Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Savoury Spinach Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

I am, generally speaking, a terrible pancake maker. The whole business of flipping the floppy thing over usually ends up in splitting and half-cooking and panicking and a plate of broken, semi-undercooked, semi-burnt pieces of something that had the potential to be a pancake.

Hence after a few attempts to make the lovely-sounding socca, I decided I was wasting ingredients and time. Thin, elegant pancakes will always be a mystery to me. Squat little fat ones, on the other hand?

Yep, they're more my style. This recipe is dead easy, delicious, and even the worst pancake-makers will master the technique in five seconds flat.

It's also versatile - feel free to change up the spices and add-ins! I rarely make this the same way twice ;)

Spinach Pancakes (Gluten-Free)

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
Ingredients (Serves 2)
  • 1 cup gram flour (also known as chickpea, besan, or garbanzo for the US folk) 
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (Optional, can replace with chopped fresh chilli or omit altogether)
  • 1/2 cup freshly boiled water
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 handfuls spinach, torn
1. In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, add wet, and mix to form a sticky batter.
2. Mix in spinach and leave to rest for 5-10 mins.
3. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat.
4. Place the batter into the frying pan in dollops of roughly 1 heaped tablespoon, leaving room between each pancake. You may need to do this in 2-3 batches.
5. When the underside has browned (a minute or two) flip each lump of batter and flatten immediately with the spatula into a pancake-like shape. (I find its easier to flip them using 2 spatulas instead of just one.)
6. Fry until both sides are nicely browned, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen roll (to soak up excess oil.)
7. Serve with salad, hummus, or whatever you like! Enjoy.
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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Banana Breakfast Dahl

It's National Vegetarian Week, and to celebrate, I'm on holiday over at Natalie Tamara's wonderful blog The Tofu Diaries. Come join me for this recipe!:D

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mango Lassi

It's really rare that I look at a menu and think; "Damn! I can't have that!" Usually if there's something I want but can't have, my response is an indifferent "Meh"; it's not something I want THAT badly, or couldn't make an equally good version of at home.

But last week, we were in an Indian restaurant, and I was vaguely looking over the drinks menu and for a second got excited. I'd already exclaimed out loud; "They do lassis!" before I remembered. Yogurt. Argh.

Yogurt is the one and only item for which, since becoming vegan, I've been unable to find a truly satisfactory substitute. I'm not talking flavoured yogurts here, which are easier to mimic, I'm talking natural, tart yogurt that can go with anything. Soy yogurt, even Sojade, still tastes of... well, soy. It works as a cooler to spicy foods, making it generally an acceptable substitute, but it can't hold up against dairy as a solo performer. I couldn't dump it in a bowl and eat it with fruit. Coconut yogurt, on the other hand, which many say is the best, is so expensive that I've never tried it... And almond yogurt isn't available in the UK.

I once found a mango "lassi" in a shop made mostly of cashews, sweetened with dates, got excited, and was completely let down. It was bitty and gritty, barely mango-y, thick and boring rather than creamy and decadent. Since it was a "health" food it was expensive as well - it wasn't worth a penny. So I assumed lassis were a lost cause.

But then I was inspired to I try making my own. I used none of the above yogurt alternatives - instead I turned to the old faithful ingredient in vegan desert-making that is silken tofu. And I'm so glad I did. This came out perfect on the first try, and it is perfection - no different to the creamy, sweet, desert-like beverage I occasionally poured down my throat in Indian restaurants.

Pair it with your favourite spicy foods, and sink into dairy-free yogurt bliss.

UK Folk: Anyone else bugged (no pun intended) by the whole ban on imports thing?

My partner only recently tried a plain mango for the first time (Brazillian.) He then went around claiming to be a mango devotee and making a huge show of "mmm"-ing and "ahh"-ing over the regular mangoes he bought.

I scoffed at his amateurism. He might as well have been worshipping a tomato.

So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I realised that the crates of Alphonso weren't just late, but completely cancelled. I always look forward to them in the summer, and don't fully understand what the issue was - fruit flies?? They're not exactly a new species. Haven't they been hanging around on mango imports for years?

Non-UK Folk: If you have access to Alphonsos, please eat a crate of them on my behalf.

