Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Veggiestan, I just can't leave you alone
Is there anything more vegan than the tofu scramble?
It's a dish that keeps giving: you can stick with any veggies, assault it with any spices, and abuse it with all the weird stuff from the darkest reaches of your kitchen cupboard, and it still turns out pretty reliably good.
Do it Indian, or Japanese, or Greek flavoured, and it's a winner. You've probably got a few go to recipes for tofu scramble, right?
Well, you need another one. Veggiestan has rocked my tofu scramble world. (Veggiestan is a cookbook that's a recent addition to my book shelf, but one I'm already a bit of a fan girl for.)
The Veggiestan scramble is just tofu, spices (a lively combo of asafoetida, mustard seeds, turmeric and paprika), tomatoes, soy sauce and a bit of coriander.
It's no more or less complicated than a lot of scrambles. There's still something magic about it though. I can't stop making it, and it's at risk of displacing my favourite shiitake-heavy scram version from The Asian Vegan Kitchen.
I feel like I'm cheating on an old faithful partner. Can a person love two scramble recipes at once?!
Another old favourite dish given new life by Veggiestan was a soup. Yeah, I know, right? A soup. How exciting can soup be? Turns out it's a really good soup - carrot and cardamom. It's fairly simple, but deliciously tasty. (I did deviate from the recipe a little with some red lentils, but it absorbed the addition without any fuss. Nice.)
It really was a lovely soup. The sort of soup people put up statues to, and tell their kids about the time they ate it. A great, big comforting bowl of reassuring richness.
I think the next recipe I tried was the first that I didn't absolutely love. It was more of an acquaintance than a love affair, I guess. It was the Turkish green wheat pilau, made with freekeh.
I've only tried freekeh recently, but it's a really nice nutty grain that adds more flavour to recipes where you'd normally use cous cous or bulghur wheat. In the Veggiestan recipe, it's fried off with onion, carrots and celery, boiled up, then some fried nuts and herbs added. It was nice, but it didn't blow my socks off - a nice side dish, rather than something that can carry a dinner on its own.
There weren't many ingredients required - the eponymous okra and tomatoes, a bit of oil, allspice and salt and pepper. It's one of those great dishes that manages to do amazing things with just a few simple elements. Even my okra-fearing other half liked it, which is high praise indeed.
It was a similar story with the warm potato and tarragon salad I made too - simple, delicious, easy to throw together and easy to eat loads of. There are non-vegan recipes in the book, but many are animal-free, and the ones that aren't are pretty easily veganisable.
Every time I cook from Veggiestan, I find something great, and discover three other recipes I know I need to try afterwards. It's now one of my go-to recipe books, and I recommend it highly. My only gripe? Alas, it's not Veganstan, as it could so easily have been. Fingers crossed a plant-based version isn't too far away.