a delicious diversity!

sacred chow computer guy - m4m - 27 (Greenwich Village)

Date: 2010-01-24, 11:41PM EST

You were eating dinner alone, reading on your computer. I offered you some hummus... Wasn't sure if you were into guys, but figured I'd try since you don't come across cute gay vegans that often.

(wondrous life: delicious diversity!)

RT @ylove: just found out! Sacred Chow in the village on sullivan st. does shabbos pre-pay! #nyckosherliving(wondrous life: delicious diversity!)



“Cliff, did you set the chickpeas on the boil to make beans for the beans and rice?”

“I thought you made beans already.”

“No, that’s not for beans and rice, that’s West African Black Bean & Yucca stew. Beans and rice beans don’t get garlic, remember?”

“Yeah, but that’s what it’s labelled as. Go look.”

I walked to the walk-in. And there, in three little service buckets, sat my bean stew, being labelled as just Beans. Crud. I grabbed a sharpie, and added “soup” to the end of the label, so that it’s differentiated between the bean soup and the beans and rice.

Y’see, every day at Chow, we try to do a bean soup and a vegetable soup. Of course, it’ll be gluten-free 99 times of 100, and it’s relatively low in fiery spices, like chiles or pepper, so that anyone can have a big bowl full without feeling pain. However, because so many people requested it, we started doing a special for beans and rice, where we cook a different bean every day, in a different technique. If the soup restrictions seem a little strict, let’s look at the restrictions for the beans and rice beans.

1) No garlic or onions. A lot of people who come in follow vegetarian diets with religious overtones, and many of the Eastern philosophies discourage the consumption of garlic and onions.

2) No soy. There are a lot of people allergic to soy who are stymied by the lack of choices out there. Even in many vegan places, they’ll end up using tamari or soy sauce instead of salt, to give more umami flavour. This means that stuff that’s ostensibly free of soy, like seitan, will often have soy sauce as a flavouring agent, and will be unsafe for those with soy allergies.

3) No gluten. This one is so obvious that I shouldn’t even have to explain it, but here goes anyway. A lot of the food at Sacred Chow is gluten free. People who follow gluten free diets often come in and are excited to try all the options available to them. Whenever possible, we cook food without gluten, so that everyone can give it a taste, and revel in the experience, regardless of health needs.

4) Nothing too hot-spicy. While there’s food at Chow that packs a bit of a kick (Mama’s Soy Meatballs, Korean Cutlets, Black Olive Seitan, etc.) we wanted the beans and rice to be accessible to anyone. So in other words, this means “Dino, put the chiles down.”

I did yet another once-over of the fridge, and found a service bucket with beans in it. “Cliff! What’s this?”

“Isn’t that the black beans you made?”

“Uh. It looks like the red beans that you made.”

Apparently, around the same time as Cliff had made a pot of adzuki beans & pumpkin for the beans of the day, I had made a small pot of black bean chili for a soup. Either way, someone managed to confuse the two, and combined them. The resulting flavour was delicious. The chili’d black beans (cooked in bell peppers, chili powder, and a hint of cumin) went very well with the adzuki beans (cooked with pumpkin, various herbs, and simmered low and slow till tender). The sweetness of the pumpkin complemented the spices of the bean chili extremely well.

Basically, everyone benefits, because now there’s chili for the beans and rice of the day, and it’s ten times more delicious together than it would have been apart.

Earth Friendly?

How do you feel about disposable bags? Do you have a preference for paper or plastic? Do you prefer to avoid the whole mess all together, and just use your own?

I don’t know if this is a New York city specific thing, or if it’s something that you all are beginning to notice too, but I’ve seen that people are being really conscious about saying no to plastic or paper bags from the grocery store. This goes from people who simply take the merchandise and stick it into the bags that they’re already carrying (purses, backpacks, strollers, what have you), all the way to those who re-use old bags from home, or use cloth bags.

This is in sharp contrast to what used to be my experience back in the day. The worst offenders were those high-end clothing stores at the shopping mall. They’d first fold up each garment. Then they’d wrap that garment in paper on both sides. Then they’d wrap all the garment types (shirts in one, trousers in another, etc.) in a stack in more paper. Then the whole shebang got wrapped in still more paper. Then it’d go into a plastic bag. Which would then go into a paper bag. Which would then be stuffed with more paper. The clerks were lightning fast at doing this, but sheeeeesh. Just as soon as you’d get home, those reams of trees would go straight in the bin, and you’d hang up the clothes.

