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Food Intolerences – Daring Cooks Challenge September 2009

Dosai Masala 1

The Daring Cooks Challenge for September 2009 was hosted by Debyi from The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. The challenge she selected was Indian Dosas, or at least it’s meant to be. However, what you see pictured above is neither Indian nor dosa. You’ll see what I’m getting at when you read on.

Before I begin the post in earnest, I feel it necessary to confess a strong food-related intolerance that I have, as it influences the direction and tone of this post relative to others you may read. You’ll notice as you read on that within the post, I choose to use gluten-free flour for my dosas. However, I do not suffer from celiac disease, and thusly, gluten is not the something I have an intolerance for. My food-related intolerance is that of veganism.

I have issues with vegans. Not so much with the food they choose to eat; what they eat is their own business. It’s more to do with the fact that, to date, I have yet to have met or encountered a vegan in some form or another that didn’t try to impose their philosophy onto others. This challenge was no different to those circumstances. I won’t spend too much time dwelling on the details. However, suffice it to say, there was no attempt to cater for vegetarians and omnivores alike, even in a token fashion. It was stated quite clearly that it was a requirement of the challenge to do things the vegan way.

Rather than adopt a “to hell with this rubbish” attitude and skip the challenge all together, I decided to put my intolerance to one side and stick to the challenge as presented, veganism and all. Actually, I took it one step further and went gluten-free. Heck, I figured I’d come this far, why not go all the way. Afterall, this is meant to be a challenge.

Speaking of challenge, the recipe for the “Indian Dosas” consists of three main parts – the dosa pancake/crepe, the filling of chickpea/garbanzo (depending on which region you come from) and the coconut curry sauce.

1. Dosa

Before I get into the ingredients and method of preparation, do not be deluded into thinking that the following is by any stretch of the imagination a recipe for dosa. It’s not. However, I’ll refer to it as such to avoid confusion.  Actually, I’m rather surprised that a genuine recipe for dosa was not used as, not only is the original recipe prepared in a vegan-friendly manner, it would have actually have been a challenge worthy of the Daring Kitchen. If you want a more to true to life recipe for dosas, try doing a Google search on “dosa recipe” (with or without quotes) and see what you come up with. I’ll continue with the recipe as presented.

Ingredients (makes approx. 8)

Dosai Mise en Place

The mise en place for the dosa consists of (from top left bowl to bottom right dish):

  • 1 cup (120gm/8oz) all-purpose, gluten free flour (spelt flour was the original option)
  • ½ cup (125ml/4oz) almond milk (or soy, or rice, etc.)
  • ¾ cup (175ml/6oz) water
  • ½ tsp (2½ gm) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2½ gm) salt
  • ½ tsp (2½ gm) curry powder
  • Oil (optional)

Apologies for the blown out photo. Just imagine that there are ingredients in the white bowls. They’re there, trust me :)

Method

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients of water and almond milk together.
  3. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing it in as you go with a whisk.
  4. Once a smooth batter is formed, allow it to rest for 30 mins.
  5. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
  6. Ladle approx. 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake.
  7. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter.

Notes

Dosai Attempts

It took a fair number of attempts to get the dosa just the way I wanted it. The above image shows a number of my less than successful attempts. Starting from the top left working clockwise:

  • Ladled into the pan without thinning it out.
  • Thinned out with the back of the ladle.
  • A portion of the batter thinned out with more almond milk placed into the pan and moved around to allow the batter to run. This reminds me of those silhouette puzzles. How many faces can you make out? :)
  • Dosazilla, anyone? This one was created using the back edge of a bowl scraper to thin out the original recipe batter in the pan.

The dosazilla was the closest to being somewhat palatable as the rest were generally gummy and/or unappetising.

Dosai Final Version

Using the back of a bowl scraper and after a few more attempts I ended up with the above dosa, which services just fine for this challenge. The end product as pictured above was soft and spongy with nice crispy bits in the darkened areas that were really thinned out.

The only bit of advise I can offer if you choose to follow this recipe is to work quickly and thin out the batter evenly as soon as it hits the pan.

