek Jam

Vata, Pitta, Kapha

Poland offers some unique dishes including Pierogies, which are packed with tantalizing flavor and texture. These are filled with yellow split peas, which provide a host of health benefits. Being high in fiber and carbohydrates they help to move cholesterol and bile out of the body. Also high in protein they provide tryptophan, which is involved in serotonin production, which regulates mood, appetite, hunger, and sleep. B vitamins and minerals, like phosphorous and potassium, help regulate blood pressure, heartbeat, and arterial circulation. They also help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Parsley is full of chlorophyll, an anti–bacterial that helps with bad breath. Additionally it has been shown to have health benefits for the heart, blood vessels, immune system, joints, and intestinal tract. Leeks are full of iron and B vitamin folate, which make them excellent for cardiovascular health.

This recipe is vegan if using oil, and gluten-free.

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 3 cups organic gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for gluten-free flour:

  • 2 cups quinoa or amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup rice flour or coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 cup soaked and cooked yellow split peas or Puy lentils
  • 1/4 cup fine chopped leek
  • 1 carrot sliced thinly lengthways with a peeler or cheese slice
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram and thyme (or fresh herbs)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for Caramelized Shallot and Leek Jam:

  • 4 shallots, or 2 small red onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped leek
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Sesame oil , sunflower oil, or ghee
  • Juniper berries
  • Cloves
  • Red pepper flakes or black pepper

Directions:

Begin the caramelized shallots by heating oil in a skillet and adding all the ingredients except parsley. Cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly and then cover with a lid so that the shallots sweat in the steam. Lower heat and cook for about 25 minutes; then add parsley and serve on top of each pierogi.

Place the flour, agar agar, oil, salt, and water in a bowl and mix together, kneading into a ball of soft dough. Add a little extra water if the dough seems too dry. Place the 

With a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a floured board to a thickness of 2-3 millimeters. Cut into squares about 10 centimeter wide or circles 10 centimeters in diameter.

To prepare the filling, gently sauté the carrot, leek, herbs, and other flavorings (except the parsley) for about 3-4 minutes in a little sunflower oil. Stir in the cooked split peas and mix well. Add the parsley then turn off the heat and let cool.

Drop some filling onto one half of the circle and then fold carefully, moistening the edges with a little water. Pinch the edges tightly to seal. You will have a half moon shape or triangle.

Heat a large saucepan of water; add salt and bring to a boil. Let it simmer and gently lower the half moon shapes into the pan. When the pierogies float to the surface, they are ready. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain.

Traditionally in Poland, the pierogies are gently fried in butter or oil in a skillet as the finishing stage. You can omit this step if you like. Heat a little oil or ghee in a large skillet, add some fresh sage leaves and brown them; then add the pierogies, gently fry on both sides until some browning occurs.

Serve the pierogies with a spoonful of the caramelized shallots on top of each one.

Chef's note: Before adding agar agar, which is a vegan alternative to gelatin, dissolve it in a small amount of warm water. This will make the dough or pastry more pliable and less likely to crack when rolling into flat sheets.

Zucchini Roshti Yucca Burger With French Mustard Dressing

Pitta, Vata

An easy-to-make burger with a loose structure, this is juicy, crisp, and light. Excellent served on a fennel salad with arugula.

Roshti is the Swiss grated potato cake fried slowly in butter. Yucca is a very tasty and rich nutrient filled root from South America. It’s filled with phytonutrients, saponins, and resveratrol, so if you are cutting back on red wine consumption, this is an alternative source of that valuable anti-oxidant and cell protector. International researchers have discovered beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, blood sugar, arthritis, and inflammation. It even can protect the skin from sun damage due to ultra violet rays.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Ingredients for the Burger:

  • 2 zucchini, trimmed and sliced lengthways; use a cheese slicer
  • 1 pound yucca root, peeled and baked until soft
  • 1 purple or orange sweet potato or yam, also baked
  • 1 carrot, cut lengthways into very fine slices
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped leek
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower oil or sesame oil for frying
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon Chef Johnny’s Vata seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon organic mustard sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Ingredients for the Dressing:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 3 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons Chef Johnny’s Vata seasoning
  • Salt

Chef’s Note: Always peel yucca as the skin contains an acid called prussic acid that may have an adverse effect on digestion. Cooking will neutralize any potential ill effects of this or saponins found in the root.

Directions:

Break up the cooked yucca and sweet potato into small lumps.

Add everything together in a bowl and mix well.

Press a handful of mixture between your hands to form a burger shape. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or fennel seeds on both sides.

Heat sesame oil in a frying pan and place each burger in the pan. Cook on medium heat on both sides until they turn a golden brown color.

Whisk all ingredients together for the dressing and serve over the roshti burger and fennel and arugula salad.

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About the Author
Chef Johnny Brannigan
Chef Johnny Brannigan is an international Ayurvedic vegetarian and vegan chef with a deep knowledge base in Vedic wisdom and holistic medicine, and a lifelong love of food and cooking. Trained in Ayurveda and as a teacher of meditation by the Maharishi in Switzerland and Thailand, he has cooked and taught in over 33 countries, writing new recipes along the way. He co-founded The Organic Snack Company in 1998 in the U.K. and then travelled to the United States, where he cooked at The Raj, the top Ayurvedic spa in the country, and wrote The Global Vegetarian , his first cookbook. He’s also the chef/co-author of the seven-award-winning cookbook,...Read more