This recipe is from season by Nik Sharma, ‘I am an immigrant and I tell my story through food’.
This is a beautiful cookbook and a tail of a life and culinary journey through India and America. It is a book that tells the tale of the inherent tension between originality and origin. It is the familiar story of how food becomes a tool of acclimatization and acceptance and how on that journey it is a friend and teacher in times of discomfort and in finding yourself once again.
I love this cookbook not only for its beautiful pictures and recipes, but for the familiar story it tells, of getting to know yourself through food. For immigrants, food can represent heritage, home and your life journey. When you doing know where you are or who you are, your nostalgic dishes will give you back your pathway and identity. From the porridge you ate as a child with your grandma, or the celebratory dish that was always placed center stage at birthdays, food can take you back in time and give you comfort as you make your journey far away from the place you once started.
This recipe is a tantalizing combination of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Make it to snack on or to serve to guests.
Nuts are a rich source of protein, omega-3 fatty acid and dietary fiber.
- 1 tbsp. unsalted vegan butter, melted
- 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- 2 tsp. coconut sugar
- ½ tsp. pomegranate powder
- ½ tsp. sumac
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 cup raw cashews
- ½ cup raw shelled pistachios
- ½ cup halved walnuts
- Preheat the oven to c. 300f
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter, pomegranate molasses, sugar, pomegranate powder, sumac, cayenne and salt to form a smooth paste
- Fold in the nuts and stir to make sure there is an even coat
- Transfer to the baking sheet and spread out
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly brown
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool before serving
- If not using immediately, cool and keep in an airtight glass jar
‘The mind is like Tofu. It tastes like whatever you marinate it in’.
This is a beautiful recipe and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Tofu. My beautiful cousin, Sabrina, bought me a selection of spices and it came with some suggested recipes.
The key here is to make sure you get as much water out of the tofu as possible. The resulting dish is a wonderful combination of the char from the tofu, the salty sweet umami from the miso jam and the acid and spice from the spice mix. I have given a suggestion for if you don’t have Edo spice, but you can just sprinkle anything you have or that suits your palate, making it your own recipe.
Mr. B doesn’t like Tofu or miso, so this is recipe is just for me.
- 12oz block of firm tofu
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 tbsp. mirin
- 2 tbsp. mushroom powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 batch miso jam
- 2 spring onions/scallions (for garnish)
- 1 tbsp. mirin
- 2 tbsp. sake
- 6 tbsp. sweet white miso
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Drain the tofu, then cut it like a loaf of bread into six, ¾ inch slabs
- Arrange the tofu on a single layer on a cloth, lay more towels on top and weigh down to squeeze out as much water as possible
- Let stand for at least 20 minutes
- In the meantime, make the marinade by whisking oil, mirin, shitake powder, ginger and a pinch of salt. It will be spreadable but thick
- Transfer the tofu slabs to a plate and arrange them in a single layer. Brush the tops with the marinade, then flip and cover the other side. Let stand for 30 minutes
- During this time make the jam but whisking the ingredients together over a low heat, whisking until it is firm enough to hold a soft peak. Immediately take the jam off the heat and place in a bowl to make sure it doesn’t continue to cook
- Heat a non-stick pan, add the remaining oil. Add the tofu slabs and pan fry under nicely browned on all sides
- Transfer tofu to a serving plate
- Spread a dollop of miso jam on top of each slab, sprinkle the mixed spice* on top and a few bits of scallion.
*If you don’t have Edo Spice – a mix of 7 spices from Japan, add sesame seeds, chili flakes and some lemon zest
The pioppino mushroom is not only known for its delicious and earthy taste and great texture but also pack a series nutritional punch, providing a great source of vitamin D and boasting beneficial bacteria great for improving digestion and overall health. These mushrooms have a valuable amount of bioactive metabolites. These metabolites include agrocybenine with anti fungal properties, Cylindan which has anti-cancer properties and indole derivatives which are responsible for hunting down free radicals. The Pioppino mushroom is also known for slowing down the effects of osteoporosis. MIND BLOWN!
I found these at the farmers market and since I had never seen them before I thought I pick some up. I asked the lady what to do with them and she said just chop the whole thing up including the stalk and saute them with some shallots. So that is exactly what I did. I served these with some ancient grain gluten free pasta and topped with a little vegan parmesan.
‘Bellissimo’ said Mr. B and I agreed.
- 150g of gluten free pasta
- 400g Pioppini Mushrooms
- ½ cup shallots, sliced
- 10g vegan butter
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Vegan parmesan (optional)
- Clean and cut the mushrooms. I cut 2cm off the bottom and chop the stalks into rounds and slice the heads
- Warm the oil in a skillet and add the onions, cook until starting to brown
- Add the mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes on high heat
- Whilst cooking the mushrooms, cook the pasta
- Drain the pasta and add to the mushrooms, add the butter, salt and pepper
- Mix well and serve hot with optional vegan parmesan
My mum used to serve Peking Duck as an intermediary course at her amazing dinner parties. I remember our not so large living room being filled with conversation and laughter as I would go around serve the canapes and my brother would help top up the drinks. My mum was really in her element in those situations, entertaining and listening out for the comments and compliments on the food. I don’t think I have ever seen her happier.
Of course, as many of you know, I try and replicate this nostalgia through my own dinner parties with just an eye to my own plant-based interpretations.
‘Food has no soul, you as a cook must bring soul to the recipe’
Peking Duck also featured heavily in our celebrations, as we would always congregate at our local Chinese restaurant to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. This is a theme for Indian families, and I have never worked out why, apart from perhaps the ability to accommodate large parties and the willingness to supply chopped up chilis to us in abundance.
