Mum’s Kısır (Turkish Tabbouleh Salad)

Kısır is Turkish version of Tabbouleh. I guess there are two types of Kısır in Turkish cuisine. One with tomato paste –or hot pepper paste- and one without. My mum’s version is more on the light, salad side. She used to make one big bowl of it for her tea parties. She also had a way of dressing up cucumbers which you might find interesting.

1 cup fine bulgur
1 small onion
1 tomato
1 handful flat leave (continental) parsley
1 handful fresh spearmint
1 handful fresh dill
2 leaves lettuce
1 spring onions
1 small cucumber
1 lemon
100 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

• Place bulgur in a large salad bowl. Cover bulgur with boiling water. Leave it for a few minutes until the water is absorbed and the grains have swollen. Fluff up with a fork.

• Wash lettuce, mint, dill, parsley and tomato. Cut the top and the ends of spring onion. Wash, dry and chop mint, dill, parsley and spring onion finely. Cut lettuce into 2 cm pieces. Cut tomato into wedges. Peel onion, halve and slice thinly. Add to the salad bowl.

• Wash and peel cucumber (I use my potato peeler for the job). Cut the ends. Scratch cucumber all the way by using a fork, forming four lines. Continue until you have formed lines all around. Then slice.

That’s what the cucumbers look like when they are sliced.

• Add cucumber, paprika and black pepper to the bowl.

• Squeeze lemon. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Pour over the salad, toss and serve cold. Check the seasoning and add more salt to your liking.

Vegan Lomo Saltado

Lomo saltado is a traditional Peruvian dish. It is basically a stir-fry which becomes one-dish meal with the addition of French fries and rice. Although it is served as one dish you combine a few cooking methods such as stir frying and deep frying. The original version has beef in it but we were lucky enough to have vegetarian version of this dish both in Lima at Restaurant El Vegetariano and at Govinda’s in Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu). After we got home I came up with my own version of it.   At the end of the day, my kitchen is my Queen-dom…

1 cup Natural Food Vegetarian Beef Chunks
1 very large potato (I strongly recommend Nicolas if you can get any)
1 medium-sized red onion
¼ red capsicum
¼ yellow capsicum
¼ green capsicum
2 large tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp light soy sauce
A handful continental parsley
1 tsp Massel’s stock powder chicken style
Oil for deep frying
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (Herbie’s)
Salt and pepper

To make the chips:

  • Heat the oil.
  • Using a peeler, remove the skin from all the potatoes. Cut each potato lengthwise into thin chunks about a centimetre in size.
  • Before frying, it is important to rinse starch off the potatoes. Put them into a strainer and run them under cold water, then let the water drain off. Pat dry with a clean tea towel.
  • Once the oil reaches the right temperature, fry potatoes –all of it in one batch if you are using a large pot to fry. If not, do them in small batches instead. You will need to move them once or twice while frying as they tend to stick together in clumps and that prevents them from frying evenly.
  • Place 2 layers of paper towel onto a flat plate. When the chips are in nice golden brown colour remove them from oil with a slotted spoon and spread them onto the plate with paper towels. Season well with Massel’s stock powder while the chips are still hot and set aside.

Method for the rest:

  • Wash, dry and chop parsley. Wash capsicums, carve out the membrane, get rid of the seeds and slice thinly.
  • Peel garlic and tomatoes. Cut tomatoes into wedges and leave them on the chopping board for the time being.
  • Peel onion and slice.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan and sauté vegetarian beef chunks until they are crispy on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add a little bit of oil to the same pan and sauté onion and capsicum until they brown. Add crushed garlic and light soya sauce.
  • Stir in potato chips and tomato wedges. Sauté until tomatoes start to lose their shape.
  • Add vegetarian beef chunks, stir well. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with rice.

Lumpy – Vegan Potato and Carrot Salad with Herbs and Vegan Mayonnaise

lumpy (956x1280)

This is one of my favourite salads. Although I don’t know if Lumpy has a real name but it kind of clumps together when you mix your salad ingredients with mayonnaise. So I named it Lumpy.

2 large potatoes
1 large carrot
2 spring onions
2 sprig continental parsley
2 sprig dill
3 tbsp Plamil egg free mayonnaise
Black pepper

• Peel potatoes and carrots. Dice and put them in separate pots. Cover with water and cook until they are cooked but still slightly firm.

• While potatoes and carrots are cooking, wash, drain and chop spring onions, dill and parsley.

• Remove cooked potatoes and carrots from heat, drain and let them cool in a large bowl.

• Combine spring onions, parsley, dill, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and mix well. Lumpy is now ready to be served.

Vegan Lemon Bulgur Pilaf

The clean taste of lemon really lifts the flavour of this pilaf. If you are gluten intolerant, substitute bulgur with quinoa.

1 cup bulgur (coarse variety)
1 tablespoon Nuttelex
1 teaspoon Massel’s chicken stock powder (heaped)
Lemon zest from ½ lemon
2 spring onions (thin ones, if possible)
2 cups water
Black pepper (freshly ground)

• Wash lemon well. Use and utensil called zester, peel off only the coloured part of the rind, only around the half of the lemon. Leave it in strips.

• Wash, dry and finely chop spring onions. Set aside.

• Melt Nuttelex in a pan. Add bulgur and lemon zest. Sauté bulgur and lemon zest by stirring constantly until bulgur gives out a nutty smell and starts to look opaque. Add Massel’s chicken stock powder and freshly ground black pepper. Measure and add water –do it carefully because you are adding cold water to a hot pot which makes water to boil so fast that you might burn yourself.

• Put the lid on and reduce the heat as soon as the mixture is boiled. I strongly recommend a pot with a glass lid.

