Last Sunday, a cross-section of people ranging from a baker to a software engineer, to a teacher and an excise inspector made their way to the Phoenix Mills compound at Lower Parel, where they participated in a vegan party, an extension of the vegan potluck parties that a dedicated group in the city have been hosting for the past few months.
No dairy either
For those not in the know, vegans don’t consume or use any animal byproduct like leather, wool, honey, milk, meat, silk etc.
But if you think their parties are all about soymilk and lima beans, you can stop right there. There’s plenty of
delicious food going around. Mushrooms, solkadi, mousse with tapioca pearls, coconut laddoos, jeera rice and pasta— take your pick.
"Each one of us gets a yummy dish along for the party. There's great conversation and food," says Monica Mehta Siriya, director of an environmental NGO, Sharan, who also conceived themes for the potluck parties.
"One party had a green theme, so everyone wore green-coloured outfits, and some innovative ones even brought green-coloured food." The parties also include activities like sharing their stories about how they turned vegan, or sharing examples of their social activism, or discussing topics on veganism and sharing recipes. "We also use these potlucks as a platform to come up with some concrete ideas for our other charitable activities," adds Siriya, whose husband is also an enthusiastic vegan.
So just whom does this vegetarian, pleather-wearing, non-violent community consist of? "The group that meets consists of about 20 people, but there must be about 200 vegans in Mumbai," says Rithika Ramesh, a professional vegan caterer. Other regulars include Peter Theobald, 45-year-old software professional, who turned vegan to lose weight.
"I was about 100 kilos, but lost 30 kilos in a year after I turned vegan. I would recommend it to everyone. It boosts your immune system, helps you lose weight and makes you feel more energetic. And I don’t miss out on any food," says Theobald, who says the potluck parties are a good way to get together with friends and convert any non-vegan attendees to the benefits of veganism.
Incidentally, Theobald’s wife and son are also vegan. "These potlucks help us bond, it’s almost like a festival. We discuss our doubts and give each other the much needed support and comfort that people like us, who go against the tide, need," says Siriya.
Vegan recipes (courtesy
Peanut and Other
Roast peanuts (if raw) on a slow flame till the skins crack. Do not let the seeds burn. Roll them between your hands to let the thin skins fall off the peanuts, and then separate from the skins. Place them in the grinder up to a height of 1 inch. Grind until it turns to butter. If it is not evenly crushed, stir and grind again. (You can also use un-skinned peanuts if you like. The appearance changes a bit as also the taste, but it is still good. It is healthier and quicker!)
Variations: You can use different nuts and seeds to make your own butters using the same method. Sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts etc. All do not need roasting–e.g. cashew butter is good un-roasted. You can also mix different seed butters.
Vanilla Cake with Plum Sauce
This recipe is from 'The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen' and I tasted it at Angelica Kitchen in New York. This simple, low fat cake is a good place to start if you have never baked before!
For the cake
1-1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup pure maple syrup (we substituted this with 3/4 cup jaggery dissolved in enough water to make up 1 cup. This was cooked a bit to dissolve the jaggery)
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup pure olive oil (we used saffola oil)
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the sauce
1-1/2 kg plums halved and pitted
2/3 cups pure maple syrup (again we substituted with jaggery syrup)
2/3 cup apple juice
2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 vanilla bean
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175C). Lightly oil a 9 inch springform pan and dust it with unbleached white flour.
In a mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla, Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined, taking care not to over mix. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Set the cake pan on the rack to cool. Meanwhile prepare the sauce.
In a 3 litre saucepan, combine the plums, maple syrup, apple juice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Drop in the bean as well. Bring the mixture to boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover and raise the heat, and boil for 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Remove and discard the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks. Cool slightly.
To serve, unmold the cake from the pan and cut into wedges. Serve with warm sauce spooned on top, and with the Custard Cream (recipe given in Desserts section) if desired.