As we approach the end of Veganuary, your plant-based inspiration might be dwindling. You also might be feeling more motivated than ever, ready to continue following this lifestyle into February and the months that follow.
Wherever you find yourself, you can use this article as a resource to inspire creativity during the last days of this vegan challenge and beyond.
Veganuary was born in London, so we spoke to London hosts Priya and Sudha to find out how they stay satisfied, well nourished and inspired, as vegetarians/vegans. They also talk about being creative in the kitchen, where to find vegan products in London, and sharing their passion for Indian cuisine with others.
Make it to the end and you’ll know just what to make for dinner tonight! (hint: it’s their Matoke Nu Shaak recipe)
To contextualize their diet today, we began by asking the mother-daughter duo about the beginning of their culinary journey and what they rely on to maintain their meat-free diet.
How has your plant-based journey shaped your culinary creativity?
Our plant-based journey has always been a part of who we are. For generations, our family has been a vegetarian household. Our love for the food we grew up cooking and eating naturally led us to take on the challenge of making our cuisine vegan. Initially, we thought we might be limited by leaving all the dairy items we know and love behind, but now that we look back, we can see that there were no limits to what we could achieve when we let our creativity flourish.
What’s your favorite thing about the plant-based lifestyle?
A lot of people see Veganism as a trend, but we don’t really think about it like that. We see it as a simple extension to the vegetarian lifestyle that we grew up with. We also understand the positive contribution a vegan lifestyle can make to our planet. Every guest who books onto our experience is choosing to make a difference.
What’s your go-to meal?
If we had to pick one it would probably be Cobi Channa Daal Nu Shaak with rotli (cabbage and yellow lentil curry with paper thin bread also known as chapatti). It is a comforting dish that can be eaten all year round but also one that roots back to my mum’s childhood in Uganda.
Changing your diet can be overwhelming and, for many, this feeling is enough to prevent them from doing so. As long as you’re well informed and have enough tips for vegan eating, going plant-based can be a rewarding experience.
What do you always have stocked in the pantry or fridge for cooking up a nutritious plant-based meal?
Lentils (lots of different varieties) and tinned tomatoes. It’s the perfect combination to make yummy dishes, add some spices and you are ready to go!
How would you suggest balancing flavor, nutrition and satisfaction when cooking plant-based recipes?
Fresh and sustainably sourced ingredients wherever possible, they will make all the difference.
How do you stay on top of food trends in the vegan world, and do you see any exciting emerging trends that inspire you?
We don’t tend to follow vegan food trends. We take Gujarati vegetarian dishes we have inherited and explore ways to reimagine them but that doesn’t stop us seeing what others are getting up to on IG, especially @christinasots (the brains behind bunch, MOB’s sister vegan page) and we have a soft spot for @sanjanafeasts - she’s a fabulous recipe creator, businesswoman and a mother who is somehow finding the time to write a book too - what a woman!
Priya and Sudha’s connection with and passion for authentic Indian cuisine informs their creativity in the kitchen. Our research has shown that it’s this passion to create and share with others that makes an eatwith event such a memorable experience.
What is your culinary philosophy when it comes to vegan cuisine?
We want the conversation about Indian food to remain current. We serve Indian food, but not the Indian food most of us know.
You host a vegan supperclub through eatwith - do you see many non-vegans at your table?
All of the time! And you know what? None of them ever mentioned missing out on anything, they always leave with full bellies. We truly believe that times are changing as are people’s attitudes towards food.
What are your favorite vegan spots in London?
Walnut in Willesden Green and The Kensal Store for groceries
Queens Park Farmers Market on a Sunday morning
Farm Girl for brekkie/brunch
Neatburger when you feel like something dirty
Swing in Kensal Rise for the tasting menu
Tendril with friends (great sharing plates)
What to make for dinner tonight? Host Priya’s vegan recipe
Recipe for a curry called Matoke Nu Shaak. Matoke is similar to plantain (but not exactly the same) Matoke can be purchased from most Indian orAfrican fruit and veg stalls.
4 Green Matoke (Plantain)
1 Large White Onion (Finely Chopped)
½ Tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp Oil
¼ tsp Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
¼ tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
2 tsp Coriander-Cumin Powder (Mix equal parts of both)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (this is mild version of chilli powder)
½ tsp Jaggery (Gōr)
Salt to taste
1 cup of water
Peel the matoke and cut them into 1cm thick discs (Do all of this in water so they don’t turn black).
In a bowl mix together the coriander-cumin powder, turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, jaggery and pinch of salt.
Heat oil on medium heat, once hot add the cumin and mustard seeds and asafoetida until you see the seeds popping. Then add the chopped onions and sauté until soft.
Blitz the tomatoes in a blender until smooth then add to the pan with 1 cup of water.
Strain the matoke in a sieve, add it to the pan.
Add the spices you mixed earlier on, mix well and simmer for 10 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally.
Check the matoke is soft, leave a little longer if not.
Garnish with coriander leaves, pomegranate, and dollop of yogurt and you have yourselves an east Indian Gujarati dish to enjoy!