2. Filling

Ingredients

Chickpea Masala Mise en Place

The mise en place for the chickpea/garbanzo filling consists of (from the top left going anti-clockwise):

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 green capsicum/bell pepper, finely diced (red, yellow or orange are fine too)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • A collection of spices which includes:
    • 2 TBSP (16gm) cumin, ground
    • 1 TBSP (8gm) oregano
    • 1 TBSP (8gm) sea salt (coarse)
    • 1 TBSP (8gm) turmeric, ground
  • 2 medium hot banana chilies, minced & 5 cloves garlic, likewise minced
  • ½ cup (125gm/4oz) tomato paste
  • 4 cups (850gm/30oz) cooked or canned chick peas (about 2 cans)

I’d decided not take the advice given by the challenge host and make a full batch as indicated above. A half batch was what I worked with (which is what’s pictured above) and that was perfectly fine for the number of dosa that I’d ended up making.

Method

  1. Heat a saucepan or frying pan to low-medium heat and start by sweating off the onions, carrots and capsicum in a little vegetable oil until they’ve just softened.
  2. Add the chili and garlic. Cook for around a minute.
  3. Add in the spices and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the tomato paste. Cook off for a minute or two.
  5. Add the chickpeas/garbanzo beans and stir around until heated through and softened.

The original recipe called for mashing the beans into a paste before incorporating. This didn’t make much sense to me as there would have been no textural contrast to this dish if I’d followed the recipe as it was written.

Notes

Chickpea Masala

What you end up making with the chickpea/garbanzo bean filling is something akin to a chana masala i.e. chickpea curry. However, the resemblance to chana masala, or in my opinion Indian food, stops there. Despite that, this ended up being the best tasting part of the dish and is something that I wouldn’t mind making again. Though next time around I’d go with a more true-to-origin recipe of chana masala. It eludes me why something closer to an authentic chana masala recipe wasn’t used in the first place as, with the substitution of vegetable oil for ghee, this too would have been vegan friendly.

A couple of things to note when making the chickpea/garbanzo bean filling. When it comes time to incorporate the spices (Step 3), I found that I had to add more oil, as the spices were sticking to the pan and I feared that they would burn. I think the additional oil worked out to be around a tablespoon’s worth. If you’re working with a non-stick pan (which I wasn’t) you may find that it’s not required. Likewise, when the chickpeas/garbanzo beans were added, the mixture ended up being too dry to my liking and hard to incorporate. In this case, I’d added a few splashes of vegetable stock. Not a lot, though. Just enough to loosen the mixture up.

3. Sauce

Ingredients

Coconut Curry Sauce Mise en Place

The mise en place for the coconut curry sauce consists of (from top left carton to bottom right dish):

  • 3 cups (750ml/24oz) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups (500ml/24oz) coconut cream (the original recipe called for coconut milk)
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 TBSP (30gm) all-purpose GF flour (originally spelt flour)
  • Spice mix consisting of:
    • ½ (2½ gm) tsp cumin, ground
    • ¾ (3¾ gm) tsp sea salt (coarse)
    • 3 TBSP (30gm) curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • vegetable oil (not pictured)

As with the recipe for the filling, I went with a half batch. Actually I could have probably gotten away with an eighth of a batch as there was a plenty of sauce left once the dosa and filling was used up.

Method

  1. Over a low to medium heat, sweat the onions in a little vegetable oil until they become soft and translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute or so, making sure that the garlic does not brown.
  3. Add the spices, stir in to incorporate and cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the flour and likewise cook for around a minute, stirring constantly, essentially building a roux.
  5. Pour in the vegetable stock a little at a time, incorporating fully into the mixture each time before adding more stock.
  6. Once all the vegetable stock has been incorporated, stir in the coconut cream and tomatoes.
  7. Turn the heat to low and simmer for around 30 minutes.

Notes

Coconut Curry Sauce

The coconut curry sauce was the thing I was least happy with. Everything was fine up until the step when the coconut cream and tomatoes were added (Step 6).

Actually, I was rather please up until that point. Not just with the way it all came together but with the fact that it closely resembles a Japanese style curry, something I’ve been wanted to learn how to make for some time. Once the coconut cream and tomatoes were added, everything went south. It went from tasting nice and authentic (albeit authentic Japanese) to something that resembled westernised Indian food (a poor attempt at that) and rather ordinary tasting. I don’t think the use of coconut milk, instead of the cream I chose to go with, would have saved this.

One thing to note, I prepared the tomatoes in a concasse fashion i.e. removing skin, deseeded and diced. In hindsight, I should have doubled the number of tomatoes required as you lose a lot of volume when you deseed. In my attempted of the coconut curry sauce, the tomatoes lent little flavour or texture to the dish. Just some random lumpiness from time to time.

