The Kindly Vegan

vegan recipes - it's easy

Rich fruit & nut cake with olive oil

Christmas cake 2014 Christmas cake 2014(4)

Here we are, Summer past, and Autumn racing towards cold, dark, long Winter evenings.  On the bright side, with the onset of Winter we also have a special festive occasion to look forward to; the season of goodwill and compassion, the season of gifts and charity, and this Christmas lets not forget our animal friends, those voiceless faithful beings who deserve our love – let’s make this a special Christmas for them too – please spare a thought for those who share this earth with us equally.

………….whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the festive season is upon us and Christmas cake and mince pies come to mind;  friends, family and all things good to look forward to and brighten the long and dark winter nights.

Before I go further I have an admission……I have never, ever, baked a vegan fruit cake and even more scary I have never baked a rich fruit & nut cake with olive oil!!  In fact, I am not very good at baking cakes and yet I had to make a Christmas cake this year – I had to because I retired in May and for many years I have promised myself I will do all the things I have wanted to do, but never had the time, when I retire….and here we are.  Having trawled for recipes to modify to my spec, I decided nothing really appealed much – well I didn’t find many recipes for vegan fruit and nut cakes! I was also determined to use olive oil instead of vegan margarine and a little wholemeal flour to give the cake that divine yet earthy taste which of course made it more difficult to find anything to adapt!

We don’t eat much cake but when we do we don’t like it too sweet.  I have used 150 grams of brown sugar which is quite enough, but you could add a little more, say another 30 grams, if you like it sweeter.  I chopped the nuts but kept them quite chunky – we like nuts and I love bagging a big Brazil nut in my slice of cake.

Having soaked the fruits and nuts they patiently waited in the bowl, getting merrily tipsy, for 4 days while I shilly-shallied and eventually took the plunge – with much trepidation. A friend who bakes for angels sent me his basic fruit cake recipe which was a great help and I am grateful, however, I did make considerable changes to it and having done so, all I could do, was pop the cake in the oven and wait…….

My verdict:  Moist, earthy and wholemealy, very fruity and nutty, not overly sweet and pretty boozy.  If this lights your fire, then follow the recipe and you won’t go far wrong.  If you prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.  Whatever you do, don’t pass it by!  It is really quite simple – I was very anxious because I just didn’t know what to expect, but I think the gods were kind and the result just what I was hoping for – fortune does favour the brave……

Christmas cake 2014(3)


450 grams mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins)
100 grams glace cherries, halved (save a few whole for decorating the cake!)
100 grams Brazil nuts, chopped (save a few for decorating)
100 grams walnuts,chopped      = 750 grams fruit & nuts soaked in sherry
1 bottle cheap sweet Sherry
Dry ingredients
300 grams plain flour
100 grams wholemeal flour
80 grams ground almonds
1½ teaspoon baking powder
150 grams brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon cardamom powder (if you don’t have cardamom powder, pound 5-6 green cardamoms in a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, discard the skin and use the ground seeds)
½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
Pinch of salt
Wet ingredients
2 tablespoons agave syrup
250-260ml coconut milk (I used 250ml of Koko - only add extra 10ml if mixture is very stiff)
100ml olive oil


  1. Soak the mixed fruit, cherries, Brazil nuts and walnuts in the Sherry (I used about two-thirds of the bottle)Leave to soak for 24 hours but 48 hours is preferable and plumps up the fruit nicely and soaks up the Sherry!
  2. Grease and line a cake tin or a loaf tin with baking parchment (I used an 8½ inch round tin)
  3. Pre-heat oven to 160C, 325F or gas mark 3 (these temperatures are for non-fan assisted oven)
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  5. Strain the fruit and nuts and add to dry ingredients
  6. Add olive oil, coconut milk and agave syrup and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon beating air into the mixture
  7. Pour cake mixture into the lined tin and decorate with some glace cherries and Brazil nuts
  8. Bake for 2 hours.  Check after 1.5 hours and cover with a sheet of baking parchment – this helps to keep it from getting too brown.  All ovens are temperamental so be sure to check by pushing a skewer in the middle of the cake after 1 hour 45 minutes; if the skewer comes out clean the cake is ready.  I baked mine for 2 hours
  9. OPTIONAL: Leave the cake to cool for about 15 minutes, make holes in the cake with a skewer and pour a little Port, Rum, Brandy or Cointreau (about 25ml). Remove from tin when completely cool.  Rub a little more alcohol on the top and sides.
  10. Wrap in baking parchment and store in a tin.

