Nac Mac Vegan: adventures in rabbit food

26/05/2011

Patra buttie

Filed under: Experiments, Indian — Tags: , , , , , , — Feòrag @ 17:13

This is my own concoction, and it represents a truly British dish, needing the right combination of immigrant groups in sufficient numbers to have shops providing for them.

Patra is an Indian speciality made by spreading a spicy gram flour batter on taro leaves, rolling it up Swiss roll fashion and steaming it. It is available from Indian groceries in two forms in the UK. The easiest to find is canned but it is also available frozen, and this is, in my opinion, much better. The amount of patra you need depends on the size of the patra (the frozen is smaller) and the size of your slice of bread.

Polish shops have a range of ketchups. The “extra hot” one illustrated is not as spicy as it claims but has a nice tang. You can always spice it up by going to a Chinese or North American grocery and getting a hot chili sauce to add to it.

To make one sandwich:

between 3 and 5 slices of patra
2 slices wholemeal bread
Polish “extra hot” tomato ketchup
1-2 tbs olive oil
½ tsp white sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin seed
a pinch of asafœtida (hing)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add the spices. Cook for about thirty seconds before adding the patra and turning the heat down. When cooked, it goes a lovely golden brown colour – after a few minutes you will have to flip the slices.

Meanwhile, take one slice of your bread and put lots of ketchup on it. When the patra is done, arrange it on this slice of bread, add some more ketchup and bung the other slice over it. Cut in two and eat.

25/01/2010

Haggis and Tattie Pakoras

It’s Burns’ Night, when it is traditional to eat haggis, tatties and neeps while drinking whisky. Instead, I created a dish which represents modern Scotland in all its diverse wonderfulness.

First you need to catch your haggis. The vegetarian haggis (Haggis herbivorii) has been increasing in numbers of late, and researchers think that h. herbivorii makes up 25% of the haggis population in Scotland. They are primarily urban creatures, so one should not be hard to find. They have expanded their territory from their traditional haunts in the corners of wholefood shops, and can often be found lurking in supermarkets. Some have reported success in breeding them in captivity.

I managed to bag the commonest subspecies, the MacSween Vegetarian Haggis (h. herbivorii macsweeniensis) for this recipe, which makes lots.

approx. 500g vegetarian haggis
half a dozen medium potatoes
1½ cups gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp ajwain seed
1 tsp dried chillies, or to taste
1½ cups water

Give the seeds and chillies a good bashing in a mortar and pestle then stick them in a food processor or a bowl with the gram flour, baking powder and turmeric. Add about half the water and mix well, then add the rest of the water as you continue mixing until you get a smooth batter. Put it to one side.

Cut the potatoes up into small pieces and parboil about 5 minutes. Drain and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, skin your haggis and break the flesh into small pieces – around the size of a hazelnut. Put the pieces in a bowl as you work, and dust them with flour (gram, wheat or rice) to stop them breaking apart too much.

Add the potatoes and mix. The haggis will break up a bit. Don’t worry. Add the batter and mix some more. Do not despair as the haggis breaks up some more. It really doesn’t matter as long as there are some nice lumps.

Heat vegetable oil or vegetable ghee in a deep fat fryer (for the sensible), a frying pan, or a wok. When it is hot, turn the heat down a little – the pakora need to cook fairly slowly about five minutes a side. Put tablespoonsful of the mixture into the oil and deep fry until both sides are a dark orangey brown. Don’t overfill the fryer. Remove when done and drain. Eat as soon as they are cool enough with a dipping sauce — a good cheating pakora dipping sauce is a mixture of mint sauce and tomato ketchup. They will keep quite well and freeze if you don’t eat them all.

If I had been able to get a neep smaller than a beach ball, I would have used some, also parboiled, instead of half the potato.

I challenged myself to go a month without drinking alcohol, so whisky was not on the menu. Instead, I drank some of this rather fine Braes O’ Gowrie Sparkling Elderflower from those nice Cairn O’Mohr people.

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