Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Yes, you read the title correctly and no, this is not a drill. I’ve been experimenting with my Vegan Butter Chicken recipe for a VERY long time. After dozens of iterations, I’m finally ready and so excited to share it with you.

There were multiple components to get right here; the seitan chicken needed to be firm, pullable and flavoursome without being overpowering or overly spiced. The colour needed to be light inside, not brown. Next, the sauce. Perfect Butter Chicken sauce is the holy grail of modern North Indian cooking and everyone has their own way of doing it. It’s one of the most popular restaurant dishes around the world because of its subtlety and simplicity and it’s not always easy to find that balance.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

For me, the tomato sauce has to be silky smooth, lightly spiced, a little bit sour but with a touch of sweetness too. I like using aromatic spices in small quantities – it makes all the difference increamy curries. In my Vegan Butter Chicken, you can pick out heady cardamom, citrusy coriander seeds and caramel-like kasoori methi whilst still enjoying a mild curry the whole family will love.

From start to finish, the dish might seem like a labour of love and that’s because it absolutely is. The stages include mixing the seitan “dough”, pressure cooking it, chilling it overnight, making the Vegan Butter Chicken base sauce and blending it before finally simmering everything together.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve switched the butter in my Vegan Butter Chicken with almond butter which lends a rich, creamy texture to the fresh tomato sauce. You could also use cashew butter if you prefer that. A touch of coconut milk mellows out the spices and finishes the dish perfectly. I’d highly recommend using a high-powered blender, such a NutriBullet to blend the sauce. For the silkiest sauce possible and a true restaurant-style Butter Chicken finish, pass the sauce through a sieve or food mill to strain away unwanted tomato seeds and skin, as well as any coarse spices. You don’t want rogue spices ruining your heavenly Vegan Butter Chicken experience.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

If like me, you need a Vegan Butter Chicken experience once a week, you can always double up on quantities and stow it away in the freezer to assemble later. I always keep seitan pieces in a ziplock-type bag in the freezer (you can keep it frozen for up to 3 months). You can also freeze sauce portions. The sauce can also be used for other curries, such as butter tofu or mixed veggies. The protein-packed seitan pieces are great in stir fries, salads, pasta and wraps if you’d like to try something different with them. I’ll be posting some other recipes using it soon.

Kudos goes to the brilliant Skye Michael Conroy and The Seitan Appreciation Society on Facebook who are generous enough to share their wonderful passion, tips and recipes. The addition of beans to this recipe was inspired by the Avocados and Ales Chickwheat recipe. Thank you.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

I’m so excited to share this with you. I hope you love it as much as I do. Let me know if you make it, I’d love to hear how you got on.

Vegan Seitan Chicken

This firm, textured vegan chicken is packed with protein and goodness. It’s made using tofu, beans and the magic ingredient… vital wheat gluten. Cube it, shred it and slice it for curries, stir fries, pasta, salad and wraps.

For the vegan seitan chicken

  • 300 g extra-firm tofu ((drained))
  • 1 400g tin haricot beans, inc. the liquid from the tin ((you can also use any other white beans, such as cannellini beans or butter beans))
  • 150 g vital wheat gluten ((I buy mine on Amazon))
  • 150 ml cold water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp white miso paste ((you can also use 1 tsp MSG if you can tolerate it))
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  1. In a high-powered blender, combine the tofu, haricot beans in their liquid, miso paste (or msg), salt, nutritional yeast, oil and water until you have a smooth paste.
  2. Add the vital wheat gluten to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the tofu mixture and mix on a low speed until the two come together in the form of a dough.
  3. Switch the paddle attachment to a dough hook and mix on a medium/high speed for 10-12 minutes. Stay close by as the mixer may shuffle across the counter top as the dough is tough to work. You’ll also need to be very careful your mixer’s motor doesn’t burn out. This kneading of the dough is crucial in developing the gluten and proteins in the seitan and shouldn’t be skipped. The longer and harder you work it, the more fibrous and chicken-like the final product will be. I wouldn’t recommend doing it by hand as your arms might threaten to fall off. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger would struggle, seriously. Having said this, you can create seitan kneading by hand – it will not however, have a shreddable, “pulled” quality and you’ll finish up with a spongy end product instead. It’ll still taste good but probably won’t fool your meat-eating friends.
  4. Once your seitan has been kneaded long and hard, remove it from the mixer and cut it in half so you have two pieces. Wrap each “loaf” very tightly in 3-4 layers of heavy-duty foil. You want it to be nice and compact inside to stop it expanding inside as this will promote sponginess rather than the shreddable texture we’re after. The multiple layers of foil will also stop water getting inside.
  5. Next, fill a pressure cooker with plenty of water (about 3/4 of the way full) and bring to a boil. Carefully drop your seitan into the cooker and put the lid on. Cook on a medium/high heat for 40 minutes. Once the time is up, switch off the heat and leave it to cool completely. If your pressure cooker is too small to hold both parcels, you’ll need to cook them separately.
  6. Once cool, remove the seitan parcels from the cooker and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 48 hours.
  7. Unwrap and check out that amazing texture when you pull it apart. Your seitan is now ready to cube, shred or slice, season and use in your favourite vegan chicken recipe.
  • You can freeze the seitan pieces in a ziplock-style bag for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken

I’ve veganized one of North India’s most famous curries, Butter Chicken. Also known as Murgh Makhani, it’s known for having a lusciously-smooth and aromatic sauce laced with mild, fragrant spices. Seitan pieces replace the chicken in this recipe for a high-protein main course that pairs perfectly with roti, laccha paratha or garlic naan.

  • 1 kg seitan ((cubed))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

For the seitan chicken marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder ((you could also use paprika for a milder flavour))
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic ((minced))
  • 2 tsp ginger ((minced))
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds ((ground))
  • 150 ml full-fat coconut milk

For the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp garlic ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ginger ((chopped))
  • 1/4 tsp nigella seeds
  • 2-3 thin red chillies ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 400 g fresh tomatoes ((chopped))
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • 1 tbsp smooth almond butter
  • 200 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi ((rubbed between your palms until fine))
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar or agave
  • Salt ((to taste))
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander ((chopped))

To marinate the seitan pieces:

  1. Combine the ingredients for the seitan marinade until smooth. Add the seitan chicken pieces and gently mix until coated. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and carefully add the seitan chicken pieces. Cook until golden on all sides. You might need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Place the pieces onto a plate and set aside whilst you make the sauce.

To make the vegan butter chicken sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the nigella seeds and chopped onion. Sauté until translucent. Next, add in the ginger, garlic, chillies and tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add in the fresh tomatoes, ground coriander seeds, garam masala, ground cardamom seeds, almond butter, coconut milk, kasoori methi and brown sugar or agave. Give everything a thorough stir and cover with a lid. Cook for 10-15 minutes on a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve, back into the same pan. Season with salt to taste. Switch the heat back on and add the golden seitan chicken pieces. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on. Garnish with fresh coriander, more kasoori methi and a splash of coconut milk, if desired.
  • You can freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. Defrost and room temperature, keep refrigerated and use within 48 hours.

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Vegan Seitan Butter Chicken




Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts (Vegan)

Jambo! Flicking through hard to come by East African cookbooks fills me with that familiar, comforting feeling of when I cosy up with my favourite Indian ones. Exotic spices, simple veggies and coconut milk everything is what makes it feel so fresh, vibrant and soul warming.