Plating

Dosai Masala Completed 2

I present to you the completed dish – Minature Crepes with Curried Chickpeas and Curry Flavoured Coconut Sauce. I’m loathed to insult my Indian friends by referring to the completed dish as an Indian Dosa.

Plating up the dosa is pretty straight forward. Add the filling into the dosa and wrap. Pour the curry sauce on top. Ok, that’s not quite how you’d serve up an authentic version of dosa but why make an attempt of authenticity now when there hasn’t been any thus far? Having gone back and read the fineprint, I actually could have gone with the authentic version of both the dosa and chana masala but it’s a little too late for that now. Wish I’d seen that earlier!

My original intent with plating the dosa was to present them in the fashion of a taco. Unfortunately, the dosa were not able to hold the shape and stand upright. I settled for a look that was inspired by enchiladas/cannelloni. You may notice that the plated dosa are tiny. I used a cookie cutter to shape rounds out of a larger dosa and then put them back into the pan with a little oil to crispen up and get those wonderful brown bits.

How does the end result taste? Do I really need to say?

Well, there you have it. The challenge was accepted and seen through until the very end. Surprisingly, I found that there were some positives to take away from the experience. For that I’m thankful for Debyi. I’d learned that a dosa and chana masala, with the substitution of vegetable oil for ghee, are vegan friendly dishes. Something useful to know if I ever have to cook for a vegan. I also learned how to make the base for a Japanese style curry.

For the vegans that have made it to the end of the post, I hope that you appreciate that an omnivore with a strong intolerance for vegans was open minded enough to attempt to walk in your shoes and stick to the challenge as stated. I just hope that you’ll be likewise open minded enough to try and walk in someone elses shoes one day by attempting a challenge that is meat or vegetarian based as stated, and see what you learn from the experience.

Wishful thinking I know :)

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{ 44 comments… add one }
  • lili - pikeletandpie September 14, 2009, 1:12 pm

    You hit the nail on the head with this one. I couldn’t bring myself to complete this challenge (despite the fact that I’m flat out at the moment) having had magnificent dosa in the strangest of places. Surely this task would have been more interesting if the dosa batter was actually fermented, and if the remainder of the components were more authentic.
    Congratulations with going through with the vegan recipe, I don’t know that I would have!

  • Anh September 14, 2009, 1:30 pm

    Your photos are so beautiful! :) I thin GF plain flour is easier to handle than the whole-meal spelt!

  • Trissa September 14, 2009, 2:26 pm

    Great pictures though… and thank you for being honest. To also be completely honest I also did not feel like taking up this “challenge” but part of the reason I did was because I know we can only miss out on a certain number of challenges a year…

  • Minh September 14, 2009, 2:41 pm

    Think you hit the nail on the head of this one Simon, while the results were good for dinner the whole time I couldn’t help but wonder just how authentic the recipes were and why they hadn’t gone that one step further.

    Love the shot you got of the chickpea filling!

  • Jenn September 14, 2009, 3:19 pm

    Your dosas look beautiful – a lot better than my gluten free ones came out, though I think that is because I used 100% buckwheat flour since I was also cooking for someone with a carb restricted diet as well. I think if I used my standard mix or an all-purpose GF flour mine would have been more “crepe-like” and less “pancake-like”.

    It was interesting to see all of the issues someone who eats a vegan lifestyle has to go through, but I don’t think I will be doing vegan as a regularly-occurring thing, especially cooking for someone who is diabetic. Beans/vegetables just have too many carbs to be able to eat enough to serve as her single source of protein.

    I think it would have been fun to try a more authentic recipe as well.

  • Jenny September 14, 2009, 5:12 pm

    I love your straightforward writing! I have issues with vegans as well – don’t misunderstand me, they have the perfect right to eat and not eat anything they want, but they often call vegan food “healthier” and I don’t really believe that. Is it really healthier (and better for the planet) to eat weird butter substitutes than real butter? How sustainable are all those soy plantations that would be needed if everyone would go vegan? Sorry, I’m ranting :)

    Your dosas does look very nice – I think you did a great job on this challenge following through despite all the issues. I agree it would have been more of a challenge (and more fun!) to do an authentic recipe instead of this westernized, watered-down version. I changed the filling and the sauce cause they just didn’t appeal to me, and reading your write-up made me glad I did. Kudos for going all the way! (And yikes, sorry about the long comment…).

