Thursday, 10 November 2022

My favourite 10 UAE vegetarian dishes

The cuisine of the United Arab Emirates (Arabic) is one of my personal favourites. I adore the flavours, textures and aromas of Arabic dishes. Arabic cuisine makes effective use of spices and the blend of sweet and savoury flavours is delectable. There are many dishes that are influenced by the nearby countries of Persia and India.

Here are some of my favourite Arabic dishes:

Pilaf made with Burghul wheat

Burghul wheat pilaf is a delicious one-pot meal that is made with a medley of vegetables. The dish is flavoured with Middle Eastern spices and served with a vegetable stew.


Man'ooshe Bread

There is a flatbread called man'ooshe available in almost every street bakery in the UAE. In general, it is served with a spread called Za'tar. This spread is made of sumac, sesame seeds, and salt, topped with tomatoes, onions, and salads of choice. Then, it is wrapped up and eaten.  



Dango

Dango is a lovely appetiser made with boiled chickpeas. The boiled chick peas are coated and stir-fried in cayenne pepper and spices and served as a snack

Fatoush

Fatoush is a delicious salad that is made with crunchy salad leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, delicious sweetcorn, pomegranate seeds and Lavash bread. It’s dressed with the flavours of sumac, pomegranate molasses and coriander.


Muhallabia Milk pudding.

Muhallabia is a creamy and rich milk pudding flavoured with rose water and rose petals. The pudding is served chilled and is very delicious. Often nuts are used as a garnish.



Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is a salad made mostly of finely chopped parsley, with tomatoes, mint, onion, and bulgur, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and sweet pepper

Falafel

Falafel is a Middle Eastern snack. A deep-fried ball or flat-shaped patties made with ground chickpeas, herbs, and spices. They are usually served on a meze platter with hummus, pitta bread and salad.


Labneh

To make Labneh, full cream yoghurt is strained and then salt is added to it. This is the base, and you can flavour it with herbs and spices, drizzled with olive oil. It can be used as a dip.

Hummus

The main ingredients in hummus are chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and seasonings. Red pepper hummus, smoky paprika hummus, and caramelised onion hummus are just some of the variations you can make with hummus.


Couscous salad

A delicious couscous and chickpea salad is seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices. To enhance the flavour and texture, flaked almonds, dried apricots and pomegranate seeds are added.


Despite the fact that Arabic cuisine is predominantly meat-based, it makes use of a lot of fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices, making it a very healthy and nutritious cuisine. There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available to eat and enjoy in the UAE. 

If you are looking to travel to UAE, finding a restaurant in the UAE can be made easier by visiting the Square Meal UAE. Here you will find plenty of restaurant choices at a click of a button.


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Tuesday, 8 November 2022

World Vegan Month with tastecard

I have always been a vegetarian all my life, but in the last few years, my diet has been shifting more towards a vegan diet. I have found that veganism is more readily accepted worldwide and catered for in most places. Most restaurants have at least 1-2 vegan dishes if not more on the menu and some restaurants have separate vegan menus that they serve.

November is world vegan month and I have joined forces with tastecard to enjoy a vegan meal at a local restaurant. tastecard partners with many restaurants to offer discounts on meals as well as days out and coffee clubs, along with many more benefits. tastecard membership can start from as little as £5.99 a month or annual membership from £39.99 offering excellent value for money.


There are many restaurants in Watford to choose from. We decided to visit Namaste Watford an Indian restaurant that came highly recommended by a friend who had been there. Namaste Watford serves a good variety of Indian Cuisine. Looking through the menu, there were ample dishes to choose from. We were extremely impressed with the staff's knowledge of the ingredients used in the dishes and their suitability for vegans and anyone with allergies.



The restaurant is spacious, bright and well-decorated. There is plenty of seating to accommodate large groups and families alike. There is also a well-stocked bar with plenty of soft and alcoholic drink choices.

While waiting for our appetisers to be prepared, we enjoyed some soft drinks, poppadum, and delicious chutneys.


Our appetisers included Chilli Garlic Mogo (cassava in spices) and Crispy Bhajiyas (deep-fried potatoes dipped in chickpea coating and spices). 



Both dishes were delicious, and we really enjoyed them. The portion sizes were generous and since we did not finish the entire starters. The waiter kindly offered to pack them to take home as a kind gesture.

 


For the main course, we opted for some Tarka dhal, Methi Corn (a curry made with sweetcorn and fenugreek) and steamed rice. 



The food was piping hot, freshly prepared, and had just the right balance of spices making it tasty and appetising. Once again, the portions were generous and there was plenty of food left over that we took home with us.

There were no vegan desserts on the menu, but tea and coffee were available. Following an excellent meal, we were too full to sample dessert, so we were not concerned.

Namaste Watford was a suitable choice of restaurant to visit during World Vegan Month especially as they accept the tastecard, making the dining experience more affordable. 