Being nourished with a mishmash of Indian, African and British food has all my life, allowed me to connect and experiment with the culinary cultures of all these cuisines. In other words, I’ve been spoilt and have loved every minute of it. Hell, I’ve been rabbiting on about it to you all since I started this blog in 2009 (yeah, it’s been that long!)

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

For my generation, it feels like the Indian influence on East African cooking is a hush-hush camp, with recipes hidden away inside the spirits of expat grandparents, parents, aunties and uncles. As sad as it may sound, I’m a 29-year old who’s worried that Zanzibar Trail Mix, Malindi Halwa and Ugandan Kasodi will one day be forgotten. We can’t let that happen, guys!

In the name of doing my bit to preserve the East African cuisine so many Asian-East Africans are so proud of, I’d like to introduce you to Vitumbua. These Tanzanian rice flour doughnuts are a favourite of my saintly Bapu, Gunwantrai Modha and I completely understand why. Born in Tanzania, my dad his brothers think of these dishes as fuel food – they’re good for the soul and all that.

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

Vitumbua should be golden and crunchy on the outside and like a delicate morsel of cardamom-scented cloud on the inside. The batter is made with coconut milk which makes these cakey doughnuts pure white in the middle and melt-in-the-mouth.

The leavening agent in my version is yeast but many recipes also use baking powder. Traditionally, they’re made using rice that’s been soaked overnight but I’ve simplified it slightly by using rice flour which is so readily available in shops these days. Of course, if you can’t find rice flour, go ahead and use soaked raw rice.

My fluffy Vitumbua are perfect with tea in the morning or if you’re a bit more adventurous, with a spicy kidney bean and coconut stew for dinner. Sweet and savoury is so lush!

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

If you have a Vitumbua or Appam/Paniyaram pan, please use one. If you don’t, you can use a greased cupcake tin. You’ll need to bake them in a 180C oven for 10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the cooking time.

I’ve dusted my Vitumbua with cardamom sugar which isn’t traditional but it adds a delicious additional cardamom kick on top of what’s already in the batter. I find that finishing a dish with gentle spices is a bold way of bringing another dimension to the table.

Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua – Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts

These light and fluffy East African coconut and cardamom doughnuts just melt in your mouth. They’re perfect with masala chai and are a popular street food all over Tanzania.

For the vitumbua batter

  • 220 g rice flour
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400 ml full-fat coconut milk
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 7 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 200 ml warm water ((approx. 32°C))
  • 3 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds (from 5-6 cardamom pods) (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or almond extract ((optional))

For the cardamom icing sugar

  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2 whole cardamom pods (seeds remove and finely ground)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the rice flour, plain flour, sugar, salt, ground cardamom and dried yeast.

  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and then add the coconut milk, warm water, oil and vanilla/almond extract (if using). Whisk the ingredients well until you have a smooth, lump-free batter. It should be the consistency of dosa or idli batter. Cover with cling film and allow the batter to rest in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

  3. Grease a 12-hole vitumbua or appam/paniyaram pan with sunflower or vegetable oil. By now, your batter should be bubbly and frothy. Allow the pan to heat up a little and then use a small jug or cup to fill the holes of the pan with the batter, almost right to the top.

  4. Cook on a low heat until the tops of the batter is looks dry to the touch, about 3 minutes. Use a cocktail stick to flip the vitumbua over. They should be golden brown on the bottom. Cook the other side for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Use the cocktail stick to remove them from the pan.

  5. To make the cardamom sugar, combine the icing sugar and ground cardamom. Use a tea strainer or small sieve to dust the sugar over the top. Serve the vitumbua immediately with hot masala chai or strong coffee.

  • This recipe makes 48 small vitumbua, serving about 8 people.
  • I bought my paniyaram pan from an Indian kitchenware store in Leicester, UK. You can also buy these online. Look out for a heavy, non-stick piece of kit rather than steel to make removing the vitumbua easier.
  • Alternatively, you can also use a cupcake tin. Your vitumbua will be larger, disc shaped doughnuts but they’ll still taste great. Ensure the tin is well greased and fill the cupcake holes just halfway before popping into an oven pre-heated at 180°C for 10 minutes. Flip them halfway through baking.
  • Store cooked vitumbua in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

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Quick & Fluffy Vitumbua - Tanzanian Coconut Doughnuts




Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The pregnancy cravings are real, people. Indian savoury snacks are my weakness. They include, but aren’t limited to: Dhokra, samosas, khichi, muthiya, idli, chakri, upma and bhajia. Simple things I’ve never made too often at home, but in the last 5 months I’ve taken the time to satisfy my cravings with the proper home-cooked versions. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Most of you will know that it’s been my long-term dream to have a surprise birthday tandoor at home. Well I still don’t have one. However, my parents bought me a ginormous and Indian-style stacking steamer for my 28th birthday and it’s the best! It’s not beautiful and fancy, it’s a commercial appliance that doesn’t quite fit in my kitchen cupboard unless it’s disassembled. But it’s quickly become my favourite thing. It has multiple layers, baskets and a tight-fitting lid that fluffs up dhokra, muthiya and khichi perfectly.

Khichi, khichu, khichiya and papdi no lot are all names for one iconic Gujarati savoury snack made with rice flour and a few very basic spices. It can be prepared and served in a number of different ways depending on the particular family style and recipe. My favourite way is to shape and steam the rice flour dough for perfect little pucks with a chewy dumpling texture. Other popular methods include cooking it in a pan from start to finish, pressure cooking or even microwaving it.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Traditionally, khichi or papdi no lot (which literally translates to “cooked dough” is served with a bowl of oil. No BS, a bowl of regular plant-based oil like groundnut, sunflower or vegetable oil. Not olive oil, not ghee, not butter. Just oil. I liken it to dipping bread in olive oil in the West, except the point is not to add flavour, but to transform the texture of the dish. The reason why it makes so much sense is because it completely changes the texture of the dish. A slick of oil on the khichi after steaming stops them sticking together and dipping them in oil whilst eating gives the chewy rice flour dumplings a soft, slippery texture that’s not entirely unlike the feeling of eating buttered noodles. Growing up with something as comforting as that gives the most intense cravings!

The combination of ingredients in khichi are always a simple mix so you can really taste the rice flour base. Usually it’s cumin, ginger, salt and chillies. Turmeric and garlic are optional extras. Fresh turmeric is option and adds a gorgeous raw mango flavour and intense colour. I add a little bicarbonate of soda to my khichi to lighten them up a little and ensure they’re not overly dense. They puff up a touch when they steam. Note that adding turmeric and bicarbonate of soda will give your khichi a slight orange hue. You could choose to skip the bicarbonate of soda and add turmeric for yellow khichi or leave both out and make white khichi. I’ve tried them all and prefer to add both. The recipe will work either way. The choice is yours.

Khichi. Little rice dumplings with chilli, cumin and coriander, steamed and ready to eat #GujaratiFood #vegetarian #london #vegan #veganfood #rice #glutenfree #snacks #veganfood #vegansofig #veganfoodshare #eeeeeats #forkyeah #foodpics #indianfood #eeeeeats #vegetariano

Here I’ve shared my recipe for both classic rice flour khichi or papdi no lot, as well as a more playful recipe for a dish I’ve called Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi which is perfect for using up leftover khichi. It’s a play on popular Indian restaurant dishes like Chilli Paneer, Chilli Mogo and Chilli Idli which use Chinese ingredients like soy sauce and 5-spice. Similar to the recipe for Sizzling Chilli Idli I posted a couple of years back.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

The khichi are dusted in cornflour and fried until crispy on the outside. Right before serving they are tossed in an intense sticky chilli sauce with lots of veg. Don’t be put off by the amount of ginger, chillies and garlic – it’s a lot but necessary to stand up to the somewhat plain rice flour khichi. It’s a delicious starter and a new, creative take on a Gujarati classic. My recipe for Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi serves six hungry people.

