Review: Asian Vegan Kitchen

October 6th, 2008 · Lisa · book review, Review · Comments

New title inspires new adventures
Asian Vegan Kitchen: Authentic and appetizing dishes from a continent of rich flavours.
One of the books I discovered last month has really inspired me to explore previously uncharted ingredient territory. I am not one to shy away from a challenge and the recipes in Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh presented pages of new, interesting ingredients to discover and devour. Born in India, the author has been living with her family in Japan for a couple of decades. She provides vegan versions of Asian food favourites from India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea. If you have ever sat at your favourite Asian restaurant anxiously awaiting a sumptuous dish but nervous of the animal ingredients that might be hiding amid the spicy sauces and tasty condiments then this is the book for you. Hema’s recipes will help you to bring those authentic flavours home with simple cooking instructions and many possible substitutions for the more difficult-to-find ingredients.
I have long admitted love for the rich spicy flavour of chickpea curry, or chana masala. I have a very hard time ordering anything else when I am visiting and Indian restaurant-I just know I’ll go home wishing I had indulged in some of those deliciously smothered chickpeas. Having a reliable recipe for your favourite dish that is quick and easy to prepare at home is avery special treat. Parekh shared her recipe for this popular dish.
The day this book arrived in my mailbox I pulled out the necessary spices from my pantry and got to work soaking the dried chickpeas. The result was incredible. I have tried the chana masala at dozens of restaurants and this version certainly competes with or surpasses them all. This recipe was even selected by Eric Marcus of as one of the Top 10 Recipes of 2008.
What I love about this book is that it has really encouraged me to try recipes that I had previously felt intimidated to attempt in my own kitchen. I went on a foraging adventure to T&T; Supermarket to pick up some of the ingredients that were required for Bipambap, Gado Gado, Nasi Goreng, Pad Thai Tau Hu-all dishes that I have enjoyed at restaurants in our diverse city. With Parekh’s help, I can now invite my friends over for dinner and impress them with the range of these flavour experiences without the addition of animal products.
I encourage you to pick up this book for the price of a dinner out and start experimenting in your own kitchen. Most of the recipes are lighter, full of a variety of vegetables and savoury spice blends,making them perfect for the warm weather.

Chickpea Curry
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cardamon pods
1 small stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
Pinch of asafoetida
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fresh hot green chili, halved lengthwise
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated
11 ounces tomatoes, pureed
salt to taste
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp mango powder
1 tsp coriander powder
sliced onion and fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Roasted spice mixture”
1 tsp coriander seed
2-3 cloves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 dried red chili

Dry roast the roasted spice mixture ingredients and grind to a powder
Place the soaked chickpeas and soaking water in a pressure cooker with 1 tsp of salt. Cook for 18-20 mins if you are using a pressure cooker, and about an hour if cooking in a pan. The chickpeas should be well cooked until slightly broken. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, and cumin seeds.. Stir over medium heat until fragrant. Add the asafoetida and onion and saute for 10-12 mins until browned.
Add the fresh green chili, ginger, and the pureed tomatoes. Cover the frying pan and simmer for 3-4 mins. Add the salt, turmeric, garam masala, cayeenne pepper, mango powder, and coriander powder. Stir thoroughly.
Add the cooked chickpeas and stir gently. Add some of the reserved cooking liquid to bring it to the desired consistency. Add the roasted spice mixture, bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
Serve garnished with sliced onions and cilantro leaves, with rolls rice or Indian bread.

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