Meatless Monday – Dairy Queen

In Hindu India, the cow is sacred and the lacto-ovo vegetarian will eat quite well.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

Cows roam freely in the streets and while the flesh is not eaten, the dairy is.

Milk is used to make chai (spiced tea) and the sweetened condensed variety is used in many sweets. For the vegan or lactose intolerant, any nut or grain milk (eg almond or rice) can be substituted.

Cream forms the base for many sauces such as in dahl makhani (black lentils in cream sauce) or in a korma dish. Coconut milk can be substituted.

Ghee is clarified butter, formed by removing the milk solids. If you aren’t able to purchase this in the international section of your grocery store, you can make your own simply by heating butter on medium/low heat. A whitish film will form; these are the milk solids. Simply scoop them away and you are left with clarified/clear butter. Ghee is used in cooking and to dress freshly baked naan and roti. Vegans can use oil instead.

Paneer is unfermented cheese and comparable to cottage cheese. Again, if you are unable to find this in your local or specialty grocery store, you can make your own. How to Make Homemade Paneer
Vegans can substitute plain tofu or make a tofu paneer. Press a firm tofu to drain out as much liquid as possible. Cut into cubes and marinate in lemon juice for a few days or up to one week.
Paneer can be made into dessert, covered in sauce and mixed into dumplings.

Yoghurt is used as a cooling accompaniment to spicy Indian food. Popular applications are raita (yoghurt ‘dip’) and lassi (yoghurt drink).

Indian Vegan

Bread & Chocolate: India

January 10th: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day

The India I visited is not a walkers’ paradise. The streets of Delhi are extremely polluted, crowded and holds the possibility of being accosted by one of the capital’s many professional beggars. Despite that, I managed to walk a little and find some chocolate.

Photo by Kimberley (c) 2016
Photo by Kimberley (c) 2016

This is, or rather was, the chocolate burfi I indulged in on my last full day in India. Burfi is a sweet typically made with ground nuts, sugar and milk product (condensed, powdered). It is a sort of Indian fudge.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

This is a ‘chocobite’ which was purchased at a renowned sweet shop in Jaipur, the pink city. Both bits of chocolate I had, bore little resemblance to the rich bites I’m accustomed to eating. Generally, the chocolate I encountered was such in name and appearance only. Apart from local manifestations, you can also get popular Western brands such as the Dairy Milk line.

While one can easily satisfy their sweet tooth in India with an assortment of widely available mithai (sweets), the chocoholic may have a less than stellar experience of chocolate in India.

Are you a chocoholic who’s been to India and has had a memorable chocolate experience? If so, do tell…

 

Atta girl

Bread, on the other hand, is a different and more delightful matter. In India, wheat is one of the staple grains with India in the top ten list of the world’s producers. Different varieties of wheat are primarily cultivated in the northern states.

Map of wheat-producing states, India

Indian bread is typically round flatbread that is often unleavened. It comes in many varieties and can either be plain, stuffed and/or deep-fried. It is a popular accompaniment with every meal.

naan – the white bread of India; made with all-purpose flour and comes plain, buttered, with garlic or cheese.

roti/chapati – the brown bread of India. It is made with atta flour, a softly textured whole wheat. It can be cooked on a tawa (flat cast iron pan) or in a tandoor (clay oven). Variations exist depending on the flour used (eg missi roti is made with chickpea flour).

puri/poori – a puffy fried dough

dosa – an Indian crepe often stuffed with potato and eaten for breakfast in the south, ie masala dosa.

paratha – a fried version of roti. Can be plain or stuffed. (Eg aloo paratha is stuffed with cauliflower.)

papad – akin to a cracker, it is thin, crispy and seasoned.

Indian Food Site: Breads

Veg Recipes of India: Types of Indian breads

When in India, it is possible to take some cooking courses. Here I am making roti in Udaipur.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

 

 

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

 

 

 

 

Cooking on the tawa. Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Cooking on the tawa.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product. Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
The finished product.
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chocoholic may not be fully satisfied on a trip to India but the bread lover surely will be.

Meatless Monday in Rajasthan – Oh My Dahling

Happy New Year everyone! After a holiday hiatus I’m back, having just freshly returned a few hours before writing this post! This month’s instalments of Meatless Monday posts will feature foods found in Rajasthan, one of India’s provinces.

dahl = lentil dish

Anyone travelling to this southeastern nation who follows a meatless diet will be delighted to know that India is a vegetarian haven; especially those of the lacto-ovo persuasion. It is easy to find restaurants serving vegetarian food and some of the indigenous religions forbid the eating of certain animal flesh.

Hindus don’t eat beef while those of the Buddhist and Jain faith are vegetarian. It is worth noting that followers of the latter religions may also abstain from eating onions and garlic in their vegetarian diet. Jains are said to avoid root vegetables too.

Those who follow a vegan diet, however, may find it a little more challenging to get meals without dairy as this product figures heavily in many dishes. Look out for ‘pure veg’ options (sometimes it means without garlic/onion but can still contain a milk product) and request meals without dairy. Specify that you don’t want milk, cream, yoghurt ghee and paneer in your dish. Here are some terms that indicate the use of dairy.

Malai, korma and makhani are cream sauces; paneer is unfermented cheese; ghee is clarified butter.

Everyday in Rajasthan is a meatless day and here are some common food items.

plant protein: rice, wheat, peas, lentils, chickpeas, nuts

other protein sources: dairy, eggs

vegetables: potato, cauliflower, okra, eggplant, beans, carrots and leafy greens e.g. mustard, spinach, fenugreek (generically termed ‘saag’)

fruit: banana, oranges, mango, apples, limes

grains: rice, wheat

With the expert use of spices and an attitude of ahimsa or non-violence (not killing animals), vegetarians and vegans can expect to eat flavourful, nutritious and balanced meals in India.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2015
Photo by Kimberley (c)2015