Khichi or Papdi no Lot (Gujarati Steamed Rice Flour Dumplings)

Makes 20 regular-sized khichi or 40 mini khichi

Ingredients
225g rice flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 green chillies, chopped
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1-inch piece fresh turmeric or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
600ml water
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

1. Mix together the rice flour, turmeric, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle momentarily. Next, add the chopped chillies, turmeric and ginger. Sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the water and tip in all of the rice flour mixture into the pan and beat with a wooden spoon. The mixture will come together as a soft dough. Cool for about a minute, beating vigorously all the time. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

4. Set up a large metal steamer that fits multiple baskets inside. You’ll need about 2L of hot water in the base and to grease the holed baskets with oil to stop the khichi sticking.

5. When the mixture is still very warm but cool enough to handle, grease your hands with a little oil and make golf ball-sized rounds with the dough. Flatten slightly and use your thumb to make a deep indentation in the middle of each disc. Repeat until you have used up all the dough. Arrange the khichi inside the baskets, leaving space around each one as they will inflate slightly.

6. Place the baskets inside the steamer and close with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on a high heat for 18 minutes exactly. Switch the steamer off and leave covered for 5 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and take the khichi out, placing them on a plate. Brush with oil to stop them sticking together.

8. Serve with oil for dipping.

Leftover khichi can be cut into bite-sized pieces used to make Crispy Chilli Khichi, a delicious starter dish we created and love at home.

Note: if making khichi to use for Chilli Khichi straight away, I like to make little ping pong ball-sized khichi (about half the size of the regular classic kind). If you do this, the recipe above will make approximately 40 small khichis which are perfectly bite-sized.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi

Serves 6

Ingredients
40 mini khichi
2 tbsp + 3 tsp cornflour
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and julienned
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
4 hot thin bird’s eye chillies
3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (I use Mae Ploy Sweet Chilli Sauce)
4 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce (I use Mama Sita’s Vegetarian Oyster Sauce)
250ml hot water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
3 mixed peppers, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 red onions, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large tomato, choppef into bite-sized pieces
Oil to deep fry

Method

1. Heat enough oil in a heavy-bottomed pan to deep fry the khichi. The oil temperature should be 180C. Dust the mini khichi in 2 tbsp cornflour and fry in small batches until golden and crispy on the outside, about 5 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.

2. Heat a large wok until smoking hot. Don’t add any oil. In one go, add in the onions, peppers and tomatoes. Allow the veggies to char lightly and develop a smoky flavour, about 8 minutes. Stir only once or twice. Remove the veggies from the wok and set aside for later.

3. To make the sauce, add 2 tbsp oil to the wok and scatter in the sesame seeds, chillies, garlic and ginger. Sauté briefly. Add the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, vegetarian oyster sauce, sriracha, 5-spice, brown sugar, paprika, water and salt. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Mix 3 tsp cornflour with 1 tsp cold water and stir to create a smooth paste. Add to the simmering sauce and stir continually until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

5. Heat the sauce through and toss everything together immediately before serving. Garnish with chillies, ginger and sesame seeds.

Sticky, Crispy Chilli Khichi (Gujarati Rice Flour Dumplings)

100% approved by baby K.O!

Love Sanjana




Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

If I was only able to flavour my desserts with three things for the rest of my life, cardamom and saffron would be two of them. The third would be a toss up between vanilla and cinnamon, but thankfully such grand decisions don’t have to be made.

I’ve been away for a little while, still here but not here if you know what I mean. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know the story but if you don’t, here’s a really short round up. So for the last 6 months I’ve had this shooting pain across my right cheek. It’s like an electric current and unspeakably painful, and in my teeth too. After going back and forth to the dentist and GP who both championed OTC painkillers (why do they do that?! They are not the answer to everything and can mask real underlying issues!) I went to see a neurologist who confirmed that I have Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). It’s a nerve disorder that causes facial pain and sometimes it gets really bad. Shitty, I know. If any of you have it, let’s chat. On the brighter side, I’m glad I have an answer and a plan going forward. Clear cut plans always make bad things feel much better don’t they?

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

Another thing that makes bad things better is a great breakfast. Most of you will already know that the only reason I get out of bed before ‪10am on Sundays is to eat a great breakfast. My favourites include Masala Poori with Potato Curry and Sweet Semolina, as well as Stuffed Paratha or Thepla and Chai. When I’m seeking to start my day with something a little sweeter, I always look to my sweet spice tin. It’s a box dedicated to the spices I use less often in making savoury dishes and one of the best things in my kitchen.

Inside, you’ll find whole cardamom, red saffron threads in a little clear box etched with gold writing, fresh cinnamon, ground mace, vanilla in three forms: whole pods, bean extract ( a gorgeous sticky-sweet syrup peppered with thousands of beans from inside the pod) and basic vanilla extract for when a recipe calls for something simpler. In a cabinet reserved for sweet stuff, I also stash away almonds (whole, flaked, ground and shredded Indian style), cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, mixed citrus peel, chocolate chips, and so many other treasures. Can you tell why it’s the best spot in the house for me?

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast 4

We had a cupboard like this in my family home when I was young and when I couldn’t sleep, my mum would always go in there, grab a few things and make Sweet, Spiced Milk. It was just milk simmered with ground cardamom, saffron, a little bit of sugar and some shredded almonds. Simple but among my favourite memories because I can still *feel* it… if that even makes sense. A memory so vivid, I can still feel what I felt back then, still smell and taste the milk and each time, I smile the same smile.

I’ve used that sweet milk as inspiration for this delicious breakfast that would get me out of bed any day of the week. It’s coconut milk infused with ground cardamom and saffron. A little bit of sugar is added before it’s cooled and some flour is whisked in. Stale bread is our friend here because it’s dunked in the spiced milk until soaked and pan-fried until golden on both sides. It’s French toast without the eggs and it’s so delicious! If you’ve ever eaten Shahi Tukra and love the sweet milk of Rasmalai, you’ll like this… and this takes a fraction of the time cook. Not forgetting the deal breaker that is, YOU CAN EAT IT FOR BREAKFAST! We’re all winners.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

I love these topped with strawberries and maple syrup but you can add any toppings you like. Fruit is always a delicious choice but I won’t tell if you scatter a few chocolate chips on top.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast
Serves 4 (2 slices per serving)

Ingredients
400ml can coconut milk
4 cardamom pods, seeds ground
Big pinch of saffron
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp flour
8 slices of stale bread
Vegan butter or oil for the pan (coconut oil or sunflower oil are good options)

Toppings of your choice

I used:
Fresh strawberries
Icing sugar for dusting
Maple syrup

Method

1. Heat the coconut milk in a pan until hot but not boiling. Add the cardamom, saffron, sugar, and salt. Allow to sit until the milk cools to room temperature.

2. Whisk in the flour until there are no lumps. Pour the mixture in to a shallow tray. I used a large, wide baking dish.

3. Melt butter or heat a teaspoon full of oil in a non-stick frying pan.

4. Dunk a slice of bread in to the coconut milk mixture, both sides ensuring it soaks in a good amount. About 30-40 seconds should do the trick.

