Tag Archives: vegan


Crispy potato based rice

Rice with roast potatoes


This is a variation of one of many Iranian rice dishes and this crispy potato based rice is simple to prepare and delicious with salad or a light curry.

So we just boil the rice as usual, pop it on a layer of sliced potatoes and steam to create a fabulous dish of crunchy and moist potatoes with rice – a simple, appetising dish of rich to be served with either a salad or a light curry – we had it with aubergine with chana dal cooked with soya mince and it was a huge success!  Click here for the aubergine recipe

Aubergine, chana dal & mince

4 good servings


300 grams Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour at least
4 large waxy potatoes, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt


  • Rinse rice, add salt and boil in a large deep pan with lots of water
  • Good quality basmati rice will take about 3 minutes from boiling to cook – keep it al dente
  • Strain rice in colander and add the peas and gently stir to mix
  • In the same pan, put the oil and 4 tablespoons of water
  • Layer the potatoes on the base of the pan
  • Top it with rice, cover the lid with a clean tea cloth and steam on med/high for 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and steam for further 15 minutes.
  • To loosen the potatoes, place the saucepan in an inch of cold water in the sink for 3 minutes

Aubergine with chana dal and soya mince

Aubergine, chana dal & mince

Mince and chana dal (split peas) cooked in a rich tomato sauce and whole dried lime, split in two is a very popular dish in Iran.  Dried lime can be bought at Middle Eastern or Asian stores or online, click here.   I have successfully added aubergines to this dish as aubergines go very well with soya mince and tomatoes.  Served with plain boiled rice or flat bread this makes a very satisfying and healthy meal to serve to the family! 

I tend to add a pinch of baking soda when cooking any tough legume or bean as this hastens the cooking time – a trick I learnt from my dear Laxmi, who was a loving and gentle second mother to me and my family.


Half cup chana dal, preferably soaked for an hour but not absolutely essential
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large aubergine, cut into large cubes
1 cup frozen soya mince (you could use dried soya mince too, click here to buy online)
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 level teaspoon turmeric
3-4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin of tomatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
1 dried lime, split in two (optional, click here to buy online) 


  • Rinse and cook chana dal with a quarter teaspoon of baking powder – baking powder will expedite the cooking process! Be careful you don’t overcook the chana dal and keep it whole, strain and set aside
  • Fry onions in oil until golden
  • Add tomatoes, turmeric, garlic, ginger and salt
  • Aubergine, chana dal & mince(2)
  • Cover and cook on low with a small splash of water until tomatoes are softened, about 20-25 minutes
  • Add aubergine, soya mince, cooked chana dal and dried lime.  Add a cup of water, cover and cook on low heat for a further 20 minutes until the stew is thick and aubergines cooked
  • Serve with boiled rice or flat bread – why not try this Maneesh I made the other day!



Spicy roast cauliflower

Roast cauliflower

Here’s a cauliflower roast to spice up your meal.  It is easy, just mix ingredients into thickish batter, coat cauli and bake – done.


Small cauliflower
2 heaped tablespoons gram flour (basan)
1 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (optional)
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil in batter
2 tablespoons oil in roasting pan


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients above up to 1 tablespoon oil and add a little water to make a smooth, thickish paste – enough to coat the cauli but not run off! If too thin, add a little more gram flour
  2. Put an inch of water in pan and par boil whole cauliflower for 5 minutes only
  3. Remove the cauliflower, allow to cool a little, then coat with batter
  4. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a roasting pan and roast cauliflower in preheated oven at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 20 minutes

Cauliflower & peas

Cauliflower & peas

Cauliflower and peas, another quickie to eat with either flatbread or with rice and dal.


1 small cauliflower
1 large cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Little chilli powder (optional)
Salt to taste
Few curry leaves (optional if you don’t have it but they do add a lovely flavour. It is easier to find these days, I have seen some in Tescos in the veg section and also Schwartz do one in a little bottle – well worth adding to your cupboard)


  • Cut the cauliflower into small florets and leave in a bowl covered with water
  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds
  • As soon as they begin to pop and they do! take off heat and add all the spices including salt
  • Add a tiny splash of water and gently fry spices for a couple of minutes
  • Add cauliflower and peas, cover tightly and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring intermittently to ensure it doesn’t stick to the pan
  • You may need to add a small splash of water but if the cauli is soaked in water, you shouldn’t need any

Jiffy chickpeas

Chickpeas easy(2)

A jiffy chickpeas recipe for quick lunch which you could take to work or have with pitta bread.


