These are my adaptation of a traditional Gujarati steamed cakes called Paanki. What is special is that they are steamed in banana leaves or better still in the husks of a corncob. I shallow fried mine in a non-stick pan in oil and they were delicious. Traditionally served with a coconut chutney, you can serve with a spicy coriander chutney or a mint yoghurt sauce and a side salad for a light lunch or dinner. They are flavourful enough on their own.
We are a family of picky eaters – for starters, we are fairly healthyish and want loads of protein and vegetables in each meal. We sway towards naturally gluten free food and personally prefer vegetarian food. The family want nutrient dense food that is not bulky and it needs to look good and taste even better. I would like one pot meals if possible and do it in a minimum amount of time especially during summer, as I would like to spend more time tending to the garden. It is a tall order and I created this recipe for weekday lunches as it ticks all those boxes!
1 cup of millet
400g tin of beluga lentils, drained and rinsed well
100g of tender spinach leaves, washed and finely chopped
200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2-3 spring onions, washed and finely diced
1 red pepper, core removed and finely diced
150g sunflower kernels, dry roasted
2-3 sprigs of coriander leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 pinch of turmeric powder
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or sambal oelek
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
In a sauté pan, toast the millet on medium high heat for five minutes. Add 370ml water to a saucepan and a pinch of turmeric along with half a teaspoon of salt. Mix in the toasted millet and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
Measure all the dressing ingredients into a jar or a bowl and whisk well.
Once millet is cooked, add the spring onions and spread out the millet to cool on a platter or large bowl. Pour the dressing and mix all the other ingredients. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste.
I am surprised how many people get stumped if they have to prepare a protein rich salad as a main for a vegan when the rest are having a barbecue. Very often it is just a standard green salad and if you are lucky maybe a vegan burger (store bought). There are a variety of beans and grains that offer high quality nutrition and personally think you can even make yummy vegan homemade burgers with a little planning.
This salad is colourful, fresh and absolutely delightful that eating a bowl won’t be that hard!
1 x 400g tin of brown lentils, rinsed and drained well
I’ve seen this dish on the menu at several Indian restaurants. Ever since the potato was introduced by the Portuguese in early seventeenth century, Indians love for this vegetable has also grown. It is often added to most North Indian style vegetable dishes. What I find interesting is that the South was kind of far removed from foreign influences so much so that it took a long time for the so called “Western” vegetables to be incorporated into mainstream South Indian cooking. Sorry for my digression.
More to the point of aloo baingan – this is a lovely vegetarian dish that is not too chilli hot, yet very flavourful.
I roasted the eggplants for a bit so they retain their shape and don’t fall apart.
Phanaeng or Phanang or Panang is a type of Thai red curry that is a little sweet, salty and nutty. It is generally made with meat but my version is a vegan one. I used soy sauce instead of fish sauce. This is great served with sticky rice and a side of greens.
One more recipe for sour dough discard! Even if you don’t have sour dough discard, you can still make this by adjusting the amounts of yeast used. You can use spinach instead of chard or silver beet. I used a Chinese cleaver to finely mince my silver beet but you can use a food processor for this.
I love making my own breads and feel so wonderful kneading the dough manually. I served it with a minestrone style soup – it is yummy on its own too.
For the dough
325g high grade flour
25g wholemeal flour
5g instant yeast (use 7g if no sour dough discard)
40g sour dough discard
120g silver beet finely chopped (see note above)
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml tepid water
For the topping
3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
5-6 olives, sliced or halved
Sea salt crystals
Olive oil as needed
1 -2 tablespoons water
Place all ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients to form a dough mass.
You can use the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes giving a 30 second break every 3-4 minutes of kneading. If you are like me and prefer to knead manually, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, resting it for 30 seconds every three minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours to allow it to double in size.
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil. Spread oil around to grease the paper. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough to a 20cm disc and place on prepared baking tray. Using your fingertips, press dough down, leaving fingertip impressions. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.
Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.
Stud the dough with sun dried tomato and olive pieces. Sprinkle the sea salt and make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle water. Bake in preheated oven for 12 -15 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush focaccia with olive oil. Place on a wire rack to cool for half an hour at least before slicing.
I consider myself lucky to have experienced authentic Gujarati cuisine when I was in the hostel studying for my post graduate degree in Mumbai. People not familiar with Gujarati cuisine use the term khaman dhokla without realizing that there is no such dish. There is dhokla which is made using rice flour and khaman is made using chick pea flour or besan.
My mother used to make khaman by using a few tablespoons of idli batter as leavening agent. I used the same technique. Also I used a sponge cake tin (20 centimeter diameter) as a vessel for the batter and steamed in my Dutch oven.
I could just about write a recipe book just on 100 ways with tofu as I am confident I can convert any tofu hater to a tofu convert!!
In some of my previous blogs, I wrote about my desire to render the same cooking method to vegetarian / vegan dishes as conventionally reserved for meat based dishes. This dish evolved as I was making a chicken version for the family and this vegetarian option for myself. My son actually preferred this tofu version so here is the recipe.
If you don’t have firm tofu, press tofu amidst several layers of paper towel for 15-20 minutes. You do have to marinate the tofu for six hours and the roasting takes 45 minutes so it’s not exactly something you can whip up on short notice. Serve with steamed rice and a salad.
Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable but it is cooked like a fruit! When you think of rhubarb and associate with a pie, you are not wrong because the red stalks (part used) are generally paired with sugar, butter and flour!
Rhubarb, with its attractive pinkish red hue is a heavy weight in terms of nutrition value. It is high in fibre, Vitamin K and also has more antioxidant punch than kale! Some people therefore consider rhubarb as super food. I personally wouldn’t say that because it only becomes palatable if you add sugar to it so I would go as far as saying that it is a healthyish dessert choice!
This is a lovely dessert and it is vegan! I guess you could also try sub rice for sago.