5. Place the bread in the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat for the rest.

6. Serve with any toppings you like. I love these with strawberries and maple syrup. You could also dust with a snowstorm of icing sugar.

Vegan Cardamom and Saffron French Toast

Enjoy you dessert for breakfast!

Love Sanjana




Ugandan Rolex: East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

I’ve always been slightly bitter that I could never appreciate the beauty of a breakfast burrito. Don’t worry, I most certainly haven’t fallen off the vegetarian bandwagon. For me, the idea of something so filling, flavoursome and not to mention, gigantic for breakfast makes me weak at the knees. I’m that person who gives breakfast burrito street stalls serious side eye as I pass by. Jealousy.

All of this was true up until the point of discovering the ‘Rolex’. Nope, we’re not chowing down on eye-wateringly expensive watches for breakfast; We’re eating spicy omelettes with onions, chillies, shredded cabbage and tomatoes, all wrapped in hot, flaky flatbread.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Found on the bustling, buzzing streets of Kampala, Masaka and dozens more towns and cities in Uganda, Rolex is one of the most delicious and underrated street foods you’ll come across in East Africa. A beautiful combination of textures and flavours, in a portable roll for eating on the go. It’s so popular, there’s an entire festival dedicated to it. Any festival dedicated to something that resembles a burrito is my kind of festival.

One day we’ll all go there and stuff our faces. Deal?

Like many words in the Swahili language, this dish is named after the way it sounds. The term ‘Rolex’ comes from ‘rolled eggs’. If you say it as quickly as you would eat it, it all makes perfect sense. This is what I love about listening to people speak in Swahili.

Growing up, much of the Gujarati we spoke at home was influenced by the Swahili language. It was woven so deep into our vocabulary that if you asked me now what the Gujarati words for everyday things are, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. That’s because I’ve been replacing them with the Swahili words my whole life.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

How cute is this little giraffe I bagged during my last trip to Mombasa?

In our family, we mash up Gujarati and Swahili words left, right and centre, creating a sort of pidgin Gujarati peppered with the Swahili nuances and colloquialisms our parents and grandparents once embraced.

Here are some of my favourite Gujarati-Swahili words that have made it into our everyday conversations:

Sufariyu (Bowl)
Fhangusa (To mop the floor)
Sahani (plate)
Pasi (Iron)
Kata (to cut) – we use this to refer to thorns on plants. For example, Bharti ben ne kejje ke laal phool nahi adhe, boh kata che.”

It works the other way, too. Gujarati words have been adopted by the Swahili language. The word, ‘goti’ meaning ‘knee’ has been adapted to ‘gotli’ to refer to the stone inside a mango, because it literally resembles a small kneecap. Gujarati convention simply inserts an ‘L’ to indicate the diminutive. So to Gujaratis in East Africa, ‘Gotli’ = mango stone/little knee.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

You’ll notice that a tonne of these hybrid words relate to eating and sleeping; the favourite pastimes of every Gujarati.

Let’s get cracking with the omelettes, shall we? Sorry, but I love a pun. My omelettes have been veganized using super-healthy tofu, blended up with chickpea flour, spices and then laced with veggies. The result is soft and light with just the right kind of wobble and texture you’d expect from a traditional omelette. They also hold their shape like a dream. Each vegan omelette is then wrapped in a Kenyan-style Chipati (flaky flatbread) and rolled into a cigar. You could also use a tortilla wrap or paratha if you like. I stuffed them with a rainbow of shredded vegetables which isn’t entirely traditional but it’s good for you and tastes divine.

Kenya-style chipati is a version of Indian chapattis. They’re made with plain flour and rolled thinly for a slightly chewier texture in comparison to Indian chappatis. Make them first and the omelettes second before rolling up the Rolex. The Kenya-style chipati are delicious with dishes like Sukuma Wiki and are perfect for rolling up with these tofu omelettes inside. If you’re not up for making your own chipatis, you could also use the frozen chappatis or paratha you get in your local Indian supermarket. I’ve tried this recipe with this brand before and it works a treat.

And there you have it – a crazy-delicious breakfast or brunch treat to go along with masala chai. Serve them with chips for a tea-time treat you’ll crave at least once a week.

P.S. Breakfast burritos, I’m over you.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Ugandan Rolex – East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside
Makes 6-8

Ingredients

For the vegan omelettes
500g medium firm tofu, pressed
80g chickpea flour
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black salt
2 green chillies, chopped finely
2 inch ginger, grated
Pinch of salt
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
100g cabbage, chopped finely and cooked
100ml aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas)

To roll inside the rolex
½ small red cabbage, shredded
200g spinach leaves
3 carrots, grated
100g radishes, sliced finely

Method

1. To make the omelettes: Blend the tofu until smooth.

2. Place the chickpea flour, cornflour, aquafaba, turmeric, black salt, green chillies, salt and ginger in a large bowl. Add the tofu and whisk until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.

3. Grease a non-stick frying pan with oil and heat the pan over a medium/low flame.

4. Place a ladle full of vegan omelette batter in to the pan. Scatter with chopped onion, cabbage and tomatoes. Cook until the top of the vegan omelette sets lightly but still has a little bit of a wobble. The base should be golden.

5. Flip and cook the other side for 20-30 seconds.

6. Place a chipati directly on top of the cooked vegan omelette while it’s still in the pan. Remove the chipati and omelette stack and place on a board. Fill with shredded red cabbage, spinach, carrots and radishes. Roll tightly and wrap in foil. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. This ensures the wrap doesn’t fall apart.

7. Repeat for the rest of the rolex.

For the Kenya-style Chipati

Ingredients
250g plain flour, plus more for rolling
40ml sunflower oil
125ml boiling water, or enough to make a soft dough

Method

1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

2. Pour the oil into the well and top up with the boiling water.

3. Use a spoon to mix the dough until it’s cool enough to handle. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and soft.

4. Make small ping pong ball-sized pieces with the dough. Keep some flour on a plate for rolling.

5. Get another plate lined with kitchen paper and keep your butter handy.

6. Place the cast iron hot plate or a frying pan on a medium heat. Leave it for 5 minutes.

7. Get your rolling board and rolling pin ready. Keep a wet sponge under the board so it doesn’t move.

8. To start rolling, take a piece of dough and roll it between your palms, flattening it slightly. Dip each side in flour.

9. Roll it once up and down with the rolling pin and then take a pinch of flour. Place it in the middle of the dough and then use your index fingers and thumb to pinch it closed, starting from the outer edges. This step isn’t something everyone traditionally does but is what my mum taught me for soft chipati that rise.

10. Next, flatten the dough using your palm and again, dip each side in flour. Now, begin rolling the dough in a circular motion, teasing the dough to move around with your rolling. If you can’t do this, pick the chipati up with one hand and move it around yourself. The aim is to create a perfectly round, even surface and a flatbread that’s around 2mm in thickness and 6-7-inches in diameter.

11. Place the chipati on the cast iron hotplate and cook until little bubbles appear on the surface – around 10 seconds. Flip it.

12. Cook it on the second side until small, even brown spots appear all over the bottom of the chipati – around 30 seconds. Flip it.

13. Now, this is the rising side. Don’t worry if your chipati don’t rise the first few times you try it. It comes with practice. They’ll still taste delicious. Cook until darker, less evenly-spread patches appear on the bottom. Around 15-20 seconds. Flip it and place it this side up on your kitchen paper-lined plate.

