At a vegan workshop, Anuradha Sahu discovered yummy preparations to indulge our taste buds while practising ahimsa
The Ahimsa Parmo Dharma Group (APDG), founded in 2015 to create awareness about the principles of ahimsa in everyday life, comprises a six-member core team, all leading professionals in their own right. With the belief that “ahimsa or non-violence as a universal concept is applicable to all living beings since each one has the spark of the Divine spiritual energy,” these ‘ahimsaks’ practice and preach non-violence in thought, deed, and action.
The group organises the ‘Ahimsa Festival’ every year to propagate the message of wellness through simple and compassionate lifestyle choices. The Dr Rupa Shah, Saroj Choudhury, and Ruchika recently presented a vegan workshop in Mumbai. KB Health and Kaarya Foods, a Kajal Bhatia initiative, were the hosts for the day.
As it unfolded, the workshop introduced many interesting and innovative options to a lot of dairy-based products beginning with milk, eg., rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. “Did you know that the healthiest form of milk can be sourced from nuts and seed?” asked Dr. Rupa Shah, founder/director of circleOhealth, and author of ‘Dairy Alternatives’. As the mini sampling bowls were passed around, the response to the cheesy dips, curds, falooda, and strawberry soufflé was a unanimous 'WOW'! The vegan treats prepared by Saroj Choudhary were not just yummy licking but also yummy looking, complete with health benefits.
While on veganism, Ruchika shared information about the unbelievable cruelty present in the dairy industry today and the myths that abound. “Milk, which is considered a source of calcium, is actually acidic and harms the body,” she said.
As the workshop concluded with a vibrant feel of positive energy and each participant having picked up important nuances and delightful recipes for healthy living, another major aspect that one carried home was the knowledge of a lifestyle that spelt love, compassion, peace, and overall wellness for all.
A vegan makeover for the kitchen with dairy-free replacements
Dairy milk: soy, rice, almond, peanut, oats, sesame, coconut, corn, and other plant-based milk
White sugar: dry fruits, dates, jaggery, and raw or unrefined sugar
Tea/coffee: home-made or ready-made herbal tea, barley, or soya coffee
Ready-made cereals: muesli made from whole wheat flakes, nuts and dry fruits. Dalia—wheat, barley, maize, millets, rolled oats (not the ‘instant and processed’ variety of oats)
Salted butter: Peanut butter, cashew butter, sesame butter, and almond butter
Ghee and oil: oil derived from cashew nuts, peanuts, coconut, sesame, and other nuts and seeds.
Curds/yoghurt/buttermilk: soya, peanut milk or other plant-based yoghurt
Cream: butter made from either cashew or any nuts, mixed with water
Meat: soy nuggets and flakes, tofu, beans, and ready-made meat replacers
Eggs: banana and flaxseeds
Rice: whole (unpolished) rice
White bread or white flour (maida): Atta or whole wheat flour (however, many whole wheat breads in the market contain emulsifiers and fat). Millet flour—jowar, bajra, nachni (ragi)
Regular table salt: Himalayan salt, rock salt, or sea salt— (kala namak/ sendha namak)
Fried food/snacks: baked or roasted alternatives
Ice cream: frozen fruit ice cream, coconut, soya, and rice milk ice cream
Aerated and other soft drinks: water, lime juice with water, and fruit smoothies
Canned food/tetrapacks: fresh food whenever possible
Dairy free recipes
Roasted peanuts—100 gm
Jaggery syrup/palm sugar—25 gm
Red chilli powder—1 tsp (add more if you like it spicier)
Tamarind pulp—1 tbsp (to extract tamarind pulp soak the tamarind in one tbsp of warm water)
Lemon juice—1/2 lemon
Light soy sauce—1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Roast the peanuts in the oven at 170 C for five minutes or in a pan on medium heat till they turn brown. Place the peanuts, jaggery syrup/palm sugar, chilli powder, tamarind juice, lime juice, sweet soy sauce, and a half- cup of water in a mixer. Grind together all the ingredients. Remove them into a mixing bowl. Stir well and add the required amount of water to get the desired consistency of peanut sauce.
A yummy complement to salads, pad thai noodles, or lettuce wraps.
Cashew Herb Dip
Cashew nuts—200 gm
Yeast flakes (optional)—2–3 tbsp
Garlic (optional)—1 tsp
Lemon juice—1 tbsp.
Herbs of your choice (fresh or dried)
Water (depending on the consistency desired)
Soak the cashew nuts in water for at least four hours or overnight. Then drain the water and rinse them with fresh water.
Mix the cashews with the other ingredients and blend them together in a mixer.
Enhance the taste by adding any seasoning of your choice.
This dip is a tasty accompaniment to pizzas, pastas, vegetable sticks, and crackers.
Peanuts—100 gm (soaked overnight)
With a little water, grind the peanuts to a fine paste.
Strain it using a muslin cloth.
Boil and keep stirring to avoid clumping. Add up to four times water as it thickens. It is ready when you get the desired consistency.
Rice—125 gm (soaked overnight)
Grind the rice to a fine paste with little water added to it.
Strain it using a muslin cloth.
Boil and keep stirring to avoid clumping. Add up to six times water as it thickens. It's ready for use when you reach the desired consistency.
Almond milk is easy to make and tastes good too. It can be used to prepare sweets, Indian chai, firni, curds, milkshakes, or anything else that may require dairy milk. Freshly prepared almond milk is cheaper and better than canned or tetrapacked almond milk.
Soaked almonds—1 cup (soaked for 8 hours)
Fresh drinking water
Rinse the soaked almonds well with fresh water. Peeling is optional.
Put the almonds in a mixer and add water. Blend well at a high speed and yummy almond milk is ready for use.
Note: (Soaking helps release enzyme inhibitors. Throw away the water used to soak the almonds as it contains all the enzyme inhibitors. Blend the milk well to make it smooth. The water may separate from the pulp so shake or stir it before every use).
Peanut Rice Milk
Peanut milk—1 measure
Rice milk—½ measure
Boil the peanut milk and rice milk till you reach the desired consistency. Keep stirring the mix as it boils to avoid forming clumps.
Peanut rice milk--- 1measure
Curd starter/culture/chilly stalks
Boil the peanut rice milk and leave it to cool. When it is lukewarm add 1 tbsp curd culture or chilly stalks to it and let it set for 7–8 hours. (Chilly stalks with a little chilly left on the top are also effective as a non-dairy curd starter/culture).
Pink Nectar (summer cooler falooda de-constructed)
Almond Milk—1 measuring cup (Medium thick consistency)
Sabja seeds soaked for 1 hour—1/2 tsp
Rice noodles (boiled)—1 tsp
Rose water—10–15 drops
Palm sugar/date paste—4 tsp
Beetroot juice for the pink colour
Mix the milk and palm sugar and blend well with a hand-blender.
Add rose water and beetroot juice.
Add the sabja seeds and the rice noodles.
Note: (Beetroot can be substituted with saffron (kesar), rose syrup, or Rooh Afza).
Corn Raita in Peanut Curds
Peanut curds—1 cup
Corn kernels—1/3 cup
Black salt, cumin powder (jeera powder), mustard seeds (sarson), and asafoetida (hing) as per taste
Some green chillies and a few curry leaves (kadipatta)
Beat or blend the peanut curds well.
Add black salt, cumin powder, and green chillies.
Then add a seasoning of mustard seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves to the curds.
Boil the corn kernels.
Coarsely grind 3/4 of the boiled corn with a little curd and mix it with the curds.
Then add the remaining whole corn to it and your yummy corn raita is ready.
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