But now, a lot of clothing stores are being careful with how much waste they create, and will neatly stack your clothes into as few bags as possible. At the grocery store or hardware store, the clerks are (rightfully) careful to ask, “Do you want a bag for that?” if it’s a small quantity. And people (rightfully) reply with, “No no, that’s fine. I’ll carry it with me!”

Is this a trend you’re noticing in your city too? Speak up, rest of the world! I know it’s not just New Yorkers who are conscientious!


new delicious reviews!

By Jake marmer - Dec 28, 2009
One of my fav places in New York. Delicious and reasonably priced. Beautiful little cafe. Everything here is superb - including the beers and desserts. Can't recommend it more highly. Notice that not only are they kosher, but they also carry "tav chevrati" certification of being "ethically kosher", that is complying with various ethical ideas of what it means to run a just and considerate restaraunt - paying decent wages to the employees, being environment-friendly, etc.‎

I think the best way to sum this up is to say that, to me, Sacred Chow embodies the quintessential NYC eating experience. The space is funky, the efficient waitstaff is a trip, and the food is more incredible than you would ever expect from such an unassuming establishment. Start off with the Banana Bread French Toast, end with a Sinner Bar, and have a million other delicious things in between.

I went here about a week ago, when my friend Melisser of http://theurbanhousewi... was in town. I am very low on cash these days, so I decided to go with the half Hero and soup for $10 deal. I went with the soup of the day, a Mushroom Chowder. It wasn't as thick and hearty as I would have liked, but had delicious flavor. I asked how spicy the sicilian tomato sauce on the Soy Meatball Hero was, and the server told me that it was very spicy, which I like. I was pleasantly surprised when my sandwich arrived; it was huge! A delicious, toasted whole grain baguette filled with soy meatballs and piled high with sauteed onions in the previously mentioned tomato sauce. It was not extremely spicy, but delicious nonetheless. Overall, a delicious meal that wasn't overly heavy, but held me over for the entire day!
Melisser went with the Banana French toast, which is on their brunch menu. It was beautifully arranged; two thick slices piled high, topped with sliced banana and blueberry sauce. The bread they used was delicious! It was not overly sweet, and the perfect balance of toasty and fluffy. The banana flavor was not overpowering, and was perfectly complimented by the sweet blueberry sauce.
Overall, an fantastic spot for lunch. When I come into some more money one of these days, I will definitely going back for brunch!

RT @KimsHealthTips: Just ate at a little vegan restaurant in the West Village called Sacred Chow. They had amazing vegan borscht tonight. And kale salad!

