East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing [American Measurements]
“Meera Sodha’s latest cookbook celebrates simplicity without sacrificing flavor, and the ingenious combinations of ingredients and spices is sure to appeal to both experienced and novice cooks.”
Exotic recipes are now at home cooks’ fingertips, thanks to cookbook author Meera Sodha. Sodha has done extensive research to compile recipes from all over Asia in her latest book titled East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing.
This book began as a series of vegan columns for the Guardian newspaper.
“In my most private moments I had dared to dream about writing a column, but I never seriously thought it would happen. As I weighed up the options, I realized there were a few small problems.
“For a start, I wasn’t a vegan.”
Additionally, as a new mother, her time was a precious commodity. Despite these challenges, she decided to take on this new job. Home cooks should rejoice that she did because the end result is a delicious reincarnation of her vegan columns in a cookbook format that features both vegetarian and vegan recipes.
As plant-based eating becomes more popular for a number of reasons from political and ethical to health and economic reasons, Sodha thought the column was very timely. To write the columns, she started researching vegan recipes and found most of them to be less than tempting. These “healthy” recipes didn’t make her crave the food. Sodha writes that as an outsider she was in a unique position to create new and exciting vegan recipes. Her research for a vegetarian cookbook, Fresh India, provided the backbone for the recipes that would eventually appear in her columns and in this cookbook.
Instead of limiting her creative abilities, veganism opened her eyes and palate to the incredible world of the Asian pantry. Here she found fermented, pickled, and salted ingredients like kimchi, sweet miso, and gochujang that added instant flavor and depth to a dish.
Unable to travel because of a young toddler, Sodha instead read countless books and interviewed Asian chefs to write a book that will take your taste buds around the world on a scrumptious journey.
The author wants all cooks to feel comfortable in the vegan kitchen and repeats her own mother’s advice: “Taste your ingredients, before, during and after cooking—that way you’ll understand how they behave.”
The book is divided into different sections so that a cook can find a recipe in the Alternative Contents section or under more specific chapters. For example the Roasted Paneer Aloo Gobi is under the Alternative Section of Quick Dinners as well as in a chapter titled Curries.
If this sounds confusing, don’t worry, the book is actually very user-friendly. Whether you find Salted Miso Brownies under Meera’s Favorites or as a toothsome dessert in the Sweet chapter, there is no denying the recipe is luscious.
The Snacks chapter is filled with appetizing small bites from Sweet Potato Cakes with Kimchi Mayo or Overnight Soy Eggs. Sodha has a way of writing, describing, and presenting dishes that simplifies and elevates vegan and vegetarian food. The Sweet Potato Momos are easy enough for a toddler to fold and press, she writes.
Sodha’s book celebrates simplicity without sacrificing flavor and the ingenious combinations of ingredients and spices is sure to appeal to both experienced and novice cooks. Look for tantalizing combinations such as the Forbidden Rice Salad with blistered broccolini and miso dressing or Burmese Mango Salad with peanut and lime.
There are chapters devoted to Curries, Tofu and Noodles. In the Noodles chapter, cooks will learn how to make Mouth-Numbing Noodles with chile oil and red cabbage, White Miso Ramen with tofu and asparagus, or Green Onion and Ginger Noodles.
If you thought tofu was bland and uninteresting, Sodha’s Tofu chapter will likely change your mind. Choose from Celery Root, Tofu and Kale Gado Gado, or Silken Tofu with pine nuts and pickled chiles and Smoked Tofu, Mushroom and Almond Kheema.
Sodha believes a bit of flour and eggs can create memorable meals and so she has devoted an entire chapter to prove she is right. There’s Vietnamese Coconut Pancakes, Mashed Potato Paratha with quick lemon pickle or Tomato, Pistachio, and Saffron Tart.
Whether legumes, rice or sweets are your thing, you can be sure you’ll find plenty of recipes to choose from in Sodha’s book. With eye-catching art (John Hamilton), colorful illustrations (Monika Forsberg), and artistic photographs (David Loftus), this cookbook will captivate your eyes and tantalize your palate.
So put on your apron and get ready to take a culinary trip to Asia without leaving your kitchen!