  • Robert September 14, 2009, 5:22 pm

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Had to laugh at your rorschach test dosa.

    Nice to see I wasn’t the only one upset with the imposition of vegan philosophy.

  • Suzie September 14, 2009, 6:14 pm

    Great post. I personally didn’t mind being told to do it vegan, because for me that was the challenge rather than the recipe itself (although I can see the conundrum re what they ask vs what they do). Agree that the dosas weren’t quite like the dosas I am used to – I wanted the crisp paper thin ones. If I had more time and energy, I would chase a recipe for them down. To me, the crepes were more like a curry blini mixture, but I was OK with that – I think they would be good as a cocktail snack, topped with something spicy.

  • chef_d September 14, 2009, 6:32 pm

    Beautiful dosas. I almost didnt make this challenge but I’m glad I did.

  • Laurisof September 14, 2009, 7:27 pm

    Nice. I hadn´t thought about this challenge that way (about the vegetarian imposition), but I totally agree. Also the “dosa” batter wasn´t perfect (mine came out gooey). I loved all your photos and your writing.

  • FFichiban September 14, 2009, 8:40 pm

    lololol vegans = food-version of mormans? Hee hee you should had gone for some funky shaped dosas :P great work man!

  • yas @ hungry.digital.elf. September 14, 2009, 10:08 pm

    Hey the dish looks great Simon!
    Maybe something like a large griddle should make it easier to make dosa shouldn’t it.

  • Lex September 14, 2009, 11:15 pm

    Dosa turned crepe love it! Fusion at it’s best hehe

  • Frenchie September 15, 2009, 12:06 am

    Thanks for the suggestions! Your dosas look fabulous.

  • Winnie September 15, 2009, 12:22 am

    Nice post- I embrace all forms of eating but could not agree with you more about the dogma issues that often accompany veganism! Nice photos and your dish looks great though!

  • Cheri September 15, 2009, 12:29 am

    Great photos! I love the mini “dosas”. :) They really just make me want to eat tacos. :) I have not made or eaten much Indian food so I had no idea that this was not an authentic recipe. Thanks for filling us in.

  • Rose September 15, 2009, 1:55 am

    Nice job on the challenge. I had some major trouble forming the first dosa. It stuck to the pan, the spatula, EVERYTHING!

  • Pia (Taga_luto) September 15, 2009, 1:56 am

    Nice blog! I totally empathize w/ the vegan issue. I ended up w/ a compromise by making a meat dish on the side.
    You got me thinking about the Japanese curry.

  • Olive September 15, 2009, 2:07 am

    I admire your straight-forward opinion on this, I on the other hand don’t have any clue about it’s authenticity but just made the challenge. I am very much enlightened reading your post, I will do some “googling” about Indian Food cause I really liked this dosas, authentic or not. Could you recommend a good recipe source for Indian food or maybe you could share your recipes ;)

    Have a nice day!
    Great photos by the way

  • Angela September 15, 2009, 5:28 am

    I was a pretty strict vegetarian for many years and still only eat fish occasionally, so the vegan-ness of this challenge didn’t bother me at all. I’m glad you put aside your anti-vegan-status to do the challenge; I love your mise en place photos.

    (As to the comment on the soy farms necessary if we all went vegan, soy is a HUGE crop now because it is used in so much feed for animals being raised for meat. I suspect that less soy would be needed if we all ate it directly instead of processing it through animals first.)

  • Jayle September 15, 2009, 8:01 am

    Love your photos and your straight talk! I didn’t necessarily feel like this challenge was an imposition of veganism – however, I have certainly experienced the attitude you mention which seemed to emanate from the vegans I’ve known.

    Great post – great insights.
    Thanks!

  • Lauren September 15, 2009, 8:33 am

    I’m glad you tried the recipe – it looks wonderful!! Great job with this challenge =D. If you want to ‘meet’ a vegan that will not impose any beliefs, go to VeggieGirl. Anyways, I love the photos, they’re stunning!

  • Anne Marie September 15, 2009, 9:18 am

    I did wonder if the dosa-crepes would have worked better if the batter had spent the night in the fridge. Let me know if you perfect your japanese curry.

  • Mary September 15, 2009, 10:02 am

    You did a wonderful job with the challenge. I’m glad you tried the recipe. Im sure there will be others more to your liking.