Sacred Resolutions at Sacred Chow
January 21, 2010 ·
If I were a betting woman, I’d put money on the fact 90% of my audience, myself included, made a New Years resolution to be healthier in 2010. While this determined resolve usually lasts all of 10 minutes for me, my quest for fitter…healthier…more simple living…today has guided me straight to the West Village in NYC and Sacred Chow.
Ommmmmmmmm. What a find! This vegan, kosher, sustainable, Zagat rated discovery may sound intimidating to the average bar-goer, but Sacred Chow is an honest, casual, inviting restaurant that has amazing Happy Hour options for even the pickiest person.
Located on Sullivan Street just south of Washington Square Park, Sacred Chow is a quaint & quirky 30 seat café, serving delectable vegan dishes. Specialties, from tapas to desserts, organic beer, wine, fresh pressed juices, smoothies, and enormous cups of joe, round out the menu.
I enter the West Village Location not sure what to expect. From experience Vegan Restaurants can be hit or miss, but this Chow-ery is a home run. A diverse and eclectic menu of micro brews, Stouts, Blondes, and Wittes all from distinguished breweries, and organic wines grace the first two pages of the menu. Alcohol before food…now we’re talking. The guru, who designed this modest bar program, has a passion for quality bevs, Blue Point, Chimay, Omegang, Abita. Abita takes my eye. They use no preservatives, additives or stabilizers. AND thisforward thinking brewery installed the first energy efficient Merlin Brewhouse. They produce crisp flavorful beers using 70% less energy than traditional brewing methods.
As my eyes continue to scan the menu choices, they fall upon those blessed words…Happy Hour at Sacred Chow…three tapas and a draft beer for $15. A meal and a brew for under 20 bucks, count me in!
Upon my request, a sweet and demure server offers her menu suggestions. The western tofu is popular and delicious, but a bit too daring for me. I generally prefer disguising my non meat products as meat…strange, I know…but luckily mama’s “meat” balls are also a best seller. I pair the meatlessballs with some roasted shrooms and veggie latkes and sit back to take in the scene.
Glossy wood tables inlaid with checkerboards perfectly outfit the small zen space. A painted exposed brick wall glows deep red, a sensual and organic color. Mismatched lanterns whimsically adorn the ceiling. Large beautiful photographs of intriguing dilapidated structures line the walls making a resounding statement.
Then my food arrives, stirring my senses with the delicious aroma. Three plates are before me and I quickly realize I should have brought a friend. These bar bites could double as dinner. First bite veggie latke…earthy, sweet, crisp and chewy…lightly fried, not at all greasy. Every mouthful I discover a different flavor profile, each as pleasing as the last. Next bite roasted shroom…rich, dense, tender and perfectly complimented by the yellow curry dipping sauce. The accompaniment imparting a sweet, tangy, spiciness to the deeply earthy mushrooms. My last bite, the time has arrived to mangia on my meatballs and what a tongue tantalizing surprise. They are full bodied and bursting with flavor.A rich, thick, tomato sauce with large chunks of sweet yellow onions smothers the meatballs; a meal, of which, my imaginary Italian grandmother would approve. Though I was only craving a snack I found myself unable to stop eating. Picture me, three plates loaded with food, a rich frothy beer and a pint glass of carrot/beet juice I add to the order. I just can’t help myself. Definite bar-ecstacy.
Though I hit this happy hour solo, I never once feel awkward. Without a book or sufficient distraction I am surprisingly comfortable in this busy environment. Taking in my surroundings, blanketed in sixties folk music, eavesdropping on my neighbors’ conversations, I reach a sacred state of escape.
When in the mood for, tongue tantalizing treats, eco friendly alcohol, a caffeine fix or a fresh pressed vitamin packed juice jaunt, Sacred Chow is where it’s at. Conveniently located, north, east, south or west, a few blocks from the A,C,E,F,V,1,2,3,N,R,W and Path trains (phew!)…the always pumping West 4thStreet and 6th Avenue artery and a number of public bus lines; it is an embodiment of a geographic Pangea. So from now on, when I’m whipped and weary, no need to go over the river and through the woods in search of a bite and beer, I, for one, will count my blessings at Sacred Chow.

Stephen W. did this...
Black olive setian hero at Sacred Chow is the best. sandwich. ever. If you eat wheat, try this. If you don't do gluten, try the grilled Western tofu. And they have a fab gluten-free brownie sundae. (1 day ago)

From cityfeeds.com: Sacred Chow is a wonderful small restaurant and cafe with a slight hippie vibe. food is 100% vegan and organic and kosher and so so healthy and (or but still?) manages to taste amazing and rich & manages to be filling.



“Yeah, but if we get the turnips, it looks different, and they’re used to something else, and it might slow them down.”


I let it drop for about five minutes.

“Really, Cliff. It’s worth it. Let’s just get the freaking turnips.”

“OK, let’s do the turnips. Y’know, we could also make like that Middle Eastern pickled turnips, where they add a little bit of beets to the mix to make it that pretty purple colour. But it’s so salty.”

“Well, our version doesn’t have to be quite so salty. We can make it more mild.”

“It’s wonderful with hummus too. How come nobody ever orders our pickles with hummus?”

“Probably because we don’t bill it that way. You plunk down at a Middle Eastern place, and they set some pickles in front of you. Turnips are inexpensive enough that they can afford it.”

“Hm. Good point.”

We kept rambling about other things to do with turnips, Middle Eastern food, falafels, hummus, olives, olive oil, and things in between. It wasn’t about my being right or wrong or him needing to be convinced. It was more that both of us are playing for the same team, and tend to thrive on the open and free discussion of ideas and methods. Underneath it all, we both help each other to get through that initial fear and nervousness, and try something new.

Sometimes, you just need someone to push you to try something, “just because”. It’s mainly to do with breaking out of the rut you’re in, and trying something that may just work out in the end. It’s fortunate for me that I’ve got that in so many people: my boss, my husband, my mother (on more occasions than bear counting). It’s why I’m able to push too. If I didn’t have that team of people behind me, I wouldn’t be quite so self-assured in trying something different.

I will report details of the outcome of the turnip saga later on, when I know how it turns out.

EDIT: The expected vegetables arrived, and we didn't need to end up using the turnips anyway.


let's procreate!

so much talk about usa's citizens' constitutional right 2 marry: "2 marry means the 2 citizens will procreate!" "marriage can only be 4 a male citizen & a female citizen bc only they will procreate!" "marriage 4 same-sex citizens is invalid as they can not procreate!"

