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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Trying Raw Vegan

Salad, Without Dressing!

They said if you eat plant based, you will lose weight! Well, not me! I am a happy fat vegan! I am a master of fritters! I believe food is the biggest pleasure of life (and that is why I have named my blog "Total Foodgasm"!). I never lose weight! Ha ha ha! Who cares! But sometimes this happy fat vegan tries healthier food! Some of my family members eat chicken once in a while but they, also, love raw green vegetables.
So, sometimes, a big plate of mixed vegetables adorn our lunch table.

Just like they acquire loan words from each other's languages as two communities/races come close or interact for various reasons, e.g. political, business etc., they also learn from each other's food culture. But it is interesting how local flavours, ingredients and  food habits modify the original food and customize that for the local taste buds. "Salad" is a Russian loan word in our language but the salad that is available everywhere here has nothing to do with Russian salad; neither it is in any way similar to any type of salads we usually have in other parts of Europe. At every popular street snack stalls in Kolkata, you will get "salad" with your orderd food which is most commonly shredded cucumber and onion mixed together with or without some Kasundi, an age old popular mustard sauce. But, yes, day by day, variety is increasing and more and more shredded carrot and beetroot ate creeping into this "salad"!At home we always had thinly sliced cucumber, tomato and onion neatly placed on a plate. And if you asked for sauce, most commonly you will be served tomato ketchup. Or, I should rather say, if you want some ketchup, ask for tomato sauce. In most food joints you will also find, chilli sauce. 


My personal intention of not adding a dressing is to keep the salad lighter, of less calorie because I can't give up my fritters!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Soy-Nuggets Curry



I turn green with envy whenever I catch a glimpse of the variety of transition foods available to my vegan friends abroad. They have vegan cheese, tofurky (i.e vegan turkey), other vegan meats and even vegan fish. I have nothing!!! Not fair! Especially when it is not easy to become a vegan in India! Vegetarianism is common here but Veganism? What is it? Many people don’t even have the word in their lexicon.
I come from a piscetarian community. So, I never had meat as a part and parcel of my regular meals, unlike my friends in the West! And the only meat we sometimes ate at home was chicken. Therefore, giving up meat totally never seemed to me to be a difficult goal. But yes, like everybody else, I sometimes had a craving for non-veg food, though not very often. Soy nugget is the only plant based food, as per my knowledge, that has a meat like texture!
I do not know if soy nuggets are available in Europe or in North America but here it is pretty common.  I can buy them in cardboard cartons in every supermarket or at every local shop and with them, quite often, I make a spicy curry. Below is how I usually do it.
I soak the nuggets in very hot water for about 10 minutes. I add a little salt to that water, too but that is optional. I nuggets become soft and spongy and bigger.
As I let the nuggets stand in the hot water, I skin potatoes and cut them into big pieces, sautee them and keep them aside. I usually use sunflower oil to cook this. If you use mustard oil, it is mandatory to heat the oil up till its smoking point to get rid of the smell. I drain the water very carefully, as much as possible and then add them to the remaining oil and continuously stir and sautee. Soon I add some cumin seeds, two bay leaves, chopped green chili, finely chopped onion, a little turmeric powder, and a little cumin powder. I usually do not use red chilli powder but you can do, if you want it hot and spicy. And black pepper powder, too! “Some like it hot”! (Since the spongy nuggets are quick to soak the oil, you may skip sautéing them but I love oily preparations, especially when at home.) Then I add ginger- and onion paste and stir and mix everything well. It is important that the onion gets cooked very well! After that I add tomato puree and again stir and mix well. Then the potato and water has to be added. If you do not sautee the nuggets, you need to add them as the water starts boiling. Let everything cook for a few minutes. Depending on how thick the gravy you want, you can determine how long you should let it cook. You can also sprinkle some garam masala powder towards the end.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Peajkoli

I am back to writing. I was busy for quite some time with two language courses. I passed my Russian exam with a pyateorka i.e. band 5, the highest band in the Russian evaluation system, which was not easy and I am continuing learning with the final exam ahead in a few months. In addition, I'm brushing up my German and also preparing for a difficult English language test to check whether I have native-like proficiency! So, I have enough on my plate, no doubt! Does that mean, that I didn't have time to cook and my "plate" in its literal sense, was not so full? Not at all! Whatever happens, I make sure that there is foodgasm in my life!
In this post I am going to introduce "Peajkoli", one of my favourite winter vegetables. "Peaj", pronounced with the 'e' nasalised, means onion and "koli" literally means "bud"! Here is how they look like:



I cut these into small pieces, about an inch long or a little shorter, and add potato cut in small cubes, as you can see in the picture and sautee in a little mustard oil. It is fine to use rice bran- or sun flower- or ground nut oil. But if you cook it in mustard oil, don't forget to to heat the oil up till its smoking point to get rid of the odour.
Here is the finished product to go with dal ( red lentil soup) and steamed rice:



My First Slider

In Kolkata, food is everywhere. And it is fresh and the price is reasonable.I am actually quite proud of the street food tradition of my city. but, if we want to have burgers, some foreign multinational food chains are, as far as I know, are the only options, which are in my personal opinion, unjustifiably expensive! So, I decided to prepare mini burgers for my sister and myself.
I made the burgers with a little potato and lentil paste. It is a good idea to add soy nuggets. I I added shredded onion, chopped green chilies, salt, a little pepper to it and mixed everything very well. I made it the way I make my fritters. That means, I made round flat shapes out of it and shallow fried them well, flipping sides.
I bought the breads from a local bakery. Since, I haven't yet learnt making vegan cheese, our slider wasn't "cheesy" but that did not lessen the fun!

Being Innovative with Soups

My First Spaghetti Soup 


I feel, cooking is like painting. You can be as creative as you want. Cooking is also a great stress-buster for me!

Though it is very easy even for a typical piscetarian Bengali to shift to a plant-based diet since hundreds of traditional veg recipes  exist in our cooking culture, handed down from generations to generations, I sometimes try to experiment with continental ingredients, partly because I terribly miss continental food, and partly because nobody can give me unsolicited instructions!

I picked some spaghetti, imported from Italy. My sister brought me some herbs from Germany and I used basil here. I chopped some carrots and onions and made this soup.
First I cooked the spaghetti until half done and kept it aside.
I heated very little oil and glazed the chopped onion in it. then I added chopped carrot and some fresh peas, added salt and pepper, stirred and mixed every thing well and then added water. I let it boil till the vegetables are half done and then added the spaghetti and boiled it a little longer. I don't like the vegetables overcooked. 

I sprinkled some dry basil on it after having removed it from fire.

Nonta pithe

I was always interested in baking but unfortunately I don't have a oven. I am always on the move. I am planning to relocate again. So, I am surely not going to invest in rebuilding my current kitchen. So, I tried to fix my microwave oven. It has the option for baking. This led to a loss of money and time and effort with no positive result. Well, then let's fry these. Back to square one!
I made the dough tomato puree little by little. Besides, I added the usual ingredients of my dough i.e. salt, pepper, a little cumin powder.
I made theses shapes stuffing them with spicy potato mash. You can be creative with the the filling and add vegetables as per your taste.
I got the idea from youtube. There are many videos available where passionate cooks from all over the share their creativity.
You can also make sweet
.