Why the addiction – well these books respect vegetables like I have been taught to respect them as a life time vegetarian. Growing up in a South Indian household, my mother and grandma had endless ways of making vegetables exciting and I try and continue this tradition till today. However, I’m also a little more adventurous that mum and grandma and I cannot eat the same/similar things day in and day out. This is something I did quite gladly did when I was still dependent on my parents, but ever since I’ve moved out on my own, my kitchen has been a bit of a playground, as is this blog I host.
Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi, while laden with meat-based recipes are also quite generous with their coverage of vegetable/vegetarian dishes from Eastern Mediterranean regions, Israel, Palestine with influences from Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Overall, these vegetables are prepared quite differently (most of the time) to how I’d prepare them as a person of South Indian upbringing and I find that really really exciting. Sometimes, I find some similarities and start thinking about the origins of certain food and how recipes might have travelled from one region to another in ancient time.
To summarize it is food, vegetarian food, exciting vegetarian food and I love it! Food to me is most satisfying when I’ve made it and others are enjoying it 🙂 An opportunity presented itself when we decided to host a dinner and board games evening at our place. While I usually cook Indian food, I decided that I’d try recipes from my recently acquired books instead. There was a deathly silence as everyone sat eating until one of our friends spoke up and said , “You know the food is good when everyone is too busy eating and cannot stop to speak”. I’m going to call it a successful experiment based on this !
My menu and links to the recipes are presented below. I managed to take a lot of pictures for the first few dishes and then ran out of time and my guests arrived so I couldn’t keep clicking any more. Hope you try some of the recipes and like them !
It wasn’t until January this year that I heard about Burns’ night and of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns). For those of you who are blinking now like I did when I first heard of it, here’s a little spiel about Robbie Burns. He is Scotland’s most famous poet know for several popular songs including “Auld Lang Syne” which is often sung at midnight on New Year’s Day. He was also known for his many love affairs some of which he captured in his poetry. Robbie Burns is the most popular of poets who wrote in the Scots’ language. As it seems to happen with a lot of famous people, Robbie passed away at the not-so-old age of 37 after several months of deteriorating health and mental state. It was a few years after his death that some of his friends got together and started celebrating his life and work in what is today called “Burns’ night’.
In several places around the UK, Burns’ night dinners are organised with great enthusiasm. They feature a Scottish menu of Haggis (the vegetarian version is also available), broth, a dessert known as Cranachan and tastings of Scotch whiskey. The Haggis is often ushered in by Scottish men in clan kilts with the song “Ode to the Haggis” being played on bagpipes. This song too as one of Robbie Burns’ pieces. After stuffing yourself full of food and drink, you are challenged to take part in Céilidh (pronounced : Kay-lee) dancing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%A9ilidh) which I highly recommend.
Overall Burns’ night’s dinners are a lot of fun and hope this recipe will give you a tiny feel for it. The original Cranachan is made of thick double cream but I used Greek Yoghurt instead.