Q: how do newly wedded citizens, male 89 & female 89, procreate?

let's take a look @ the definition of procreate: 1. to produce sexually; to breed, increase, multiply, proliferate, propagate, reproduce, spawn. 2. to cause 2 come in2 existence. idiom: givebirthriseto.

A: the 89 yr old citizens enter in2 a "givebirthriseto marriage," not a "sexual breeding marriage," yet their marriage is sanctioned by the state.

when a state creates 2 separate classes, as w this issue, class 1. same-sex couples that may not marry, class 2. opposite-sex couples that may marry: the state must have an "important state interest" 4 doing so. a states claim that it is an "important state interest" 4 opposite-sex citizens 2 have an exclusive right 2 marry due 2 sexual procreation of the species is invidious: states permit marriages of opposite-sex citizens that will never sexually procreate.

when a state bans a class of citizens from participating equally w/o an "important state interest" the ban must fall. the decision that 2 citizens, same-sex or opposite-sex, make 2 marry is a protected right, plain & simple. it is unconstitutional 4 a state 2 ban 2 age-appropriate citizens from entering this institution w/o an "important state interest," & 2 do so violates the 14th amendment's equal protection clause & the due process clause.

it is false, unconstitutional & illegal 4 any state government 2 claim that a "sexual procreation standard" exists 4 a marriage 2 be sanctioned by the state: states grant marriage licenses 2 older citizens.

thus it is illegal 4 any state 2 allow voters 2 vote on propositions that deprive same-sex citizens of the right 2 marry; the voters & the states can not regulate a protected constitutional right. and here the law is well-settled: either there is an "important state interest" that necessitates creating a separate class, such as an adult will not be permitted 2 marry a child, or the marriage ban is unconstitutional pursuant 2 the14th amendment of the u.s. constitution as per loving v. virginia.

end of story!


Brunch at Sacred Chow (http://a-soy-bean.blogspot.com/)

After catching a glimpse of The Discerning Brute's Sacred Chow banana bread french toast we couldn't wait to get our brunch on with the same thing.

With so many suggestions on Yelp and Supervegan and such a varied brunch menu (in addition to their entire regular menu and daily specials), it was hard to decide what to order.

This is what we went with:

Soy Buttermilk Buscuit with [super] strawberry rice syrup jam: No one would ever guess this biscuit was vegan and it was just as fresh a day later. You can't help but notice the vast difference between their homemade jam and the crap you can normally get at the store.

Cinnamon Scone: Sounded plain, but was nice and cinnamonny. It was impressively crunchy on the outside without being dry on the inside. Also just as fresh the next day.

Banana French Toast: Different from any french toast either of us had ever had, this was a thick slice of banana pound cake (grilled so that the edges were crispy) and then smothered with whole blueberry-filled blueberry sauce and topped with perfectly ripe bananas and dusted with cinnamon. More delicious than you can imagine.

Root Vegetable Latkes: These were crispier and less mealy than traditional potato latkes and they were served with a unique, tangy "Indonesian Date Butter" rather than a traditional fruit compote. I can't think of a meal these wouldn't complement.

Tempeh Sweet Potato Hash: Chunks of sweet potatoes, crumbled tempeh, and the perfect amount of sauteed onions made these a big hit- even for my supposedly tempeh-neutral dining companion. The dish was hearty and the "side" order ginormous.

Sinner Bar (not pictured): A thick shell of dark chocolate filled with caramel and coconut. If you can't fit it in your tummy, get one to go!

Every single thing we ordered was at the peak of freshness, presented beautifully, and tasted marvelous. Additionally, the prices were low and the portions were large. While it will be hard for our tastebuds to pass up repeating any of these scrumptious dishes, I'm anxious to return for lunch or dinner so that we can be equally impressed by their later day meal offerings.

The atmosphere at Sacred Chow is funky and our waiter was kind and efficient. As everything is prepared with such care, don't visit when you are in a rush; this isn't that kind of place. Overall, a quintessential New York dining experience.


Bean Stew

Boss man said I could take pictures of him making a red bean stew. To start, here are the ingredients, and their rough quantities. All the vegetables are diced to roughly an inch or so. For the potatoes, you can get away with a slightly larger dice. The red beans have been soaked in cold water overnight. If you’re in a hurry, soak the red beans in boiling water for about an hour, and you’ll have similar results.


The oil of choice for today is extra virgin olive oil, though you could use whatever oil you’re most comfortable with. If you prefer to use canola, or don’t have olive oil, don’t fret! It’ll still be delicious.

