Vicky Goes Veg ; a vegetarian cookbook by Vicky Ratnani and some recipes inspired by this celebration of local vegetables
You see more and more vegetables on my blog and some of you even think that the blog is about vegetarian food. And then some of my vegetarian readers complain that I rarely post vegetarian recipes. See, I do post a lot of recipes using vegetables, many of those recipes have some eggs, meat or seafood in them but one can always replace those non vegetarian proteins with convenient vegetarian proteins like paneer, tofu, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils etc.
I have always loved vegetables and believed that we should enjoy more and more seasonal vegetables irrespective of belonging to the vegetarian or non vegetarian tribes. For people like me, there are no such tribes and all food is sacred, unless it has been reared unethically or has traveled around the globe and has made your carbon footprint heavier. Locally grown seasonal foods are the best choices for our own health, even if we forget about the health of the planet.
And eating loads of vegetables is not being a vegetarian as the impression goes.
Vegetarian food has always been popular in India even with hardcore non vegetarians. We include ghee, milk and lot of other animal products into our vegetarian foods so the prevalent vegetarian food is not vegan in India. This convenient comfortable vegetarian food defines many of our regional cuisines and still there is scope for contemporary fusion recipes so the average person is inspired to cook at home. The key to good health. Home. Cooked. Food.
I attended the book launch of Vicky Ratnani's Vicky Goes Veg at The Palms Club, Gurgaon, and this vegetarian cookbook felt like any other vegetarian cookbook at the first glance, though I loved the green hued cover. But as soon as I started flipping through the pages I was pleased to see the celebration of local vegetable markets, the vegetable and fruit vendors around our Indian cities and loads of desi (native) Indian vegetables being used in the recipes. The book has a 4 page section on 'Merchants of Veggies' as the vegetable vendors are called in the book. Beautiful pictures. How thoughtful of Vicky to have given the vegetable vendors an identity and all the credit for getting fresh produce on our tables every single day. Kudos to Vicky Ratnani and Harper Collins for such a thoughtful cookbook.
At the book launch event, Vicky cooked a nice raw plantain curry with Thai flavours and an eggplant dish with crunchy peanuts and a tangy sauce that even kids loved digging into. The most common vegetables can be cooked in the most exotic ways and to suit your taste buds as well. The cookbook actually inspires one to cook with each mundane vegetable we find with our street side subziwala as well. A nice radish and tendli (ivy gourd or kundru) carpaccio salad is impressive and on my list to be tried next.
I cooked a roasted bell peppers and broccoli salad from the book, this was quite like the salads I make myself, I made the dressing to my taste and added some paneer strips to add protein to make a salad meal for myself. It was one filling yummy salad.
The recipe in the book uses a different dressing and the vegetables are char grilled in the oven. I grilled them (broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers) a little lightly with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and made a dressing while the vegetables were grilling on 250 C (just for 10 minutes). Some strips of fresh paneer were also thrown into the oven for light grilling.
For the dressing I mixed 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar with salt and pepper, pinch of garlic powder, pinch of yellow chilli powder and mixed it all with sliced red onions and chopped dehydrated red grapes (from FabIndia).
Everything is mixed up once the vegetables are grilled to your choice. You can let them sizzle lightly or get them charred on the edges. Sprinkle broken walnuts and serve right away.
These chickpea and almond croquettes are so easy to make. I have been making chickpea burgers but adding some almonds adds to the nutritive value for a vegetarian. The recipe in the book uses a lot of almonds and breadcrumbs and some bread as well in the recipe, but I made this recipe gluten free by adding popped amaranth to the mixture.
Since boiled chickpeas are almost always there in my fridge and fresh parsley in my garden, this croquette recipe is real quick for a starter.
To make about 12 small croquettes, a cup of boiled chickpeas is mashed with a fork, 1/4 cup chopped almonds added along with 1/4 cup finely diced onions and 1/3 cup chopped parsley. The mixture is seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika or chilly powder and a hint of anardana (dry pomegranate) powder. I added 1/2 cup of popped amaranth and mixed the dough like mixture well, shaped small patties and shallow fried on a skillet.
These croquettes can be served with any dip or chutney you like. I loved the way chopped almonds taste in this chickpeas croquettes, I had used sesame seeds with chickpeas earlier and had loved but almonds make a lovely crunchy addition to these flaky croquettes.
This is what Vicky said while cooking from his book at The Palms Club, the recipes should be used to suit your taste, make some changes according to your taste and see how the recipes love you back. Vicky Goes Veg really inspires one to cook with fresh vegetables and get maximum taste from them.
What else a cookbook should be aimed at?