1 tin chickpeas, drained
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Good pinch chilli powder (optional, use sweet paprika if you don’t like it hot!)
A little salt to taste
Few curry leaves  (optional if you don’t have it but they do add a lovely flavour. It is easier to find these days, I have seen some in Tescos in the veg section and also Schwartz do one in a little bottle – well worth adding to your cupboard)


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds
  2. When the seeds turn brown (1 minute), take off heat and add all the spices, tomatoes & curry leaves
  3. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low heat until tomatoes are softened
  4. Add chickpeas, cook for a further 3-4 minutes and serve

Jiffy Fava Beans

Fava beans

If you’ve not tried Fava beans you’ve missed out big time!  I usually just buy Egyptian, Lebanese or Saudi style fava beans in tins as these are so quick and easy for lunch or as a side dish with some veg.  The other day it occurred to me that I had never actually tried buying plain fava beans in a tin and popping in some of my own flavours….this has now been remedied and here we are, fava beans in a jiffy and you can add whichever herb(s) you wish; thyme, marjoram, oregano, mint, parsley or coriander as I have in this recipe.

Goes well with the Maneesh (click here for the recipe) I also made the other day or cold with a green salad.



1 tin of fava beans
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oil
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin powder
A little chopped fresh coriander
Lemon juice


  1. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until golden
  2. Add turmeric and cumin powder and on low heat give it a quick stir or two
  3. Drain the beans and add to the onion mixture
  4. On low heat, stir the beans to blend with the spices for 3-4 minutes
  5. Sprinkle some fresh coriander and lemon juice

Maneesh – Middle Eastern flatbread


So here we are….Maneesh done and dusted and to clinch the deal, it is simple. Always wanted to try this but for me trying a new bread recipe is inevitably daunting. The thing to do is take the plunge and see what happens….never fails to surprise me…either a total failure, a tad stodgy, not like the last loaf I made etc etc, or simply perfect, and this Maneesh was an unqualified success; trust me, follow the recipe, don’t worry about the dough being a little sloppy or sticky, see it rise and blow up, pat it into disks and pop it into the oven.

I have followed Paul Hollywood’s basic recipe with a little tweaking. For example, I found 300ml of water was sufficient, the dough is quite sticky and soft but that is how it is meant to be.  Use olive oil on the work surface or pastry board while kneading, you may need to do this a few times.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough didn’t work for me as it stuck to the dough so just pat it with your hands and push it outwards with your fingers to form a respectable disk – that’s simple and works; the result is what you see in the picture.

For garnish I have used Zaatar which is a mix of powdered dried herbs and spices used lavishly in the Middle East, Egypt and Lebanon.  There are various recipes for Zaatar but the basic is thyme, sesame seeds, sumak and a little salt; if you can’t lay your hands on sumak, just leave it out or add a tiny bit of citric acid powder.  Here is a link if you wish to buy Zaatar online – it is a delicious and fragrant mix which can be sprinkled on toast, salads, soups and stews.

Another thing I noticed about Maneesh was that when it came out of the oven, smelling heavenly of course, it was quite crusty, however, the top softens somewhat when cool. In this batch we are going to make 3 loaves of Maneesh – I put a couple in the fridge and the next day I warmed these in the oven for 3-4 minutes and it was beautifully crusty again! It is fine to freeze and easy to take to work with a slice of vegan cheese or whatever you fancy.  By the way, I also tried a piece with some damson jam….divine! 

