The Kindly Vegan

vegan recipes - it's easy

Easy potato cakes

Potato cakes

I love potato cakes, don’t you?  When I was a veggie I dipped them in beaten egg before frying, but gram flour does an amazing job and coats the cakes beautifully – no sticking to the pan either.  Make sure you use floury roasting potatoes like King Edward’s and not waxy potatoes which stick to the hands and don’t make fluffy, light potato cakes.

Double the quantity if you wish to freeze.  Also very useful for a packed lunch, put it in a wrap or my no-roll buckwheat flatbread with some salad and away you go.


800 grams floury baking potatoes like King Edwards (don’t use waxy potatoes)
200 grams sweet potato
1 teaspoon onion powder or granules
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (I use Bob’s Red Mill but this is not easily available in the UK – you may find it in Wholefoods. The other choice is Marigold Engevita which is available in health food stores or from Goodness Direct)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander and parsley (use both or either)
2 heaped tablespoons gram flour (basan) for coating (gram flour is chickpea flour and available in Asian stores and most supermarkets)
¼ teaspoon black salt or kala namak to add to batter for coating (optional – black salt is available from Asian stores and also online)
Oil for frying


  1. Peel potatoes and sweet potato, cut into thick slices and steam. I find this is the best and simplest method but you could boil them in the skin and then peel
  2. Mash potatoes and sweet potato and add all the spices, fresh herbs, nutritional yeast and salt
  3. Mix the gram flour with about 40ml water and add black salt or ordinary salt and beat into smooth runny batter
  4. Form 6-7 large round potato cakes
  5. Heat oil in frying pan, dip potato cake in batter and shallow fry on both sides until golden (fry on low/medium)

Note: These potato cakes will freeze well and are good for a rainy day when you simply can’t be bothered to cook

No-roll buckwheat flatbread


Buckwheat flatbread(3)
 Above you can see the plain flatbread and the one with onions and coriander

The other day I was flicking through my old copy of Crank’s cook book – it reminds of days when veggie restaurants were rare and the only vegetarian food you could get was in an Asian restaurant or for the quirky pure veggie experience at Govinda’s which is still flying the flag in Soho Street.  Cranks closed down in the early 80s with much sadness never to be resurrected in the old, aesthetic, organic format.  But I have digressed….. so ok, I was flicking through the cook book and came across buckwheat flour!  Ah buckwheat flour, now that was a staple in the early days when we embraced a vegetarian lifestyle – it brought back wholesome memories of buckwheat flour in stews and buckwheat flatbread and buckwheat pancakes.  

In those days there wasn’t much available by way of ready meals nor did we have any substitutes except for dried soya protein which I still use frequently.  So I decided to resurrect my buckwheat flatbread or wraps (back then we didn’t know about wraps either – just simple good life people….) but I couldn’t remember the recipe – well of course I couldn’t, it was more than 30 years ago.  I am also sure I didn’t use soya flour but decided to add this to my recipe for nutrition (rich in protein), moisture and take the edge off the rich, nutty, slightly bitter taste of buckwheat and made a relatively lighter flatbread. By this time I was in my cook’s element….. so I bunged in yet another flour I am sure I hadn’t used – potato flour – well you can’t go wrong with potatoes, can you and I am sure they imparted a slight spring to the bread….. hmmm? You don’t have to use soya flour but I tried without and have to say prefer the version with the soya flour.

The next challenge was to bypass the “roll the flatbread” stage….. too messy and takes time and not helpful for those with little time to cook… would a thick batter work?  Try it yourself – it worked beautifully and not a bit stuck on the pan either.  Just make sure you keep the batter thick and spread it to fit the pan with the back of a spatula or blunt knife.  Eat on its own, take to lunch stuffed with hummus, salad, or dip in yogurt with chopped onion, cucumber & tomato with a good pinch of dried mint – see picture above

Buckwheat flatbread

6 small flatbreads (using small 5 inch frying pan)


100 grams buckwheat flour
50 grams soya flour (if you don’t wish to use soya flour, increase the buckwheat to 150 grams)
50 grams potato flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder/granules
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon salt
220 ml cold water
Little oil


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add 220 ml of cold water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon until smooth. You should have a thick batter. Be careful with the water; a runny batter will produce something more like a pancake.
  2. In a small frying pan heat ½ tablespoon of oil (I used my small 5 inch frying pan but you could use a larger one if you wish to save time cooking!)
  3. Drop a heaped tablespoon of batter in the pan and quickly spread it to the edges using a spatula or blunt knife.
  4. Cook on low for 3 minutes on each side (6-7 minutes in total), pressing gently with the spatula. It doesn’t stick and is easy to flip over.


