Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Lotus & the Artichoke

There's something whimsically charming about the title of Justin P. Moore's self-published vegan cookbook, The Lotus & the Artichoke: Vegan Recipes from World Adventures, that just calls to my inner child.

Photo from

The name sounds a bit like it would belong to a vegan children's book. And with that magical word "adventures" thrown in, well, it sounds perfectly lovely. Not that I was an adventurous kid. Quite the opposite actually. I would have taken a good book and an (entire) bag of Cheetos in my room over a spontaneous, outdoors adventure any day. I was a fat kid, and the only kind of adventure I wanted to go on was one involving my palette.

So this book is just perfect for grown-up me! I still hate spontaneity and anything dangerous, but I'll take a culinary adventure in a hot second. Justin generously mailed me a review copy of his tome from his home in Germany last month, and now that I'm post-cleanse, I'm ready to travel around the world without ever leaving his book.

The book is divided into four sections — the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Europe —and each is jam-packed with recipes (and a gorgeous, full-color food photo on each page!). Each section is prefaced with Justin's memories from traveling to countries on those continents. This dude has done some serious traveling. Puts me to shame. The furthest I've ever gone is Cozymel, Mexico. But that's okay because I can explore the world through Justin's recipes.

I started my global culinary tour tonight with this Paneer Makhani from The Lotus & the Artichoke:

Pretend like that short-grain brown rice is basmati, mkay? I was out of basmati.

It's an Indian dish that's traditionally made with a rich tomato sauce, cream, and paneer cheese cubes. In this vegan version, the paneer is made with fried tofu coated in a nutritional yeast/cornstarch mixture. I've made tofu paneer from other recipes, but those didn't have any special treatment for the tofu. I loved this battered, fried "paneer." So delicious.

The cream in the traditional recipe is substituted with a thick and creamy cashew cream made from blending cashews with water. And of course, there are a ton of Indian spices added in (mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, garam masala). The rich and creamy sauce was amazing. I literally licked my plate when I was done. Don't worry. Nobody saw me.

I can't wait to cook my way through the rest of this book. I'm especially interested in some of the Austrian and German recipes since I'm sure my German ancestors ate some of these same dishes — Vegan Schnitzel, Spatle (with leeks and cheeze sauce), Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes with homemade applesauce).

I also can't wait to try the Indo-Chinese Vegetable Manchurian, the Gulab Jamuns (Indian doughballs in syrup), the South Indian Spicy Sambar (lentil soup), and Masala Dosa.

The Vietnamese Pho with smoked tofu and veggies sounds delightful, and the seitan-stuffed Vietnamese Banh Mi is on my to-make list for sure. Heck, I'm even excited about cooking from the Americas section — Mac & Cheeze Forest (baked mac with tofu and broccoli), Tex-Mex Black Bean Burgers, and Roasted Walnut Brownies!

Learn more about Justin's book on his blog of the same name. And if you want your own copy (ebook or hard copy), just head over to Justin's Kickstarter page, where he's currently raising money for the second printing in English and the first printing in German!


Chef Amber Shea said...

I'm in love with this book too! You've probably seen my numerous photos on Instagram of dishes I've made from it so far (including that delicious Paneer). I actually picked up my copy from Justin himself - Matt and I met up with him in Berlin when we were in Germany for our honeymoon, and we did some walking around and vegan-grocery-store browsing together. He's an awesome guy, and this is an awesome book. :)

Caitlin said...

i'm familiar with the lotus and the artichoke cookbook(mostly from amber's insta photos). i would love to have a copy of it to try out the recipes! justin's blog is insanely awesome, too. he's very talented!

Allysia said...

I love world recipe books, because for 26 years of my life I haven't been able to afford world travel. Soon though! And ha ha, Cancun is the farthest I've been too. Everything sounds grood!

Babette said...

Thank you for your review, Bianca. You convinced me to get one.

I'm really excited about the color photos. It's a rare thing in the vegan world.

Scissors and Spice said...

It's really a gorgeous cookbook packed with so many recipes! Plus Justin is a great guy! :)

Jenn said...

I can't resist a good kick start project. Thanks for the details!