Makes 3 loaves


500 grams strong white flour
2 level teaspoons salt
25 grams/2 level tablespoons caster sugar
10g fast action yeast
1½ tablespoon olive oil plus some for kneading and rolling
300ml lukewarm water 

Topping – mix ingredients and set aside
3 heaped tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons Zaatar
3 tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little more to make a spreadable paste)



  • In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast
  • Add olive oil and two-thirds of the water and mix
  • Add more water and continue to bring the flour together into a ball – this will be quite sticky but that’s fine
  • Oil a pastry board or work surface and knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes (click here for kneading video). You may need to coat the board with more oil if the dough sticks and it will!
  • The dough should now be smooth and soft but could still be a little sticky, no worries
  • Form into a ball, place in a clean bowl and cover with clean teacloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes – it should double, if not give it a little more time


  • Turn it over on the board and flatten it by folding it back on itself a few times – it will be quite springy!
  • Divide into 3 portions and flatten each portion out with the palm of your hands; use your fingers to make an approximate circle and push the dough gently away from you as you do this. Rolling pin didn’t work for me as the dough is very bouncy!
  • Place on 3 oiled trays, cover loosely with cling film and let it rest for 20 minutes
  • Gently brush the Zaatar and sesame seed paste on to the Maneesh – I used a blunt knife
  • Pop into a pre-heated oven at 230C/450F or gas mark 8. My oven only goes up to 220 so that is what I had to settle for and it worked
  • The cooking time will vary from oven to oven, which rack the bread is on in the oven and the temperature. The one on the top shelf in my oven was done in 15 minutes; the other two on the lower shelf took almost 20 minutes so eyeballing is essential
  • Cool on a wire rack if you’re strong….I tore a piece out almost immediately off my first loaf as you can see in the picture if you look real hard!

Now sit back and admire your handiwork….artisan bread you can be rightly proud of!


Potato & Leek Gratin

Potato & leek gratin(2)

I think almost all my favourite dishes have one invariable…..Potatoes!! What about you? Okay so what vegetable teams best with potatoes?  For me leeks or onions…they both add a sweetness and creaminess no other vegetable can come close to, specially if the leeks or onions are sauteed.

So here we have potato & leek gratin minus the cheese – why no cheese? because we don’t need cheese, not at all.  Simply add a dollop of good quality nutritional yeast and you have a perfect, creamy, cheesy sauce.

I hope you will try this as it is simply the best potato and leek bake I have done to date and yet it is simple and takes very little time to prepare.  Serve with some greens (I love spinach!) or a salad – anything goes! 

3-4 servings


6 medium waxy potatoes (boiling potatoes) about 700 grams, thinly sliced
2 large or 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
I packet Vegan “bacon”, about 8 rasher (I use VBites Vegetarian Rashers which are vegan)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (not your best olive oil!)
1 heaped tablespoon nutritional yeast (I use Bob’s Red Mill which is excellent but a tad expensive – Marigold is a lot cheaper but I’ve not tried this)
1 small cup vegan cream, about 150ml (I use Oatly Longlife)
1 small cup water, about 100ml
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence or a mix of thyme, rosemary, oregano
2 level teaspoons cornflour
Little salt and pepper to taste

Potato & leek gratin


  1. Fry the thinly sliced leeks and garlic in olive oil for about 10-12 minutes until wilted and cooked or until the edges just start to go brown – remove and set aside
  2. In the same pan, add roughly chopped up vegan rashers and fry for a couple of minutes
  3. Tip the leeks and bacon into a large ovenproof dish
  4. Cover with thinly sliced potatoes
  5. In a bowl mix together the cream, water, cornflour, nutritional yeast, herbs, salt and pepper and pour over the potato and leeks
  6. Cover and bake in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 40-45 minutes until potatoes are cooked
  7. Uncover and pop back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes to brown the potatoes

Step-by-step Vegetable Biryani

Veggie biryani(2)

Traditionally, biryani is a rice dish prepared for feasts or special occasions by cooks who are hired specially to cook a huge vat, often outside in the garden on an open fire or even in the street if you don’t have a garden. It is served with yogurt raita and salad and, for me, doesn’t need any other supporting dish. Most families will treat themselves to a simplified version of biryani over weekends or holidays.

Biryani is rice layered with a spicy, fragrant vegetable curry where the vegetable curry is sandwiched between two layers of rice – it is quite simple and hardly ever goes wrong.  The rice is cooked till it is al dente (almost cooked with a tiny bite to it) and you can use a whole range of vegetables or step out of line and add a tin of chickpeas or white beans. 

