Sunday, 24 February 2013

A Gujarati Feast

There is no better person than a life long vegetarian to show one how to do a veggie feast. After my sausage fiasco yesterday, Tim and I went to see his cousin Conor who is married to a wonderful girl Mena. She laid an impressive Gujarati spread for us, featuring both some familiar tastes (potato curry, paneer curry, yellow lentils, etc), as well as some unexpected and wonderful things nether Tim nor I ever heard of.

She kicked it off with 'tastings' - a little snack to have with your vino (or on its own). I never heard of such a combo and I loved it. Here is how you do it:

Dry some unsalted, non-roasted (is there such a word?) peanuts still in their purply skins in a hot oven for a few minutes. Mix with diced hard cheese (Mena used Cheddar), diced red onions and some lemon juice. You can eat this from small bowls with forks/spoons. It is sensational: savoury, fresh, crunchy and nutty. 

It is worth a try - you'll be amazed how well it works. I am definitely adding this to my menues!

Then came poppadoms with chutneys, an Indian salad of fresh toms and onions with a touch of chilli powder, raita and mango pulp. 

Mango pulp (top left) comes from a tin, but I guess you can blend fresh one if you want. Its role is to cool down those chilli flavours and to add a bit of sweetness to curries. While mango chutney is something very familiar to most, mixing sweet mango pulp with everything on the table was a bit of a revelation. And you know, it did work! I am not a big chilli fan (and Mena mercifully went easy on the heat), but there was a definite kick to her potato and potato and cauliflower curries and that mango pulp did take it off a bit. 

We liked it so much, we came home with a tin of it! 

And then the main event - the quartet of curries. Someone gave her an electric curry cooker with 4 little pots (if you are the person who did it - here is the evidence of her using it!), so instead of one curry we got 4! 

They were ranging from a delicately spiced paneer with peas to yummy yellow split lentils chana dhal flavoured with star anise.  And then those two fiery potato curries. Well, lets put it like this, neither Mena, nor Tim, nor Conor found them fiery. But I am a chilli lightweight. 

We polished it all off with some traditional Indian sweets and beautiful Indian tea with spices and milk. 

Now, this is what I call proper vegie eating.  It was slightly exotic, very filling, wonderfully varied and we didn't miss meat for one second! 

I did confess about my slip into the meat-eating ways, and it turned out that Tim also had bacon (yes, BACON!) without thinking. He cycled to work last week, went to his usual cafe and had a bacon buttie. He only realised he had it after he was eating his veggie lunch. Old habits die hard. But such a fab vegetarian meal surely makes up for it! 


  1. I need to find out more about this electric curry cooker, it sounds potentially life changing!

  2. Yes, that thing was good, but will probably only feed 4-5 adults, the pots are not huge. Do you want me to find out the make?

  3. Isha, here it is!