July 09, 2011

Can tofu be succulent?

Tofu secuwa

While it may be true that Madison, Wis. officially only has one vegetarian restaurant, there is no lack of dining opportunity for vegetarians and vegans in Mad City. As if to prove that point, Dave, the coordinator of the Madison area vegetarian meetup group, is forever arranging fab vegan meals at area restaurants. And I believe one of the great byproducts of these outings is a greater understanding on the part of the restaurants, of how to prepare vegan meals, making them even more vegan-friendly than before. (Thank you, Dave!)

Could that be Dave, in the red shirt?

We attended a recent meetup dining event at Chautara, an Indian, Tibetan, Nepali restaurant on State St., and one of our favorites. There were 50 people at the event, and so much interest in attending, that a second night had to be arranged.

The meal started with a generous platter of pakauda, which are deep fried vegetable fritters in chickpea batter. These were so tasty that I ate way too many. Way too many — and I'd do it again.

Next we had a choice of soup or garden salad, and I chose the latter. It was fresh and tangy.

Dave chose the dal, a mixed bean soup which looked and smelled delicious but I forgot to ask how it tasted. (Actually, I think I know how it tasted having ordered it myself many times in the past. It probably tasted great.)

There were three entrées. Above you see seitan buff, a sauté of seitan and vegetables with garlic, ginger and tamari.

Pictured at the top of the post, and directly above, is tofu secuwa, skewered char-grilled, marinated tofu with green peppers and onions. Succulent is the word that comes to mind when I think about the taste and appearance of this dish. Can tofu be succulent? I'd have to say yes, but if you don't agree, order tofu secuwa at Chautara next time you're in Madison.

The last entrée was bhat tarkari, delicious and delicate chickpeas and vegetables in a flavorful sauce served with white jasmine rice.

To end the meal we were presented with a delicious fresh fruit salad. The meal came with a choice of lemonade, iced mint tea or water, and everything except the seitan and pakauda was gluten-free.

A few of the happy diners at my table.

If you live in the Madison area, I recommend joining the Madison area vegetarian meetup group and attending a monthly event. You'll have a great time, a great meal, and maybe make some new friends. But if you're just visiting the city for a short stay, and looking for a place to eat, try Chautara or its sister restaurant, Himal Chuli.


New cruelty-free cosmetics website

By Elizabeth Castoria

Compassionate consumers looking to stock up on cruelty-free cosmetics now have a new shopping option. Vegan Beauty Market, an online store owned and operated by Kelly Merkel, a vegan who became frustrated by the lack of a one-stop shop for cosmetics, offers customers everything from hair care to make up to sunscreen, and more. "Choosing beauty products that are completely cruelty-free should be fun and convenient. Now vegans have a central place to find amazing products for enhancing their everyday beauty," says Merkel. A portion of the store's proceeds will be donated to environmental and animal-rights causes.

Full disclosure: I am linking to this site as an informational service, and am not connected to it in any way, nor do I personally endorse the products or profit from their sale.