Salona Of Vegitien Tricks Us With Mock Meat & Dishes Out Yummy Vegan Recipes
- IWB Post
- May 11, 2018
You might have a few friends who are pestering you to give up butter chicken masala and late night ice creams?
Now let me tell you that being Vegan does not mean that you are only left to gnaw at bland veggies and chomp the meaty leaves! But still, if you think so, meet vegan expert Salona Lutchminarain who will evaporate your doubts in her favorite steamer, quite a weapon in a vegan’s kitchen!
Salona, who was born in South Africa, told us that mock meats, mock shrimps, and sausages were quite a thing there even in the 90s. Then she moved to the US and still didn’t feel anything missing on her platter. But it was when she moved to India, she realized that mock meat was not at all available in this country. Salona missed it so much that she introduced the idea and the concept in India too with her venture, Vegitein.
On turning Vegan and launching Vegitein:
I was always a vegetarian and couldn’t survive without dairy products. Eventually, I started realizing that the milk and cheese I consume are also products of the meat industry. They are derived from an animal which means that I was indirectly eating meat!
So I decided to give up dairy products last January and since then I have been consuming less fat and have become healthier too.
Since India is the world’s largest vegetarian nation, I thought why not introduce the vegan products that can substitute meat and chicken in the market. I began by taking orders from home and then launched my website. In the course of a year, I have partnered with a restaurant who will prepare vegan dishes and I will do their marketing.
Favorite Vegan Dish:
It is Creamy Vegan Pasta! *slurrrppp*
And while I was already hungry, I thought I should make the most of this opportunity and spoon out the scrumptious recipe. Salona being so sweet, took no time and shared the recipe with all of us.
- 2/3Cup raw cashews unsalted
- 1 3/4cups water
- 3tbs garlic powder (if you can’t find it oven roast some garlic cloves and then blend it)
- 2tsp Mustard
- 2cloves of garlic
- salt and pepperto taste
- 1/2an onion diced
- 3cups button mushrooms finely sliced
- 3tbs thyme leaves picked from the stalk
- 1tbs olive oil
- 350g of your favorite pasta
How to prepare:
- Place the cashews, water, nutritional yeast, mustard and garlic in the blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place a large frying pan on medium heat. Add half the oil and fry the onion until golden. Remove the onions from the pan and return the pan to the heat. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms (you may need to cook them in batches) and the remaining half of the oil. Cook until lightly golden. Return the onions to the pan and add the thyme and the alfredo sauce.
- While the mushrooms are cooking cook the pasta according to packet directions. When you add the sauce to the pan take a spoonful of the pasta water and stir through the sauce. Heat until warmed and then remove from the heat. Drain the pasta.
- Toss the pasta through the sauce and serve immediately.
Most difficult food to give up:
Cheese, definitely cheese! I was a die-hard cheese fan. Now I prepare my own cashew cheese at home, and the life looks more cheezy. I noticed how my craving had stopped eventually. Whenever I try normal cheese, it feels too fatty and oily.
People often feel that giving up dairy products is the most difficult thing. But that’s not true. There are substitutes for every dairy product. I prepare peanut curd, cashew cheese, and almond milk.
One dish from your kitchen that breaks the stereotype that vegan cuisine is not delicious:
Mock Meat Biryani:
- 1 onion, sliced very thin and fried on medium-high heat with 2 tsp oil until quite crispy. Set aside.
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, soaked for about half an hour, then drained
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1/2 cauliflower, separated into florets
- 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 small potatoes, cut into a 1-inch dice
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks, about 1-inch each
- 1 recipe tofu yogurt — blend half a block of firm tofu with 1/2 cup soymilk and juice of half a lemon.
- 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
- 2 green chilies, slit down the middle
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup raisins
- A generous pinch of saffron, soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water for about 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 cup of sauteed mock meat
- Salt to taste
How to prepare:
- Heat 2 cups of water and add to it some salt.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the rice. Bring the rice back to a boil, lower the heat, and cook about 4-5 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Be careful not to let the rice stick to the bottom of the saucepan. You want the rice to be mostly — not all the way– cooked. Set aside.
- Heat the oil.
- Add to it the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves and saute for a few seconds. Add the cumin seeds and the ginger-garlic paste and then the veggies– potatoes, carrots and cauliflower florets.
- Saute the veggies for about five minutes, stirring frequently, so they take on a golden-brown sheen.
- Add 1/2 the recipe of biryani masala (recipe above), the coriander and mint leaves, green chilies, and the tofu yogurt along with the mock meat.
- Mix well and cover the saucepan. Allow the veggies to cook until they are almost tender. Add salt to taste and take off the fire.
- Spray a thin coat of oil in the base of a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Now take half the cooked veggie mixture and spread it in the bottom of the pan.
- Pour out half the cooked rice and spread it on top of the veggies.
- Sprinkle the cashew nuts and raisins evenly over the rice.
- Add another layer of the remaining veggie mixture, and then the remaining rice.
- Sprinkle the saffron water on top, cover the pot with a lid, and place in a preheated, 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.
- After taking the biryani out of the oven, let it stand, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve piping hot.
“To me veganism is…”
Veganism is compassion. In the age we live in, we want to keep adding things to make our life better and happier. Veganism, instead, teaches us how to make conscious and more compassionate choices by being able to say no to some things.
On the price of the Vegan stock:
People think that vegan cuisine is expensive. Well, it is true if you go out and eat in a Vegan restaurant. If you cook at home, you will not feel any difference. My peanut curd is priced at Rs40/litre and cashew, almond milk at Rs30/liter.
Vegan in kids’ menu:
I have a son, and all his favorite food can be easily turned vegan. Though I encourage my kid to eat vegan because I feel it will make him more compassionate and conscious of what he intakes, I never force him to eat what I eat. If he eats things that are not vegan, I am absolutely fine with it. I just teach him to make right choices.
This article was first published on October 17, 2017.