Add small amount of finely chopped onion and fresh parsley or coriander to the batter

Hearty Winter Pasta

Pasta, spinach & soya mince

I did a simple all in one spaghetti a while ago when the sun was shining and a light pasta dish was so welcome with a glass of wine in the garden.  But those days are gone, the sun is waning and the evenings are closing in – it is after all November!  This hearty winter pasta is based on the all in one style but is far more robust and well, hearty!  We had a friend coming to dinner and I decided to make it a little bit special and quickly fried a few meat free balls for topping!  It went down very well indeed and second helpings were in order.

I have used a pasta which I had never seen or tried before called Casarecce – it is not actually a tube like penne, but more like rolled flat strips of pasta.  It worked beautifully and absorbed the sauce far more effectively than penne – a shape of pasta I have never really warmed to.  So grab yourself a pack of Casarecce next time you’re shopping – I am now hooked and well stocked up.

4-5 servings


400 grams pasta (I used Casarecce which worked beautifully – available at Sainsburys in UK)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large tomatoes, about 400 grams, chopped
200 grams fresh spinach or equivalent amount frozen spinach (chop if leaves are big)
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley (I buy big bunches, wash, chop and freeze – works well)
40 grams dehydrated soya mince (frozen vegan mince is fine too – about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon soya sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
100ml red wine (optional, but it does add to the flavour)
Salt to taste
Vegan meat balls (optional – I used VegiDeli available at Holland & Barretts in UK and Goodness Direct online)

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(4)
Onion & garlic with tomatoes added

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(3)
Mixture ready for the pasta to go in


  1. Fry onions and garlic in olive oil on low heat until translucent but not brown
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until mushy
  3. Add chopped parsley and fry for a couple of minutes to release flavours
  4. Add spinach, soya sauce, oregano and wine
  5. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes until spinach has wilted and ingredients well mixed
  6. Add 650ml of water and the Casarecce.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and let it cook gently – packet says 10-12 minutes, but check. Keep stirring and check for salt.  Best to keep a kettle on the boil in case you need a drop more water.
  7. Fry the vegan meat balls and add before serving

Pasta, spinach & soya mince(2)


Chilli Napolitana

Chilli Napolitana

I wouldn’t describe myself as a big Chilli fan…… it could be that I am simply accustomed to a different taste and recipe.  In Asian homes, we cook red kidney beans called Rajma not with just the traditional Chilli spices like cumin and chilli powder,  but with a variety of curry spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, chilli powder, garlic and ginger and this is finally garnished with fresh coriander, served with plain steamed rice; it is a warming and hearty meal.  My mother would soak the red kidney beans overnight and then cook them in a pressure cooker the next day – the stock and juices were retained. The onion, tomatoes and spices were prepared in a separate pan and the beans added to this spicy mixture and gently simmered;  some of the beans were mashed with the back of the wooden spoon to thicken the gravy, resulting in a very aromatic dish of Rajma in a gorgeous, lusciously thick sauce, yum! Will post the recipe next time I get the urge for Rajma soon.

And this is how Chilli Napolitana came to be on our menu when we fancied red kidney beans as filling for our humble jacket potatoes…. and as the name suggests, it is an Italian variation where I have omitted the usual Chilli  ingredients, cumin and chilli powder, and resorted to Italian herbs like oregano and basil – half a cup of red wine takes it to a higher level!