  • maybelles mom September 15, 2009, 10:06 am

    They look great. I do have to disagree about this being wholy unauthentic. There are plenty of Indian women, myself included, who have made quick dosas using flour. I do think that the type of flour and the almond milk are different twist. As I said in the forum, I think flour dosas just don’t have the fermented taste of urad dal/ rice dosas so I don’t like them as much.

    And, can’t wait to see the Japanese curry. I am working on trying to perfect it myself.

  • Lisa September 15, 2009, 11:03 am

    Wow, Simon, what a detailed and informative write up, not to mention a beautiful job on the ‘crepes’. I agree, not authentic by any stretch, but still an absolutely smashing job and amazing photos (I cannot handle having to use a point and shoot plus artificial light until my camera lens comes back fixed). That said, Love your blog!

  • sarah September 15, 2009, 12:15 pm

    I didn’t have concerns with the vegan requirement but was surprised like you that the challenge recipe wasn’t an authentic dosa. Beautiful pictures! Your mini “dosas” are so cute :)

  • Simon September 15, 2009, 2:51 pm

    Hi Lili! Thanks :)

    The making of them for the most part wasn’t the challenging aspect. The thing you’ve highlighted was one of my main ones; making something that was presented as something it was not.

    Hi Anh! I’ve heard stories about the spelt flour. Though I only touched on it in the post, there were others that failed outright e.g. sticking to the spatula or itself and not being able to flatten out.

    Hi Trissa! Though I did think of the permissable number that can be missed, the main reason why I went ahead with it was to see if my presumptions held up. They did :)

    Hi Minh! Thanks :)

    The thing was that using an authentic recipe would have done little if any to change the vegan requirement, and other than a little more time, not that much more effort would have been required to produce what would have likely have been better results.

    Hi Jenn! Thanks :)

    You had one hell of a challenge to deal with. Mine pales in comparison, so kudos for you for sticking to it!

    Hi Jenny! I’m not going to claim by any means that I’m versed in the health aspects or lack thereof of veganism, so I’m not sure if I have much to say there.

    As I’ve said, it wouldn’t have taken that much more effort for what I would think would be far better results.

    Hi Robert! Glad to see that someone’s seen the humour in that little bit :)

    I’m glad I’m not the only one either. My issue had nothing to do with the recipe selection and everything to do with the stated requirements. If the recipe was for authentic dosa and chana masala and nothing more was said, this post would have had a very different tone to it, even with the recipe provided. Not only was it a requirement to go vegan but also that no alternatives were offered to vegetarians or omnivores alike. If alternatives were suggested, once again, different tone to the post.

    I have no problem with vegans being vegan. I even love some of the food that they find permissible to eat e.g. I’d pick a good chana masala (without ghee) over any meat based curry. I think by now you know what my issues is with them.

    As I’ve said, I’ve yet to meet a vegan that didn’t not impose their chosen philosophy onto others. I’d love to meet with one though. I’m sure the conversation would be stimulating :)

    Hi Suzie! Thanks :)

    You and I differ on this point. I saw the whole point of any challenge to be the recipe and not any philsophy surrounding it. I don’t believe it ever should be that way. Otherwise, why not have slow food moment, diabetic, halal, kosher & food allergy friendly challenges.

    Hi chef_d! I felt the same way on both counts but I’m glad I did not because of the end results of the challenge itself but for what I learned incidentally as outlined in the post.

    Hi Laurisof! Thanks! Appreciate the comments :)

    Hi FFichiban! Thanks :)

    Not sure if I would go that far. The host wasn’t trying to convert people to veganism and there wasn’t any dogma of why people should be vegan. I could have but by the time I was done, I was in a cbf state of mind.

    Hi Yas! Thanks :)

    A large griddle would help. However, the non-stick paella pan that I was using serviced just fine as it was :)

    Hi Lex! I wouldn’t quite go that far, dude :)

    Hi Frenchie! Thank you and you’re most welcome! :)

    Hi Winnie! Thanks :)

    I do too. I have no problem with vegan food, unless it’s trying to be what it’s not e.g. faux meats. Some vegan food is rather tasty. I don’t even mind the philosophy so much. I don’t agree with it but so long as it’s not imposed apon me, I’m an “I’m ok, you’re ok” kind of guy about it.