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Sunday, 9 October 2022

Vegan Supper Club with Chef Saurav Nath at Chakra Restaurant Kensington

My family and I love discovering new places for dining out. With the Covid situation now improving the options have opened to allow us to travel to London and visit our favorite restaurants. Being a vegetarian my first choice of restaurants are the ones that accommodate our dietary requirements and offer a good range of dishes not one or two, so that we can enjoy a variety of textures, tastes and flavours. 

We were recently invited to attend the Flavours of a Vegan Indian Spring supper club at Chakra Kensington hosted by Humayun Hussain one of the UK’s leading exponents of Indian food and restaurants and Chef Saurav Nath who is an extremely experienced chef who has headed up the kitchens of some of the finest of Indian restaurants in the UK as well as worked alongside such revered European chefs as Pierre Koffman and Eric Chavot. There are so many amazing chefs in the UK such as Merlin Jabron Johnson, Chet Sharma , Shelly Abe and many more extremely talented chefs who also run restaurants. You can check them out at Square Meal UK

 


We were lucky that the British weather was thankfully in our favour and we were able to dine outside under the stars. We sipped on refreshing Passion Fruit and Rose and Cardamom mocktails. 


The menu presented to us was extremely exciting, especially as a lot of thought and attention was given in choosing interesting ingredients, spices, flavours and textures. Here is the menu we sampled.

AMUSE BOUCHE

Palak & Aloo Chat

Tangy potatoes, sprouted beans, popped lotus seed, pomegranate, tamarind sauce, soya yogurt foam, red onion.


STARTER

Global Artichoke Doughnut

South Indian spiced infused globe artichoke patties, sesame seed & tomato chutney, black onion seed, coriander oil, mooli & peanut salad.

 


MID-COURSE

Beet & Broccoli Tikka

Tandoori spiced, glazed beet root & broccoli tikka, coconut & wild garlic chutney,  shimeji mushroom, golden beet, quinoa & walnut salad.

 


MAIN COURSE

Served with vegetable Yakhni Pulao

Separate grainS of rice, light and fluffy cooked to perfection with subtle flavours to compliment the curries and dhal.


Spring Green Kofta

Melt in the mouth spring green & soya ball cooked in Awadhi kormas sauce.


Tofu Hara Pyaz

Organic tofu tossed in black pepper & coriander flavoured tomato sauce with spring onions.


Dhaba Dal

Channa dal tempered with cumin & garlic.

 



Tandoori Roti


Soft tandoori roti cooked on the griddle, the perfect accompaniment to mop up the delicious curries.



Dessert

Boondi with Poached Pears and Icecream

Boondi pearls dipped in syrup served with poached pears in cinnamon syrup and creamy vanilla icecream.

 


Each and every dish was beautifully constructed, well balanced in look and flavours. I especially liked the fusion touch that Chef Saurav Nath introduced to the Indian cuisine. Using ingredients such as artichoke, beetroot, tofu and quinoa in a very unique way was welcoming and very exciting to eat.

I was a guest at the supper club and would like to Thanks Chef Saurav Nath and Humayun Hussain for inviting me to sample this gastronomical feast. My tastebuds were rocking and rolling all evening as each course arrived. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are of my experience of the supper club. If you would like more details for further information on all forthcoming Supperclubs and dinner events please contact Humayun Hussain or Chef Saurav Nath.


Friday, 24 June 2022

Vegan Chilli Cheese Toast



I have been a vegetarian all my life but I do eat dairy ie cheese, milk, yoghurt and milk base products. However my daughter recently changed to a vegan diet, so I have been trying lots of substitutions for dairy products that I can use in my vegan recipes so she too can enjoy all the food that I cook.

One of our favorite lunches is Chilli cheese toast, basically this is a delux vegetable packed spicy cheese on toast. I tried to recreate it using the Violife vegan cheese. 


Violife is an alternate to cheese, it is a plant based product which is free from dairy, soya, gluten, lactose, nuts and preservatives. Its is made from coconut oil, modified starch, salt and vitamin B12. You enjoy them sliced in your sandwiches, spread on your bagel, sprinkled on your pasta or melted on your pizza. Violife is the vegan alternative to cheese that tastes and cooks great! It resembles grated cheddar in appearance, it does soften upon grilling but does not go brown like normal cheese. The flavour is similar to dairy cheese and its a great cheese substitute.

There is a variety of products available in the Violife range, some that I have tried are:



Violife Le Rond Camembert  flavour is soft, round and creamy. It can be baked it in the oven or microwaved. It can be served with vegetable crudites, crackers and crisps. It is perfect appetiser to present at any party with a glass of wine.



Violife Original Flavour slices,this classic flavour that gives you your cheesy taste. Its great in a tastycheese salad or cheese ploughmans sandwich and can also be grilled to make a cheese toasty.  




Violife Smoky Cheddar flavour Slices are delicious served with warm crusty bread or rolled up with olives and sundried tomatoes. This makes a delicious starter to serve with a glass of red wine. 










