The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style! by Anuradha Sawhney
People all over the world are increasingly recognising the fact that being vegetarian is the answer to several health problems. Veganism is a step up on the vegetarian ladder, where one excludes all animal products, including milk and it’s derivatives from one’s diet.
As the name suggests, The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood style! is a collection of vegan recipes attributed to some of the stars of Bollywood. Anuradha Sawhney hit upon the idea of compiling a cache of vegan recipes as a result of being pronounced on the verge of heart disease and diabetes by a series of medical tests. At this point of time she had been a practising vegan for ten years and had realized that merely being vegan does not guarantee one freedom from heart disease or diabetes. One has to eat the right vegan foods to remain healthy and fit. If you are already a vegetarian it would be relatively easier to step further up to excluding milk and milk products too from your diet. However a carnivore like me would find it immensely challenging to turn vegan or even vegetarian, be it a gradual transition or an immediate one. This admission in itself declares me unfit to review this book but for the fact that I am both diabetic and hypertensive and understand that I need to eat very specific foods to remain healthy.
In her introduction to the book Anuradha Sawhney explodes several persistent health myths pertaining to veganism, believed by most people. The forewords by Dr Esselstyn Caldwell Jr, Dr Neal Barnard and Mickey Mehta are both very impressive and very informative, leading one to harbour great expectations from the book.
All things palatable about the book were:
- The tips and tricks at the end of the book which instruct you on how to brown onions without oil, extract non-diary milk, facts concerning the presence of oxalic acid in spinach (which I was hitherto unaware of) etcetera.
- The use of blended tofu and non-diary cream instead of feta cheese and cream in the making of a Chocolate Mousse. (non-diary cream is easily available in India and is used by most bakers in the place of dairy cream because it has a longer shelf life).
- The recipes are mostly unusual and with well teamed ingredients which means they are bound to taste good.
- The recipes which appealed to me personally and which I also tried out were, Grilled Mushrooms with Lemon, Rosemary and Thyme - R. Madhavan, Nachos and Salsa- Akshaye Khanna (the Nachos have been made from scratch), Mixed Salad with Mustard and Palm Sugar dressing – Jattinn Kochhar, Esha Deol’s Raw Papaya Salad (a really good, Thai inspired salad), Ayesha Shroff’s Celery, Potato and Green Pea Soup, Bhavnagari Mirchi aur Aloo – Saira Banu, Mushroom Methi Saag – Sushmita Sen, Grilled Tofu Steaks – Amala Akkineni, Boror Tenga (Assamese tomato curry with lentil dumplings) – Dipannita Sharma, Tinnu Anand’s Douinyas (Gram flour cake curry) sounds interesting but remains untried so far, Hemant Trivedi’s Spinach, Chickpea and Aubergine Hotpot ,Sandip Soparrkar’s Chocolate Mousse and Ann Esselstyn’s Lime Mousse.
Some things unpalatable about the book were:
- The first recipe in the book was in my opinion an unfortunate choice, Aloo Paratha by David Dhawan. The recipe is both run of the mill and totally unsuitable for diabetics (I mention diabetes because the foreword by Dr Neal Barnard,”Diet and Diabetes: Recipes for Success” led me to believe the recipes would be fit for diabetics too)..
- All the recipes in the Breakfast Section are either ordinary or unsuitable to diabetics. For example Brown Rice Poha, Fruit Smoothie, Pancakes with Maple Syrup. However they are all suitable to vegans. A few vegan recipes for diabetics could have been added.
- Several recipes are not worth a mention as most people are already aware of how to make them, example, Dilip Kumar’s Aloo Mattar, Hema Malini’s Drumstick Sambar, Sonam Kapoor’s Sookha Alu, Sonakshi Sinha’s Rajma, Anupam Kher’s Kashmiri Aloo Dum… again the saving grace is in the fact that they are all vegan as the name of the book suggests.
- The popular, Gajjar Ka Halwa recipe has been twisted totally with the use of coconut milk and jaggery and in my opinion should not be called Gajjar Ka Halwa at all. It would be alright to call it Vegan Gajjar Ka Halwa I guess.
- Similarly, the Punjabi Dahi Kadhi With Onion Pakodas, might be a tasty version using tofu and lemon juice but with the omission of Dahi I think a change of name is in order.
All in all a very good recipe book for prospective vegans to possess, as also vegans who are at their wits end on what to cook.
Photo source: This book’s Facebook page.