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South Indian in Borough, good food in Carousel, and Christmas leftovers that won't leave

Morning all. How was your Christmas and New Year? If it was anything like mine, then all that bonhomie and wellbeing you built up over the festive season will have eroded by now, and all you'll be left with to remind you of the fun times is the last of the Christmas food.

Case in point: this little Santa's sack from Choices. I bought it a few weeks ago and still haven't worked my way through it. (If anyone can work out why all the individual things in the bag say vegan on them, but the label for the bag doesn't, send your answers my way!) 

Christmas isn't Christmas without a shedload of chocolate, so I'm keeping the Christmas spirit alive by eating mine sparingly. I'd never tried the Choices caramels before, but after encountering them in Santa's sack, I will be going back for seconds.

Another Christmas hangover that won't quit, but is nonetheless a welcome overstayer in my house: huge bags of mixed nuts. I keep seeing them cheap at the supermarkets now Santa has well and truly departed the building and bringing them home. As a result, I'm never more than an arm's length away from a bowl of burnished nuts, a nutcracker, and a pile of shell fragments waiting to be trodden into the carpet.

 And lastly, another ghost of Christmas past that won't quit - fruitcake! I was inspired to make my first ever fruitcake by Three Meat and No Veg, who reminded me recently that it's one of those cakes that for some reason get more and more appealing as you grow older. I used to hate and fear their regular appearance at Christmas when I was a kid, now this year I made my very own.

I adapted a number of recipes from the internet and added a load of dried figs, Marsala and fresh grated carrot and apple. The result was amazing and I hope to post the recipe before too long (just so I can make it one more time!)

I’ve not been eating just Christmas leftovers this year, oh no. The chick pea scrambles have been making an increasingly frequent appearance in my house of late. Now I’ve mastered the technique, there’s no stopping me.

This version looks like it’s got kale, green peppers and tomatoes in there. Hopefully some chilli too.  I can't believe it took me so long to learn how to make them - there should be some sort of support group set up to help vegans who haven't yet acquired the scramble skill.

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Normally, I take the best pictures I can. That doesn't always mean good pictures, but hey, you know. Sadly, I'm going to have to post a bit of an eye-offender for you now, so bear with me. Here it is:

OK, maybe it doesn't look so pretty but I can assure that was all down to the hands of the fool wielding the camera, and not whatever fairy-blessed chef in the kitchen. So, to explain, I often get invited to a lot of events through work - parties, dinners, awards dos, that sort of thing - and I rarely go. I'm lazy, and a bit socially awkward, so usually I just politely pass. 

Last month, I got invited to a dinner at Carousel. It's a place in London that the omni folk have been raving about. When I was asked if I fancied going there myself, I felt compelled to say yes and to see what the place was all about.

It hosts a series of chefs and sadly I can't tell you who was in residence when I got to go, but whoever it was, I take my hat off to them. Five courses of vegan fare later (in my defence, small courses!) and I'd like to shake him or her by the hand. There were freekeh rolls with vegan yoghurt, aubergine and miso, an dessert of orange compote and slices (far better than it sounds), some white bean soup, and my favourite up there - a yellow-themed dish of cauliflower, yellow tomatoes and courgettes, chick peas, and sultanas, all lightly and perfectly spiced. If I'm making it sound plain, it really wasn't.

Moral of the story - if someone offers to take you to some fancy-dan omni hangout, don't always assume the vegan food will be second rate. Sometimes, they'll go and surprise you.

More good news: Borough Market has now got itself another REALLY GOOD vegan option. Yep, SE1 is getting some seriously tasty veganity going on of late. After recently trying out Gujarati Rasoi and praising their big box of vegan Indian deliciousness (including an onion bhaji the size of a man's fist), a couple of weeks ago I got to taste test another veg*n stall, Horn OK Please.

Like Guajarati Rasoi, Horn OK Please is exclusively veggie and the only non-vegan thing I saw when I stopped by was a yoghurt sauce.

There were two choices available for us plant-eaters when I went: a dosa or aloo tikki. I went for the dosa and here's what it looked like:

Good huh? That lovely desk in the background is where I spent my waking, working hours, so ignore that for now and focus on the huge Indian crepe before your eyes. For a mere £5, you get a great big lovely pancake stuffed with masala potatoes and a load of chick peas and sev (those delicious crunchy noodle things). If you're in the Borough area, I wholeheartedly recommend getting yourself down to see what the Horn OK Please folks are cooking up.

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  1. Wow, you have some good eats there! I can relate to bad photos - I cringe when those are my only choices of a dish I'm posting. But, whatcha goin' to do? That five-course meals sounds fabulous. How neat that they made vegan fare for you.

  2. I do love the Choices caramels :) I hadn't seen those mixed bags actually, but got a full box of the choices in my stocking (thanks to a rather directed hint given to my husband). The mixed nuts look great too, and I'll have to go back to Borough market to check out the latest vegan offerings!

  3. sounds like you are having fun with the nut cracker - we aren't being sparing with chocolates - my excuse it to save them from the heatwaves that are coming and going (please tell me this one is going). Glad you are enjoying the scramble and you sound like you have some great options for fancy and relaxed dining

  4. Looking forward to that cake recipe. I too have recently embraced the fruitcake. If you've any leftover mincemeat I've a good tea loaf recipes for using it up over on the blog. The Carousel meal sounds great and good to see they included some protein. Last time I had a lovely, creative meal at a posh non veggie restaurant we ended up having to get a bag of chips on the way home as we were still hungry!

  5. I love the looks of that big bowl of nuts. So cheery, somehow.
    I would join that chickpea scramble support group - am too intimidated to try so far, but everyone's always look great. maybe this weekend I'll try.
    Big fan of Indian food, though I'm usually a bit afraid of ghee. Those dosas look amazing though.

  6. Just finishing up the last of my holiday leftovers myself, no where nearly as nice as that bag of vegan treats though. You totally scored on the mixed nuts, I hardly ever see them going for cheap. I'll be another candidate for the chickpea scramble support group. :-)

  7. I wish I had the restraint to slowly dole out holiday leftovers, making the celebrations last that much long, but I tend to go straight for them first thing. It's true, I don't just nibble, but gorge on the holidays! It's nothing but a distant memory around here.

  8. I'm so with you. I love mixed nuts!

  9. Oh, glad to have reminded you about fruitcake because yours looks amazing! I had to laugh at the way you wrote my blog name :) dosa looks delish too

  10. We didn’t celebrate Christmas with family last year, literally spent the whole day outside, burning in the sun, eating cheezy + vegemite scrolls and drinking cider beers. The fruitcake you made looks beautifully moist and delicious! I love your chickpea scramble version - looks colorful! The vegan fare at Carousel sounds amazing….I would love to try the freekeh rolls! AND IM DOSA OBSESSED….this looks amazing.

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