We’ve all met vegetarians who are evangelical in their vegetarianism, and I’d like to think I’m not one of them.
I don’t buy meat. I don’t cook meat (or allow it to be cooked) in my home. If I’m in someone else’s home and they need a hand with dinner, I will put my big girl knickers on and chop meat if there is nothing else I can do to help.
I haven’t forbidden my children to eat meat or fish or seafood. When they were young enough that I made all those decisions, I chose not to feed them anything I wouldn’t eat myself (except breastmilk. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to try breastmilk – but I gave it to them anyway, convinced it was the best thing they could have. And because I’m lazy). Now that they are old enough to make more decisions about what they eat, they choose to be vegetarian. Even though they know I would turn a blind eye to marshmallows (gelatine) and certain shop-bought desserts (animal fat) and they don’t have to tell me what they eat when they’re at their friends’ homes, they are animal lovers who don’t want to eat animals. That may well change when they are older, but for now, they are happy to be vegetarian.
The reason I’m waffling on about vegetarianism on a vegetarian food blog (!) is that there are certain things I used to make when I had a non-veg diet that I still like to make but, obviously, without the meat. Carnivores have given these dishes the thumbs up, so I guess it’s safe enough to suggest that if you are cooking for meaties, these recipes might appeal to their tastebuds, too.
Yesterday, I made kheema – or what I told my guests was ‘Indian mince’ – and I used Quorn mince. Quorn is great, but I find the range very limited here in the South. A trip across the border provides a much broader choice; and I’ve been known to do my grocery shopping in Sainsbury’s on my way home from a trip to Belfast for just that reason.
There are a few things I like about Quorn: It’s products look and taste different from each other. To the best of my recollection, the textures of their different products resemble what they’re emulating. Except for the ‘rashers’ (bacon slices). There is virtually no fat in Quorn, it cooks faster than meat, and it comes without the health concerns of animal-to-human transmission of bacteria and disease. Do bear in mind, though, that some Quorn products have egg in them – making them unsuitable for vegans. Also, at E2.69 per 300g (which made five servings), it’s less expensive than its animal alternative.
I’ve reproduced the kheema recipe here. I know it’s a long list of ingredients, and it takes about an hour start to finish – but please don’t let that put you off. It’s a one-pot-wonder, if that’s consolation enough for the effort. I know it also looks like a lot of chilli – dried, fresh and powdered – but it really isn’t that hot. Maybe a ‘two’ on a five-point scale.
1 x 300g bag of Quorn mince
4 Tablespoons of Cooking Oil
1 Teaspoon of Cumin Seeds
2 Dried Chillies
3 Teaspoons of Ginger-Garlic paste OR
2.5cms Ginger & 6 Garlic Cloves, Bashed or Grated
2 Fresh Chillies
1/2 Teaspoon of Turmeric Powder
2 Teaspoons of Coriander Powder
2 Teaspoons of Cumin Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder
1 Can of Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon of Natural, Unsweetened (or Greek) Yogurt
125g Frozen Peas
1 Tablespoon of Ground Almonds
2 Teaspoons of Garam Masala*
Salt to Taste
Peel and chop the onion.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the onion to the oil, keep the heat at medium and stir, until starting to brown.
Add the cumin seeds and continue to fry until they pop.
Add the dried chillies.
Add the ginger-garlic paste (or bashed ginger and garlic cloves), the fresh chillies and cook for about three minutes – until the raw smell of the ingredients is gone.
Stir in all the spice powders, except the garam masala.
Add the tomatoes, Quorn and salt.
Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed together.
Continue cooking until the mix simmers (it will ‘rustle’ slightly in the pot).
Turn the heat down low.
Stir in the yogurt.
Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
Add the frozen peas, ground almonds and garam masala.
Continue simmering for another ten minutes, until the peas are cooked through.
The final dish will be more ‘saucy’ than ‘soupy’.
*Garam Masala is a mix of roasted spices. You can buy it ready-made, or make your own. It’s a bit fiddly to make, but I’ll post a recipe here in the next few days. Because the spices are already roasted, you can add the garam masala towards the end of cooking without worrying that they won’t cook through before serving.