14. Repeat this process for all of your chipati until you have a stack.

Ugandan Rolex - East African Breakfast Wraps Rolled with a Vegan Omelette Inside

Love Sanjana

 

 

 

 

 

 




Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla-Cardamom Poached Pears

I like my pancakes fluffy, stacked high and drenched in syrup. If they just so happen to come with a side of spiced pears, I wouldn’t turn my nose up.

Aquafaba, or chickpea brine is the magical egg white alternative rocking the vegan food world. From Vegan Macarons, to Pavlova, Meringue Nests, Meringue Kisses and even vegan cheese, the discovery of aquafaba by Goose Wohlt opens up a whole lot of possibilities for eating the foods you love and sticking to a vegan diet.

As many of you already know, I love playing around with this ingredient, conjuring up my own takes on dishes I adore, and all the while veganizing them for my family, friends and you fantastic people.

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla and Cardamom Poached Pears

My favourite Sunday morning ritual when I have friends or family over is to start on a big batch of pancakes while everyone’s still asleep. Not only does it make the entire house smell like the inside of a bakery that just had a massive vanilla cake eruption, it also ensures I get a huge smile and hug from everyone when they come downstairs. And I love a good cuddle, me.

With the pears, these pancakes become extra special. The light, fluffy, crispy pancakes soak up all that vanilla and cardamom-spiced syrup like little sponge frisbees you’ll want to play with all day long. The pears offer a very welcome fresh, tender, and juicy texture that’s perfect for balancing out the fluffy richness of the pancakes.

This is my basic vegan aquafaba pancake recipe for sweet pancakes. If poached pears aren’t your thing, you could add blueberries, raspberries or chocolate chips (pop them on top of each scoop of pancake batter before the pancake has a chance to cook through on the pan).

A photo posted by SANJANA • K.O RASOI (@sanjanamodha) on

I’ve even adapted this recipe (skipped the sugar and vanilla) to make savoury pancakes with chillies, vegan cheese and corn. Weirdly, I like to top those with a drizzle of golden syrup, too. If you have a soft spot for sweet and salty combinations, I recommend it!

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla-Cardamom Poached Pears
Serves 4

For the vegan aquafaba pancakes:
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp fine salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
325ml almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml water from a can of chickpeas
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp groundnut oil, plus extra for the pan

For the pears:
4 Williams pears, slightly underripe
600ml water
200g golden syrup
100g golden caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise and scraped
6 whole cardamom pods, roughly crushed (leave the pod on)

Method

1. To make the poached pears: Place the sugar, golden syrup and water in a deep saucepan. Bring to the boil and add the cardamom pods and vanilla bean paste.

2. Peel the pears, keeping the stalk attached and slice them down the middle. Remove the pear cores.

3. Place the pears in the saucepan and ensure they’re completely submerged. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool completely in the syrup.

4. Once the pears have had a chance to cool completely, remove them from the syrup and bring the syrup back to the boil. Allow to simmer until it has reduced by half and is sticky and syrupy.

5. To make the vegan aquafaba pancakes: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

6. Mix together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, sugar, vanilla, and groundnut oil. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes and then whisk briefly.

7. In a large, clean bowl of a stand mixer, whip the chickpea liquid until stiff peaks form. You could also use an electric beater.

8. Add the wet almond milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. It’s important not to over mix this.

9. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whipped chickpea meringue into the batter until you have a light, foamy batter. Try your best not to deflate the mixture by mixing too much.

10. Heat up a large non-stick pan greased with groundnut oil. You want a low-medium heat. Not too high or the pancakes will burn before they get a chance to cook through.

11. Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the pancake batter on to the pan so that you get even-sized pancakes. Ensure you leave some space around each pancake as the mixture will spread slightly.

12. Allow to cook until small bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and the edges lose their raw shine, about 40 seconds.

13. Flip and cook briefly on the other side. Remove from the heat. Repeat to make the rest of the pancakes.

Serve with the poached pears and pour the extra syrup into a jug for drizzling over the pancakes like glorious waterfall. Dive in quickly and with purpose.

Fluffy Vegan Aquafaba Pancakes with Vanilla and Cardamom Poached Pears

What are your favourite pancake add-ins and toppings? Let me know in the comments below and let’s see if we can re-create some of them here.

Love Sanjana




Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Bring me a head of cauliflower over a bunch of flowers any day.

Yep, I’ve always been this easy to please. My first memories of cooking with cauliflower began at the supermarket where mum trained me in how to pick the freshest veggies for our homemade vegetarian feasts – all reliant on the senses. Think Karate Kid but with more legumes and fewer spinning leg kicks. “Look for the slimmest aubergines – they contain the fewest seeds”, “Always feel for the firmest okra – they’re the freshest”, “Shake the coconut and listen to hear if there’s water inside – the flesh will be more tender”. 20 years on and I remember these and hundreds more tips every time I pick fresh fruit and veg. I’m talking Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind but with zero algebra and loads of brassicas.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

My lesson on picking the perfect cauliflower? The florets should be firm, pure white and the leaves enveloped around the cauliflower head. Bonus points for a lack of baby caterpillars.
When I was growing up in Yorkshire, I had incredible fresh ingredients from the local farm shop on my doorstep (not literally. – we lived above a newsagents, not in a field). I didn’t know many other 13 year olds who preferred doing the food shop with mum over heading into town with friends, but that’s okay. Back then I truly believed I was a bit odd. So, as a 27 year old, I wish to give my teenage self some advice…

  • Don’t worry about being different to your friends, you’re you and that’s what makes you special.
  •  Your obsession with cooking isn’t weird. It’ll help you later in life.
  • Don’t be a jerk to your parents, they’re your number 1 fans and love you unconditionally.
  • Stop obsessing over what you think makes people ‘pretty’. You’re fine the way you are. One day you’ll find a husband who loves the whole you.
  • Your brother isn’t as evil as he seems.
  • Friends come and go. Just hold on to the ones you really like 😉
  • Mess with your hair as much as you want. Dye it purple and forget what other people say. Your genes are badass.
  • Find beauty in everything. It’s there, you just need to look hard enough.
  • Keep dancing in your bedroom every night.
  • You are not the only person in the world who feels ‘this way’.
  • Dedicate your time exploring the things you love. A career will follow if you show people how passionate you are.
  • Talent is overrated – work hard and be patient.
  • Gently let go of people who bring negativity into your life.
  • Be respectful of other people’s time.
  • Don’t focus too hard on big aspirations and goals. Pay attention to the smaller ones and bigger things will come.

Before I burst into a crappy rendition of Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen Song, I’d better get back to the recipe.

The cauliflower is first broken into small florets, scattered with a combination of turmeric, whole black peppercorns and cracked cardamom pods. After a liberal squeeze of lemon juice and a good rub, it’s roasted in a hot oven until it’s golden and tender. Once it comes out of the oven it’s succulent and smokey, with a wicked texture that’ll flabbergast all your meat-eating friends.

And the sauce? Let me tell you about the sauce. It’s rich, creamy and all kinds of comforting. A base of ground almonds blended with fresh ginger, bay leaves, cinnamon and chilli keep it fresh but with a gentle heat that tricks out the cauliflower and dances the Giddha on your taste buds.

A hailstorm of fresh, summer peas add a welcome sweetness and crunch. Bonus points if you strip the pods and throw those in too. I used to love sitting at the table on a Sunday afternoon chatting with mum, drinking chai and shelling fresh peas. She taught me how you should always remove the inner membrane of the pod if you want to use it in a dish. Once, when I was at university I forgot to do it and my Matar Bhaat left a lot to be desired. The cooked pods were like actual shards of glass. I won’t forget to do it again.

