Friday, 26 September 2014

Soy-free vegan scramble recipe

I have a confession to make: I am a vegan and I don't like tofu. I don't like its texture or its chalky aftertaste which I can taste through pretty much any seasoning or sauce. I have therefore always felt distinctly 'meh' about that vegan breakfast staple, tofu scramble. I also felt slightly left out of all the excitement. So, I decided to create something scrambly that *I* would enjoy. Drawing inspiration from both Indian pudla and Vietnamese Banh Xeo, I bring you: Besan scramble!

You can use any spices and vegetables you like in this scramble: cumin, coriander & paprika are also nice for instance. If you use larger vegetables (e.g. chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms, courgette) saute them a bit longer before adding the chickpea batter. This is my current favourite mild, creamy, cheesy version*. You don't have to be too precise with the measurements, these are all guestimates and it always seems to turn out well:

Ingredients for one large portion:
  • 1/2 cup of chickpea flour (aka besan or gram flour)
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp of dried dill (or any other herbs or spices of your choice) 
  • pinch of kala namak (optional) 
  • a squeeze of lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • water
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced (or any vegetables of your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil 

1) In a bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients including some salt and pepper
2) add the lemon juice and coconut milk and mix well
3) add small amounts of water and stir until you have something with the consistency of a thick pancake batter
The scramble has the Pumpkin
seal of approval!
4) In an non-stick or cast iron frying pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat
5) Add the srping onions and a little salt and sautee briefly, then add the chickpea batter
6) cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to break it up into a scramble, until the pieces are just beginning to brown. Or don't stir, and make an omelette, flipping it over halfway until nicely browned on both sides.
7) Taste for seasoning, and serve!

* Also pictured is a chopped up portabello mushroom sauteed with a little salt and smoked Spanish paprika - the combination of that with the scramble on toast was *divine*.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Vegan Tempeh-Cashew Balls of Glory - a recipe

Fiiiiinally, a new recipe for you!!! These tempeh-cashew balls with their spicy tomato sauce are absolutely delicious: I'm afraid making them is quite an involved process, but I think it's worth it!

Possible variations:
- You can of course spice these however you want - adjust the amounts of all the spices and garlic in the recipe to your tastes, or for instance go for an oriental version with soy sauce, five spice and ginger in the balls, and a coriander sauce in stead of tomato sauce
- I've made something similar in the past with finely ground seitan in stead of tempeh. I think a mix of the two would be good, too, and it would give them a fantastic texture. I've also made the seitan variation with half cashew and half pistachio nuts, which was delicious.
- To reduce time and effort, you can of course buy tomato sauce rather than make your own.

(makes about 15 golf-sized balls)
Tempeh Balls:

  • 200g of tempeh, coarsely grated 
  • 5-6 spring onions, finely chopped (or one regular onion) 
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
  • a cup (prior to processing) of raw cashew nuts, coarsely chopped in a food processor 
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed and boiled until soft
  • 1 tbsp of unscented coconut oil
  • half a cup of oats, ground into flour in a food processor 
  • half a cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1 heaping tsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of onion powder 
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Tomato sauce:

  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped 
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • 5 ripe medium-sized tomatoes
  • 3 sundried tomatoes (in oil or rehydrated), finely chopped
  • chili flakes to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • pinch of dried oregano and basil


1) For the balls, gently sautee the spring onions and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet until the onions are soft, then add the grated tempeh and continue to sautee until it begins to brown. If you want your balls to be more moist, add some more olive oil and let it be absorbed by the tempeh

2) Meanwhile, mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl: cashews, oat-flour, nutritional yeast, spices, herbs and seasoning

3) In a food processor, blend together half of the boiled potatoes and all of the coconut oil and tomato paste: this will become a very sticky, glutinous goo which will help bind your balls :-)

4) Mix the tempeh, onions and garlic into the dry ingredients, followed by the potato glue, and knead it all together. If the mixture is too dry and doesn't stick, blend additional potatoes and add them as needed - go by feel, you want to end up with something you can shape into balls that will hold together, and that isn't too dry. Taste the mix for seasoning, and add salt, pepper and spices as needed.

5) Refrigerate the mix for at least an hour to further bind the mixture. If your mix is sticky enough and holds together when shaped, you may be able to skip this step if pressed for time. While the mix is being chilled, pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

6) shape your mix into golf-sized balls, and place them on a baking tray or oven dish lined with greaseproof paper. Bake them in the oven for around 40 minutes, turning them over once halfway. You want them to develop a slightly crunchy brown outer layer, but not to burn of course, so keep and eye on them, different ovens can behave very differently.

7) While the balls are baking, prepare the tomato sauce if you are making your own: Sautee the spring onions in the olive oil, and meanwhile blend the fresh and sundried tomatoes in a food processor or blender until you have a slightly chunky sauce. Add the tomato sauce to the pan with the onions, along with the spices, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer until a lot of the water has evaporated and the sauce has the flavour and thickness you want. You could also add a splash of red wine or vinegar and/or a pinch of sugar or other sweetener to enhance the flavour.

8) Serve!! Delicious with saffron rice, or oven-baked potatoes, and a large salad.