If you use it as filling for jacket potatoes: enough for 3-4 large baking potatoes or 6 medium sized potatoes


1 medium onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tin chopped tomatoes, 400 grams
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tin red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 good teaspoon dried oregano
1 good teaspoon dried basil
½ cup red wine (optional, but definitely tastier with!)
Salt to taste


  1. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent but not brown
  2. Add tin of tomatoes, tomato puree and 1 cup water (about 200ml)
  3. Cover and cook the tomatoes for about 20 minutes
  4. Add beans, herbs, wine and salt and cover and cook for a further 20 minutes until the chilli is thick

Serve with jacket potatoes or rice

Wholemeal apple & cider pie

Wholemeal apple & cider pie(2)

Yesterday being a Saturday, I trotted down to our local Farmer’s market …. the varieties of brassicas was something to behold.  Came back with a huge bunch of Red Russian Kale, Cavolo Nero, apples and a gorgeous crusty loaf of rosemary bread!  Apples in the Farmer’s market are quite unlike the ones in the supermarket – you can smell them from a distance as you approach the stall, lined up with boxes of varieties unheard of in the shops.  On my way I had a hazy idea of doing an apple pie but she had run out of cookers!  Undaunted I bought some Cox’s, a very fragrant, slightly tart and crisp apple which is on the top of the list of apple lovers in the UK, specially if you buy them from the Farmer’s market, or if you are lucky, pick them from your tree.  I used to have an apple tree but it got sick and had to be cut down….sad.

Having got the Cox’s, I wasn’t sure which way the pie was going as this apple keeps its shape and traditional British apple pie (as far as I am aware) uses cooking apples, like Bramleys which go mushy and are very tart.  American apple pie on the other hand uses eating apples and the apples are not  cooked prior to baking.   I wanted the apples to stick together when cooked and not fall apart when the pie was cut….that wouldn’t look too good although wouldn’t have made much difference to the taste.  I also had a vision of a dense, moist filling, almost like mince meat used in mince pies.  I decided if I coarsely grated the apples, and cooked them in cider (bells ringing now!!), used dark unrefined sugar and then a little arrowroot powder to bind the mixture, I might win the battle of the perfect slice of apple pie.

As the apples simmered in cider, the kitchen filled with the heady fragrance of apples. cider with hints of cinnamon; at this point I could have just eaten the boozy apple stew with ice cream and been a very happy bunny indeed.  But I restrained myself from indulging in this wicked temptation and popped the pie into the oven, waited impatiently for it to cook, let it sit for a few minutes and then cut a deep, large slice.  Lifted it onto a plate………and hey, a perfect slice of rich, dark, fragrant apple pie, with a distinct flavour of the whole bottle of cider I had used up!  

The wholemeal pastry makes this a hearty, hefty apple pie but if you prefer a lighter texture, use white flour and cut out the baking powder.  I hope you will try this as having tasted it, I for one will never go back to the basics.

Wholemeal apple & cider pie

Using my newly acquired enamel pie dish

Wholemeal apple & cider pie(3)


6 servings

Ingredients for apple pie
500 grams eating apples (slightly tart, crisp variety, I used Cox’s)
Half cup, about 60 grams mixed dried fruit (raisins & currants)
500ml still cider
2 inch stick cinnamon
70 grams natural unrefined cane sugar (I used Billington’s Molasses sugar for a rich dark finish, but you could use the lighter variety)
1 heaped teaspoon arrowroot powder

Ingredients for wholemeal shortcrust pastry (600 grams for 8 inch pie dish)
400 grams plain wholemeal flour (I used Allinson’s wholemeal flour, available at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. If you prefer a lighter pastry, you can use white flour of course and cut out the baking powder)
200 gram margarine
4 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
50ml cold water

Instructions for shortcrust pastry

  • Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and margarine. Rub together with your fingertips to mix margarine with the flour – should resemble breadcrumbs
  • Add cold water and form a dough
  • Wrap in cling film, shape the dough into a ball (easier with the cling film on) and leave in fridge for 30 minutes or longer.  It is important to keep pastry cool at all times
  • Flour a large pastry board or work surface and roll out pastry to fit dish
  • Bake according to instructions in recipe

