Chicago Diner – Meat Free Since ’83

December 4, 2013 § 2 Comments


One of my favourite meals in Chicago was at the Chicago Diner. It is amazing restaurant that puts  a vegetarian twist on comfort foods and their menu includes seitan buffalo wings, a tofu “fish” filet and heavenly vegan desserts.  I think I starred at the menu for about 20 minutes as I could not decide what to order and everything sounded so good.

chicago diner

I decided on the vegan faux fish fillet as the one thing that I miss being vegetarian is fish and chips. The sandwich came on a very thin bun with tartar sauce and panko encrusted tofu. I ordered it with a side of kale but the other tempting option was waffle fries which I opted out of.

I cut the sandwich in half and took a bite. The crunchy panko tofu  with the vegan tartar sauce made a close impression to it’s original. It was a nice treat to eat a resemblance of fish after over 20 years of abstinence. The meal was very filling and I had half a sandwich leftover.

vegan dessert

My friend had saved room for dessert and I took a couple bites of this decadent vegan caramel crunch torte with vegan whipped cream. It was so rich and delicious, I enjoyed every bite.

The meal was so delicious and satisfying that I swore to go back there everyday for all of my meals. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back and the next time that I visit Chicago it’s the first place that I will visit.

The service was great, food was amazing and the price was very fair. The Rishi chai was $3.50, golden fillet sandwich 10.99 and the dessert $5.99. The Chicago Diner has two locations one on Halsted Street and one in Logan Square. Visit their website for more info www.veggiedinercom.


Focaccia Veggie Burger

August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

focaccia veggie burger

Burgers are the perfect summer time bbq food and for a vegetarian, they can get boring fast. There’s something about biting into a large bun and pattie with condiment juices running down your hand that hits the spot. Most bbq’s focus on marinated meats which leaves the vegetarian a bit left out.

I like to keep my burgers exciting by changing up the bun and condiments. I picked up some focaccia bread by Bread Affair at the farmers market on the weekend. I used that as the bun and added a delicious red onion relish by A Jar Preserves. It instantly transformed my regular veggie burger into a gourmet one. You can experiment with different breads and wraps. Try being creative with the toppings and add dips like humus or guacamole.

Cooking time 10 minutes
Serves 1

1 tsp (5 ml) olive oil
veggie burger
Focaccia bread
vegan mayo
heirloom tomato sliced
A Jar Preserves red onion relish

1. Heat a saucepan on medium heat and cook the burger according to the instructions.
2. Add mayo both sides of the focaccia
3. Add the lettuce and then tomato to top bun.
4. Add a small squirt of ketchup to the bottom bun.
5. Place the burger on the bottom bun and add some red onion relish.

Pineapple and hot pepper grilled cheese

July 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

pineapple and hot pepper grilled cheese

Pineapple grilled cheese is a favourite recipe that I picked up in India. It’s a common menu item in the beach areas and I’ve enjoyed many pineapple grilled cheeses while escaping India’s hot midday sun.

My son got quite hooked on them and tried to order one in Delhi. It was a humorous occasion when the waiter came back with a round slice of pineapple topped with a thick cut of cheese. We had to explain what we wanted and fortunately he brought back the right item. After that experience, my son never bothered to order it again outside of the beach areas.

At home in Canada, I make them regularly for my son who is a huge pineapple fan. He is a student in french immersion and one of his favourite things to say to his sister is “Tu es une ananas.” Which literally means “You are a pineapple!”

I’ve added hot peppers to this recipe to contrast the sweet and spicy flavours. This grilled cheese is very refreshing on a hot day and is a good use for any left over pineapple.


Makes 2 slices
Cooking time 10 minutes
Serves 1

2 slices of bread
pineapple chunks
hot peppers

1. Toast the bread to prevent the bread from becoming soggy.
2. Place pineapple and hot peppers on the bread and top with sliced cheese.
3. Grill in the oven until the cheese has melted.

Falafel Wrap

May 1, 2013 § Leave a comment


Falafels are tasty and satisfying and I usually purchase the balls pre made. You can buy them fresh or frozen and find them in the cooler section of the grocery store. Costco sells them in bulk and I usually freeze half of them to eat at a later date.

