Sunday, 6 April 2008

Vegan Fire and Spice

It's been almost two months since I received my copy of Vegan Fire and Spice, Robin Robertson's "new" book.
"New" because it's actually a reprint of an ovo-lacto cookbook she released a couple of years ago, though now it's all vegan and 25 new recipes have been added.

As I said when writing about the V-con, I mainly cook ethnic foods and try to be authentic. I will cook and eat more "traditional" Western foods, but to make me a happy foodie, give me Asian/Africa/Middle-Eastern/whatnot.
If you like this way of cooking, you will love Robin's books ( I also own Vegan Planet and Quick-Fix Vegetarian, which is actually all vegan).

As I love hot and spicy foods, I had to get this book, even though I had vowed not to buy any more cookbooks in 2008.

I don't regret it, not at all. Vegan Fire and Spice totally hit my foodie spot.

The book is divided in different chapters geographically, so there is:
  • the Americas
  • Mediterranean Europe
  • The Middle East and Africa
  • India
  • Asia
It also has a lovely introduction with info about all sorts of different chillis, peppers and spices and some basic cooking information (think tempeh, seitan, tofu, vegetable broth).

Still, I realized I'm really spoiled when it comes to the terms "spicy" and "hot", due to Indian and Thai friends.
The recipes themselves are not searing hot, but I assume still unusual to the "standard"
Western palate.

Anyhow, here's a selection of what I made (and managed to snatch photos of). Enjoy!

Curried Mushrooms with rice, from the Indian section. This has shrooms, coconut milk, tomatoes and ginger. Need I say more? It was so easy and tasty. I had the leftovers with pasta in my bento the next day. This will become one of my standard recipes, I'm sure.

Another standard recipe of mine is harira. I have a friend with Morrocan heritage, so I know many variations of this traditional soup eaten to end the fasting month of ramadan. He approved of Robin's version and so did I. It's a very simple soup with chickpeas and red lentils, a nice staple-no-veg-at-home-dish, though totally unphotogenic.

Asian Fusion Noodles. As the title suggest, not authentic. I found it bland and didn't really like it, but friends and their kids did love it. I'm a total Asian food snob, sorry.

I also made the Hunan Fried Rice that everybody was raving about. That's why I followed the recipe very closely... and to be honest, it was ok, but I don't see what's so special or amazing about it. Maybe Asian restaurants in Europe make their fried rice totally different?
However, it was good in my bento the next day with some hot sauce in the birdie container. The other tier has steamed broccoli, tomato and some carrot strips.

This is the most versatile, tastierst and easiest recipe I made from the book so far.
Middle Eastern Chickpea soup with tomato salad and olives. I didn't amp up the heat in this recipe because it was 150% percent perfect as is.
This was so easy and made a lovely meal with some warm pita bread. I can imagine leaving out/ using less of the cayenne and feeding it to kids.


Robin Robertson said...

Thanks for the great comments and photos from my new book Vegan Fire & Spice. Your observations are correct that while some of the recipes in the book are traditional in both ingredients and heat levels, others have been tamed down or adapted for Western tastes and use ingredients that are easier to find. I tried to be clear in the book that heat levels should be adjusted according to personal preference, since everyone's taste is different. I hope you continue to enjoy the recipes and encourage you to "taste as you go" to suit yourself. Thanks again for sharing the great photos -- everything looks great!

Mihl said...

Danke für die Rezension! Ich habe auch überlegt das Buch zu kaufen und es hört sich gut an und sieht gut aus!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

This book has been on my to-buy list for a while. I especially want to try the Sambar recipe.

Erin said...

Not buying any more cookbooks this year? Crazy woman.

VeggieGirl said...

wow, looks/sounds like a great book!!

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Everything looks so tasty! I may have to pick this book up.

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

That chickpea soup looks delicious!

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Just A Stay At Home Mom said...

I love love love your bento box! too cute. The food looks good and although I am not a Vegan, I have a cousin that is and I think I just found the perfect birthday gift!

Lisa said...

All that food looks yummy! Although I am not vegan I would love to try some recipes from the book. I love spicey foods and I am on a mission to eat healthy and more veggies. Right now I am kicking salt out of our diet and have started reading the labels on food to pick the lower sodium products. :-)

pavotrouge said...

thanks a lot for all your lovely comments!
I feel especially honored by your appreciation of the post, Robin.

As I said, I HAD PLANNED not to buy any new cookbooks. I bought such a lot last year and barely have the time to try any new recipes. Still, I have already bought two new books this year.