Instructions for apple pie

  1. Make the pastry and leave in fridge to keep cool (it’s very important to keep pastry cool at all times)
  2. Now peel, core and coarsely grate the apples
  3. Put in stainless steel pan and add dried fruit, cinnamon and cider and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes
  4. Remove cinnamon stick and add sugar. Bring to boil and lower heat and cook for another 10-15 minutes stirring intermittently – check for sweetness and add a little more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.  There should be very little liquid left in the pan (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  5. Mix the arrowroot powder with 2 tablespoons cold water and add to apples. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes – you should now have a thick apple stew, bound together in a rich glaze.  If it still looks a little runny, add some more arrowroot and cook on medium/high, stirring all the time until nice and thick
  6. You will need to round sheets of pastry for the pie; the bottom sheet larger than the top crust sheet
  7. Divide the pastry into two (one larger than the other) and roll out the large sheet and line the pie dish with this
  8. Pour the apple stew into the pie dish and cover with second slightly smaller sheet
  9. Press the edges to seal – use a little water to help seal pastry. You can flute the edges if you wish – I use the back of a wooden spoon to flute
  10. Pop into pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 30-35 minutes (adjust temperature for fan assisted ovens and check pie after 30 minutes)
  11. Serve with Oatly long life cream or a scoop or two of non-dairy ice cream – I like Swedish Glace available at Waitrose!

Wholemeal shortcrust pastry

Wholmeal Spinach flan
Spinach flan with wholemeal pastry

Who remembers Cranks? This wholemeal shortcrust pastry recipe is from my old, oh so old and beloved Cranks’ Recipe Book and every time I go through it I am overwhelmed by this feeling of happy days and the first ever vegetarian, organic, wholefood restaurant in London.   Started by David Canter and his wife Kay, Cranks was one of the first to promote wholesome and ethical vegetarian food but sadly Cranks closed down in 2001 paying the price for not keeping up with times, not cutting costs and serving food on hand-thrown pottery plates and refusing to compromise on the high standards in their kitchen which had made them so popular in the 60s.

Just follow the instructions below and you will not fail.  The trick with all pastry is to keep things cool and don’t laboriously knead the dough…. margarine straight from the fridge, cool bowl, cold water and rub the flour and margarine lightly with your finger tips, quickly pull pastry together and roll into ball and leave in fridge for use later.

The pastry measurements below are for 450 grams of pastry which will give you enough to cover the bottom of a 10 inch flan dish – to calculate the amount of pastry, add the weight of the flour with the margarine, in this case 300+150=450


300 grams wholemeal flour (I used Allinson’s wholemeal flour)
150 grams vegan margarine (keep it cold in the fridge before use)
3 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
45-50 ml cold water


  • Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and margarine. Rub together with your fingertips to mix margarine with the flour – should resemble breadcrumbs
  • Add cold water and form a dough
  • Wrap in cling film, shape the dough into a ball (easier with the cling film on) and leave in fridge for 30 minutes.  It is important to keep pastry cool at all times
  • Flour a large pastry board or work surface and roll out pastry to fit dish
  • Bake according to instructions in recipe

Chickpeas & spinach soup

Chickpea & spinach soup(2)

If you stock tins of beans and chickpeas in your larder as I do, you won’t have any trouble putting this together in a jiffy.  I used frozen whole leaf spinach which I always keep in the freezer as it is so handy just when you need to chuck in a few 100 grams of spinach in your curry, lentils or just steam to go with your meal.

This chickpeas & spinach soup is so yummy, I promise it will become a permanent feature on your menu.  This recipe produces two regular soup helpings and one whopping big helping for yourself on a cold, winter’s evening.  I resisted the temptation to use tomatoes!   I wanted to avoid an overwhelming taste of tomatoes but instead to allow the earthiness of the chickpeas to dominate without hindrance from any other competing flavour and as much as I love tomatoes, they do tend to take over!


Chickpea & spinach soup

2 regular, 1 meal size serving


1 tin chickpeas (400 grams), drained
80-100 grams fresh or frozen leaf spinach, chop fresh spinach (don’t be tempted to add more spinach as it will overwhelm the soup!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt to taste
250ml water


  1. Puree one-third of the chickpeas with a little water from the 200ml
  2. Fry the onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent but not brown
  3. Take off heat, add spices, oregano, whole and pureed chickpeas and water
  4. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, then add chopped spinach and salt to taste
  5. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Adjust seasoning and check consistency for preference

Stir fried rice, leeks & peas

Rice, leeks & peas(4)

Rice, as a staple food, never ceases to amaze me – it is so versatile and can be boiled, steamed, layered, and stir fried and almost any vegetable, lentil or bean can be added to make it a meal in one.  Add a handful of dried fruit and nuts and it is transformed into a dish fit for a king or queen of course!  Iranians do some extraordinary dishes with rice and use almost any dried fruit and nut available.  Barberry is a small gorgeous deep red berry, slightly tart, and is used frequently to add a hint of sour.  You can buy these in Iranian or Middle Eastern shops and also online at Sous Chef and are a useful addition to the larder.