First, to get things started, add the oil and onions to a deep stew pot. When the onions get softened and translucent, add in your celery.


While the celery and onions cook together, start chopping up the herbs. The onions and celery will probably take around five or ten minutes to get cooked through. If you like the flavour of well roasted veggies, go ahead and cook them until they’re browned. Otherwise, just cook the celery and onions until they’re softened.

Below, we see Boss Man chopping up the dill very finely.


Finally, when the onions and celery are softened, add the potatoes, red beans, dill, thyme, and rosemary. Add just enough boiling water to cover the vegetables and beans. You don’t want too terribly much extra water, or else it’ll be a soup, and not a stew.


Allow everything to cook together at  full boil for about ten minutes, then drop it down to a simmer for about an hour or so, or until the beans are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lovely!

What are some of your favorite restaurants (in NY and LA) and what do you usually order there? There are so many! New York is vegan’s paradise. For more casual dining, I love Sacred Chow. I always order the vegan melted cheese and grilled western tofu sandwhich or the 3-dish tapas plate (Orange Blackstrap BBQ Seitan, Baby Root Vegetable Latkes, and Sautéed Shiitake Mushroom are my favorite combo). Caravan of Dreams has vegan nachos and seitan quesadilla (yum!). And I always have the scallion pancakes at Wild Ginger.

From here.


Goldilocks Smoothie

I'd been craving something all morning, and couldn't put my finger on it. I'd already had a piece of toast, some fruit, and plenty of water. I wanted something a bit more substantial, but not too filling, but not skimpy, like a glass of juice. The smoothies at Chow are delicious and filling but a little sweet for my liking (I prefer salty to sweet anyway). They don't add any sugar at all ever for any reason, but they certainly use a bit of fruit, and those bananas and berries can get sweet real quick like. I wanted something a lot more muted, but that would still be filling.

I thought of those mainstream smoothies from Odwalla. You know the type. They have oats and almonds and soy milk and bananas, and a bit of sugar and some other added vitamins and the rest. It's delicious, but also a bit on the sweet side for my liking. OK, it's a lot on the sweet side. Either way, that's what I was craving.

Fortunately, we've got one of those monster blenders at Chow, so a smoothie is fairly easy to crank out. In went some ice, a piece or two of frozen banana, a fairly large handful of almonds, a good hefty handful of oats, and finally a tiny splash of soy milk to get the whole mess going quickly. Off the blender went, chomping down all the ingredients into a smooth, creamy beverage. I didn't want it to be thick and ice-creamy like the Sacred Chow smoothies (seriously; you have to eat it with a spoon at first!), but rather a little more liquidy, so I could chug that thing down, and get on with my work.

For some reason, the oats got ground down to this neat consistency that was very much like using those store bought soy milks where they add the emulsifiers and the like. I didn't cook the oats, I just ground them up raw. The almonds were toasted, but I'd imagine it'd work just as well with soaked or raw almonds. The bananas were there to keep everything suspended. I feel like this would have been equally delicious with rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, or even water! The almonds and the oats make their own kind of milk when you're grinding it up, and they just need some sort of liquid to be suspended in.

It's delicious.

Cliff said it reminded him of the porridge from Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Goldilocks Shake.


Audio of Dino explaining the whole smoothie thing.

Subscribe to Dino's show in iTunes: here.



Does anyone know of any good bakeries in NYC, Queens, Long Island that sells Gluten Free baked goods that actually taste decent. Or one that delivers....
Thanks, Andrea

i do know that Sacred Chow is kosher, and they have a number of GF desserts. http://sacredchow.com/kosher.htm
vallevin Jan 09, 2010 04:12PM

I've had the desserts at Sacred Chow... really good. goodhealthgourmet Jan 09, 2010 09:07PM


Turnip & Potato Soup

Turnips are relatively cheap in the winter, and are easy to find at any bodega or grocery store. So are potatoes, coconut milk, salt, and pepper. I'd made a turnip soup a couple of weeks back, and it finished almost as soon as we set it out. I think it lasted about a day or so, and I had made a fairly large batch of the stuff. Since it did finish so quickly, and we got a few requests for the recipe, I thought I'd share.

The secret ingredient is the fenugreek seeds. Those are absolutely required for the soup to work, because when boiled, they form the stock. The boiling seeds release this rich stock, which is packed with flavour and texture. People have been using the seed for thousands of years, and its health claims are wide and varied. I don't know or care about such claims. I just like that it tastes so good.

