Jan 31, 2011

Four Seasons, four wines, four hours.

This is probably my first post about wine / alcohol. Being vegan does not mean you can't have a good time once in a while. Of course many people choose not to drink, but an occasional drink doesn't hurt, especially when it is a part of the Food Bloggers Dinner. Of course I was stupid enough to forget my camera at home, but luckily there's no dearth of photos when you go out for dinner with fellow food bloggers.

The Food Blogger Dinner is a brainchild of Rushina of A Perfect Bite. Having missed the previous two gatherings and then repenting after looking at the beautiful food everyone had, I really wanted to make it for this one. Rushina and Jyotika, both very talented individuals organised for this dinner with Melissa and UB Group who are introducing a bunch of interesting wines into the Indian market. The meet was a full house with many famously talented bloggers from all over town, held at Olive at Mahalakshmi Race Course.

We were introduced to our host of the evening Mr. Abhay Kewadkar who is the Chief Winemaker at UB Wines and we got straight to business (the best part of course).

The traditional pairing of food and wine includes a lot of meat and cheese. Being one of two vegans there (Harini was the other vegan to give me company...phew!) the food was altered for us specially and like how!

We started off with Sauvignon Blanc, a very earthy white wine paired with a wine marinated Grape salad with Walnuts, Lettuce and Arugula. As we were told, Sauvignon Blanc has flavours of gooseberries, grass, capsicums and herbs and it goes best with raw green salads like the one we had.

Then we went on to Viognier, another white with fruity aromas. Having never tasted more than one wine in a span of a few hours this session was really interesting. I could really taste the difference between both the wines and immediately fell in love with the Viognier. The food pairing for this wine had to be greatly altered for us vegans and we were not disappointed. In fact many people liked what we got better. We got some pepper sauteed mushrooms topped with thin slices of croutons.

Our next course was the main course. After eating so much food and drinking two glasses of wine, we frankly had not much capacity. But avoiding all the meat and cheese sure does leave you with more space than the rest. We were served two red wines, a Merlot and a Cabarnet Sauvignon. The dish was a Morroccan Vegetable Tagine with Couscous. Tagine is a morroccan main course usually served in ceramic pot-plate covered with a cone shaped cover. The gravy is usually cooked in that pot and served in it too. I wasn't too fond of either of the wines, but if I had to choose I'd go with the Merlot.

Next came dessert and there was not much they could do for the vegans. But we all got a special Sangria made with Rose (also called Blush because its a light pink coloured wine). After the Voignier, this was the best part for me. The Rose was mixed with hints of cranberry juice, granadine and littered with strawberries and watermelons. I was in a pretty fruity mood that evening!

I came back from this dinner with much more respect for blogging and bloggers. I wish I didn't make so many excuses to update my blog more frequently.

I have no pictures of the event, but many people I met that day have some lovely pictures.

and many many more...

Jan 3, 2011

My Vegan Navratan Korma

I'm not a big fan of Mughali food and getting myself to cook something other than dessert or non-Indian food is asking for a bit more effort. So this recipe of Navratan Korma was born out of necessity for someone I recently catered to for a lunch. 'Navratan' meaning nine gems, ideally should include nine varieties of vegetables and fruits in the 'Korma' meaning gravy, made with yogurt, cream and a nut paste.

I don't remember when I had a Navratan Korma the last time, but I know it's sweet and from what I have gathered from reading recipes online is there are two ways to make it(with tomatoes and without). For me Navratan Korma is a rich whitish gravy with lots of vegetables and a few nuts sprinkled on top. There are two things I avoid while making Mughali food - adding too much or any sweet to the gravy and adding fruits (specially pineapple) to it. Most of the recipes call for such additions, hence this recipe is my vegan version of the Navratan Korma, how I like it.

This recipe is my vegan adaptation from one recipe I found on www.vahrevah.com. If you haven't seen any videos of the 'vah chef' I think you should do it right away. He's really something to watch and has some really good recipes of course.

For this recipe you need:

(Serves 3 to 4)

Steamed Vegetables and Legumes of your choice (Potatoes, Carrots, French Beans, Sweet Potato, Raw Banana, Chickpeas, Cauliflower, Capsicum*, Peas*, Broccoli, any other beans...)

* I like to add the Capsicum and Peas to the gravy raw so they maintain their colour and don't get too mushy.

1/4 cup Cashews
1 Onion chopped

1 teaspoon Oil (Rice Bran/ sunflower/ safflower/ canola) Optional

1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds/ Jeera
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste or 1/2 inch ginger grated and 1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
1 bay leaf
2-4 cloves
A dash of cinnamon or some cinnamon sticks

1 cup (200ml) plain unflavoured Soy Milk

Red Chilli Powder

Roasted or Fried Raisins, Cashews, Almonds

In a saucepan, add the chopped onions and cashews to about 1/4 cup water and cook till the onions become translucent and the cashews becomes soft. Put this into a blender and blend it to a smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a pan if using oil or do a dry roast of the spices. Add the cumin seeds, garam masala, ginger garlic, coriander powder, bay leaf and cloves. Let it all blend and then add the cashew-onion paste. Cook it for a good 5 to 7 mins till it gets thick and starts oozing out the oil. At this point add about half cup of water and add the capsicum and green peas. Let it come to one boil and assimilate. Add the rest of the steamed vegetables and 1 cup of soy milk. Also add in the salt, cinnamon and red chilli powders. Cover it and let it simmer for 10 minutes on a low flame. Add the pepper and stir it well. Add the raisins, cashews and almonds on top.

Serve hot with plain or flavoured rice, rotis or parathas.

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