Good luck and happy baking – may your kitchen be filled with the festive fragrance of fruits, nuts and Sherry of course!  I am planning to warm up a slice or two and have it with cream – Oatly do a very good vegan long life cream which is excellent because you can buy a couple and have it handy when needs must.

Spicy dry arvi

Arvi bhaji

Arvi or arbi or taro root, to my knowledge, is not part of the European cuisine and you may not be familiar with this.  It is a small root vegetable frequently cooked in Asian homes and can be made dry (as in this recipe, or in a curry sauce).  It is a hairy root vegetable, usually about 2 inches long and you will need to peel it before cooking.  The closest I can get to describing the texture is that of a raw banana – you will need to try it and make up your own mind.  I love it of course!

I wasn’t going to post this recipe because I knew very few people except Asians would know of it but I got a call from my friend Rani while I was cooking this and bitter gourd (more about that later!) and she asked if I was going to post it on my blog.  I said well not sure if many will be interested…. but she suggested some might and moreover, she loved arvi, so here we are, this one is for Rani.  So if you are feeling adventurous and feel like trying something different, and happen to see a small hairy root veggie at the local Asian grocer, buy some and try it – tastes very like a cross between a banana and potato and, who knows,  you may love it like me and Rani and the rest of the Asian population!


½ kilo arvi, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons oil
2 whole dried red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Fresh coriander, if available



  1. Heat oil and pop in the red chillies and after 1 minute add cumin seeds – these will brown very quickly so lower the heat
  2. Add arvi and fry on low for a few minutes
  3. Add spices and salt and fry on low heat for another couple of minutes
  4. Add small half cup of water, cover and cook on very low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it from sticking to the pan.  Best way to slow cook is to cover the lid in a tea cloth and place the lid firmly on the saucepan – use a heat dispenser if you have one
  5. The arvi should be dry when cooked but if you have some liquid left, uncover and dry it off, stirring all the time
  6. Sprinkle some chopped fresh coriander before serving

Simple black eyed bean stew

Blackeyed beans stew(2)

Black eyed bean stew is another one of those adapted Iranian dishes which was a regular at our home – my mother prepared it without the potato but I have used one potato to make it more substantial and who doesn’t like a potato?  It keeps well and can be frozen or prepared beforehand and warmed up before serving.  Goes well with rice or nan bread and should be just as tasty with a little quinoa on the side.  Any stew with beans is very welcome in our house specially in winter.  So do try, it is very simple and if you fancy freezing some, just double the quantities although I wouldn’t double the oil – just a little more oil would do the trick.

3-4 servings


1 cup black eyed beans (not necessary to soak these but reduces cooking time if soaked for 1 hour)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 large potato, 200 grams, diced
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ fresh dill, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
1 inch piece ginger, chopped or grated
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small sticks cinnamon
Salt to taste
1 whole dried lime, optional (available in Middle Eastern or some Asian supermarkets)

Blackeyed beans stew
Having added all ingredients and water prior to cooking at step 4.


  1. Rinse the beans, add 2½ cups of water and cook covered on lowest heat until nice and tender – about 30 minutes. Don’t strain as any leftover liquid can be added to the stew with the beans
  2. Fry onion and cinnamon in oil until onion is golden
  3. Add all other ingredients except dried lime (if using) and fry on low for about 3-4 minutes
  4. Add cooked beans together with 2 cups of water and cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until stew is nice and thick
  5. If using dried lime, crack it open and add after 20 minutes of cooking

Note: If too runny, remove lid and cook for a little longer to reduce the liquid. It is nice to leave some gravy in the stew as it goes well with crusty bread.

Leek & potato flan

Leek & Potato flan(2)

Hello again….. leek & potato flan following the success of spinach flan (yum!) – potatoes and leek make a more substantial filling and a green salad is all you need to go with it.  I tend to make a large flan using a 10 inch dish simply because it freezes well and is worth making more while you are at it!  Flans make a great meal and are excellent to take to work for lunch because you can eat it hot or cold without losing the taste or flavour.

Did an asparagus flan last night and made the shortcrust pastry myself with wholemeal flour – so much more flavour and texture when you do the pastry with wholemeal flour and do it yourself!  Will be posting this soon, so watch this space….