One would think that rice layered with a vegetable curry would taste no different to eating rice and curry, but you will be surprised how different it tastes once it is layered and steamed.  The trick with biryani is to use generous amounts of fragrant whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, nutmeg and star anise – biryani cooked by professional chefs for weddings etc use an awful lot of fragrant spices and liberally sprinkle the rice with rose water and saffron prior to steaming the rice.

Here is a step-by-step vegetable biryani recipe which works for me every time with a perfectly balanced amount of fragrant spices and if you cook curries often, the chances are you have all the ingredients in your cupboard – so what are we waiting for….let’s venture forth and cook biryani like the professionals or better!

Serves 4


2 cups, about 300 grams Basmati rice (soak for an hour at least)
Half a large cauliflower, cut into large florets
400-500 grams waxy potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
1 tin of seitan, cut into bite-size pieces (I use “Mock Duck” by Marigold) – you could use soya chunks or any other substitute
Fry together
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
Few cloves, cardamom, black pepper (about 4-5 each)
2-3 small pieces of cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons oil PLUS 1 tablespoon for layering rice (see below)
Mix together in a bowl
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder
2 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
4-5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato puree
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened soya yogurt
Juice of half lemon
½ teaspoon salt
Garnish – fry in a little oil for 1 minute
2 tablespoons each of cashews and raisins


  • Fry onions together with the whole spices listed above until onions are golden brown

Veggie biryani(3)

  • Mix all the other spices listed above and add to onions
  • Fry spices for about 5-7 minutes, adding small splashes of water, until the spices are cooked


  • Add potatoes, cauliflower and “mock duck”
  • Add approximately 200ml of water, cover and cook on low for about 20 minutes until veggies are cooked, but not mushy

Veggie biryani(4)

Cooking rice and layering

  • Rinse the rice, add a little salt and bring to boil in plenty of water in a large, deep saucepan
  • Boil for about 3-4 minutes in which time the rice should be almost cooked (al dente) – it is best to keep an eye on the rice at this stage as Basmati rice comes in numerous grades/varieties and the cooking time depends on the quality and type of the rice; strain in colander
  • Put about ¼ cup of water in the pan and 1 tablespoon of oil
  • Spoon about one-third of the rice in the pan and tip all the vegetables on top of the rice
  • Add rest of the rice to the pan to complete the layering

Veggie biryani(7)

  • Cover lid with a clean tea cloth and place firmly on the pan

Veggie biryani(8)

  • Steam rice on medium heat for 5 minutes, then lower heat to lowest and continue to steam for a further 20 minutes by which time the rice should be steaming
  • Serve garnished with cashews, raisins and the fried onion you set aside earlier

Cheating Roast, cider & apples

Roast with cider(3)

We don’t eat an awful lot of processed food but the other day Holland & Barrett had one of their ‘buy one get one half price’ sales on and we bought a couple of VBites Cheatin’ Roasts for a quick Sunday meal. Instead of having it with the usual gravy, I find it best to cook it pot roast style with some veggies and fruit which create their own thick sauce and keep it nice and moist.

What veggies you use is down to you as well as the cooking medium – I have tried brown ale, cider, wine and just water and depending on which Cheatin’ Roast you opt for, one of the above is a very simple way of making this roast special.

Here I have teamed their Cheating Gammon Style roast with Aspall Cider, being vegan, it was the obvious choice.


One VBites Roast (I used the Cheating Gammon style 390g available at Holland & Barrett and online – see link)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, thickly sliced (use 1 large onion if you don’t have shallots)
1 large sweet apple, sliced
3 sticks of celery, sliced
8 dried apricots
1 bottle Aspall’s cider – 500ml plus 300ml water (Aspall’s is vegan)
1 teaspoon dry sage
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a little cold water
Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a deep pan and add all the vegetables – fry for a few minutes to release the flavours
  2. Place the roast in the pan and add cider, water, apricots, sage, bay leaves and a little salt
  3. Cover the pan and let the roast simmer on low for about 45 minutes, turning the roast once halfway through cooking
  4. With a wooden spoon mash some of the vegetables then mix the cornflour with water and add to thicken gravy. You may find that your sauce is thick enough for you, in which case you can skip the cornflour!
  5. Serve with steamed greens and potatoes

Note: Whichever brand of cider you use, try to use a medium sweet cider but if the roast tastes a bit tart, add a tablespoon of brown sugar towards the end