Riz Bi Har – an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice

Riz Bi Har
cutting eggplant

To cube an eggplant, cut off the stem end, then cut it in half to make a flat surface. Then cut parallel lines the long way, half an inch apart. Turn the cut strips of eggplant on their sides, flat side down, and cut the long way again, so that you have long thin pieces of eggplant. Then cut crosswise to get cubes.

Once upon a time, there was a local Ann Arbor restaurant called Sharayar. Whenever I ate there, I always ordered a dish called Riz Bi Har. They had lots of other good food on the menu too, but I really especially adored the Riz Bi Har, so I started to order it every time I went there.

The restaurant Sharayar was a favorite for many years of happy eating. It was a sad day when they closed.

After years without Riz Bi Har, I decided to undertake making my own.

eggplant ready to cookI started by asking people on the Ann Arbor Parenting e-mail list, Arborparents, if they remembered the Riz Bi Har from Sharayar, and what they thought was in it.

People remembered eggplant, rice, cauliflower, other veggies, vermicelli noodles, and a tantalizing white garlicky sauce, wrapped in a cylinder of flatbread.

cooked eggplant

This is the same tray of eggplant after cooking. The volume decreases a lot as it cooks.

So, I set out to make that.  My experiments led to something really good, even on the first try. But over time this dish has evolved into something less like Sharayar’s version and more truly my own.

The magic in this is the combination of eggplant with a creamy, tangy, garlicky, vegan Tzatziki sauce. All of the other ingredients in this recipe can be swapped around and the results will still taste good. As a variation, you can serve it in a bowl

assembled riz bi har

Here is a filled tortilla, ready for folding or rolling. This one is really full, so I folded it in half rather than trying to roll it up.

instead of wrapped in a tortilla. You can swap around which vegetables you choose. If you are not a fan of eggplant, you can swap it out and replace it with some additional grilled or roasted veggies instead.

I am so glad that I tried making my own Riz Bi Har. If it was gone forever I would have missed it — it is very yummy and one of my favorite recipes.

riz bi har after folding

Folded, the yummy stuff inside gets covered up, which is harder to photograph. But it is still yummy. :)

 

Riz Bi Har - an addictive recipe with eggplant, vegan Tzatziki sauce, and rice
 
Prep time
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A mix of rice, grilled veggies, and an addictive, garlicky, vegan tzatziki sauce, rolled up in a tortilla, makes a really delicious meal!
Author:
Recipe type: dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern-ish
Serves: serves 5
Ingredients
  • 11 tortillas (or a double batch of my homemade tortilla recipe, made with a little salt added to the batter)
  • tzatziki sauce or creamy white salad dressing (click to see my recipe for it)
  • 1 small to medium sized eggplant
  • 4 cups of assorted veggies (can be red bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
  • optional: a 15-ounce can of beans, eg. pinto beans
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • brown rice
Instructions
  1. Start cooking the rice, according to package directions.
  2. Cut the eggplant and other veggies (but not broccoli or cauliflower) into bite-sized pieces or half-inch cubes. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and some salt. Bake at 400 to 450 degrees, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are getting well-browned and the eggplant looks toasted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli and/or cauliflower in the microwave.
To assemble:
  1. If the tortillas are not warm, warm them up.
  2. Inside each tortilla, place a few tablespoons of rice, a few tablespoons of veggies, a few tablespoons of tzatziki sauce, and optionally the beans, if you are including beans.
  3. Roll up the tortilla and serve! Or, if it is too full to roll, then fold it in half -- that works nicely too. Mine are always too full to roll! :)

 

Falafel – gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!

Falafel

falafel ingredientsI discovered falafel when I was a young adult. Friends brought me to a restaurant called Jerusalem Garden that is known for its excellent falafel. The restaurant was located in a tiny house, where you sat across the counter from the kitchen and could watch the cook in action. The cook had a gadget that looked like my grandmother’s coffee percolator, of all things! He used that to shape balls of a greenish paste, which he then deep fried. Brown falafel balls emerged, which he served tucked into pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes, and a creamy white sauce, all wrapped up in a piece of foil so that you could hold it in your hands to eat it. It was delicious!!

When my family couldn’t eat gluten and dairy, I figured that falafel was lost to unbaked falafelus forever. But happily I was wrong! This gluten-free, vegan falafel recipe is one of our favorite recipes at our house. Even my pickiest eater happily scarfs them down.

This recipe easily mixes together in the food processor. Then you scoop blobs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and bake. A quick rinse of the food processor, and the sauce mixes together quickly in it. Add toppings, and you have a satisfying meal.

This recipe is my adaptation of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s falafel recipe in the cookbook Vegan with a Vefalafel after bakingngeance.

I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks have some of the funniest text that I have ever seen in a cookbook (her description of falafel — and singing about it at summer camp — is hilarious!), and her recipes always turn out well. Back when I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop that had kids with food allergies, special diets, and picky eaters, I would often find recipes for baked goods in Moskowitz’s blog, The Post-Punk Kitchen, and make them as snacks for the Girl Scout troop. Her recipes always turned out well. Someday I will falafel for dinnerpost my gluten-free version of her Marbled Banana Bread recipe. It is always a big hit — it looks beautiful and tastes great. And her Green Lasagna Rolls — the recipe is currently on the front page of her website — are truly excellent. They have quickly become a favorite recipe around here.

Anyway, onward to falafel!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Falafel - gluten-free, healthy, and vegan!
 
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Baked orbs of chickpea dough, with a creamy vegan tahini sauce and lots of fixings. Yum!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: serves 5-6 people
Ingredients
Falafel ingredients
  • 4 cans cooked chickpeas, rinsed, or 6 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free breakfast cereal, such as Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice cereal
  • 6 tablespoons gluten-free flour (such as brown rice flour and potato starch)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder (or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons canola and/or olive oil
  • a little black pepper, ground
Toppings
  • lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • chopped avocadoes
  • tahini dressing (see recipe below)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all falafel ingredients (but not the toppings!) in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place blobs of dough on two nonstick cookie sheets or on parchment paper on cookie sheets. The blobs should be about 1 1/2 tablespoons. I use an OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop, but it will also work fine to use one dinnertable tablespoon to scoop up blobs of dough and another dinnertable spoon to push the dough off of it. The dough doesn't usually spread while it bakes, so it is okay to put the blobs close together.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the falafel is starting to turn brown.
  5. While the falafel bakes, make the tahini sauce, chop the avocado, etc.
  6. To serve: Place some lettuce on a plate. Mound eight pieces of falafel in the center. Top with tahini sauce, tomatoes, and avocado pieces. Yum!

Here is the recipe for tahini sauce. This is my version of the recipe from Vegan With A Vengeance. The sauce is really good on other things, too. For example, it is delicious mixed with spaghetti and veggies for dinner.
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tahini Sauce
 
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A creamy tahini sauce that is great on falafel or anything else!
Author:
Recipe type: sauce
Cuisine: Middle-Eastern
Serves: 1 1/4 cups
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup tahini (Look for a brand that doesn't taste bitter, such as Once Again or Maranatha)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling, just hot)
Instructions
  1. Tip: If your tahini is chunky, the easiest way to measure it is to put the 1/2 cup water into a glass measuring cup, then add tahini until you reach 1 cup.
  2. If you are using the garlic, chop it and cook it in the oil for 2 minutes -- don't let it burn. (I always leave out the garlic, because we have a person with a garlic allergy. I love garlic, but the sauce is still good even without it.)
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve warm on falafel or other food.

 

virtual vegan potluckThis recipe is a part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck.  Here are the links to the next and previous recipes in the loop:

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