A recent workshop demonstrated how vegan food can assuage both the taste buds as well as health experts
Admittedly the idea of a vegan food workshop was not very enticing. For dairy lovers, it is hard to think of life without milk, curd or ghee, and most importantly ice cream, milk shakes and cheese.
Despite the menu however, it sounded quite exciting — what with chilled raw almond and cucumber soup or red rice salad with orange and peanut — with lemon-orange dressing, it was the food on the plate that was an almost ecstatic surprise.
“People usually turn vegan for ethical reasons, some do it for the environment and others for health reasons.” said Krishna Shastry, founder of the vegan restaurant Carrots at the workshop at Foodhall, at 1, MG Mall. “When they turn vegan, they start experiencing its numerous health benefits because plant milk is much healthier compared to animal milk. These days there are so many options, what with soya, almond, rice and cashew milk. Plant milk has more variety in taste to offer.”
Chef Gurung of Carrots kicked off the meal creating a sweet green smoothie with soy curd and spirulina. It was with some trepidation since we saw the chef adding a generous dash of green spirulina (a seaweed) powder to the smoothie, that we quaffed the samplers. The drink, however, turned out to be quite rich and tasty, with the flavours of banana, jaggery syrup, and just a hint of spirulina, all lip-smackingly balanced. Here, the chef pointed out that it was best to use date syrup as a natural sweetener. The next best option was jaggery syrup (organic is better) and if that’s not available, jaggery itself. Less refined and processed food is always better.
So the prospects of the red rice salad did not seem too bleak. The salad took a few minutes to make, the dressing was of lime juice and orange juice with a dash of olive oil.
The rest of the ingredients including silken tofu, coriander and some chopped onion, with red rice, were simply tossed in a bowl and was ready to serve. A tip here: red rice, brown rice or millets are much healthier for the body than white, polished rice. “Insects usually attack red and brown rice more than white rice, because even they know what’s better,” he pointed out. “And millets are even healthier.”
By the time we tucked into the mouth-watering salad, we couldn’t wait for the main course, a Thai curry made of stiff tofu and vegetables in a coconut milk and peanut butter sauce. It was cooked over slow heat, and most importantly, without any oil.
Shastry also shared the benefits of oil-free cooking, as well as the benefits of eating raw food as against cooked food, because heated oil produces some toxins. Even if food is cooked, he said, cooking over a low flame with no oil or baking is a healthier option.
The warm curry, made of perfectly cooked vegetables had a delicious hit of peanut and when served with brown rice, it was quite a filling and healthy meal in itself.
The dessert, on the contrary, was a subdued affair, consisting of balls of blended dates and dry fruit. Delicious and healthy, but doesn’t quite live up to sinful ice-cream!
But overall, the vegan meal not only lived up to the expectations of the menu, but quite surpassed itself, though dessert still proves to be an almost insurmountable wall. More smoothies like that and one may just take the leap.