    Hi Cheri! Thanks! :) I kind of feel like a taco now myself but I’ve never been able to find either a good place or a good recipe for one.

    Hi Rose! Thanks :)

    I had a similar problem too. Cooking spray worked wonders :)

    Hi Pia! Hehe. If you ever find a good recipe for Japanese curry beyond the first six steps of the coconut curry sauce recipe, I’d love to know!

    Hi Olive! Thanks!

    Glad to see that this post has inpired you to look more into Indian food.

    I’m not sure if there is any recipe I could recommend that I know of that would do Indian food justice. I’m more of an eater of Indian food than a maker :)

    If I come across anything worthy, I’ll make sure to post it up on the blog, so keep an eye out for it!

    Hi Angela! Thanks! I’m glad to see that at least a vegetarian appreciates the effort :) hehe

    Hi Jayle! Without the reciprocal offer or alternatives as meat-based hosts have been known to do, I don’t see how it can be seen any other way without disregarding the spirit of the challenge altogether.

    I saw one post where the only thing that remained within the spirit of the challenge was that the end product contained a dosa, and not from the recipe provided either!

    Hi Lauren! Thanks! Appreciate the comments and the suggestion of an atypial vegan (at least from my experience) :)

    Hi Anne Marie! I’m not sure that it would have. May make for some nice gluten-free pancakes though :P

    If I ever get that Japanese curry sorted, I’ll make sure to post it on the blog :)

    Hi Mary! I’m sure there will be, vegan-friendly or otherwise :)

    Hi maybelles mom! I appreciate the expression of a differing point of view. Thanks for that :)

    I don’t doubt that there are other methods of making dosa. I just don’t think the recipe provided was it. I mean if you went ahead and made a pancake, crepe, tortilla, lavosh or any other similar flat bread using a traditional recipe; added the filling, wrapped and topped with the coconut curry sauce would that be considered a dosa masala? Though I can’t speak for you, from my point of view you’d be delusional to think that it was. I felt the same way about the “dosa” recipe provided. It was a savoury, gluten-free pancake that was being something that it wasn’t. Well, that’s at least my view on the matter :)

    The sad thing was that it didn’t need to be. It could have been authentic, vegan and likely better received. More of a challenge too.

    I’ve love to see how you go with the Japanese curry. I’ll post mine if I get it to an acceptable state :)

    Hi Lisa! You know, in hindsight the usage of “crepe” wasn’t fair to the French and it too was nothing like a crepe.

    Thanks for the complementary comments :)

    Hi sarah! Thanks :)

    I’d only wished I’d read the fine print earlier and just used authentic recipes all the way!

  • Amy I. September 15, 2009, 4:56 pm

    Hi Simon, like many of the above commenters, I appreciate your open and honest take on this challenge. I enjoy hearing how different people perceive a shared common experience. I was also surprised and somewhat disappointed to read what you wrote about this recipe not being authentic! Maybe I missed something in the challenge, but I felt like we were led to believe that this was an authentic recipe. Oh well, I still enjoyed it regardless :)

  • Bake in Paris September 15, 2009, 5:57 pm

    Ha ha seems like I shared the same thought about the whole vegan thing. But yes, a challenge is a challenge!

    Most of all, I admire your neat, honest, simple and elegant approach throughout the whole process. Clean and beautiful pics!

    Regards
    Kris

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 15, 2009, 11:16 pm

    Interesting-sadly my experience of vegans in real life has been very similar to what you alluded to. Vegetarians are fine but vegans are another kettle of fish!

  • art and lemons September 16, 2009, 12:17 am

    I like your documentary photo series for this recipe challenge, from ingredients to final plating. The photos are descriptive and lovely. I’m glad you tried the challenge and are ready to recreate the recipe according to your tastes, which, really is what cooking is all about!

  • Valérie September 16, 2009, 1:26 am

    This was a very interesting post. Despite not being a vegan, I personally wasn’t too shocked by the vegan requirement. The way I see it, being an omnivore (as opposed to a carnivore), means I can eat everything, including vegan fare. I saw this challenge as an opportunity to learn something (as you stated in the end). I also agree that this really wasn’t a completely authentic recipe – but well, it opened up some doors for those who weren’t too familiar with Indian cuisine.

    I appreciated the info on chana masala, it does sound good. Also, I realize your plating wasn’t what your were aiming for, but it still looks very cute! Kudos for attempting the challenge despite your reluctance!