Violife Epic Mature is a really nice crumbly texture that is great grated or cut in cubes to serve with cheese and pineapples . It has great robust flavour that is perfect for sandwiches and wraps or grated on pies and pasta too.










For my Vegan Chilli cheese toast I used the Violife ready grated cheese, it is convenient to use and comes in a handy resealable bag so it remains fresh even after opening. 
The Violife range is available from most large supermarket, such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda.



The chilli cheese toast recipe is really easy and can be made in less than 10 minutes. It has lots of healthy ingredients and the perfect balanced lunch to enjoy.






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Your Good Health with Organic Wine

Image Credit

I admire winemakers that make the extra effort to produce wine sustainably. To be a little gentler with the environment without compromising the quality of the wine. Seeing animals and birds actively playing a role in wine production, even if they only munch on insects and bugs, is good news for the environment.

So, what makes a wine organic, and why should you choose organic wines?

The absence of herbicides and pesticides is the most obvious advantage, but it goes further than that. It's not only that the grapes and vines are free of chemicals but the environment as well. 

Here is a selection of great organic wines to enjoy celebrating a healthier environment.

La Scolca Soldati Millesimato d’Antan

The next time you have a celebration, why not raise a glass to the efforts of the Soldati Family of the Piemonte region of Italy.

Their La Scolca Soldati Millesimato d’Antan sparkling wine is made in the Metodo classico way. In the same way, like Champagne, the second fermentation occurs in the bottle.

La Spinetta Il Rosé di Casanova


A much younger wine, made predominantly with Sangiovese and a touch of the gentle Prugnolo grapes, the La Spinetta Il Rose di Casanova is a delightful rosé wine from Tuscany. The Rivetti family has spent the last forty-five years crafting great wines in the Castagnole Lanze area, and this rather elegant rose bears testimony to their diligence and skill.
It is a delightfully light wine that lends itself to summertime pre-lunch drinks around the pool. A tempting array of fruity flavors follows the welcoming freshness of the first sip. It is an excellent companion to summer salads and a seafood salad. 


La Scolca Gavi dei Gavi


This Gavi wine produced from sixty-year-old vines has confirmed it's top position for wines made from the Cortese grape. A rigorous selection process ensures that only the top quality grapes are used to make this fine wine. 
The wine is allowed to age through the winter on the lees, adding complexity and producing an aromatic, easy-drinking wine.
Paired with most kinds of seafood and salads ,this wine is a perfect balance of acidity and delicate fruits with a hint of almonds


Tchotiashvili Tavkveri 2017


Every so often, a wine appears so appealingly different from the mainstream varieties, and I guess the alternative streak in me excites my taste buds. Such a wine is the relatively rare Georgian, Tchotiashvili Tavkveri 2017. Only two thousand bottles of this deep, brightly colored red wine are produced. Organic farming methods are employed to produce the wine in the ancient traditional style.
The vines themselves are over forty years old, and the Qvevri method of fermentation is employed before the wine is decanted into barrels of French Oak. This silky-textured wine is lovely and light with fresh nuances of cherries, raspberries, and a collection of sweet spices. 
This wine can rest quite comfortably for up to ten years, and a short period of allowing the wine to breathe will enhance the tasting experience.


Beaumont Pinotage


I have to admit that I am totally in love with South African wines. They represent excellent value, and their quality has grown exponentially over the last few decades. So here I'm going to recommend a Pinotage wine from the Beaumont winery.
Pinotage is a South African wine. Originally a combination of Pinot Noir and what was then known as Hermitage but subsequently found to be Cinsaut. Pinotage survived a rocky start, but the Kanonkop Pinotage was judged as the best red wine at the Robert Mondavi Awards in the early nineteen nineties.
The Beaumont Pinotage is an excellent example of the strides made in improving South African wines. The vines are over forty years old, and the wine is initially stored in concrete tanks and then aged in oak barrels for one and a half years.
Pinotage has a deep dark color and is full-bodied. It can comfortably rest for up to seven years, but I suspect it may improve even more with a further year or two. The wine is an excellent companion to warm winter meals of succulent beef and venison.
The Beaumont family moved away from the cooperative system in the mid-nineteen nineties to produce their own wines. Now second-generation Sebastian Beaumont works at keeping a close eye on sustainable and environmentally sound farming practices while creating excellent wines.


Photo by Maja Petric on Unsplash

Conclusion

While there are no universal organic farming accreditation systems, individual grower organizations and countries have introduced qualifying requirements that allow wineries to call their wines organic.
Organic wines are a healthier option. There will still be some Sulphites in the wine but typically far less than wines not produced organically. In the USA, organic wines are not permitted to contain sulfites.
The reduced preservative content will also limit the wine's shelf life.
Organic wines are free of chemicals typically found in conventionally produced wines. Not only is this good news for controlling cholesterol levels, but organic wines will give you less of a headache if the night was a little longer than expected.

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