It’s been national vegetarian week this week and it’s always about enjoying the opportunity to get creative and try out some delicious plant based dishes. If you’re a meat eater, national vegetarian week is a great opportunity to try out a new way of eating and if you’re already a plant based eater it’s a great chance to cast your culinary net out further or to simply share your love for vegetarian cooking! In fact while we are still living the lock down life it’s the perfect time to explore some new recipes and plant based cooking can be such a fun exploration. In my experience the vegetarian options at a lot of restaurants can be very uninspiring and vegan options even more so! So not having access to restaurants right now could give you the chance to fall in love with vegetarian cooking maybe? Once you start exploring you will likely find that most cuisines have wonderful vegetarian options but one place I return to often when cooking plant based is definitely the flavours of India, India is utterly DELICIOUS and in my opinion the vegetarian recipes of this place are the best and my vegetarian day today is a celebration of Indian flavours. This food is vibrant, wholesome, varied, layered and steeped in so much love and history, thousands of years of history in fact! I first tried Indian food at 15 years old. A friend invited me into her family's kitchen to introduce me on the way home from school and her mother (forcefully) offered to make me some food, I was told by my friend that I may as well oblige as her mother loved to feed and I would get out sooner if I took something! I remember feeling quite nervous as I had a VERY limited pallet at the time. Wow was I blown away, watching her speedily select vibrant spices and ingredients completely alien to me was fascinating, and the way I was being fed with such pride and passion was intoxicating, foreign and slightly overwhelming to me, a microwave meal kid! I probably don’t have to tell you that by the time I made it home I was far too full for my super noodles or anything else until the next day!
India is a nation of foodies, no doubt about it! For years I thought that India was largely vegetarian but learned that that was actually incorrect, the majority of Indians eat meat. Some parts of India however are largely vegetarian. I read that 5 states that could be considered to be vegetarian Punjab being one of them. I think the myth of India being largely vegetarian maybe comes from the fact that India is so varied region to region and even from family to family. Writer Padma Lakshimi - ‘ Indian home cooking is really varied and regional. It’s like Europe joined as one. You may drive by car for an hour and meet people speaking a different language, praying to a different god and dressing a different way.’ When asked if she thought Indian food was largely underrated she replied:
‘I think most people outside of India or those that haven’t stayed in India know mostly north western Punjabi food. If you asked 10 Indian people what Indian food was, you would likely get 10 different answers!’
I love curry!
I love all types of curry, it's that type of huggable bowl comfort food that has the ability to warm you while (depending on the type you cook) actually being very good for you. It's also that amazing type of dish that seems to taste ever better the next day! I love Thai curries, Caribbean, Japanese Vegetable, fish or meat, all of it! In many ways the word curry is vague and it’s worth mentioning that curry has little to do with curry leaves and nothing to do with curry powder! It is usually a saucy dish made up of a blend of many amazing spices and flavours, varied, vibrant, deep and changeable. One thing that surprised me (though it shouldn’t have) is that the name curry was not Indian. It has colonial roots and was a generalised term for many dishes thought to be given by the British in the 1600s after the formation of the East India company. The men while there looking for spices etc ate and very much enjoyed the Indian food they were served and wanted to continue enjoying it at home, so they sent back the recipes for their wives or the servants they brought back with them to cook. Curry is the name we know this much loved dish by and I’m going to cook the worlds oldest curry today, which is Vegan. This wouldn't be my first choice of curry but I couldn't resist the urge to cook a 4000 year old dish! This was a very exciting discovery if your food obsessed like me and you can read more about here worlds oldest curry
this curry is 4000 years old and was discovered in Farmana and of course has had a little liberty taken with it due to what's available to us ingredients wise now. If you can cook it in earthenware is preferable but if not that’s no big deal.
Below is the recipe shared by Soity Banerjee
6-7 small aubergines, washed and slit (I prefer to cube mine)
1-inch piece of ginger, ground
1 fresh turmeric, ground, or ¼ tsp turmeric powder
Pinch of sea salt
1tbsp raw mango cut into cubes
2-3tbsp sesame oil
¼ tsp cumin
Dehydrated sugarcane juice to taste (available online)
A few leaves of sweet basil
Blitz the ginger, turmeric and cumin seeds together. If you don’t have a blender suited then grate the ginger and tumeric and use ground cumin. Heat sesame oil, add the paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Tip in the aubergines, add some salt and give it a good stir. Cover and cook until the aubergines are nearly cooked through; add some water, if need be. Now, stir in the mango and dehydrated cane juice. Simmer for a few minutes or until the mango is cooked. Check seasoning and serve with bajra roti (pearl millet flatbread).
A gluten free flatbread recipe
- 2 cups millet flour bajri or bajra flour plus a little extra for dusting
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp ghee use coconut oil to keep it vegan
- 2/3 cup water
- In a medium bowl, mix together the bajri flour and salt.
- Add the water and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth dough that looks a little like clay. I use the dough attachment of my blender if I’m not in the mood to get messy.
- Divide the dough into six equal parts.
- Roll each piece of dough between your palms forming a ball and then press the ball between your palms to flatten, creating a disc shape.
- Line your surface with a sheet of parchment and dust it with flour, this helps to avoid sticking and makes it easy to transfer the rolled out flat bread to the pan.
- Take one disc of dough, make sure to cover the rest so they don’t dry out, and press both sides into the extra bajri flour.
- Place the disc onto the parchment or plastic sheet. Sprinkle some more dry bajri flour on top of the disc and roll it out into about a 6 inch disc. Add more dry flour as needed.
- Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet (if using non-stick, heat with a tablespoon of oil and wipe the oil away when ready to cook the flat bread) over a medium heat.
- Put a single rotlo on the pan. Brush the top with some water.
- After about two minutes, when the rotlo has a few bubbles and starts to brown underneath, flip the rotlo over.
- When evenly cooked on both sides transfer to a plate and brush with 2 teaspoons of ghee or coconut oil.