  • nlle noelle {simmer down!} September 17, 2009, 12:30 am

    Well! You said a few things that the rest of us were probably thinking but didn’t want to say, in the spirit of being a supportive, friendly group. However, if you step up and accept the hosting duties, I suppose you open yourself up to criticism. I was also surprised about the dosa recipe not being very “authentic”, and I plan to try the rice-lentil recipe posted by Maybelle’s mom in the forums to use up the leftover filling and sauce.

    My biggest issue was more with the lack of clarity in the instructions. If you’re an experienced cook, you’d know to use a little cooking oil to sweat your vegetables for example, but someone writing a recipe shouldn’t make assumptions about what the cook knows or doesn’t know. I think if you’re going to be a challenge host, your recipe needs to be edited and easy to follow.

    And, last but not least, I will stick up for the (several) vegans I know who have NEVER ONCE tried to preach to me, or impose their views in any way. That you have experienced otherwise is unfortunate, but you can’t tar them all with the same brush. I agree with Valérie’s comment about omnivores eating ALL types of food. I eat meat, but I frequently make “vegan” food without even thinking twice about it, just because that’s what would taste good in a given situation (a grated carrot salad with vinaigrette, for exaple, or a pan of root vegetables roasted with olive oil & herbs…)

  • Simon September 17, 2009, 9:41 am

    Hi Amy I! That’s one of the good things about the Daring challenges; to be able to see the different results and experiences people have coming from a common starting point.

    Hi Bake in Paris! Thanks! :)

    Hi Lorraine! I wish it were not the case for the both of us but for me, I’ve yet to experience otherwise firsthand.

    Hi art and lemons! Despite certain grievances, I was happy to see to the challenge as well :)

    Hi Valérie! Thanks :)

    Shocked isn’t the way I would put it. Disappointed would be closer to the mark.

    If it wasn’t made clear already, the fact that the food is something that vegans can eat was not my issue.

    Hi nlle noelle! I thought the whole simmer down thing was for me until I went to your blog! hehe :)

    Thanks for the rather detailed comments. I would question whether the whole supportive, friendly group thing should take precedence over an environment that allows for the honest expression of ones own reviews and constructive criticism. You’re right in that being a host will likely open you up for criticism. However, if I were ever in that position, I would welcome such criticism, so long as it was fair and constructive. There is very little room for learning and growth in an environment where people choose not to be honest and say what they truely think for the sake of appearing supportive and friendly.

    I do agree with the issue of lack of clarity. It didn’t really affect me too much but I can imagine some of the less experienced cooks would get lost. I guess the forums can be used help cover that gap.

    Your defense of your friends is quite admirable. My issue wasn’t that there weren’t any vegans out there that weren’t imposing. It was that, based on my experiences, I had yet to meet or encounter one to date. To borrow your analogy, it makes it hard to not paint them all with the same brush as I’ve only ever had one brush to paint with. I would find it hard to argue that the host was not imposing her vegan principles, which just affirmed my experience to date.

    I’ve already stated in a previous comment that I don’t have any issue with vegan food as such, so I won’t go into it further here.

  • Erna September 17, 2009, 12:28 pm

    After I got over the disapointment with the dish being vegan, I got excited that I would be making something Indian. But that quickly dissapted by reading so many peoples comments on how not authentic the recipe was.
    Love how you presented the challenge but gave it a more accurate name. Maybe I’ll have to search as well to find some real Indian food.

  • nlle noelle {simmer down!} September 18, 2009, 5:03 am

    LOL no, the “simmer down” was not an instruction! :)

    I have experienced the type of “pushy” vegan/ vegetarian you are talking about, for sure. But luckily, it hasn’t been the majority of those I’ve encountered. Maybe one of these days you’ll come across one that breaks the stereotype. Or maybe you already have, but didn’t even know it because they were so low key about their choice that they didn’t “advertise” it! (Hey, anything’s possible, right?)

  • Natashya September 18, 2009, 7:30 am

    Well they look yummy! I agree, they did have western, homogenized flavour to them, but we enjoyed them.
    I am looking forward to learning how to make the more traditional fermented dosa when I figure out my wet grinder!
    I, too, appreciate your candidness.

  • isa September 19, 2009, 9:09 am

    Great post – love your straight talk!
    Your dosas looks wonderfull and I like your presentation.
    I just discovered your blog and I love it!