I'm using the ratios here to make the measuring easy. If you'd like to scale up or down, feel free to. The onion is strictly optional, as is the cabbage. The potatoes give body to the soup. If you don't have turnips, daikon radish, red radish, rutabaga, celeriac, jicama, chayote, parsnip, kohlrabi, salsify, or sunchokes. It's a very forgiving recipe, so if you want something more brothy, feel free to add more water. If you want more of a stewy texture, feel free to cut back on the liquid.

When I make this stew, I tend to stick to boiling potatoes, although it's a personal preference, and not strictly required. I also make very large batches, and freeze them in 1 litre containers, so that I can come back to it later, if need be, and have a meal in a hurry. This is a complete meal in a bowl. The coconut milk provides fat and protein, the potatoes give starch, and the vegetables give fibre and the other essential nutrients you'll need.

This is also not just restricted to the few vegetables I've included here. You are welcome to add dark leafy greens, leftover steamed veggies (at the end, of course), or pretty much any other thing that catches your fancy. I tend to avoid using beans, but again, that's a personal preference.

Turnip Soup

2 TB fenugreek seeds
2 litres water
2 medium sized potatoes
2 medium sized turnips
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 small onions (optional)
2 cups coconut milk
2 big pinches of salt (or more, as you wish; this is also optional)

In a large stock pot, pour in 2 litres (about a half gallon, give or take) of cold water, and sprinkle in the fenugreek seeds. Place it over high heat, and cover the lid of the pot. While the water comes up to a boil, peel (optional) and dice (required) the potatoes and turnips. They don't need to be small. In fact, it's better if you chop them on the somewhat large size, so that they don't fall apart in the cooking process.

Peel and dice your onions relatively small. When the water has been at a full rushing boil for about 10 minutes, slide in the potatoes, turnips, and turmeric. Let the ingredients in the pot cook together, covered, at a fierce boil, for 10 minutes. Add in the diced onions, and cover the lid again. Let it continue to boil for 10 minutes more.

When the biggest piece of potato and the biggest piece of turnip you have in the pot have become tender, turn off the heat. Pour in the coconut milk, and stir through to combine. Add salt if you wish (although it doesn't strictly need it), stir through a couple more times. Serve piping hot, with some rice, bread, or just all by itself.


As I said, this works perfectly well with any other vegetables you'd like to add to it, but I like the simplicity of just a couple of vegetables, some spices, and a bit of coconut milk. There's something that's so honest and earthy about it.

However, there are times when I don't have *quite* enough of each ingredient to make this "properly" so I tend to improvise. That's when I'll slide in some shredded cabbage, some thinly sliced carrots, leftover peas, a bit of corn, and some of that kale that looks like it's seen better days. If I'm using the kale stems, I'll add them towards the beginning of cooking (along with the potato and turnip). If you have red cabbage, it'll add even more to the riot of colours going on in the pot.

Of course, if you're fortunate enough to have raw peanuts with their skins still on, I'd add them in with the potatoes and turnips and have such a mouth-watering stew. Peanuts aren't a nut, they're a legume. It's just that we're used to seeing them in their relatively fresh stage, unlike most legumes which we're used to seeing dried. This means that you don't have to soak them before you cook them.

If you've ever traveled through the American South, you'll know the pleasures of boiled peanuts. Now imagine that wonderful, savoury taste going through and infiltrating your stew! Yum.

The reason that I say that the salt is optional is because there are some foods that are so delicious on their own that they don't even need to have salt added. I'm a bit of a salt fiend, so I tend to salt anyway, but many of my friends try to watch their diets, and keep salt restricted or eliminated from their day-to-day lives. If you're one of those people, feel free to omit the salt all together.

Before I leave you, I'd like to mention that this is one of those South Indian peasant dishes that you don't get unless you're eating at the house of a South Indian. It's invented from the need to make your vegetables stretch a long way, and feed more people than they usually would. Even so, it's still so delicious that it doesn't matter if it's not high gourmet food. It's comforting, filling, and warms you up from the inside out (and I speak literally; it's the perfect winter soup!) from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.


Spa Salad: Revealed!

There's this dish at Chow called the Spa Salad. Some people say it reminds them of chicken salad. I don't know what that means. I've never eaten chickens, and I never liked mayo based salads to begin with, but this one is pretty tasty. During my first couple of weeks working here, I'd tried everything except the spa salad, because I thought I hated celery violently. Note the use of the term "thought".