4-6 servings


3 med/large leeks, sliced
3-4 medium waxy potatoes (approximately 400-450 grams)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or mixed herbs
Approximately 450 grams firm silken tofu (a block of tofu is usually 349 grams in the UK – you will need 2 blocks – slice and marinate remaining tofu in soya sauce and pop into the freezer – see recipe for fried tofu - have used smokey flavouring for this one but recipe applies to all sorts of flavoured tofu, delicious)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon asafoetida (this gives the tofu an eggy flavour and is optional)
Large pinch turmeric for colour
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 sheet of frozen shortcrust pastry, defrosted (I used Jus Rol which is vegan)
10 inch flan dish

Leek & Potato flan(1)
Sauteed leeks


  1.  Boil potatoes in skin, peel and chop into small pieces
  2. Gently saute leeks in 2 tablespoons oil for 10-12 minutes – cover and stir to soften leeks
  3. Remove leeks and set aside. In same pan fry potatoes in remaining 1 tablespoon oil for 2-3 minutes.  Put leeks back in pan and mix with potatoes, little salt, black pepper and herbs
  4. Blend tofu with lemon juice, asafoetida, pinch of turmeric and a pinch of salt until smooth
  5. Add blended tofu to potatoes and leeks and mix thoroughly
  6. Roll out defrosted pastry and line the flan dish.  Place a piece of baking parchment and a handful of beans on it to weigh it down and blind bake at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 15 minutes (non-fan assisted oven)
  7. Remove from oven, discard paper and store beans in a jar for use later.
  8. Pour the tofu and potato mixture into the pastry case and bake for 25-30 minutes – check after 25 minutes and if the tofu is firm, the flan is ready

Sweet & sour fragrant beetroot

Fragrant Beetroot

How often do we have beetroot? And in what form do we eat it?  Most of us have had beetroot in salads (I did a mean summer beetroot salad you may like to try) or perhaps tried our skills with Borscht and pickled beetroot is an old favourite; but generally that is the extent of our association with this beautiful vegetable.  However, there is more to it and in the sub-continent people go a step further and curry it!  Iranians add grated beetroot to yogurt and of course the colour and taste of freshly squeezed beetroot juice is truly intoxicating. Just remembered, I also do a beetroot and carrot cake! I’d be the first to admit that I am not a dab hand with cakes and desserts but this cake is really scrumptious and I was very proud of the results, cakes not being my forté!  Will post this soonish….

Beetroot is a powerful antioxidant and belongs to the chard and spinach family and if you can find some with fresh leaves then chop the leaves and add these too.  Every time I see bunches of fresh beetroot I am tempted to pop one bunch into my basket not having a clue how I will use it but determined to do something different.  This time I adapted the curried version my Mum cooked when we were young and added some sweet and sour, omitting the curry powder and replacing it with fragrant spices like mace, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Beetroot Fragrant(2)

4 servings


Fresh beetroot 500 grams, boil and chop into small pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt, or according to taste


  1. Boil the beetroot in the skin, peel and chop into small pieces
  2. Fry the onion in oil until golden
  3. Add garlic, ginger, tomato puree and all other spices
  4. Fry on low heat, adding small splashes of water, for about 4-5 minutes
  5. Add beetroot and 200 ml water, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the spices and cooked and absorbed by the beetroot
  6. Add sugar and lemon juice – check and add more sugar/lemon juice according to taste
  7. Serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous or in a wrap

Rice, broad beans & herbs

Rice, broadbeans & parsley

On today’s menu, rice, broad beans & herbs – deliciously fragrant herbs and the smell wafts through the house drawing everyone to the kitchen! My upstairs neighbour always tells me how she loves the smell of my cooking floating up – makes her hungry which is always a good sign.

Rice is our staple at home; potatoes being a close second!  I grew up with rice as part of our meal every day although at home my mother would make chappatis too.  Rules of the table being, one chappati to start with followed by a helping of rice – the meal being balanced with a little wholemeal wheat in chappatis, rice, vegetables, dal and usually some yogurt with cucumber or spinach.  

My mother being of Iranian origin prepared some weird and wonderful rice dishes – Iranians do wild combinations of rice with vegetables, lentils, beans and dried fruit and most of these are served with loads of salad, yogurt and pickle.  I have already posted a rice pilau with broad beans with tomatoes but this one is with herbs – beautiful fragrant dill and flat leaf parsley.  It is simpler because the rice is boiled and simply added to the beans and herbs and stir fried for a few minutes.

