Saturday, March 12, 2016
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.