Before going vegan, I was fairy finicky. No aubergines, no bell peppers, no okra (actually, that one hasn't changed!), no celery, nothing with anise-y background notes, definitely no tofu, no tempeh, no seitan, no TVP. Don't even mention beets in my presence, thank you very much.

I was a vegetarian who hated vegetables.

Over time, I managed to get over my childhood fears (mushrooms and olives being two of those) very early on, because I finally had them prepared in such a way that I liked what I saw. Once I realised that you could throw olives into pasta, and sautee mushrooms and throw them onto darn near everything, a huge world of opportunity opened up for me. Unfortunately, that's just two out of the array of things I'd never bothered to eat.

So when I started here at Chow, the spa salad represented a seemingly insurmountable hurdle. Until one day, when I saw how it's made. Which I'll go ahead and explain, because one of the fans from facebook asked us roughly how it's done, and Boss Man said I could. It's not so much a recipe as it is a process.

First, you make some kind of grill marinade. Why are you doing this first? So that the spices and flavourings that you choose will have some time to steep and form together into a cohesive whole. When you've found one that you like (we use a mustard based one; search the googles and you're sure to find one to your liking, or just buy our grill marinade at Chow for $6/lb), tweak it and add just a hint of herbs of your choice, like oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, whatever. You don't want the herbs to come through strongly. Rather, they're to be subtle, and as a gentle backdrop to the whole thing, because you're going to have more herbs later on.

Next, wrap a few pounds of tofu tightly in plastic wrap. This prevents them from picking up any objectionable aromas from the surrounding environment of the freezer. Freeze the tofu till it's rock hard, overnight in the freezer. The next day, pass the plastic-wrapped tofu under cold running water until the plastic wrap starts to separate from the tofu. To speed up the defrosting, let it sit in a pot of boiling water for around 15 minutes of so. This is the perfect opportunity to get your grill hot.

If you live in a city like New York, where grills exist in the George Foreman variety, you can follow their instructions and skip this step. There is no shame in an apartment grill! Just see to it that you have some kind of vent or exhaust or open window system going down, to prevent the apartment from smoking up. If you're fortunate enough to have one of those cast iron over-the-stove grill/griddle dealies, count your blessings and set 'em on the stove over medium high heat to get hot hot hot. Throw some oil down onto the grooves so as to prevent sticking. When the tofu is thawed, squeeze it out COMPLETELY. Now that it's been frozen and thawed out, the tofu is a lot more resilient, and can take a good squeezing to remove all the water from it. Then place it in the marinade, and let it sit for another five minutes, as you wait for the grill to get really hot.

If you want to ensure maximum marinade retention, feel free to give the tofu blocks a few gentle squeezes to soak up as much as they can. Then, when your grill is screaming hot, slap that bad boy down, and let it get those lovely grill marks. Continue to grill it for about five or ten minutes, then flip once. You should see gorgeous grill marks running up and down the length of your tofu block. The other side will only need another 2 - 5 minutes. When that tofu is done to your liking, remove it from the heat, and set it aside.

Let them cool down completely to room temperature. While you wait for it to cool, use your favourite recipe for vegan mayonnaise (or, buy the mayo at Chow; we sell it for the same price as the marinade!), and make it. For every 1 lb of tofu, use 1 stalk of celery, and chop it into as fine a dice as you can get it to. A brunoise is your best bet, of course, but if you're nervous about your knife skills, just throw it through the slicing attachment of your food processor. The idea is to get the celery chopped enough that its fibres don't interfere with the texture of the tofu.

Finally, when the tofu is cooled completely, shred it with a knife. Essentially, what we do at Chow is to slice it into rectangluar pieces, then slice it as thin as possible. The size isn't as important as how thin you can get it sliced up. It's never going to be paper thin, which is fine. It'll be maybe 1.5 - 3 mm thin, and I think that's plenty thin.

Toss the tofu, the celery, and the vegan mayo together until they're evenly combined. Finish it off with your favourite herb. Here at Chow, we like lots of fresh dill, because it complements the taste of the celery, but equally lovely would be parsley, or your favourite herb of choice!

Finally, take the whole spa salad, and chill it in the fridge until it's cold cold cold. Any olive oil you've used to make the mayo will start to solidify, giving the texture loads of improvement. This also allows for the fresh herbs to mellow out a bit, and combine with the other ingredients for a bit.

It just seems like a complicated process, because I'm trying to explain it so that you know how to do it at home, if you're so inclined. In reality, it's all quite simple stuff. :)


Round of applause, SC!

