Old Friend: “I’m in town next weekend if you’re free.”
WFTTD: “Great, come to us and I’ll rustle up some supper.”
Old Friend: “OK thanks. By the way I’m vegan now. Bye!”
Three decades ago as a student I entered into a shopping / cooking sharing arrangement with a vegan friend in my halls, and memories of my margarine and soy milk bechamel for a veggie lasagne haunt me still. I have not knowingly prepared a full on vegan repast since.
Still, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity, and all that.
And in this case opportunity took the form of a cauliflower curry – more on which later – and all the trimmings. Sharwood’s green label mango chutney [the best mango chutney money can buy IMHO] is mercifully free of any animal ingredients, and I found some poppadoms which were vegan, gluten free, GM free, in fact so free of anything it’s a wonder they existed at all. But cooling, creamy, cucumberful, yoghurty raita?
Challenge Opportunity time!
Time, in fact, for tahini. Turns out this sesame seed paste is a vegan staple for producing creamy dressings and so forth when cream itself is considered beyond the pail. I’d say “who knew?”, but lots of you probably already do.
You will need
- A cucumber
- Half a red onion
- The juice of half a lemon
- A small handful of mint, and the same of dill
Finely chop the red onion and leave to sit in the lemon juice for half an hour or so. I spiralised my cucumber, because spiralising is the most zeitgeisty way of reducing a whole vegetable to smaller, more fork-friendly parts, and because I like playing with the spiralising thingy, but do feel free to just chop it into pieces of your desired size. Chop the herbs, add to the cucumber pieces, and tip in the onion and lemon juice. Mix well. Add the tahini a tablespoonful at a time, stirring to mix – I used about four tablespoons. The lemon juice will cause the tahini to thicken slightly, so add a splash of water here and there as you go until you achieve your preferred consistency. Season with salt to taste, and chill.
This worked so well that I’ll do it again, for vegans and omnivores alike. Until I meet a vegan who is sesame intolerant, when we’ll be looking at a whole new set of opportunities.
With thanks to my good friend RJ for sharing his vegan know-how and advice.