Summer Vegetables Calcutta

This week, I had one of the best meals in my life at Haute Dish. It was pure bliss. I adore Haute Dish despite the fact that they have a heavy emphasis on meat dishes (one of the items on the menu this week was Homemade Tofu Smothered in Meat Sauce... it just seems wrong!). Yet every time I go there, I end up eating something fantastic and vegetarian.

On Sundays, Haute Dish has a vegetarian four-course tasting menu. Yep - you read the correctly. A vegetarian tasting menu. This from a restaurant whose logo is a pig. I was blown away.

The flavors blended together perfectly, the presentation was stunning, and the meal was well-balanced. Unbelievable.

The strangest thing they had was fake prosciutto. Real prosciutto is a cured ham. This fake stuff was so similar in texture and flavor (so I'm told) to prosciutto that we had to ask the waiter again if it really was fake meat. Amazingly it was watermelon!! They said something about drying it, rehydrating it, smoking it, etc. Served with cantaloupe and balsamic reduction, it was out of this world.

Needless to say, we will be heading back there again.

The recipe I have for you today is not nearly as fancy as Haute Dish, but it is super comforting. I have a favorite recipe called Potatoes Calcutta in Bobbie Hinman's recipe book The Meatless Gourmet: Favorite Recipes from Around the World. It is braised potatoes in a curry gravy. I love the flavor of the curry gravy so much that I decided to use the same spices with a variety of summer veggies. To make it a full meal, I added fried tofu and served it over rice.

At first the list of spices can be intimidating. I like to take all the spices I need and line them up on my countertop. Then I measure all of them into a small bowl. Then, all I need to do is dump the bowl of spices into the skillet when it is time. Really simple.

Choose vegetables that you love and that are fresh. I used carrots, broccoli, summer squash, and celery. Because summer squash cooks significantly faster than the rest of the veggies, I added that later in the cooking time. So, think about the typical cooking time when you are selecting your vegetables. Also, I wasn't super excited about the celery, but it was really good with the curry! If you have it in your fridge, add it to this dish!

I chose to just fry up some tofu for some added protein to the meal. I was amazed at how well it worked in this dish. It becomes covered in the curry gravy, and it really allows the curry flavors to shine. If you are not a big tofu fan, other protein would also work in this too. 

I love this dish because it allows the summer vegetables to shine while providing a really satisfying and comforting meal that doesn't weigh you down. Plus, the leftovers warmed up wonderfully!

Summer Vegetables Calcutta
4 servings, 45 minutes

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped (I used a white onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb extra firm tofu
4 cups chopped vegetables (I used broccoli, zucchini, celery, and carrots)
1 1/4 cups water
Salt to taste

  1. Drain the tofu and wrap in a clean towel. Place a heavy can or jar on top of it; let sit until ready to use.
  2. Combine all the spices (except salt) in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. If you are serving this over rice, rinse the rice well, add the water (I added saffron too) and bring to a boil. Once it boils, give it a quick stir, cover, and turn to low. Let cook until tender; drain if needed.
  4. Heat half of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes or until the onion is tender and has just started to brown.
  5. Meanwhile, chop the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Heat the other half of the oil in a smaller skillet. Add the tofu and let cook, stirring occasionally. If needed, add more oil. Tofu tends to stick, even in a well-seasoned cast iron pan.
  6. Add the spices. Let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the longest cooking vegetables (I added everything except the zucchini) and stir well to coat with the spices. Let cook for about a minute. Add the water and stir well. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost tender. Add the quickest cooking vegetables toward the end (I added the zucchini after about 7 minutes of cooking). 
  7. When the tofu is brown on most of the sides, add it to the vegetable mixture and stir well to incorporate the flavors.
  8. To serve, spoon the vegetables over the rice and savor the yummy flavors!
Print this recipe. Adapted from The Meatless Gourmet by Bobbie Hinman