Usually when I hit New York for the weekend, I eat horribly: re-heated pizza slices dripping with grease, questionable hot dogs from street carts and Roy Rogers burgers tend to make up my diet because I don't know my way around the city enough to find the good stuff.

Well, this time around I had a vegan guide, and she told me Sacred Chow was THE place to go to for brunch, so I dragged my butt out onto the windy Brooklyn streets, braved the metro system and showed up just in time to beat the Sunday lunchtime rush hour. I have to say, no matter what city I'm in, if I see a Yelp sticker in a storefront window or door, I smile. It's like my ancestors have been there before me, making sure I'll have a good experience. /cheesy sentiments

Despite the reassuring red sticker, I was a little doubtful as I perused the menu, and peppered my friend with questions. Every 20 seconds or so: "What's seitan?" "What does gf mean?" "What's in a tofu scramble?" "What the hell is spelt?!" (Spelt is some medieval kind of wheat. Now you know!). I felt like I was learning a new language. Also, I yearned for meat, flipping through the pages. But I settled on an omega-3 waffle and a large side of home fries, convinced a cooked mixture of flax seed batter would leave me feeling empty.

I was sooo wrong. The waffle covered my entire plate, and was insanely filling. The blueberry sauce and cocount creme fraiche it came with were smooth and wonderful. I only ate about half the home fries before I had to stop, eyeing the rest wistfully. If I had had more room, I would have ordered a Young's double chocolate stout with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Stupid non-bottomless stomach!

Any place that can make eating healthy seem effortless definitely deserves my praise, and the fact that the prices were reasonable is amazing. Round of applause, SC.

PS: I had a brief love affair with your bathroom soap. Sorry for the mess.

Juliana C.
Chevy Chase, MD

It smelled like heaven on a plate!

23: A birthday of delicious proportions
January 4, 2010

Good Morning, Blogosphere!

The first day of my twenty-third year is winding down and I thought I would reflect on the eats since they were particularly exciting.

To celebrate, my parents drove into town and, after ending up among warehouses in Brooklyn, they finally made it to Sacred Chow. If you are a continuing reader, you may remember that Willie and I visited this spot in the village a few months ago. I had to go back. The sunflower lentil pate was calling me.

It should be noted that my parents are enthusiastic meat eaters and I was a little nervous bringing them to a fine vegan establishment such as SC, but, you know, it was my birthday lunch…

We began with tapas:

Sunflower lentil pate, roasted black olive seitan and the Indonesian roasted tempeh. So, you already know the first on the list is one of my faves, but, surprisingly, my mother liked it too! If you knew my how and what my mother likes to eat, you would be surprised as well, trust me.

Seitan generally doesn’t usually get high scores in my book, and this dish was a little peppery for my taste, but my father chose this one as his favourite. Now Willie, you may not be a big black olive fan, but I really think you would like this one! (It doesn’t much taste like olives.) You might have to give this one a shot next time we drop in!

Tempeh is very quickly growing on me and is close to deposing tofu as my top protein, so no big surprise that I loved this roasted tempeh. My dad said it all when he described it as “like nothing he had ever eaten.”

Now, on to the main events:

Mama’s soy meatballs, tempeh reuben and banana bread french toast. I imagine for those who know my fam, it isn’t hard to guess who ordered what…

My dad ordered the meatball sub and loved it. I ordered the tempeh reuben, probably my favourite sandwich of all time AND I must say that this incarnation beats the tempeh reuben from Angelica Kitchen. I know, GASP! My mother ordered the sweets. BOTH of the ‘rents loved this one, and I must make banana bread french toast more often. It smelled like heaven on a plate.



Carnivores be not afraid!

Always delicious, always fresh, always friendly, always clean. I've been to Sacred Chow often for both lunch and dinner, and the consistency of excellence in the meals and service absolutely stands out to me.

Budgetwise - it's not cheap fare, but neither is it ridiculously expensive. I highly recommend the 3-for-$15 tapas - the servings are large enough for 2 to eat a satisfying lunch, and you get to try a variety of dishes. I have liked every dish that I've tried here - no misses. My husband and I actually ordered 3 tapas and then an additional entree, and were too stuffed to eat more. Carnivores be not afraid - this is not tasteless tofu, although I personally love tofu. The food is savory and hearty.

Since it's usually not too crowded, the service is usually prompt and personalized. However, because it's a small establishment, service can be a bit slow when the place fills up during dinnertime. The decor is cute and cozy. I would highly recommend Sacred Chow for private lunches or intimate gatherings with friends.

Cindy C.
Forest Hills, NY