A video posted by SANJANA | K.O RASOI (@sanjanamodha) on

To make the perfect jeera (cumin) pilau, I usually start with a good-quality Basmati rice, cumin seeds and ghee. As this is a vegan meal, sub it for coconut oil. Actually, even if you’re not vegan, I recommend you try this coconut version – it’s seriously good and will make your house smell sublime too.

Perfect Indian Jeera Pilau Rice

The trick to perfect rice is patience. Wash it in cold water for a minute to remove excess starch (I use a fine-holed sieve). Next soak it in cold water to soften the grains – 20 minutes will do. Boil the kettle. Heat the oil or ghee in a large, non-stick pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the aromatics. Wait a sec and then add the rice. Make sure it’s well coated. Add double the volume of boiling water and some salt. Bring it to a boil and put the lid on. Turn the heat down very low and after 8 minutes, switch it off. Leave it with the lid on for 15-20 minutes. When you take the lid off you’ll have amazing jeera rice.

Garnish the Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower with a final flourish of chopped coriander and a drizzle of coconut milk for that luscious restaurant-style finish.

Serve with rice and hot chapattis.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Vegan ‘Butter’ Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Ingredients

For the cauliflower:
800g cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
Juice and zest of a lemon
3 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted

For the vegan makhani sauce:
50g coconut oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp ground almonds
6 small green chillies
2 tbsp freshly-grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
400g good-quality passata (sieved tomatoes)
2-3 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
100g coconut cream
Fresh coriander, chopped

You’ll also need: 300g fresh peas, shelled with the pod membranes removed (take a look at my instructions and Instagram video above if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. Place the cauliflower in a large roasting tray. In a bowl, combine the coconut oil, turmeric, black peppercorns, crushed cardamom pods, salt, lemon juice and zest. Drizzle the mixture over the cauliflower and use your clean hands to give it a good rub.

3. Roast the cauliflower for 25 minutes.

4. In the meantime, make the sauce. Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy based non-stick pan. Add the cinnamon, green chillies, garlic, ginger, ground almonds and bay leaves. Sauté for a minute.

5. Next, add the passata, turmeric, ground coriander, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil. Put the lid on and allow to simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

6. Take the cauliflower out of the oven.

7. Remove the lid from the sauce pan and stir. Remove the peppercorns and cardamom pods from the cauliflower and add it to the simmered sauce.

8. Place the sauce in a blender along with the coconut cream and blitz for a minute or two until it’s silky smooth.

9. Return the sauce to the pan and add in the peas and cauliflower. Stir and place the lid back on. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Ladle into a big serving bowl. Garnish with chopped coriander and a drizzle of coconut milk.

Serve with jeera pilau and chapattis.

Perfect Jeera Pilau

Ingredients

185g good-quality Basmati rice (I use Golden Sela)
470g boiling water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
8-10 fresh curry leaves
2-3 whole cloves

Method

1. Wash the rice with cold water in a fine-holed sieve for a minute.

2. Soak the rice in cold water for 20-30 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the cumin seeds, cloves and curry leaves. Sauté for a moment. They will snap and crackle.

4. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Stir gently to coat all the grains.

5. Add the boiling water and bring the pan to the boil. Put the lid on and turn the heat right down. Simmer for 8 minutes.

6. After 8 minutes, switch the heat off and leave the rice to stand, undisturbed for 20 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and marvel at your perfect rice. All that’s left to do is fluff up the grains with a fork, serve and demolish.

Vegan 'Butter' Cauliflower and Perfect Jeera Pilau

Love Sanjana

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Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

One of my favourite weeknight dinners is stir-fried tofu with colourful veggies, noodles and heaps of chilli. This is a twist on Chilli Paneer – that Indian vegetarian restaurant favourite that has found its way onto wedding menus and dinner tables at home. As much as I love paneer, I find it a little too heavy to have with noodles or rice – this is where tofu noodle bowls come to the rescue.

They might look quite ordinary but the sauce packs a real punch, seasoning the golden tofu and noodles perfectly. It’s made using large red chillies, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce, star anise and brown sugar. A combo of ingredients I always have in the house. I throw in any vegetables I have in the fridge – usually a mix of broccoli, mushrooms, beansprouts, mange tout or French beans.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

My special touch to these is to add crispy okra strips and fried Thai basil leaves. They add the most beautiful crunch and are a delicious way of getting your okra fix as part of a dish that’s not curry. To make them, slice okra into long, thin strips, toss in a little cornflour and allow to sit for five minutes. Plunge them into hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crispy and slightly golden. Try not to move them too much in the first minute to give the cornflour time to set on the okra.

To achieve a pretty red colour, I add in a couple of tablespoons of Sriracha (Thai chilli sauce made with dried red chillies and garlic). If you haven’t tried it before – where have you been? It’s the ultimate intense chilli sauce for adding instant flavour. I add it to mac and cheese, toasties, masala chips and even potato curry. It’s almost like Gujarati lasan vari chutney but in sauce form; A squidge of it in plain natural yoghurt will give you the fastest ever sauce for bhajia and samosa chaat. You can buy it in the Asian section of most supermarkets now. Look for the squeezy bottle with a rooster on the front. Even my parents, who are life-long advocates of Tabasco now prefer it.

I used Shanghai noodles here but you could just as easily use rice noodles, udon or even fresh ramen noodles. If noodles aren’t your thing, skip them and serve the stir-fried tofu and veggies with steamed jasmine rice. Garnish with the fried okra and Thai basil, then devour.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Okra

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the chilli paste:
1 large red chilli
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1-inch piece ginger, peeled
3 large spring onions, trimmed and quartered
3 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice and zest 1 lime

For the stir fry:
1 tbsp oil
1 star anise
100g broccoli florets
Handful mushrooms, sliced
40g mange tout
50g beansprouts
1 large red chilli
4 tbsp light soy sauce
200g golden tofu puffs
3 tbsp Sriracha
200g cooked noodles
Salt to taste

For the crispy okra:
100g okra, sliced into long thin strips
1 tsp cornflour

Method

1. First make the crispy okra and thai basil. Cut the okra into long, thing strips, place onto a plate and dust over the cornflour. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a pan. Once hot, turn the heat down and very carefully add in the Thai basil. It will crackle and spit in the first 30 seconds so stand right back. Be super careful even once it stops crackling. Fry until deep green and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place onto a place lined with kitchen paper.

3. Next, turn the heat up on the oil again and add in the okra. Don’t move them around in the first minute in order to let the cornflour set. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove and place onto the kitchen paper with the Thai basil. Set aside.

4. Blend together all the ingredients for the chilli paste.

5. Heat the oil in the wok, add the chilli paste and star anise. Cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.

6. Add in the broccoli, soy sauce and extra Sriracha. Next, add the rest of the vegetables except the beansprouts and chilli. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes on a high heat. Add the tofu puffs and sauté for another few minutes, adding a little water if it seems dry.

7. Add the cooked noodles, beansprouts and chilli, stirring to combine. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes and remove from the heat.

8. Serve immediately, topped with crispy okra and Thai basil.

Chilli-Garlic Tofu Noodle Bowls with Crispy Fried Okra

Love Sanjana




Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

In my book, anything served on a stick is a winner. It seals the deal if what’s on the stick is smothered in a charred tandoori paste, restaurant style.

