By Gail Davis Rhamy
Author: Richa Hingle; Publisher: Vegan Heritage Press (2015);
Price: Rs 637 (Paperback, on Amazon); Extent: 274 pages; Cookbook
I have been a Vegan Richa fan for many years, and Richa Hingle’s beautiful new book, Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, fulfils every vegan foodie’s fantasy for all the sensuously spicy stimulation great Indian food delivers. With a range of spices and seasonings as vast as the subcontinent itself, it’s no easy task to combine them in the perfect balance needed to create the complex flavours and textures that are the hallmarks of Indian cuisine. An entire book filled with delectable vegan recipes that are not only exotically rich and flavourful but also simple to prepare, is truly a gastronomic achievement.
With no fewer than fourteen tantalising cauliflower recipes in Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, this cauliflower-loving girl was hard pressed to choose just one for this review. Generally, I simply dry roast cauliflower and sprinkle it with a little nooch (nutritional yeast), and I’m good to go. But I’m as much a sucker for the popular Indian restaurant dish, Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower) as the next person. And there is a recipe for Richa’s dad’s favourite— albeit it’s called Gobi Aloo— in the book. But the enticingly named Sweet and Spicy Baked Cauliflower dish (Gobi Manchurian)— a surprise discovery in an Indian recipe book— sounded too amazing to not try.
This review would not be complete without telling you about the two Indian dishes I have missed most since becoming vegan more than 25 years ago: Navratan Korma, an entrée first created for kings and queens, and Rasmalai, a sensationally sweet dessert made with spongy balls of cheese soaked in saffron cream. Finding recipes for both in Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen was a dream comes true for me.
Let me just mention here that when it comes to making flat bread, be it pita, pizza dough, chapatti, or anything else, although I’m otherwise no slouch in the kitchen, I suddenly become all thumbs. Still, I had to roll up my sleeves and at least make a go of trying Richa’s recipe for Naan. After all, what good is all that creamy rich korma sauce without some freshly baked bread to soak it up with? While my result didn’t look exactly authentic, it tasted amazing.
As for the Rasmalai, there are two different options for making the “cheese” balls, and I tried both. The first, simpler recipe is made with tofu, and the second “more challenging” variation is made from a scratch with soymilk. I heartily endorse going with the soy milk-from-scratch recipe as I found that the resulting pillows soaked up the sweet saffron cream more readily, and it was well worth the extra bit of effort. As for the saffron cream, scented with just a splash of rosewater, it tasted exactly like the heavenly dessert I’d been missing so intensely. Way to go, Richa!
A few other notes about Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen: in addition to all the lovely recipes for breakfast, small snacks, side dishes, dals, one-pot meals, mains dishes, desserts, and flat breads, you’ll find recipes for making your own chutneys and spice blends, as well as resources for buying ingredients online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Quite simply, if you love Indian food and have been yearning for scrumptious vegan versions of classical Indian dishes (all made without a hint of ghee, heavy cream, or paneer), you are going to love this book!
The above review was first published in Gail Davis Ramie’s blog, Hungry Vegan
Note: This review has been condensed to fit the desired word count