As soon as I flicked through Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen on Christmas morning, I spotted lots of recipes I wanted to try. We celebrate two special occasions in January (Dr HH’s birthday and our anniversary), and I immediately identified the dishes I wanted to cook for our fancy meals. And then…January turned into a bit of a culinary failure.
For one thing, our oven broke halfway through the month, scuppering all my plans for birthday cake and pizza night. And for another, I just lost a bit of my enthusiasm for meal-planning and cooking. Work has been sapping my energy, and the last thing I want to do is spend my free time hurrying to the supermarket and slaving away in the kitchen. So about two weeks into January, I gave up – we’ve been living off some quick and easy staples, but not experimenting with anything further from this book.
This is absolutely no reflection on the book, which I’ve loved so far. I will definitely be returning to it for Part Two of this review, once we’ve got a functioning oven and a bit more enthusiasm again!
In the meantime, here’s what we’ve tried so far.
The book contains recipes for a number of aptly-titled awesome sauces, which can be used in several different dishes. I love this approach! I used the tikka masala sauce to make the tikka masala chickpeas, which were very easy to throw together (or so Dr HH tells me – I can’t claim credit for this one!). It was a really creamy dish, with a nice bite to the chickpeas. There were lots of delicious spices, but on the heat front it was quite mild – exactly as I like it! I’d happily have this again!
I used some tinga sauce to make the tinga black bean soup, using kidney instead of black beans. Dr HH found it a bit too sweet, while I thought the spiciness was positively fiery! Still, we agreed it was filling and tasty – there was plenty of sweetcorn, peppers and beans, making it good and substantial too.
The winter mushroom soup with spinach and chickpeas was a flavour explosion! There was quite the range of textures and flavours, as it was kind of spicy and kind of sweet. It had a really good kick to it, and was perfect for wintry packed lunches. It’s a shame there aren’t more soups in the book, because these were were really impressive.
Dr HH made the baked vegetable pakoras, and found them lacking in seasoning. He increased the seasoning once the first batch were out of the oven, and that was an improvement. The texture was lovely – I wasn’t sure how well they would work baked rather than fried, but they were delicious. He served them up with tart and sticky tamarind chutney.
I laboured over the berbere tofu bowl with couscous for packed lunches. Every stage of the recipe was easy, but there were various elements and numerous pots created. I made the berbere paste, which worked really well, but was pretty potent – and that was after I’d halved the chilli powder/cayenne measurements! The marinated tofu was crispy and delicious, and the couscous was a simple, light accompaniment. I also added the recommended tahini garlic sauce, which was so delicious I was tempted to just drink it all up!
I whipped up a double batch of flavoursome samosa potatoes and used them in two different recipes.
I made these samosa sliders (served with tamarind chutney again). As you can see, I used red quinoa,so they perhaps don’t look as attractive as the ones in the book. The quinoa gave them a nice texture, and the burgers were delicious thanks to the potatoes. The tamarind chutney was a great partner. We were a little worried about what to serve alongside them – is it acceptable to serve potato wedges alongside potato burgers? We threw caution to the wind and did it anyway!
I also used the potatoes to make the samosa-stuffed French toast, which proved quite challenging. When I hollowed out the end pieces of the loaf and stuffed the potatoes in as you see here, it was quite delicious. When I tried to stuff the potatoes into thick slices from the middle of the loaf, it was a no-go. With the leftovers, Dr HH thickened up the batter and made pancakes which we topped with the remaining potato – much more successful!
I also made the mint-cilantro herb sauce to serve with the French toast, and it was a nice refreshing accompaniment.
I’m a huge fan of mac and cheese, so I indulged in the smoky mac bake. The smoky cheese sauce was incredible, but I think the paprika I used was a touch too spicy (Dr HH approved though). The bake was really nice, but it would be easy enough to make this as regular, non-baked mac and cheese too in a hurry.
I also tried the vegetable lasagna, using the red pizza sauce and white garlic sauce, both of which were really easy to whip up. I find making lasagna a bit stressful as there are always so many elements to work on (and, again, so much washing up generated), so I always expect a lot from the end result. I found Richa’s assembly method a little crazy (all the mushrooms in one layer?! So many layers of pasta?), so if I made it again I’d freestyle that. No complaints about the flavour, though! I crumbled in some smoked tempeh, because I do that to every lasagna I make.
The almond butter snickerdoodles didn’t taste particularly almond buttery, but they were fantastic snickerdoodles. The texture was perfect, they smacked of cinnamon, and they were easy to make.
My nut butter blondies turned out a little browner than they should have, because I used brown sugar. It was my first time making blondies, and I’m really glad I gave them a go. You could definitely taste the nut butter. I took a slice to work for my lunchtime dessert and spent the whole morning looking at my watch wishing it was time to eat already just so I could sink my teeth in.
I actually made the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with gluten in – half chickpea flour, half plain flour – and, as you may have spotted, some marshmallows for added fun! The texture was perfect, but I had to add a lot of flour after the chilling stage to get it to resemble a cookie dough. These cookies reminded me of Ms Cupcake’s recipe, and there is no higher praise from me on the cookie front.
At least the first couple of weeks of January were full of delicious, flavoursome dishes! I already feel quite confident recommending this book, but I should have an even heartier endorsement next month when I’ve (hopefully) got my culinary groove back!