Here’s my take on a British-‘Indian’ dish. It’s loaded with homemade tandoori spices, garlic, lemon, ground almonds and coconut cream. The best thing about it is that it’s 100% vegan. That’s got to get me extra brownie points, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s not an ‘authentic Indian recipe’ and have heard far too many times, ‘Ask any Indian what tikka masala is and they won’t know.’ To this I say, ‘Whatevs’. For me, this started out as a guilty pleasure dish I’ve grown to love and adapt to my own tastes, incorporating my love for tandoori dishes. I’ve gotten over it and I promise once you’ve tried it yourself, you will too!

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

I’ve been obsessed with tofu puffs for as long as I can remember. I like to think of them as sailboats for any sauce or spice you add. They soak in flavours like there’s no tomorrow and you don’t have to marinate them for hours. A lot of the time, we make our weeknight stir fries in a matter of minutes and thanks to these spongy little fellas, they’re filling and seriously flavoursome. In this recipe, tofu puffs the perfect carriers for my homemade tandoori paste and creamy vegan tikka masala sauce. If you like a mild curry that still packs a punch in terms of being aromatic, this one’s for you.

As compromised as I feel for not owning my own tandoor (I keep telling myself it will happen one day), this works just as well in the oven. Whack the temperature up as high as it goes and cook your skewers for about 8-10 minutes or until slightly charred. It’s also worth noting that while it’s not exactly authentic to add tomato puree to a tandoori masala paste, I do because I don’t like adding red food colouring. It’s tandoori paste, not red velvet cake. However, if you don’t like tomatoes, go ahead and add some red food colouring. This is your dish.

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

If you can’t get tofu puffs (I get mine from our local Chinese supermarket), try this with cooked cauliflower florets, baby potatoes, paneer, mushrooms, idli pieces or anything else that will hold its own on a skewer. If you still want to use tofu but can’t get the puffed kind, try using firm tofu, weighted and pressed for a few hours to remove excess water, cubed and lightly pan-fried. I’m afraid that medium or silken tofu won’t cut it on the kebab skewer for this recipe.

Also, an FYI that I used metal kebab skewers – they get really hot so be careful if you’re using them too. If you can only get wooden skewers, soak them in cold water overnight to ensure they don’t burn in the oven.

Serve with flaky paratha, rice and lime wedges. It’s also delicious with garlic and coriander naan.

Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)Tandoori Tofu Tikka Masala (Vegan)

Serves 4

Ingredients

300g tofu puffs
Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
Lime or lemon wedges, to garnish
Paratha or naan, to serve
Rice, to serve

For the homemade tandoori paste:
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
8 black peppercorns
2 dried red chillies (or fresh if you like)
2 inch stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 star anise
4 cloves
Seeds of 4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom (optional)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
2 tbsp coconut cream
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice

For the sauce:
1 tbsp oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 red chillies, chopped (or to taste)
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
400g passata
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp ground almonds
2 tsp ground green cardamom seeds
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
400ml coconut milk
1 tsp kasoori methi (optional)
2 tbsp light brown sugar
Salt, to taste

Method

1. To make the tandoori paste, heat a dry frying pan until hot. Add all the spices apart from the coconut cream, lemon juice, salt and concentrated tomato puree. Toast until aromatic, a couple of minutes but don’t leave it unattended because it can burn very easily.

2. Place all the spices in a high-powered blender or coffee grinder. I use my NutriBullet. Once ground to a fine powder, stir in the lemon juice, coconut cream, tomato puree and salt.

3. Add the tofu puffs to the paste and give them a good mix, taking care not to break the tofu pieces up. Set aside while you make the vegan tikka masala sauce.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

5. To make the vegan tikka masala sauce, heat the oil in a medium, non-stick pan. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies. Sauté for a few moments before adding the concentrated tomato puree. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat, stirring all the time. Add the passata, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Give it a good whisk, cover and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.

6. Lightly grease a non-stick oven tray. Skewer the tofu pieces onto your kebab sticks. Arrange on the baking tray and pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes, turning them halfway to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven.

7. Serve immediately, bringing the kebabs and sauce to the table, letting everyone mix their own sauce and tofu pieces for a bit of fun and drama. Garnish with chopped coriander, lime or lemon wedges and extra coconut cream. Serve with jalebi paratha or garlic and coriander naan and rice.

Love Sanjana

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Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

During my lifetime, I’ve been lucky enough to be extremely close to so many wonderful food cultures. The Gujarati cuisine made by my mother’s hands was the stuff that put the skin on my bones, next were my dad’s favourite East African dishes inspired by his childhood in Mombasa.

Later came various recipes from other parts of India I couldn’t help but experiment with once I got a taste for cooking. Running through it all the while is the amazing food culture of Britain – a diverse mix of true classics like Cornish pasties and Yorkshire puddings, to dishes from international cuisines we’ve somehow adopted. There’s nothing quite like eating Taiwanese Bao in Kings Cross or Vietnamese Summer Rolls in Shoreditch for lunch and going home to true Gujarati daal-bhaat, shaak and rotli, followed by Mombasa-style mogo chips as a cheeky midnight snack.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

See, I told you… totally spoilt.

These little packed potatoes are a take on the snacks loved by Asian people all over East Africa. Here, I’ve used British New Potatoes sandwiched together with a spicy chilli, coriander and lemon mixture. They’re deep fried, which is not something I always do but is absolutely necessary for this recipe (please don’t try to bake them in the oven as the batter will just fall off). Just do an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill tomorrow.

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

I’m serving them with my favourite chutney – a blend of coriander, coconut and heaps of lemon, sugar and salt. It will set your taste buds alight, not with heat but sheer joy. Purists, omit the coriander as they do in Kenya but it’s so easy to get hold of here and really takes the flavours to the next level. I really recommend it.

Serve in paper cones or on a sharing platter as I’ve done here. I love food you can put into the middle of the table for everyone to dig in. A cold beer is the perfect pairing but then again, when isn’t it?

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney

Mini Kenya-Style Packed Potatoes with Coconut and Coriander Chutney
Makes 18-20

Ingredients

1.5kg baby new potatoes, skin on, boiled and cooled
Sunflower oil, to deep fry

For the filling:
150g of the boiled potatoes, roughly mashed
100g finely-chopped coriander
1 ½ tbsp red Kashmiri chilli powder
1 large clove garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 tsp salt

For the batter:
100g plain flour
200g chickpea flour
1 tsp coarse semolina
Juice of one lemon
400ml cold sparkling water
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt

For the coconut and coriander chutney:
150g coriander
4 green chillies
100g unsweetened desiccated coconut
100g Greek yohgurt
Juice and zest for 2 lemons
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Method

1. To make the filling, combine all of the ingredients to make a sticky paste. If it doesn’t combine to make a paste, give it a very short pulse in a food processor.

2. Halve each of the cooked and cooled baby new potatoes and sandwich the two pieces together with the paste. Repeat for all of them and place them in the fridge while you make the batter.

3. To make the batter, combine all the dry ingredients and give them a quick whisk to remove any big lumps. Add the sparkling water and whisk to make a smooth batter.

4. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan or wok until it reaches 180C or until a piece of bread turns brown in 60 seconds.

5. Take one of the potatoes, quickly dip it in the batter until it’s coated all over, then very gently place it in the oil. Repeat with a couple more, taking care not to overcrowd the pan as this will bring the temperature of the oil right down.

