Last Sunday was Mother’s day. I decided to treat my mother and the family to not one, but two buffets, with the idea that she would not have to step into the kitchen at all during the day – and so that we could try out ethnic food at its best – when there is a variety of flavours and dishes.
I do enjoy the opportunity to have a themed buffet and what might seem like a challenge at first – to find traditional vegan foods or veganised versions turns out to be more of a challenge deciding what to make and what to save for another time. Indian food is close to my heart as it is the first type of food I ever began to cook for myself when I was young, even though I didn’t grow up eating a whole lot of it.
Lunch: Indian Buffet
On the menu:
Sambar (Indian soup)
Saag Aloo (potato and spinach)
Indian Spiced Cabbage
Served with: Chapati bread, mini papadoms, mango chutney and cucumber raita!
It certainly was a lot of work just making lunch – but luckily my partner helped. Throughout the years as I was growing up everytime there was a family gathering where we would have a big meal together, my mother did almost ALL the work, and I was amazed how she managed to cook so many dishes on her own, and also amazed that the other people who ate there didn’t help clean up (often I was the only one). Still she does all the cooking and cleaning for my father. Which just seems really unfair to me.
Mung Bean Curry!
The Indian buffet took quite a bit of preparation as I needed to use many pots and pans on the stove, but we got everything ready in time and had a delicious lunch!
All the food was tasty, but everyone’s favourite was the Saag Aloo which I got from Chef Chole’s book – Chloe’s Kitchen and which I will share below.
Saag Aloo (potato and spinach)
I have made this recipe a number of times and it’s always turned out beautifully – it sounds plain but making a cashew cream brings together the flavours and textures wonderfully.
The only tweaks I make is that I often use more than 1 potato (usually I use 4-5) and sometimes this means needing to thin down the cashew cream a bit more.
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup raw cashews (if you are not using a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix you will need to soak cashews overnight or boil cashews for 10 min and drain).
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon canola oil Saag Aloo, Chapati and Pumpkin Masala
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
5 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1. Place potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and let cook until fork tender. drain and set aside.
2. Combine cashews and water in a blender and process on high until very smooth, about 2 min, set aside. (It may help to dry blend them first to a fine powder before you add the water, depending on what type of blender you had. It took me a lot longer than 2 min to get the milk smooth).
3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high head and add ginger, curry powder, cumin and coriander. Let cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add spinach, garlic, cashew cream, and potatoes, and let cook a few more minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomato paste. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve warm.
Dinner: Greek Buffet
Dinner: Greek Buffet
The Greek buffet was significantly easier to make as most of the food just went into the oven after the initial preparation. It was really nice to enjoy this cuisine, being so different from the Indian which relies on so many different spices, the Greek in comparison focuses mainly on tomato and heaps and heaps of garlic – but if you get it right it is just as flavourful.
On the menu was:
– Roasted Butter Bean Casserole
– Classic Greek Salad with herbed “feta”
– Greek Chickpeas and Rice
– Roasted Brussels sprouts
All these dishes were great compliment’s too each other, so I was really pleased with the result. The “feta” was made out of tofu, a recipe I got from a VegNews magazine a while back, which basically involves boiling tofu in a salty brine with some herbs and letting it sit in it overnight then draining and adding to classic Greek salad ingredients such as tomatos, capsicums, olives etc.
I served all these dishes with some lemon wedges which really brought out the garlic, olive, tomato flavours.
My favourite dish was actually the rice, it looks so simple and basic but is very addictive, I could definitely eat it just on its own and be happy. I can’t even really explain why it’s so good, it’s just something you have to try! And it’s really easy to make too. While researching the Greek menu I found this awesome website called The Greek Vegan, and this is where I got the recipe from!
So if you would like to give it a try head over to: The Greek Vegan – Chickpeas and Rice. The Only difference is that I didn’t have fresh dill so I used a couple of teaspoons dried dill.
Roast Butterbean Casserole
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Lemon Wedges
Classic Greek Salad with “Feta”
Finally, I would love to share with you our dessert – Gluten Free, Vegan Baklava Cake!
I wanted a Greek style dessert but looking at the amount of sugar and fat most recipes had really took away my desire to make anything like that. Finally I found this cake, which is far lower on sugar (compared to 1.5-2 cups for the other deserts amongst other unhealthy additions), which is Gluten Free is a small cake – perfect for a group and a little something sweet at the end of a big meal.
The cake was so moist and the flavour of the rose water and almonds was just beautiful! We made our own applesauce from apples and I ended up using 1 cup instead of 1/2 because it was very thick so I’m not sure how much that would have changed the recipe, but it was delicious and you can find it here: