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Vegan MoFo day 12 - my favourite cookbook is the Asian Vegan Kitchen

I don't have that many cookbooks. Well, not that many to me, anyway. Some I return to all the time, some just for the odd recipe or two. But the one I go back to over and over again is The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh. They say you always hurt the ones you love and my copy of the Asian Vegan Kitchen is proof of that - there's a burn mark on when corner when I was using it too close to my gas hob and it caught fire.

The burn mark's on the other side but you can see all the paper markers for recipes that are next on my list to make!

There are two reasons why my love affair with the Asian Vegan Kitchen has been enduring (I bought it years ago as a relatively new vegan). The first is that recipes are incredibly reliable - I don't remember making anything that wasn't tasty or that turned out weird. The second is that it's full of both new takes on dishes I already love, as well as just as many recipes I've never heard of, which require that hard to find ingredients and internet detective work.

The food spans several different countries in Asia - from those whose cooking you might be familiar with (Japan, China, Thailand) to those you might not have discovered before (Burma). Each country is divided into sections, so you get to build your own meal around it - soup, noodles and rice, mains, sides and salads, and desserts.

There are a few colour photos to get you going with the Asian Vegan Kitchen, but mostly it's just black and white text on a page - with Hema Parekh's tips and anecdotes interspersed with the recipes themselves, giving you hints on how to cook the dish as well as a little history on where she picked up the recipe.

The recipes vary in complexity – there are Korean namuls you can knock up in minutes, and curries that require special stocks, and spice pastes, and hunting down ingredients that your local supermarket isn't going to have.

I guess that's why the Asian Vegan Kitchen has a place in my heart – it's a real something-for-everyone cookbook, and it's the one I always recommend if anyone asks for a suggestion for a new vegan.

While over the years a good many experiments from the Asian Vegan Kitchen, there's nothing like MoFo for encouraging me to revisit some old favourites and cook up some new recipes.
From the India section, I made some chole (the chick peas on your right) and some potato and zucchini curry (the er, potatoes and zucchini on your left).

I've made a few versions of chole before, but this one has stormed to the top of my favourites list – the spices are incredibly well-balanced for something that doesn't really take a lot of time to come together. The potato and courgette dish is also surprisingly flavourful considering how quick it is to make. As you'd expect, both taste even better the next day.

I was similarly inspired to go and make a red curry, one of those dishes that always seems easy to make, but hard to make well. Even with a few substitutions (I doubt many authentic Thai curries have some runner beans in), the paste was so full of the different flavour layers working beautifully together, for a brief moment I allowed myself a virtual high-five at for my handiwork.

Of course, it wasn't my handiwork really, it was Hema Parekh's. She's the silent partner in my kitchen endeavours, and I'm really glad to have made her aquanintance all those years ago.

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  1. I've not come across this book but I really like the sound of it. You made me laugh with the burn mark. You should see the state of my copy of Veganomicon, I dropped it in the bath!

  2. I've never heard of this book before, but it sounds like a winner! I love Asian food!

  3. I've seen that cookbook around but haven't really cooked from it. After reading your glowing review, I'm going to take another look at it. :-)

  4. I have not heard or seen this vegan cookbook before, so its got me intrigued as its not just focusing on South Indian cuisine. Ah a cookbook with burns, now that is a good sign - but good that you rescued it too.

  5. Sounds like a good one. It is rare to find a cookbook where all the recipes are solid and reliable.

  6. I love your review of this cookbook - you've definitely convinced me that I need to hunt it down and get myself a copy!

  7. I don't see a lot of love for this book! I had it for years (I bought it when I lived in Asia, as I thought the ingredients would be nice and cheap), but only really started using it this year when I dusted it off for a monthly cookbook challenge. Now I love it! The Japanese section is probably my favourite, and the gyoza are really good too.

  8. Yes!!! I'm so glad that you wrote about this book! It's probably my favorite vegan cookbook as well. I've been cooking from it for years, and everything I've made has been great. The Biryani is wonderful, the Mushroom Balls are delicious, and pretty much the entire Japanese section has been made and loved in my kitchen. I love this book, and I'm glad I'm not the only one <3

  9. I love Vegan Asian cookbook too! I really love her introductions to each separate country/cuisine as well. There are so many gems in here!

  10. Oh, I'm happy to read such an affectionate appreciation for this book. I got it after a friend really highly recommended it, but I haven't really explored it much. Thanks for the reminder! Also, I love all the little paper markers in your cookbook. i do that same thing. :)


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