Parveen The Spice Queen: Vegans, say Aloo to this dish

Saag Aloo
Saag Aloo

I think Indian food lends itself so well to vegetarianism and veganism. There is a huge variety of recipes for vegetables, pulses, lentils and legumes.

In January, we had the growing challenge of “veganary” where the public were encouraged to go vegan for the full month. Many of my friends and people I work with at Hochanda tried it and to my surprise, many stuck to it and some even converted to the “light side”. I am not saying that eating meat is the “dark side” and apologies for the Star Wars references, but I am such a fan.

Parveen Ashraf The Spice Queen

Parveen Ashraf The Spice Queen

OK, Back to Veganism, I feel somehow just eating more of a plant-based diet with more vegetables and no meat products does actually feel more like ‘cleaner eating’ and is much lighter on one’s tummy, so when I say the “light side” I literally mean it.

So, let’s look at the huge array of dishes that we can cook with Indian cuisine. There is the ever popular Tarka Daal and Onion Bhajis, plus all the other daals (lentils) vegetables; aubergines masala, courgettes and red peppers in a mixed vegetable curry, aloo gobi (cauliflower), Bombay potatoes, chick pea chaat, chick pea masala, rice with peas, the list is endless!

I cooked a New Year’s Day vegan dinner party for my lovely vegan friend Kim and boyfriend Stuart. Kim is completely vegan, runs a non profit wellbeing centre in Peterborough and knows about my vegan food and cooking - but Stuart, who was new to veganism and had just started the Veganuary challenge, was not only surprised at the number of dishes I made that were vegan... it inspired him and reassured him even more that he had made the right decision.

He is still vegan even now, has lost nearly two stone in weight and has lots more energy.

So, try some of my recipes and give vegan food a go.

Recipes for Saag Aloo (Spinach and potatoes)

This ‘garlicy’ light flavoured dish requires mostly fresh ingredients.

It’s a world away from the Saag Aloo you may have had at an Indian restaurant or takeaway.

In my experience, when people cook my version, it exceeds all their expectations as all the fresh herbs really enhances the flavour of the spinach.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Serves: approx 4 - 6 people

INGREDIENTS

500g of fresh Spinach - thoroughly washed and chopped

2 medium sized onions - thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic - crushed

2 green chillies – very finely chopped or crushed

1 medium sized potato - diced into 1cm cubes

2 fresh tomatoes - finely chopped

6 tbsp vegetable oil

4 tbsp of freshly chopped coriander

3 tbsp of dried fenugreek leaves

1 tsp coriander seed powder

(or one of my spice bags)

1 tsp salt

METHOD

1. Heat the oil in the pan and add onions. Fry the onions until they are a lightly golden brown.

2. On medium heat, add the garlic and chillies. Stir in and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until tomatoes break down, keep stirring, if sauce sticks, add a splash of water. Cover with lid and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally, allowing the onions and garlic to infuse.

4. Add potatoes and cook on high heat, making sure that all the potatoes are covered in the lovely garlic and chilli sauce.

5. Now add the spinach (a handful at a time) and stir in. The spinach will wilt very quickly. On high heat stir continuously for 10 minutes.

6. Add the coriander and fenugreek. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.

Try adding some Kale to the Spinach recipes, just chop and add at stage 5

For a free spice bag to use in the Saag Aloo, please email Parveen on parveen@the-spicequeen.com