There’s actually more tryptophan in this…

Pretend Thanksgiving dinner

My belated and fake all-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner: A Tofurky “roast” with a paprika baste on a bed of homemade rosemary stuffing surrounded by roast potato slices.

Nearly two hours of baking later, I had something akin to a turkey dinner in a pot. The Tofurky — a ball of tofu with a wild rice stuffing of its own — was not bad though still a poor substitute for an actual turkey. And my homemade stuffing crushed the baked-in variety.

But, surprisingly, soy has a substantially higher concentration of tryptophan per gram. This may be why I am rather sleepy at the moment.

Nonetheless, like a real Thanksgiving turkey, there will be plenty of leftovers.

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Vegan pizza: A failure of execution…

Lesson: looks ≠ taste

After almost four weeks of being vegan, I became ambitious and tried my hand at vegan pizza. Looks tasty, no?

I started with a bread recipe that came highly recommended, but turned out less than stellar in practice. I substituted wheat flour thinking of health and got heavy dense bread. It didn’t help that my crust was far, far, far too thick (lacking a rolling pin).

I also failed in the pizza sauce, not mixing in enough spices (oregano, garlic, salt, pepper).

Worst of all, I opted for the cheaper fake cheese veggie shreds. The higher quality, more expensive Daiya cheese-like veggie shreds work. These were an epic fail, despite promising to melt.

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Carbon steel wok vs. tofu

Dry fry

My first attempt at cooking with tofu was a disaster. Mushy, flavorless, goo.

This time, I tried the vegetarian equivalent of the sausage grillers’ “slow and low” mantra: the tofu dry fry.

After slicing up a big brick of extra-firm tofu, I browned the individual pieces over the course of an hour. Not exactly economical in terms of time, but absolutely worth the effort.


The low heat essentially dries out the tofu with minimal burning. The result is a slightly crispy sponge of tofu that soaks up marinade. As soon as they had browned, the pieces of tofu went into a bowl of teriyaki, garlic, black and red pepper.

The whole mix was then stir fried up with onions, mushrooms, corn, kelp noodles and more garlic.

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Hungry? Check out this wedding spread

Wedge shami kebab

At the fancy Desi wedding I attended last fall with friends, food stations ran the gamut of Indian noshes. I made good use of my time at the veg (“wedge,” in the Hindi inflection) stalls.

Editing these photos makes me hungry. See below.

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Welcome to Ecuador, home of the roadside grill

I don't eat it but it smells like heaven

About five months ago, I became vegetarian. In India, it was easy. In fact, it started simply because I was in rural Sikkim and meat wasn’t available.

The conscious effort and discipline was something I had long thought valuable. And I consider it a not eating meat morally good, as meat production — particularly in the developed world — is largely unsustainable.

I was pescatarian to start and gradually weaned myself of fish and shrimp. I stopped eating seafood entirely — which I consider to actually be more problematic and less sustainable than other meats — two months ago.

That doesn’t change that fact that Ecuador was full of tasty-smelling grilled meat that made me salivate. See below for more of this pollo wallah (Ecuadorian Hindi fo “chicken man”).

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Being Mexican in Ecuador

Hay burrito

My preferred Quito hostel serves dinner family-style every night. One night, Mexican burritos were on offer. They looked damn tasty, though the vegetarian, bean and cheese variety ended up being rather bland (no Joel, I have yet to “cave” as you predict).

However, the guacamole served on the side (see below) more than made up for it.

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