Six Consecutive Potato Dishes? I Thought Passover Was Over
Sherri took a bus from Philadelphia to New York City on Saturday so that she could show off her vegetarian cooking prowess at Veggie Conquest on Sunday evening. She had originally set out to make Papas Rallenas Al Horno, a Cuban-style dish of stuffed potatoes. Her plan evolved over the course of a week, and by the time she decided to give the dish an Indian flavor, it was too late to change the name.
We started our shopping tour at an Indian grocery store in Curry Hill, so that she could purchase such hard-to-find ingredients as ajowain, garam masala, ground fenugreek, gram (chickpea) flour, and masoor dal (red lentils). I lost track of how many trips we made to the supermarket, the "farmers market," and specialty stores in my neighborhood.
On Saturday night, Sherri made a plethora of masoor dal mixed with onions, garlic, and spices; I'll be savoring the leftovers for quite some time. The lentil mixture became the stuff with which the stuffed potato balls were stuffed. Beginning Sunday morning, she made a mixture of potatoes and soft tofu, which formed a shell for the lentil core. Each ball was then dipped into a concoction of gram flour, cornmeal, and olive oil for a coating. The balls were baked, and they were served with a tamarind sauce and cilantro.
All the food at the event was delicious, prompting me to exclaim "I love Veggie Conquest!" on multiple occasions. If my memory serves me correctly, the Tiny Tater Nori Roll, Sweet Potato Cigars With Plum Sauce, and Chipotle Sweet Potato Soup won first, second, and third place, respectively. Sherri's dish, Loaded Baked Potato Pirogi, and Curried Mash Canapes With Tamarind and Cilantro Chutneys each won honorable mention. Check out the beautiful presentation of all the dishes below.
Veggie Conquest has evolved into a can't-miss extravaganza. About 80 people paid $25 each to attend, and the event sold out only 30 minutes after tickets went on sale. A panel of judges reviews and comments on each contestant's dish. The real winners are the "tasters" (attendees), who get to sample the delectable vegan creations of a half-dozen hard-working amateur chefs as well as a full meal prepared by volunteers.