Review: Basu’s Homestyle Indian Cuisine (IS THE BOMB!) »
Basu’s graciously sent us some of their make-it-yourself Homestyle Indian Cuisine to check out, presumably because every vegan blog south of San Luis Obispo has already had the chance. This is probably because they are an adorable family startup company based in the L.A. area and distributing regionally, but I am still immediately resentful of Southern California having anything desirable or good because I am a cynical, humorless Northern California native. Anyway you can already buy Basu’s at the Whole Foods stores down there. (What is up with Whole Foods in Southern California & Nevada having SUCH BETTER vegan selections than ours??)
As an Indian-food-loving single person (or, a not-single person who lives in a different apartment than her boyfriend and spends three nights a week over there so consequently grocery shops *less* than a single person), I already eat a lot of pre-prepared Indian food, in the form of takeout and vacuum-packs from Tasty Bite and the like. Because I sit down to depressing Trader Joe’s Punjab Choley for one and plain rice on a fairly regular basis, I feel entitled to the sense of totally unmitigated euphoria that comes flying out into the kitchen when you open a packet of Basu’s cheerily-labeled “Vindaloo Sauce with Basil - Vegan.” Warning:this sauce smells amazing. While I was eating it at work the next day, my coworker (a real actual Indian person) was all, “That smells amazing!”
Now, it’s packaged as sauce alone, and you add your own vegetables and proteins (unless you’re just taking a bath in it—ain’t no shame, it smells amazing!) I thought, after an initial botched attempt at adding some Tofurky sausage (don’t do that) that this Vindaloo works best with baby red potatoes and firm tofu cut like paneer cubes (it does—do that instead!) Also, some cauliflower would probably be nice, but my neighborhood market was out of it.
First, I boiled the potatoes until soft, then drained them and cooled them a bit while I cut up the tofu. Then I melted some Earth Balance in a saute pan, and threw in generous amounts of powdered cumin and tarragon. I know tarragon isn’t very Indian, I just really like it. Then I threw in the tofu and (quartered) potatoes to stir fry until brown and crusty with delicious spices. When everything was nicely browned, I threw it in a pot with the Vindaloo sauce to simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat. At this point, my house smelled (you guessed it!) amazing.*
The Vindaloo dish was fast and easy, and makes for a comforting, nutritious and really delicious meal. But, the thing that really ele
vates Basu’s above the other DIY Indian foods is pairing the curry with Basu’s own Saffron Rice and Tamarind Chutney. The rice is unbelievably flavorful, in a way that would be difficult for me to replicate at home. It’s got a delightful buttery taste, offset by some kind of curried carrot (?) that really goes the extra mile in transforming your pathetic Ikea couch-and-coffee-table dining set into a charming neighborhood Indian restaurant. The chutney is dark and syrupy, and drizzled over the curry/rice combo, it’s just the perfect thing.
In sum, that was my totally savory experience with the Basu’s Homestyle Indian Food, a really good company and makers of the best DIY Indian meals. If only I could go to my local Whole Foods and get more. Sad Face.
*I should make it clear as I overemphasize how amazing it SMELLS, that I do not mean to underemphasize how amazing it TASTES, which is AMAZING. Like, the tastiest thing to come out of my kitchen in a long time, vegan or non.
Vegetarian Option Leads to Downfall on This Week’s Top Chef »
Someone get Jeremy Fox or the entire crew of Millennium up in this piece because this week’s veg options on Top Chef were SAD. Okay, not entirely, but the losing dish happened to be vegan and was created solely for the possibility of herbivores, which is nice, but at least make it interesting. We all know it is possible. We all know veg options can do so much better than (wait for it)…pasta salad.
Yes, pasta salad. Any teenage vegetarian knows the pain of going to a family function, watching everyone around you feast on hamburgers and hot dogs while you are relegated to this sad bowl of wet pasta with some canned artichokes thrown in. And that is when you vow to learn to cook. Or bring veggie burgers next time.
But, I digress. The pasta salad was a disaster. I don’t even want to link you to the recipe because I’m pretty sure everyone here knows how to boil water and open cans of food. Granted, the kitchen this week was military-style and limited, but in an upscale cooking competition where your competitors are coming up with things like bread pudding, three-bean chili, and chowder in that same kitchen, with the same limitations, it’s time to step up your game.
Sadly, the contestant that went home last week was also a San Francisco chef, which was a double-burn! And she worked at GOOGLE. So embarrassing on so many levels.
Other non-meaty dishes cooked this week included Laurine Wickett’s potato burger on portobello mushroom bun with fingerling chips. She made this for the Quickfire and I would eat about a million of all these things. This dish was almost vegan, except for heavy cream and an egg used to make the burgers. Easy to vegan-ize, right?! Jesse Sandlin’s sweet potato soup was another almost-vegan, just replace the heavy cream and go easy on the cayenne pepper (judges said it was too spicy). Finally, eliminated cheftetant Preeti made a vegetarian dish for the Quickfire: Russian banana fingerling potatoes with asparagus and tomatoes. Sub the butter with Earth Balance and you’re good to go!
What did you all think of last night’s episode?