• Once the liquid is absorbed, fluff pilaf and cover the pot with a piece of paper towel. Put the lid back on. Stir in spring onions and serve warm.

Nohutlu Bamya – Turkish Okra and Chickpea Stew

A healthy combination of green vegetables and legumes. Fresh lemon juice and garlic lift the dish up and parsley gives it a fresh finish.

1/2 kilo okra
A small tin chickpeas
1 onion
1 tblsp tomato paste (if you are using supermarket bought tomato paste you may need to use more than 1 tblsp to get the right consistency in sauce)
Olive oil
1 clove garlic
Lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
A handful parsley (chopped)
Sweet paprika
Black pepper

• Wash and drain okra and with a sharp knife peel the top of okra keeping its cubic shape. Chop onion.
• In a large bowl, dilute tomato paste, add paprika and pepper. Add more water.
• In another bowl, mix crushed garlic and lemon juice. Put aside.
• Heat olive oil in a pot, add onion and salt. Fry onion over medium heat until cooked thoroughly.
• Add chickpeas and okra and stir well. Cover them with diluted tomato paste and spice mix. Adjust water level if necessary. Put the lid on and continue cooking. Once the sauce boils reduce heat and simmer until okra is cooked.
• When it’s time to turn the heat off add garlic and lemon juice but do not stir as okra has the tendency to go slimy.
• Sprinkle chopped parsley and serve.

Sister of my Heart (Turkish Couscous with Cashews, Carrot and Dried Currants)

This vegan side dish was named after Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book which I happened to be reading at the time the dish was created.

1 cup Turkish couscous
1 small carrot
1/2 cup raw cashew nuts
2 tbsp dried currants
1 tbsp Nuttelex
¼ bunch parsley (chopped)
A drizzle oil
Salt and pepper

• First boil some water in a large pot with a drizzle of oil and a teaspoon of salt. Add couscous and stir occasionally. According to packet instructions it is 12-14 minutes.
• Peel and grate carrot. Heat Nuttelex in a pan. Add carrots and fry for 5 minutes then add cashews.
• Wash parsley and process in a salad spinner to get rid of excess water. Chop finely and set aside.
• If cashew nuts start to soften a little add currants. Season with black pepper.
• When your couscous is done, drain and add to the pan. Stir well and sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Note: If you can’t find Turkish couscous, try Israeli one which is the closest.

Bolognese Sauce, VegFusion Style

bolognese sauce

I used to use Sanitarium vegetarian mince in this recipe but it is now a discontinued product. So I use the tin variety from their Vegie Delight line. A real time saver with Macro Wholefoods Organic Basil & Tomato pasta sauce.

Bolognese Sauce

½ pack spaghetti or any other type of pasta (clearly, I used penne)
½ tin Sanitarium Vegie Delights casserole mince in gravy
1 brown onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 jar Macro Wholefoods Organic Basil & Tomato pasta sauce
1 teaspoon Massel Stock Powder Chicken Style
1 tablespoon Nuttelex
¼ bunch Continental parsley (you could substitute parsley with basil if you prefer)
Grated parmesan or vegan substitute
Salt and pepper

• Start by placing a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
• Peel onion and garlic. Chop onion, crush garlic. Wash parsley, dry and chop finely. Set aside.
• To make the Bolognese sauce, heat oil in a pot which is large enough for the whole sauce. Add onion and fry until onion is cooked thoroughly.
• Empty the whole tin of Sanitarium Vegie Delights casserole mince and continue stirring. Add crushed garlic and stock powder until garlic gives out its aroma. Then add pasta sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Before you remove your sauce from heat stir in chopped parsley.
• Meanwhile, cook pasta according to packet instructions. I use organic spaghetti from Macro Wholefoods which needs about 12 minutes.
• Once pasta is cooked, drain well and return to the pot. Stir through with Nuttelex -although, if you want to mix Bolognese sauce with your pasta you may want to skip this step.
• Divide pasta into plates, top with the sauce and sprinkle with grated parmesan or vegan substitute and cracked pepper. Serve warm.

Note: Macro Wholefoods Organic Basil & Tomato pasta sauce is still around. However, they now come in 500 grams jars which is too much for us. Because of that I switched to Barilla’s Bolognese Sauce.

Vegan Summer Squash in Sour Cream

I have received my first order of organic vegetables and cleaning products from Doorstep Organics. When the box full of goodies arrived there they were; gorgeous summer squash, little yellow babies, sitting peacefully in their environmentally friendly bag made from corn starch.

As for the recipe, it is adopted from Marlena Spieler’s Jewish Cooking, the tradition, techniques, ingredients, and recipes cookbook. Although the author did publish quite a few vegetarian cookbooks, this one is not one of them. I remember picking it up from one of those bargain bins long time ago, bringing it home, pulling it apart and picking usable/modifiable recipes –they are filed differently in my recipe folders now.

The original recipe –it is an Israeli dish by the way- is called Summer Squash and Baby New Potatoes in Warm Dill Sour Cream. As you can see from the title, it is a warm dish; mine is a bit more like a salad.

For my version of the dish, you will need:
½ kilo summer squash, quartered
1 spring onion (those ones with a large head on)
½ bunch dill, chopped

4 tbsp Tofutti Sour Supreme
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

• Steam squash until al dente. Drain and set aside until they are cool.
• Wash and chop spring onion and dill.
• Transfer squash into a large salad bowl. Add spring onion and dill.
• In a smaller bowl, mix salad dressing ingredients. It will be a little thick at first but that’s OK.
• Mix salad dressing well with squash, spring onions and dill and serve.