Mango Lassi (Vegan)

by Shonalika Tilak

Ingredients (2 large servings)

  • 1 Mango
  • 1 package silken tofu
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Sweetener (Amount will vary dependent upon your tastebuds and the ripeness of the mango. I found 2 tsbsp coconut sugar for the whole recipe to be perfect, but most people will like it sweeter.)
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • Optional: Ground cardamom, a few saffron strands, more salt to taste


1. If using an immersion blender, blend half the milk with the other ingredients, then stir in the rest of the milk. If using any other kind of blender/food processor, just chuck everything in and blend!

2. Pour into glasses and serve. (Or, if you're patient enough, leave in the fridge to chill and get even thicker.)

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Dahl

Update: The blog now has a Facebook page! Find it here:)

This may sound strange to a lot of people, but I've never had real pumpkin pie! It's not really a "thing" in the UK - I was only aware of it from vague references from American cartoons and tv shows. Then I got into the world of internet food blogs, and found myself recreating the popular desert in various forms; cookies, puddings, and most importantly of all, porridge. I may never have had real pumpkin pie but I've got to say, this porridge is so delicious that I don't feel any particular need to. (My stomach probably wouldn't agree with all that sugar anyway:/) It's very filling, spiced, sweet, and goes well with a whole variety of toppings to suit however you're feeling, or whatever you have to hand.

You can use either sweet potato or squash for this; I tend to find that squash will require more sweetener whilst sweet potato usually doesn't. As for toppings, I used pecans and raisins this time, but my favourite combination is pecans and almonds with chopped dates. Shredded coconut would be lovely too!

Pumpkin Pie Dahl

by Shonalika Tilak
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
Ingredients (1 serving)
  • 1/4 cup dry red split lentils
  • 1/4 cup water (freshly boiled from a kettle will increase cooking speed)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 small cooked sweet potato, or equal amount squash/pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp butter-style spread
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • Sweetener, to taste (I use Suma fruit spread - maple syrup would also be good here!)
  • Rasins and pecans, or any other toppings of choice!
1. Measure out lentils and rinse very thoroughly. (This can be easily done in the cooking pot itself.)
2. Add water and milk and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and keep partially covered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add squash/potato, vanilla, spices and salt. Stir, then sweeten to taste.
4. Throw into a bowl, cover with your favourite toppings and enjoy.
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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Tempeh Bolognese with Courgette Spaghetti

Good lord, this post has no pulses involved! And its my first savoury post! And its not even breakfast dahl! It's not even breakfast! (Well, unless you want to eat this for breakfast...?)

I've been getting rather into tempeh lately - its quite an interesting little block of fermented soybean produce. Unlike tofu, which tends to take on the flavours of whatever you cook it in, tempeh has its own distinct, slightly nutty flavour. 

I love a good vegetarian bolognese with courgette spaghetti, and this tempeh did not disappoint as the "meat" of the recipe. It does, however, taste better and better the longer it sits and marinades in the juices surrounding it, so if you're making this for yourself, make a nice big batch so you've got leftovers.

For the "spaghetti," I just took a courgette and slid it lengthways along a cheese grater. Gets the job done in a matter of seconds - I used to make ribbons with a potato peeler, don't know what I was thinking, it took forever! Alternatively, you can cook the spaghetti by sautéing it gently in oil for a few minutes. Of course, you can use any spaghetti you like. If you don't like/have tempeh, this recipe will also work with firm tofu, or any other kind of mock meat you prefer - and feel free to mix up the veggies to suit whatever you have on hand! This is a very versatile recipe:)

Tempeh Bolognese

by Shonalika Tilak

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 20-30 mins

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 onion, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4-5 medium mushrooms (I used chestnut)
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 chili, chopped, seeds removed (or left in if you like a bit of heat)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Basil and thyme (I only used dried because they were all I had to hand - use fresh for best results!)


1. Saute onion for a minute or so, until translucent.

2. Add other veg and cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add tempeh and herbs, and follow with red wine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then add tomatoes and nutritional yeast, and bring to boil.

4. Partially cover and lower to a simmer for 15-20 mins.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with more fresh basil, and serve over spaghetti or pasta of choice!

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