Very quick, simple and takes no more time than popping a ready meal in the oven – serve with avocado, onion & tomato salad and/or beetroot salad and/or yogurt and cucumber. I hope you will try it and do variations for yourself by using peas, carrots, cauliflower florets, mange tout etc etc

I had some broad beans in the freezer which I had frozen earlier this year from the leftovers of the small crop in our garden.  Simply boil for 2 minutes, cool with lots of water and freeze.  I also freeze parsley and dill – wash, chop and freeze.  It’s the best way of preserving herbs and of course you will always have some to the ready when you need them.  Buy them when on special offer in Asian or Middle Eastern shops – I usually get 2 big bunches of dill for £1 and same with flat leaf parsley or coriander.

3-4 servings


2 cups Basmati rice (about 200 grams, soak for 1 hour)
2 cups cooked broad beans (fresh or frozen)
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
2 small sticks cinnamon
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Fry onion and cinnamon sticks in oil until onions are golden
  2. Cook the beans separately and add to onions along with parsley, dill, turmeric and a pinch of salt – fry on low heat for 4-5 minutes
  3. Rinse rice and boil with a half teaspoon of salt in lots of water until rice is cooked – about 5-7 minutes depending on quality of rice
  4. Strain rice in colander and add to beans and herb mixture
  5. Stir fry over low heat and warm through for about 2-3 minutes – use a spatula and stir gently so as not to break the rice grains

Veggie pot

Veggie pot served with sage cutlets

Made some vegan sage cutlets the other day and a week ago had made some parsley cutlets and served these with steamed vegetables.  Something slightly different as an accompaniment was called for this time round.  A bung it all in veggie pot sounded appetising (could almost taste it!) so that is exactly what I did.  Roughly chopped and sliced some veggies, popped them in a large saucepan and cooked in coconut milk with some herbs for flavouring and guess what? it was perfect!  Just what we needed to replace plain steamed vegetables and of course something new to add to our repertoire.

Give it a go as it couldn’t be simpler and is very satisfying specially now that autumn is here and winter on its way…..

4 good servings


4 medium potatoes (500-550 grams), thick slices
2 large carrots, sliced
2 large celery sticks, sliced
1 large onion, thickly sliced
200 ml coconut milk (coconut milk is creamier)
100 ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sachet of bouquet garni
2 bay leaves
Good pinch of salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon cornflour


  1. Put all the ingredients in a large deep pan and bring to boil
  2. Lower heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes
  3. Mix cornflour with a little water or milk and add to veggie pot to thicken the sauce

PS.  I did sprinkle the veg pot with a little paprika just before serving with vegan sage cutlets – looks pretty!

Vegan sage cutlets


Vegan sage cutlets are a variation I tried after doing the vegan parsley cutlets and it is well worth a go.  Used only garlic and sage and cut out the ginger and turmeric.  You could add thyme, rosemary or Italian mixed herbs and even some chilli if you like a bit of heat.  The basic recipe is the same – cannellini beans and vital wheat gluten which contains 75% protein and is generally used to make seitan.  It is fine to freeze so double the quantity and make more for another day.

I use Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten which is available online at Goodness Direct and I have also bought it from Whole Food stores.

I made a mixed vegetable pot to go with this which made a change to the usual steamed vegetables or salad.

6 cutlets


1 tin cannellini beans, rinse, drain and blend
1 cup (100grams) vital wheat gluten (available at Wholefoods or online)
3 large cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 full teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Half small cup cold water (about 50 ml)
Aluminium foil cut into about 6-7 inch wide strips (6 strips)
Cooking oil for frying cutlets


  1. Cut the strips of foil – you’ll need 6
  2. Blend the onion and garlic until smooth
  3. Separately blend the beans (a large plastic bowl is fine if using stick blender)
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with wooden spoon or use your hands
  5. Divide dough into 6 portions
  6. Lay one strip of foil on the chopping board, place one portion of cutlet mixture and shape into round or oval. Fold the foil over and lightly seal
  7. Wrap the rest of the cutlets in foil and place in steamer, one on top of the other
  8. Steam for 45 minutes
  9. Remove foil and shallow fry cutlets for about 4-5 minutes on low heat

These are fine to freeze so if you need to make more just double the quantities

Wrapped in foil

Vegan parsley cutlets


Vital wheat gluten is the natural protein found in wheat.  It contains 75% protein and is used to make seitan and in this recipe I have used it to make vegan parsley cutlets.  You could use the same recipe and vary the herbs and spices to make sausages.  I have another recipe for vegan sage cutlets which is a good variation and you can use thyme, rosemary or Italian mixed herbs to take it a step further.  It freezes well so just double the quantity and freeze for that rainy day.  

