If you want to learn something, find a great teacher. To learn about South Indian Vegan Cooking, I attended the September free cooking demonstration hosted by Vegetarians of Washington. This month, accomplished chef and business owner, Sunita Shastri shared a few recipes with a packed room at Upper Crust Catering in Greenwood, Seattle. Sunita prefaced the demo with the fact that she is from South India, and would be focusing on recipes from this region. This is the main reason we used coconut products; northern Indian cuisine uses ghee (clarified butter) and paneer (cheese) in many recipes.
Three Recipes from South India
Sunita had some of my favorite kitchen tools like a food processor and pressure cooker, and also introduced us to some new ones!
Cucumber Carrot Salad
We started first with a refreshing Cucumber Carrot Salad. As veggies are the headliners in many Indian dishes, it isn’t common to start meals with a leafy green salad. This salad was the perfect combination of colors, flavors, and textures. I learned that we can eat yellow split mung beans or moong dal without cooking them! Sunita soaked the beans for an hour or two, then drained, and added to the recipe. This gave a crunchy fullness to each bite.
Next, the pressure cooker began rattle, because the white rice and yellow split mung beans (moong dal) were at pressure and almost ready for inclusion in the next recipe. Khara Pongal is the South Indian version of Kichadi – a popular dish, as it’s a one-pot meal. The dal breaks down under pressure, and creates a creamy risotto-like consistency with this rice dish. In addition to some seasonings, the recipe called for cashews. I asked Sunita what that brought to the recipe, and it’s primarily for texture; an added crunch in an otherwise creamy dish. Since I’m allergic to cashews, I will give the recipe a shot with peanuts instead!
Lastly, Sunita whipped up a quick and easy coconut chutney. This is where the chef introduced a fun new kitchen gadget – the tadka pan! This small metal pan looked almost like a ladle, and it went right on the stove. It was deep enough to heat oil and spices, and made it easy to transfer these ingredients into the rest of the preparation. Despite some bold ingredients, it had a pleasant flavor – I wasn’t overwhelmed with the green chilies (that’s a good thing!)
Of the three recipes Sunita Shastri and Vegetarians of Washington presented at the monthly cooking demo, all three were hits! They seem easy to recreate, and we will be sure to make these again.
Interested in more Vegan Cooking Demos?
These monthly cooking demos are perfect for vegans, vegetarians, or even the slightest veg-curious. Vegetarians of Washington welcomes anyone interested in plant-based living, and all cooking demos are free of animals/animal bi-products. Vegetarians of Washington also hosts monthly dinners. Check it out!