I describe myself as slightly, kind of, maybe, absolutely not but almost a Vegetarian.
But not really. But kind of, because these days I don’t eat meat Monday – Friday. Can you believe it? I can’t, but it’s been happening for a while now. Almost 10 weeks. Admittedly, this change has not come as a result of a sudden animal compassion, but more so on the basis of me wanting to find new and exciting ways to bring a desire for new dishes into my hobby. So quick was I reliant on basing a meal on what dead animal I could drag across my countertop so I just wanted to test myself a little.
As a food blogger, I never struggle for content. Food keeps us alive. I have to eat to live. And therein lies the content. But what I kept finding was that every meat based meal I planned, I would always start planning the long road to Hell. And by Hell I mean a sense of bloat, a struggle to move and the dreaded weight gain. Dramatic, but hear me out.
Meat would lead to carbohydrates. Carbohydrates would lead to sauce. Sauce leads to mopping it up with more carbs. This adds to weight gain. Subsequently, vegetables would play such a minor part in the segmentation of my plate and they were usually only ever thrown on the plate in a wave of guilt. They were a hindrance more than anything.
So I challenged myself in 2017 to apply myself to a new way of thinking: how can I get more vegetables on my plate in a way that excites me the same way meat does.
What I mean by this is, I wanted to put myself in a new mind-set. A mind-set that looked at vegetables being woven into my recipes as the principle component as opposed to side pieces that appeased the meat. Nourishing vegetable based dishes that didn’t ever feel as though they were missing a meat and food that didn’t require a ‘meat substitute’.
So every Sunday I would have a real think about everything I wanted to eat Monday-Friday that included no meat products and then a list of everything I would need to make them. This included taking into account buying ingredients that could be stretched into two recipes and evening meals that could translate into working lunch the next day. It was challenging and exciting at the same time.
Basically, I am about 3 and a half months in, I’m two stone lighter and I’ve never been happier.
I feel more energised, I sleep better and more than anything, I feel like I’ve been reintroduced to eating. This new mind-set has given me a total new outlook on how and what I eat. It’s put emphasis on being able to understand how my body functions, how it responds certain foods and also made me understand the importance of balance.
So this Aloo Gobi recipe is one of those dishes that I would look forward to. A recipe that is not complicated and exactly the kind of warmth I want in a recipe. An Aloo Gobi is basically a potato curry so didn’t need any form of meat substitute to begin with, but that’s the mind-set I wanted to get in. I have a strict ‘If it’s not, then it’s isn’t’ policy in the kitchen i.e. if it’s not meat, don’t pretend to be and this recipe is exactly that.
It embraces the vegetables and doesn’t have to rely on anything other than spices and the natural hold of the vegetables to carry the flavour. And PS, the egg on top is purely for my disgusting addiction to yolk dripping over everything.
Break a head of cauliflower into florets and slice a big potato into small bite size chunks. Bring a big pan of water to a boil and throw in the potatoes. Boil this for roughly 10 minutes before adding the cauliflower and cooking for another 5-10 minute until they are tender. Drain them and allow to sit and steam in a colander for a little.
In a big frying pan, pour in a little olive oil before grating in a clove of garlic and a generous piece of ginger. Turn the heat on and stir while it heats up and begins to sizzle. Now add half a teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of cumin and a teaspoon of curry powder, stirring so that the oil turns this in a bubbling paste.
Add the cauliflower and potatoes and turn everything slowly with a spoon. Doing this vigorously means you’ll have cauliflower and potatoes flying everywhere so do it gently and maintain this until all of your veg is coated in a golden yellow paste. Keep this cooking for about another 5 minutes before squeezing over the juice of a lime.
On another hob, heat a small amount of sunflower oil in small pan. Once this oil is hot, crack in an egg and fry it to your ideal yolky-ness. Not a word, but it is now. Serve out the potatoes and cauliflower and place the egg on top. For the dip, you literally just finely cut up some fresh coriander and throw it into a bowl of plain yoghurt. Sneakily throw some chopped coriander over the potatoes and cauli too, just for the hell of it.
This blog post isn’t a loft post about how you should be a vegetarian. I’m not a vegetarian, nor do I want to be because I still eat meat – this post really is about encouraging people to look at vegetables differently. They needn’t be a hindrance nor do they need to be an afterthought. They can be the principle constituent.
And it’s not a case of making it taste so good ‘you forget it’s not meat’ because that logic implies you’re trying to recreate a meat dish. This mind-set is not what it’s about. It’s about reminding yourself how nourishing these vegetable dishes are. That’s all this post is. It’s an encouragement.
It’s also a pre-warning that the ratio of meat dishes to non-meat dishes on this blog from now on may shift and I didn’t want you to think I’d been kidnapped.