How to cook 'meat for vegetarians' (+recipes)

Legumes are a great source of protein for vegetarians. Photo / Thinkstock
Legumes are a great source of protein for vegetarians. Photo / Thinkstock

Legumes, known as "meat for vegetarians", are an essential part of a meat-free diet. More and more people are adopting a vegetarian diet, if only one day a week.

Well-known types of legumes include peanuts, peas, beans, lentils and chick peas.

"Legumes are an excellent source of fibre and protein," says Astrin Damayanti, registered dietitian at Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto, California.

"They are also a low-glycaemic food, which means they are broken down more slowly and won't result in blood-sugar spikes, making them great for people with diabetes."

Flavour satisfies, and the flavours of cumin and coriander are unmistakable in this meal. Cumin delivers a pungent, warm, earthy flavour, while coriander is sweet and nutty. Combined, they're a powerhouse in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, enhancing the flavours of meat and vegetable dishes.

If you're buying cumin or coriander for the first time, buy cumin whole and coriander in powdered form. Cumin seeds can be added to each of these dishes for another layer of flavour. A quarter teaspoon is all you'll need.

When adding spices, remember that ground herbs and spices release their flavour and aroma more readily than whole. Add them near the end of cooking time to minimise the risk of cooking away their flavour.

"Whole spices and certain herbs, such as bay leaves, release their flavour more slowly, so add them at the start of cooking. Tie them in cheesecloth or place in a tea ball for easy removal," the spice company Spice Islands suggests.

The fire of chillis can intensify during cooking, so add them in small increments and taste-test frequently.

Crispy flatbread

1 cup whole-wheat flour plus 1 cup plain flour or atta flour
1 daikon (Japanese radish), about 15cm long, grated
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn anise seeds
1 tspn ground coriander
5cm piece of ginger, grated
2 fresh green chillis, seeded and finely chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1 tspn salt
Finely ground black pepper
1 heaped tbspn yogurt mixed with warm water to make 1 cup
4 tbspns unsalted butter, for cooking

1 Place the grated daikon on a clean towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add daikon and all ingredients up to the black pepper to the dough. Mix thoroughly.

2 Make a well in the centre of the dough and slowly add just enough of the water/yogurt mixture to form a soft, pliable dough. The dough doesn't require much kneading. Cover dough and chill for 45 minutes.

3 Divide dough into eight balls and roll each into a disc about 13cm in diameter. Heat a cast-iron frypan over medium-high heat. Slap the bread into the pan and cook for between 30 and 60 seconds, or until the centre begins to change to a warm brown colour.

4 Turn over and cook for a further 30 to 60 seconds. Brush with melted butter and turn again. Press down with the spatula, brush with more melted butter, then turn again, cooking 30 seconds each time. Turn a couple more times, after about 10 seconds each time. Cook for three minutes in total, until golden brown with dark spots.

Ragada

Serves 4

Chickpeas in a tomato sauce are served over pan-fried potato cakes.

Potato cakes
900g potatoes, peeled and quartered
Salt, as needed
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn garam masala
1/3 cup unseasoned fresh breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Ragada
2 tbspns canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh green chilli, minced
2 tspns fresh ginger
1 tbspn red curry paste
1 tbspn garam masala
1 tspn ground turmeric
1 tspn ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup plain Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbspns chopped fresh coriander
Salt as needed

1 Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water by 5cm. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender (20-30 minutes).

2 Drain potatoes very well and transfer to a large bowl. Mash them with a fork or potato masher until mostly smooth. Stir in cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala and season with salt. Add the breadcrumbs and mix to combine. Form into eight patties. Cover and refrigerate patties.

3 In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (three to four minutes). Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and saute for about one minute, until fragrant. Add the curry paste, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and cayenne, and stir until slightly toasted (about 30 seconds).

4 Add the tomatoes and cook for about five minutes until they dissolve. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for eight to 10 minutes, until slightly reduced and thick.

5 Stir in chickpeas, yoghurt and coriander and cook for about five minutes until heated through. Season with salt.

6 Place two potato cakes on each plate and top with chickpea sauce. Garnish with red onion and coriander, if desired.

Note: Fresh tomatoes can be substituted for the canned tomatoes. Romas work especially well in this recipe.

* This recipe is from Vegetarian Cooking, a book in the At Home With The Culinary Institute of America series (published by Wiley).

Red lentils with tomato

Serves four to five people

1 cup red lentils (skinless masoor dal), washed and drained
3 cups water
1 tspn salt
2 cups chopped tomatoes
3 tbspns oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tspn fresh ginger, minced
1 tbspn ground coriander
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn cayenne pepper
1 tspn turmeric

1 Bring red lentils and 3 cups of water to a boil. Cook partially covered at a simmer for half an hour. Add salt and tomatoes and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes, until done.

2 Once the lentils are cooked, puree with an immersion blender, if desired, for a smoother consistency.

3 Put oil in a wide, shallow pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until it starts to brown. Add ginger and garlic and cook for one minute. Add spices and cook for one more minute. Add a ladle of the lentils to the onion and spices mixture, and then pour everything into the lentils. Cook for 10 minutes more to blend all the flavours.

- MCT

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 03 Sep 2014 17:38:20 Processing Time: 1895ms