Category Archives: Mediterranean

Jumping for Vegan Joy in San Francisco


Ahoy Mates!

I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I seem to be 100 times busier on hiatus than when I was working. Go figure. Anywho, as I mentioned, I made a quick trip to San Francisco last week when I caught a ride with my friend Neal who was driving back to Norcal from San Diego. Therein lies the beauty of being unemployed–I can just decide at the last minute to drive up state in the middle of the week for no other reason than just wanting to be in weather cold enough to actually merit wearing one of my many scarves.

On to the food…

Basically every restaurant we saw looked incredible. I could spend decades there and probably never make it to all the awesome dining options. So for our one day in the big city, we had to choose wisely. I checked out Quarrygirl and To Live and Eat in L.A. for ideas and they both seemed pretty smitten with Herbivore, so that’s exactly where Neal and I went after a wonderful morning at MoMA.

My fellow bloggers raved about the grilled seitan shwarma wrap, so it didn’t take me long to order. Soon out came my wrap packed with grilled onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, hummus, tahini, pickles, and the awesome seitan. Would I like to add eggplant and potatoes to that? That would be a yes–I’m on vacation after all! I could easily eat this wrap every day for the rest of my life–it was that good. Neal ordered the falafal wrap which was also delicious. I was also very pleased that the wrap was totally easy to eat–it wasn’t constantly in danger of exploding and dripping like wraps are wont to do. (These pictures are much better than mine)

The desserts sounded uber delish, so we couldn’t resist ordering a slice of german chocolate cake. The server brought out this huge slab of heaven, which we devoured even though we were already so full we wanted to die. The fudgey icing was the best I’ve had–vegan or otherwise.

The added bonus of eating at Herbivore, was that while we chowed down in the sunshine, we spotted a very cute looking Indian restaurant. When we were craving Indian later on, we knew right where to go. It was back to the Mission for us!

Dosa serves South Indian cuisine which is different than the stuff one sees on a usual Indian menu. I was pleased to see a note at the top of the menu pointing to the vegan options. I ordered the Tamil Vegetable Curry which was made up of cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, plantains & cherry tomatoes in a “Chettinad-style” curry. Spooning the curry over coconut basmati rice made for one of the best meals I’ve had, period. The menu described the curry as mild which makes me fear what they find spicy because it was actually quite hot. Neal ordered a dosa which was unfortunately not vegan, because it looked amazing.

Neal and I had an amazing time in SF and I cannot wait to go back–especially because I found it to be even more vegan friendly than L.A. which is very impressive! Thanks to Foodeater and Quarrygirl for the great advice! Also, after eating at Dosa I really want to start cooking obscure Indian dishes more often. Anyone have a good suggestion for a vegan (or easily veganizable) Indian cook book?

EDIT:  An employee at Dosa came across my last post about their lovely South Indian restaurant and sent me a very nice e-mail. They wrote:

“I did want to mention that we can make our dosas vegan by holding back on the “ghee”, which as you might know is an integral part of vegetarian food. Next time just ask your server and we’ll be glad to serve you a delicious vegan dosa.”

And I thought that place couldn’t get any better!!! It almost makes me want to shoot up to SF sometime next week just go get some more scrumptious curry.

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Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah

I always take any chance I get to eat with my friend Wael’s family. Even their regular weekday dinners are massive feasts. There’s usually smoky baba ghanoush, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, lentil dishes, and lots of pita to scoop it all up–all made from scratch of course. Wael makes fun of me for still talking about this dinner we had at his sister’s house in New Jersey a few summers ago. It was one of the best meals of my life but for them it was just another Sunday night. Thanksgiving at the Abifaker house is a whole other story–the amount of American and Arabic dishes covering the table is rivaled only by my Oma’s Christmas smorgasbord.

Last October, Wael got in a terrible car accident and I quickly learned that the Lebanese answer a crisis with lots and lots of food and chocolate. The hospital room was like a little cafeteria–everyday we visitors were treated to a new middle eastern delicacy. And that was when I became obsessed with Mujadarrah.

Mujadarrah is the best kind of dish: simple and reeeediculously good-tasting. I managed to completely mess it up when I made it today by using precooked lentils. The texture of mujadarrah is supposed to be kind of like guacamole, but today mine came out more like just beans and rice. Because I used precooked lentils instead of boiling dry ones, there was no lentil slime to mix with the rice and onions which creates a delightfully mushy consistency. Today I added some guacamole I had laying around to try to fudge the texture.

So go! Make it! Eat it! Luvvvv it! Here is the recipe, straight from Mrs. Abifaker herself. (There is also a recipe for it in Veganomicon but c’mon now, would you rather have this middle eastern dish from two chicas from Queens or from a true Lebanese cook?)

Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah
1 cup lentils
1 onion
1/2 cup rice
3-4 tbs of oil (your choice)
3 cups water

Heat the lentils in water until they boil. Once they have boiled add the rice and allow to boil. While the other stuff is boiling, chop up the onion and sauté it in a pan with the oil until they brown. Add the onions to the rice and lentils and set the heat to low and simmer. Stir occasionally (the more you stir the creamier it will be). Add more water if you feel the rice and lentils are not soft enough. Once it’s at your desired texture,salt to your liking and serve.

And in case you are wondering, Wael is doing much better now. Here he is looking super cute back in the fall when he was still in his wheelchair. I can’t wait for that bugger to get his little tush back to California!!!