I love falafel wraps and use a sprouted wheat one that I buy in the health food store. I like to add quinoa, hummus and tzatziki and of course pickles. If you feel like adding spice, sprinkle with cayenne powder.

Assembly time 5 minutes
Makes 1 wrap

1 wrap
4-5 Falafel balls
1 tbsp (15 ml) quinoa
1 tbsp (15 ml) hummus
1 tbsp (15 ml) tzatziki (optional)
sliced pickles
cayenne powder

1. Cook the falafels according to the package.
2. Lightly warm the wrap and place ingredients in the middle and roll wrap.

Grilled Veggie Sandwich

September 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

Today, when I came home from a long walk in the forest, I was starving and quickly threw together a gourmet sandwich. As fall approaches and the weather cools, I find myself craving warm and grounding foods so I I decided to grill my sandwich. I don’t have enough counter space for a panini grill, so instead I use a non-stick saucepan to do the trick. Grilling sandwiches creates a greater contrast in textures, such as between the crunchiness of the pickles and gooeyness of the melted cheese. It also enhances the flavours of the ingredients like the pesto mayo which makes a delicious and satisfying sandwich.

Cooking time 10 minutes
Serves one

pesto mayo
sliced tomatoes
slices pickles
vegan or regular butter

1. Smear the pesto mayo on both pieces of bread. Place the cheese on the bread next which will help the cheese to melt. Add the tomatoes and pickles and close the sandwich.

2. Heat a non-stick saucepan on medium heat and add 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp butter. Once the butter starts to sizzle, place the sandwich cheese side down in the middle of the pan.

3. Cook the sandwich until the cheese starts to melt and be careful that you do not burn the bread. Sometimes I cover the saucepan on medium to low heat for a minute to help the cheese melt.

4. Flip the sandwich, add more butter and cook for another minute or so. Cut the sandwich in half and enjoy.

Aloo Tikki Burgers

July 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

When mini burgers became popular menu items in restaurants, I must admit I was a bit jealous that I could not partake in eating palm sized burgers like everyone else. In restaurants when my friend’s burgers would arrive on a delicate plate lined with three carefully prepared mini burgers, I could not help but feel left out when my large sloppy veggie burger was presented in front of me. I really shouldn’t complain because a few years back you could barely order an average veggie burger and nowadays restaurants offer a variety of creative toppings.

One of my favourite places to eat veggie burgers is at the McDonald’s Restaurants in India. Indian McDonald’s do not serve any beef and make up for it with the abundance of veggie options. They have three veggie burgers on the menu including the McAloo Tikki, the McVeggie burger and the Mcspicy paneer burger. I am normally not a fan of McDonald’s but in India it is a real treat.

This aloo tikki burger was inspired by the McAloo Tikki burger that I had at a McDonald’s restaurant in India. Aloo tikki patties are made from mashed potatoes which are mixed with veggies and spices, rolled into balls and deep-fried. They can be quite spicy and taste delicious with a touch of mango chutney. You can buy a box of aloo tikki patties from an ethnic grocery store and they are found in the freezer section.

Cooking time 20 minutes
Serves 1

aloo tikki patties
mini buns
vegan mayo
thinly sliced tomatoes
mango chutney

1. Cook the aloo tikki patties as instructed on the box.
2. Spread vegan mayo on both sides of the bun. Add the lettuce and tomato to the top bun.
3. Place the aloo tikki patty on the bottom bun and add a dollop of chutney.


Baguette Sandwich with Forest Mushroom Pate

June 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

This weekend at the farmers market I picked up a forest mushroom pate by Pate Pastiche. Their vegan pate, made from whole grains and seeds is delicious on sandwiches. The forest mushroom pate is slightly smokey and topped with herbs including long stalks of rosemary. For lunch, I made a sandwich on the Bread Affairs organic baguette, which I dressed with olive oil and topped it with fresh slices of tomato and pea shoots.

olive oil
slices of forest mushroom pate by Pate Pastiche
thinly sliced tomatoes
pea shoots

1. Slice the baguette in half and lightly toast.
2. Lightly drizzle olive oil on the baguette.
3. Place tomatoes and pea shoots on one half and place the pate on the other half and enjoy.

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