Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Street Food

Vegan Street Food Roti Canai (2)

It was my birthday at the beginning of April, and my brother gave me Vegan Street Food, which was written by Jakcie Kearney, a former Masterchef contestant who used to run a food truck at a pub in Chorlton (I think I’m right to put that in the past tense).

The book covers a few Asian countries that she visited with her family, and veganises some of the traditional recipes of those countries.  I haven’t made as many recipes as I usually do from my cookbook of the month, which is partly because I was on holiday for over a week at the start of April, and partly because it didn’t excite me as much as I’d expected.

For one thing, there’s a lot of deep-fried stuff in the book, as you’d expect from Asian street food.  I don’t trust my electric hob enough to deep-fry anything on there, so I steered clear of all those recipes, as tempting as they looked.  Also, there wasn’t an abundance of soups or salads that could be easily taken to work for packed lunches without breaking Dr HH’s strict ‘no noodles at work’ rule.  (He has a beard and doesn’t want to embarrass himself in front of his colleagues – it can be messy business.)

And then there were some ingredients that I just wouldn’t know where to find in Prague.  My local supermarket doesn’t even sell chillies, for crying out loud!

But I made a few things, and I liked what I made.

India & Sri Lanka

Vegan Street Food Banana Pancakes (1)

The recipe for these banana pancakes vendor-style was a little perplexing, to say the least.  I understood that the desired effect was a roti stuffed with banana and peanut butter, but how to achieve it?  The instructions were frustratingly vague:  “stretch the dough as thinly as possible while continually smearing the dough with oil.”  What does that mean?  Can you imagine how to do that?  How many hands does it require?

And then:  “cook the pancake on one side (do not cook too much at this stage)” – give it to me in minutes!  I recruited Dr HH for his kneading skills, and relied on my memories of him making Indian flatbreads, and in the end I think I did come up with a decent flatbread.  But it was in no way a pancake.  It was a roti with some gooey banana and peanut butter in the middle.  Obviously it was delicious, but a bit too stressful for me first thing in the morning.

Vegan Street Food Black Curry 003

The black curry with beetroot and spinach was visually appealing, as well as delicious!  It wasn’t too spicy, and sprinkling cashews on anything is always a winner for me.

Vegan Street Food Dal Masala

I loved the Hungry Gecko’s dal masala.  The dal itself paled in comparison to the aubergine masala on top.  The aubergine was meant to be cooked in 1.5 cups of oil – I scaled it back to “just” 1 cup, and still felt that was a bit excessive.  But of course, it was delicious.  Delicious!  I also switched from the recommended green pepper to a red, because green peppers simply do not exist at my local supermarket.

Vegan Street Food Makhani Dal

I tweaked the easy makhani dal recipe a wee bit, chucking in a tin of tomatoes rather than the fresh/puree suggestion, and I didn’t serve it with a swirl of cream in the end.  It was tasty, and a bit different from most dal recipes I’ve used before, at least visually.

Thailand, Laos and Vietnam

Vegan Street Food Marmalade Tofu (3)

The marmalade tofu with chilli and cashews was absolutely glorious!  It was so tasty and really easy to make, even after work.  It was sticky, spicy and spectacular.

Vegan Street Food Chiang Mai curry noodles (1)

I made the khao soi noodles (Chiang Mai curry noodles) using shop-bought red curry paste because of a lack of time/ingredients, and my absolute delight at finally finding vegan curry pastes in Prague.  I didn’t deep fry any leftover noodles, and nor could I find any mange tout to add a touch of green, but it was still really delicious.  I used baked tofu instead of jackfruit as well.  It was flavoursome and had a good mix of veg and extras.

Vegan Street Food Pad Ka Prao 002

I really enjoyed the pad ka prao.  According to the author, European basil leaves won’t cut it with this recipe, but I found it delicious anyway despite my insufficiently exotic herbs.  The aubergine was tender and delicious, and certainly had a kick to it!  I served it with some baked smoked tofu, so I was ready to fend off any “But where do you get your protein?” questions.

Vegan Street Food Laos Pumpkin Soup

The Laos-style roasted pumpkin, coconut and chilli soup was spicy and delicious!  My only complaint is that it was a little too thin, but a bigger butternut squash would tip the scales a bit next time.