  • John (Eat4Fun) September 22, 2009, 3:11 pm

    Nice job on the challenge! Terrific photos too.

  • Simon September 26, 2009, 2:22 am

    Hi Erna! Thanks! A traditional recipe isn’t hard to find out there.

    Hi nlle noelle! I may very well have by that logic but none that I knew were vegan and didn’t see as the preachy or difficult sort. They’re like the evangelical christians of the food world, well so my experience to date would lead me to think. It’s like they can’t help but impose their philosophy onto others, whether it be blatant (like with the challenge) or in more passive but equally unsubtle manner.

    I’m open to changing that point of view but, as I’ve alluded to, I’ve yet to personally come across a counter example.

    Hi Natashya! Thanks :)

    I’d love to give the traditional recipe a go myself. Just need to sort out how to make them superthin. Might also need to get a large griddle plate for it, or maybe just make them on the BBQ hot plate.

    Hi isa! Thanks, and thanks for dropping by :)

    Hi John! Thanks! :)

  • Peter D April 12, 2011, 11:31 am

    In response to your statement at the beginning of your post,

    “I have issues with vegans. Not so much with the food they choose to eat; what they eat is their own business. It’s more to do with the fact that, to date, I have yet to have met or encountered a vegan in some form or another that didn’t try to impose their philosophy onto others”,

    I am curious as to HOW vegans have tried to impose their philosopy on others. I am not a vegan, but I do not eat cows, pigs, or sheep for what I consider health reasons. I’ll eat and enjoy fish, seafood, and poultry. I don’t know too many full-fledged vegans, but the ones I do know have not tried to push anything on me. If the topic comes up, I will first express my admiration for their culinary discipline. And I will usually ask them why, and how. It was by asking these questions in the past that got me started on refraining from red meats. If I hadn’t been curious and not inquired I’d probably still be eating Big Macs and Whoppers today. So what I am saying is if a vegan did try to push their ways upon me I would have walked away. Rather, it has been the informative conversations with vegans that has opened my eyes to the health benefits of abstaining from eating meat. I am sorry you may have experienced some aggressive vegans, and like you I would have been very turned off. But they are not all like that and should not be pigeon-holed. ….My next step…cutting out the chicken.

    Peter

    • Simon April 12, 2011, 1:15 pm

      Hi Peter :)

      Thanks for leaving a comment and expressing your view regarding vegans.

      With regards to the how, in this specific case, whilst I didn’t spell it out in detail in this post, the restriction for this challenge was to make the recipe the vegan way with no latitude for variation. I’m not just talking restrictions to meat but also to items that vegetarians would consider to be fine.

      For any other non-vegan or even non-vegetarian recipes, allowances are made to accommodate people with other dietary preferences. Not so with this vegan.

      This is but one example of imposition of philosophy. More commonly it has to do with the zeal that they purport the “evils” of killing & exploitation of animals, and the apparent health benefits of not eating any derived animal products.

      Whilst I actually do agree with vegans on a number of points e.g. inhumane treatment of some livestock, I don’t look to impose my dietary philosophy onto people or make a point that it’s better than others. Nor is there any compelling scientific evidence that I’m aware of that suggests that veganism is a particularly healthy, especially when B12 difficiency, which can lead to nervous system and even brain damage, is a common issue and is a recommended supplement to vegans by vegan bodies.

      I’m sure that there are vegans out there who are much the same as I am. Ones that aren’t so self-righteous and zealous about their dietary choice. Nice vegans who live their vegan lives without ill will to people with other dietary philosophies. An I’m ok, you’re ok sort of vegan. I’ve just yet to knowingly meet one.

      Whilst this post may give the impression that I pigeon-hole them, I don’t intentionally do so. Life just hasn’t shown me otherwise. Though, I am open to changing my point of view if I go come across a sufficient number of vegans to make those less savoury ones a minority.

      My sincerest thanks for your response as well as the account of your experiences with vegans. I hope I’ve sufficiently addressed your response.

  • Peter D April 13, 2011, 9:26 am

    Good response, I appreciate it. Now I understand your stance on vegans in your original post. This very inflexible vegan really has “to get with it” in that he/she should be more open to recipe modifications based on individual tastes and health requirements. Isn’t the evolution of a recipe the basis for the creation of new recipes? In any event, I would hope that this particular vegan is the exception, and not the rule.
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