This recipe is for stir fried rice, leeks & peas and I have thrown in a small handful of barberries.  If you don’t have barberries, you can substitute these with cranberries instead which are easily available – the link is for Neal’s Yard cranberries available at Holland & Barrett . The stir fried method of combining rice with vegetables etc is the simplest way of cooking rice with vegetables as you don’t need to worry about the amount of water you add to the rice as in pilau rice, where rice and vegetables are cooked in the same pot with a measured amount of water.  

Try it this weekend with some quick and easy curried spring greens or butternut squash with borlotti beans – both of which I have posted earlier today.

4 servings


2 cups (200-225 grams) Basmati rice (soak for 1 hour)
500 grams leeks, (sliced thinly)
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons barberries OR cranberries (soak in cold water for 10 minutes)
1 teaspoon salt


  1. In a large wok, fry the leeks in the olive oil until edges turn golden and leeks are soft
  2. Add peas and barberries or cranberries and fry gently for a further 3-4 minutes
  3. Rinse the rice a few times and boil in lots of salted water. Lower heat to medium once boiling and cook for about 3-4 minutes until rice is cooked (depends on the quality of the rice so keep an eye and check – eye balling is the best approach to cooking rice)
  4. Strain in colander and add to the leeks mixture in the wok and fry with a spatula, turning over gently for a couple of minutes to mix thoroughly

Curried Borlotti beans & squash

Squash & borlotti beans curry

Butternut squash is in fact a fruit but is used as a vegetable that can be roasted, used to make delicious sweet soup, added to casseroles, mashed and added to cake and curried!  The one true advantage of butternut squash is that it keeps and gets sweeter and deeper in colour – oh that glowing rich orange, pity can’t be eaten as a fruit!  Just let it sit on your kitchen table decoratively and use as and when.  Once cut, put a piece of cling film on the cut side and pop into the fridge and will last for yet another week for when you get round to making some soup or bread or cake. 

This combination of curried borlotti beans & squash lends another dimension to the versatility of butternut squash; I have added spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and mace for a heady fragrant concoction and it is delicious with rice or quinoa.


400 grams butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tin Borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, sliced
2 good tablespoons oil
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch piece ginger, grated
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of mace
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Fresh coriander for garnish (optional)


  1. Fry onion in oil until golden
  2. Take pan off heat, add all spices, salt and tomato puree and fry spices on low heat, adding small splashes of water, for about 4-5 minutes
  3. Add squash, Borlotti beans and 1 small cup of water
  4. Cover and cook on low for about 20-25 minutes until squash is cooked
  5. Chop and sprinkle fresh coriander, if using

Curried Spring Greens

Spring greens curried

Springs greens are very closely related to kale, crunchy and sweet and yet so humble….. one of the tastiest brassicas available and cheaper than kale and very good value.  I never go past spring greens without popping some in my shopping trolley.  Spring greens are delicious steamed, stir fried, soup-ed or as in this case curried spring greens; cooked with tomatoes and spices, it will have you coming back for more! Don’t cut off all the stem unless very tough; just chop them fine as they are very sweet.


500 grams spring greens, wash and chop
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
1 large tomato, chopped
1 tablespoons tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1½ inch piece ginger, chopped
1½ teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric


  1. In a deep pan, fry onion in oil until golden
  2. Take pan off heat, add spices, salt, tomato, tomato puree and fry on low heat for a couple of minutes
  3. Cover and cook on low heat until tomato is softened, about 7-8 minutes will do the trick
  4. Add greens and 1 small cup water(about 100ml)
  5.  Cook covered on low heat for about 15-20 minutes – if you are left with too much liquid, uncover pan and dry off on medium heat stirring to ensure greens don’t stick to the pan
  6. Serve with rice or wrapped in a tortilla or chapati
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