I use Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten which is available online at Goodness Direct and I have also bought it from Whole Food stores.

For variation try the cutlets with my veggie pot, all veggies available thrown together in a pot with some coconut milk and herbs – truly yummy

6 cutlets


1 tin cannellini beans, rinse, drain and blend
1 cup vital wheat gluten (available at Wholefoods or online at Goodness Direct)
3 large cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
1 small onion
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Half small cup cold water
Aluminium foil cut into about 6 inch wide strips
Cooking oil for frying cutlets

Wrapped in foil


  1. Cut the strips of foil – you’ll need 6
  2. Blend the onion, garlic and ginger until smooth
  3. Separately blend the beans (a large plastic bowl is fine if using stick blender)
  4. Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with wooden spoon or use your hands
  5. Divide dough into 6 portions
  6. Lay one strip of foil on the chopping board, place one portion of cutlet mixture and shape into round or oval. Fold the foil over and lightly seal
  7. Wrap the rest of the cutlets in foil and place in steamer, one on top of the other
  8. Steam for 45 minutes
  9. Remove foil and shallow fry cutlets for about 4-5 minutes on low heat

These are fine to freeze so if you need to make more just double the quantities


Spinach flan

Spinach flan(2)

There are various recipes around for vegan flans but while preparing this spinach flan my priority was to keep it as simple as possible.  Broadly speaking, what we are doing is using spinach, onion and parsley for the filling and blended tofu to hold it together and give it that wonderful creamy taste and texture.  So although the ingredients list looks a bit long, it is quite simple.  

First of all get the pastry out and leave it to defrost.  Next cook the spinach, squeeze out the excess liquid and chop. Once you’ve done this, the rest is simply frying onions etc, adding spinach and parsley to it, blending the tofu,  rolling out the pastry and baking!  Admittedly it takes longer to prepare then say no-egg scramble, but it is definitely worth that little extra effort and of course what you don’t eat, if you don’t, you can freeze it for another day.

I used a good pinch of Asafoetida in mine which gives it an oomph so it might be worth getting a small jar from an Asian store or you could buy it online.  I also use it in no-egg scramble but it is optional.

4 good servings


1 sheet of frozen shortcrust pastry, defrosted (I used Jus Rol which is vegan)
450-500 grams fresh spinach, cooked, chopped and water squeezed out (I steam mine)
1 large onion, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (I tend to buy big bunches, wash, chop and freeze)
Firm tofu – I used Cauldron which comes in approx 400gm size pack
1 good tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon milk (soya, coconut or almond are all fine)
Good pinch of turmeric for colour
Salt and black pepper (you could use black salt instead to give it an eggy flavour)
Good pinch of asafoetida (optional – this is also gives the tofu an eggy flavour)


  1. Gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil for about 8-10 minutes until soft and translucent but not brown (cover and stir is best to soften the onion)
  2. Add parsley and fry for a further 2-3 minutes then add spinach, a little salt and pepper and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture is well blended
  3. Put tofu, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon milk, good pinch of turmeric and a little salt/black salt, asafoetida (if using) and blend until smooth.  Add another tablespoon of milk if it doesn’t go round well in the blender but not too much milk!
  4. Mix the spinach and the blended tofu and set aside
  5. Roll out the pastry to fit the size of the flan dish (mine is 10 inches round but there is no reason why you can’t use an oblong dish – the pastry is oblong so would make it easier!)
  6. Line the pastry dish with the pastry and blind bake by putting a sheet of baking parchment and a handful of raw beans in it for 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 (non-fan assisted oven)
  7. Remove beans and baking parchment and let the pastry shell cool for a few minutes
  8. Pour the spinach and tofu mixture into the flan dish and smooth the top
  9. Pop back into the oven for 25 minutes (check after 20 minutes as oven temperatures vary – press the filling with your finger and it should feel firm)
  10. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting – good warm or cold and can be frozen
« Older posts

© 2014 The Kindly Vegan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