6. Allow to cook, turning in the oil until golden all over. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels. Repeat for all of the potatoes.

7. To make the chutney, combine the coriander, chillies, lemon juice and zest, salt, sugar and coconut in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add the yoghurt and pulse quickly. Pour into a serving bowl.

8. Serve the packed potatoes alongside the coconut and coriander chutney, lemon wedges and cold beer. If you can get your hands on Tusker, go for that.

Love Sanjana




Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

I’m so obsessed with vegan meringue right now. I never thought that it would be possible to create light, fluffy whipped meringue that becomes so beautiful and melt-in-the-mouth after a couple of very patient hours in the oven.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

You might have already seen my previous recipe for Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests which I did a YouTube video for and still, I’m raving about the endless possibilities aqua faba or ‘bean water’ holds for the future of vegan baking. No longer do I waste and drain away the water from cans of chickpeas, butter beans and pinto beans. Rather, I save them and whip them in to the fluffiest meringue peaks you’ve ever seen.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Just like egg whites, this bean water is packed with protein and when it’s whipped with sugar, becomes glossier than that expensive French manicure you just got.

It’s this that makes glorious desserts like pavlova, eton mess and meringue cakes possible and it’s this that’s lit me up from inside. I’m so hungry to experiment with magic aqua faba more and I can’t wait to share more of these vegan-friendly creations with you.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

This recipe is unbelievably basic but the results are slap-you-in-the-face pretty. I promise, everyone will be asking how you did it. I did toy with the idea of using fresh fruit to create the stripes but aqua faba meringue can be quite temperamental. Any trace of grease, oil, excess water or fat will very quickly deflate the mixture and all those beautiful air bubbles will be gone.

Also, I’ve had lots of comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about whether you can taste the chickpeas in the end product. The short answer is no. After adding vanilla, natural fruit extracts and baking for over 2 hours, there’s no trace of chickpea flavour.

If you’re looking to try it with fresh fruit, I’d suggest really blending it to a very smooth puree, boiling with a little sugar and reducing right down so the water content is minimal. Cool it completely before using.

I opted to use natural concentrated mango and raspberry extracts, which you can buy online from Amazon. The flavour they give these otherwise very simple vanilla meringues is so incredibly intense.

Stick with me for more vegan meringue experiments.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin chickpeas in unsalted water, drained and the liquids reserved
140g icing sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped

For the raspberry stripe:
Wilton gel food colouring in rose
2 drops vegan raspberry extract

For the mango stripe:
Wilton gel food colouring in lemon yellow
2 drops vegan mango extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 100C. Line three large baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

3. Pour the chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil will cause your meringue to deflate.

4. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat. During this time, add the cream of tartar and vanilla.

5. In a small bowl, add a teaspoon of the lemon yellow gel food colouring and two drops of vegan mango extract. Stir to combine. Repeat in a separate bowl for the rose colouring and raspberry extract.

6. Fit a large piping bag with a large round tipped piping nozzle. Use the back of a teaspoon to stripe the two colours lengthways all the way up inside the piping bag but not right to the top – leave at least 2 inches at the top free of any colour. Use two different spoons to keep the colours separate. I did three stripes of each colour.

7. Place the bag inside a large mug and fold down the top slightly. Fill your piping bag with half the meringue mixture and holding the nozzle straight, pipe 1 ½-inch chubby meringues, pulling away quickly when you get to the top to achieve those cute little peaks. Leave a bit of space around each meringue to ensure they don’t touch in the oven. I have a quick video for this on Instagram. I’m @korasoi.

8. Wash out your bag and repeat this process for the remaining meringue mixture.

9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 2 ½ hours or until the meringues are totally dry to the touch and come away from the baking paper easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

10. Serve with your favourite vegan ice cream, on top of cakes, or dip the bottoms in melted vegan chocolate and crushed freeze-dried raspberries or chopped nuts. You can also serve them with fresh raspberries, mango slices and whipped coconut cream, but assemble this right before you want to eat or the meringues are likely to dissolve.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Go on, experiment with your favourite flavours and colours. I’d love to see where your imagination takes you.

Love Sanjana




Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

I’m obsessed with brownies; rich, chocolatey, fudgy, incredible brownies. I’ve also got a soft spot for peanut butter and in case you hadn’t noticed, I cannot possibly go a day without eating cardamom.

It’s not often I go in to the kitchen completely sure of what I’m going to produce. I’ll have something in the fridge or cupboard I know I want, then I forage about until I find the perfect partners for what I fancy and they could be totally bizarre combinations I’ve never tried before.

If I’ve learned anything from all my years of experimental cooking is that you have to be fearless. FEARLESS. Yeah sure, sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan but that’s what takeaway pizza is there for. I’ve rescued even the most disastrous of dinners and 98% of the time, the antidote consists of lemon, salt and sugar. They are like magic for repairing even the spiciest of curries.

Baking is different. As sweet as it can be, baking can also be very cruel – especially eggless and vegan baking. I’ve had more disasters than successes and too many slabs of sunken cakes and burst macarons to count on two hands, presuming I had the arms of the goddess Laxmi. Having said this, I’ve made countless batches of eggless and vegan brownies over the years… It’s finally safe to say I think I’ve nailed it.

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

So when I wandered in to the kitchen on this particular day, I was fully prepared for what was going to happen and even though I was about to step in to that baking danger zone, I was f e a r l e s s.

What was about to happen was something truly beautiful, btw. It was the coming together of super-moist dark chocolate heaven, creamy-salty peanut butter and the deeply-aromatic flavours of cardamom which I cannot imagine life without.

Blended black beans give these brownies an incredible texture and allow them to retain even more moisture, which produce perfect brownies without the need for eggs, or any dairy products. This makes these brownies 100% vegan and egg free. What could be better?

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies

Vegan Peanut Butter and Cardamom Brownies
Makes 18-20 brownies

Ingredients

For the Brownie Batter:

250g plain flour
60g good-quality cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate)
40g black beans, drained, rinsed and blended until smooth
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
150g light brown sugar
100ml groundnut or sunflower oil
320ml soy milk (or regular full-fat milk for a non-vegan brownie)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the Peanut Butter and Cardamom Swirl:

100g crunchy peanut butter (you can use smooth if you prefer)
50g non-dairy spread such as Pure (if you’re not vegan, use unsalted butter – I’ve tried both ways)
50g light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F.

2. Line a 34 x 20 x 3cm H. (13 1⁄2″ x 8″ x 1″) brownie tin with greaseproof paper and oil. I add an extra long sheet of greaseproof paper lengthways to make handles for easy lifting out later. It really makes it much easier to remove from the pan.

3. To make the peanut butter and cardamom swirl, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Place in the fridge until later.

4. To make the brownie batter, sift together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

5. Whisk together all the wet ingredients including the bean paste and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Whisk again.

6. Gradually add the dry brownie batter ingredients in to the wet and whisk briefly until well combined. It’s really important not to over beat the batter.

7. Pour the batter in to your prepared brownie tin and smooth out the top. Next text your peanut butter swirl mixture from the fridge, give it a quick beat and dollop teaspoon-sized nuggets on top of the brownie batter. Use a butter knife or spoon to swirl it through.

8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. It will still be a bit wobbly but this is good. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the tray to loosen up any brownie stuck to the edges. Using the clever little handles you made with greaseproof paper earlier, carefully lift the brownie out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

9. Slice in to squares or rectangles. Enjoy with a cold glass of almond or hazelnut milk.

Love Sanjana