My brother loves this dish so much that it is also his comfort food at home and so this recipe is dedicated to him. It is my way of showing him that I care, taking his favourite dish and making it heart healthy so he can eat it at will and see it as a healthy snack versus an unhealthy treat. Dev, this recipe is from my heart to yours, in recognition of our memories and the nostalgia we share.
- 2 cans of jackfruit
- 3 tsp. tamari
- 3 tbsp. maple syrup
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- ½ cucumber, cut into strips
- 8-10 Chinese pancakes
- 150ml hoisin sauce
- Heat the grill on high
- Drain the jackfruit and pat dry
- Combine the tamari, maple syrup, coriander, pepper and sesame oil
- Coat the jackfruit in the mixture and place under the grill
- Grill for 10 minutes, turning 2/3 times until crispy
- Warm the pancakes, serve with the cucumber, spring onion and hoisin sauce
‘People need to understand the different between wants and needs, I want abs, but I need tacos’
…. with this recipe you can have both!
My American husband likes Brussel Sprouts and Tacos, two popular ingredients in the USA, but not two that you normally see together. Given our plant-based diet at home however, I am always trying to find new and innovative recipes and nearly always have these two ingredients in the fridge.
This is a great recipe for brussel sprouts if you want them on their own or as a side. I love them in a taco as they are a little crunchy from the char, a little sweet from the honey balsamic and a little spicy from the red pepper flakes.
- 5 Ibs. brussel sprouts
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- Pinch red chilli flakes
- Corn Tortillas
- Preheat oven to 425c
- Line a baking tray
- Trim the brussel sprouts and cut the bottom off. Cut in half.
- In a large bowl, toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper
- Roast until a little charred
- Mix the balsamic, honey and a pinch of red pepper
- Warm the tortillas, place some of the sprouts on and drizzle the honey balsamic on top
- Serve warm
‘Nature alone is an antique, and the oldest art a mushroom’ – Thomas Carlyle
I love this dish so much that whilst I am writing this, I am making another batch
It made my life so much easier this week as I started to commute and needed a nourishing, light meal that took 10 minutes to make when I got home
The first day I ate the broth on its own, the second I added some soba noodles as I heated it up, the third I added some tofu, the fourth some pea shoots and the fifth some pre-cooked barley and some coconut milk. The base itself has about 10 calories, a portion of soba noodles has 70 calories, so this is a low-calorie meal, whatever you do to it
Dried mushrooms can be much cheaper than real mushrooms but they retain the taste and nutrients including protein, enzymes, B vitamins (niacin) and vitamin D2
- ½ cup dried mushrooms
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 8 cups water
- Place all ingredients in a deep pot, bring to the boil and then down to a simmer for 30 minutes
- You are looking for a deeply concentrated flavour, so if at 30 minutes you don’t have that keep going or adjust the seasoning
- If you have an instant pop, you can do the same thing and it will take 10 minutes
- Eat as a nourishing broth
- Add soba noodles and make a ramen
- Add tofu and vegetables and make a protein dense soup
- Use it as your broth and make a risotto
‘Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let every new year find you a better man’ – Benjamin Franklin
Every year people makes lists of resolutions, drink less, eat less, do more exercise. These are really just generalities that you think will make your life better and in some circumstances relieve the guilt of the past season. We all do it and it seems to make sense at the time, but how long do we stick to our resolutions?
I have found, for me at least that making small changes on a day to day basis works better, with a little room for error, so that I don’t get into a guilt cycle and give up. Every day I start a fresh and think about what I can do better today.
For me like a lot of people, I have a deep and complex relationship with food. It has been my friend and enemy, it comforts me when I am far from home, it teaches me about my ancestry and it gives me a canvas for creativity. I am not going to give up eating and sometimes I am going to want something that does not serve me well, like a slice of pizza with my Italian husband or a truffle parmesan potato chip or two. So how do I balance the two.
I make it easy for myself to eat healthily 90% of the time and I don’t punish myself for the rest. I batch cook at the weekend and then my fast food is healthy food. I buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and I prepare them in batches as grab and go, lining up the pairings, for example peeling carrots and setting them next to the hummus, or placing mixed cut fruits in little pots next to my almond yogurt as a quick grab and go in the morning.
This recipe is an easy batch recipe. You cut and bake the butternut squash and eggplant, which you can make it bulk and use for other things also. You then add it all together bake it, creating 6-8 portions to be eaten or frozen. It tastes wonderful as a side or main, lunch or dinner and each ingredient can be repurposed in many different ways.
Take a few hours at the weekend to make your week easier and your food healthier. Now thats a resolution that anyone can keep. Happy Healthy 2019.
- 1 medium butternut squash
- 1 large jar passata/homemade or shop bought
- 2 large eggplants/aubergines
- 100g gluten free breadcrumbs
- 50g vegan parmesan
- salt, pepper, olive oil, chilli flakes
- Preheat the oven to 350f
- Peel the squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1 cm long segments
- Toss the squash in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until soft
- As the squash is roasting, half peel the eggplant (alternate stripes) and slice into 1cm discs
- Cover in olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly fry to brown on each side. Set aside on kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil
- Warm the passata and add any additional flavouring you might like. I used a garlic basil tomato sauce and added a few chilli flakes (this saves a lot of time). Reference the Rowley Leigh recipe for the original recipe.
- Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan and set aside till ready to assemble
- In an ovenproof dish, spoon a little sauce on the bottom and place half the squash segments down. Add some more sauce over the top and add half the eggplant segments, add more sauce and add the rest of the squash segments, more sauce, the other half of the eggplant segments and the rest of the sauce. Cover with the mixed breadcrumbs and cheese and bake for 30 minutes. I baked it covered with foil to make sure the breadcrumbs didn’t burn
- Best eaten fresh and hot, but works well as leftovers too