Vegan Street Food Mushroom Claypot (1)

Nam rom kho to (mushroom claypot) was one of my default choices when I ate out in Vietnam.  Unsurprisingly, I don’t have a claypot at home, so I just cooked it in a pan.  And it was lovely!  I burned the garlic while I was slicing mushrooms, but it had no detrimental effect on the dish, fortunately.

Vegan Street Food Banh Mi Buddha 002

I don’t usually make sandwiches at home (I like to eat part of a dish separately, and this is impossible with sandwiches), but I make the odd exception.  I couldn’t resist the banh mi buddha recipe.  There were several components:  pickled vegetables, mushroom pate, maple chilli sambal and marinated tofu.  I just don’t have time for all that nonsense, so I only used carrot for my pickled vegetable (and seriously reduced the amount of sugar and rice vinegar in the pan), and skipped the sambal altogether, adding more chilli in the marinade.  The tofu was really tasty, and it made a good, hearty sandwich.

Malaysia & Indonesia

Vegan Street Food Roti Canai (2)

I really enjoyed the roti canai (split pea dal), despite my aversion to split peas.  There were so many good vegetables and spices in here, it was a really hearty meal.  We had this in place of soup for a few packed lunches.

Vegan Street Food Jungle Curry 003

The Hungry Gecko jungle curry was a good green curry.  The baked tempeh chunks were sublime, and there was plenty of veg in there.  I thought it was one of the best dishes of the book, but Dr HH was a bit underwhelmed by it.  Boo, Dr HH!

Vegan Street Food Nasi Goreng (1)

We had opposite views on the nasi goreng as well.  Dr HH loved the good chunks of veg and tofu and thought it was great with a splash of extra sriracha.  I loved the baked tofu, but I didn’t find the butternut squash as exotic as I’d expect this dish to be.  It wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

There are things in here I will definitely make again, partly because I have several gigantic bags of different kinds of dal (there is an extremely well-stocked Indian grocery shop not far from us, which is surprising).  The marmalade tofu has already made another appearance, just because it’s so quick and easy.  And I can see myself experimenting with some of the deep-fried goods once I’m back in the UK with a good old gas cooker.

So this is not an everyday cookbook for me, but it’s one I’ll dip into from time to time.

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7 Responses to Cookbook of the Month: Vegan Street Food

  1. Jenny says:

    Ooh I think I had the mushroom claypot at the taster event. To be honest, what sticks most in my mind is how crazy spicy everything was! Being a Sriracha fan I’m guessing that probably isn’t an issue for you 😀

    • Jenny says:

      Actually, I usually tone down the spiciness a bit and just let my boyfriend loose with the sriracha on his plate – we have very different tolerance levels!

  2. onesonicbite says:

    I need this cookbook purely for just that beet curry (it’s so hard finding a beet recipe that is soup/borscht, side dish, or salad. I like making one main meal with veggies, otherwise I tend to get lazy and not make a veggie side. XD

    I also love Asian cooking so having these yummy authentic recipes would be nice. I got Vegan Asian Kitchen and it was horrible. The author was an Indian woman living in Japan, and I think she wrote a vegan cookbook to try and fill in a missing market. I don’t think she was vegan, and therefore the recipes were just bland (ie she didn’t replace fish sauce, or any dairy products etc) so this would make me really happy.

    And a cup and half of OIL?! Oh my tummy is aching…. XD I am sure it tasted awesome though lol.

    • Jenny says:

      I share your laziness when it comes to side dishes! I used Asian Vegan Kitchen before and I remember you commenting that you were unimpressed. Yeah, maybe this one would be more up your street.

  3. Great review as always. I might check this out of the library. I struggle with a lot of chilli in food because it’s a trigger for my cough condition but good to know you can tone it down and the food still tastes good. They had the Hungry Gecko food truck at VegFest in London a few years ago and I bought a bahn mi which Jackie put together without the spicy sauce and it was really excellent.

    • Jenny says:

      Yeah, I think the food is spicy enough (in terms of spices) that it’s not reliant on fiery chilli for flavour. I’m sad I never had a chance to try Hungry Gecko when it was in Chorlton.

  4. Pingback: Cookbook of the Month: The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East | Herbivores' Heaven

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