By Life Positive June 2005 Recipes: Vijaya VenkatI you cannot or do not have milk, but pine for butter or ice-cream, try these delicious recipes using ingenious substitutes The vegan diet is probably one of the most holistic diets for it keeps the larger interest of animals and planetary welfare at heart. In doing so, it secures our welfare too. Veganism abjures all animal products including meats, gelatine, milk and milk products, honey, silk and leather goods. Says Nandita Shah, homoeopath and passionate vegan: ‘The vegan diet respects animal life and ecological health.’ The advantages to the vegan diet, apart from a clean conscience, is a radical improvement in health. It combats arthritis, constipation, digestive disorders, depression, and allergies very effectively. It can even give the dreaded cancer pause. This apart, says Nandita, her own experience has been that a vegan diet alters states of mind. It generates more clarity, less anger, less fear, less insecurity and rigidity. She cautions, however, that diet changes must be made slowly and with a view of effecting a lasting change. Do not worry about the lack of B-12. Yeast and fermented foods are good substitutes.All good so far, but the biggest challenge of the vegan diet for Indians is the injunction against milk and milk products. No more butter, ghee, cheese, paneer, curds, lassi or chaas! However, there are delicious vegan substitutes for all milk products. You can still enjoy your raitas, koftas, khadi, paneer, mayonnaise, milkshakes and sweets. Butter SubstitutesButter can be replaced with delicious nut and seed butters like cashew, almond, macadamia and sunflower seeds. Cheaper and equally yummy substitutes include peanut and sesame butters. Incidentally, sesame is considered one of the best sources of calcium available. These butters can be diluted and spiced up to make tasty dips and salad dressings. And don’t bother buying the overpriced and dodgy commercial options. Make your own. Peanut ButterIngredients:¼ kg groundnutsSalt (to taste)Jaggery (optional; to taste) Method: Roast nuts over a slow fire until brown. Skin them. Grind in a mixer with salt and jaggery until it forms a paste. You can use this method for sesame butter, or any of the other options mentioned above. Cooking agent SubstitutesInstead of butter or ghee, opt for the healthier cold-pressed unrefined oils such as groundnut oil, til oil, mustard and coconut oil. For the well-heeled, almond and olive oils are great options. Milk SubstitutesGroundnut milk, soya milk, coconut milk and milk from other nuts such as cashew and almond make absolutely divine options. You can use them to add flavor to curries, to make milkshakes and ice-cream with, and chaas. You can even, at a pinch, have coconut-flavored coffee. Groundnut curds is as good as milk curds and you can make a range of raitas, even dahi vada, with it. Tofu is a very healthy and sound option to paneer. You can use tofu to make an akoori with or beat it up for a creamy salad dressing. Groundnut Milk and CurdsIngredients: 100 gm groundnuts Method: Soak the groundnuts for 4 hours. Grind finely to a smooth paste. Extract as much milk as possible, using ½ liter water. Strain. The milk is now ready for use. Curds: Boil the nut milk on low fire. Cool to room temperature. Set curds as usual for groundnut curds. (The quality of the curds depends on the quality of the groundnuts.) Coconut Milk Juice or ChaasIngredients: ½ coconut1 raw mango1 cucumber½ tsp ginger paste salt to taste Method: Extract the milk by grating the coconut and smoothly grinding to a paste. Sieve. Dilute to make 6 glasses of juice. Finely grate raw mango and cucumber. Add to juice with ginger paste/salt. Garnish with coriander or parsley. Serve chilled. Dahi KadiIngredients:½ cup, roasted besan1½ cups groundnut curds8-10 flakes of garlicgreen chilly paste (to taste)1 onion (finely chopped)Seasoning: Mustard, methi, curry leaves and jeeraVegetables: Spinach,methi leaves, radish and methi balls Method: Roast onions with garlic, green chilly paste till brown. Add besan paste and haldi. Add water to make into a gravy. Boil well. Pour beaten curds and boil once. Mix in vegetables and remove from flame. Sprinkle some garam masala powder on top. Season with mustard, methi, jeera, curry leaves. Dahi VadaIngredients for vada:3-4 raw bananas (steamed and grated)1 tbsp groundnuts (roasted, roughly ground)1 tbsp coriander (finely chopped)1 tsp green chilly-ginger pasteamchur powder/ raw mango (to taste) Method: Mix together the ingredients. Add salt to taste. Make into flat pattice/tikkis. Roast slightly. Ingredients for curds:1½ cups groundnut curds½ tsp kala namak½ tsp jeera powder½ tsp red chilly powder Method: Blend curds with the ingredients. Pour curds onto the pattice/tikkis. Garnish on top with date chutney. White SauceIngredients:1 steamed potato pureed2 cups coconut milk boiled1 onion (finely chopped)1 capsicum (finely chopped)1 green chilly (finely chopped)Celery, parsley, salt and pepper to taste Method: Sauté vegetables. Add pureed potato. Reduce flame. Mix in the milk slowly. Avoid lumps. Cook this sauce on low fire. Add salt and garnish to taste. Use this as a base for continental dishes, soups, etc. (Children love it!) Stuffed PotatoIngredients:6 large potatoes (capsicum or other vegetables like tinda can also be used)Vegetables in white sauce Method: Steam potato till knife goes in smoothly but do not overcook. Peel and cut horizontally. Scoop out insides. Rub salt and little haldi. Bake until crisp. Stuff with white sauce and vegetables of your choice. KheerIngredients:1 cup unpolished rice1 coconut (grind and extract milk)½ cup jaggery syrup1 tsp cardamom powder3 tbsp cashew, badam and raisins Method: Cook rice in a steamer. Mash gently. Boil once with jaggery syrup so that it mixes well. Add coconut milk. Boil once. Flavor with cardamom and nuts. Banana Ice-CreamIngredients:2 bananas½ cup dates1 cup thick coconut milk Method: Blend ingredients in a mixer and freeze. Eat immediately. The ice-cream does not keep because of the coconut milk. With inputs from Nandita Shah
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