Meat Free Mowgli – I’m such a fan of Nisha Katona’s recipes, so I was delighted to learn that she has another new book.Meat Free Mowgli was published at the end of last year, but I thought January the perfect time to tell you about it, as so many of us are trying to cut down on our meat consumption – and quite a few are vegetarian already and/or perhaps following Veganuary.As Nisha herself says in the introduction of the book: “Indian food is the perfect go-to cuisine for the modern family who want to eat less meat. And thus, the idea for Meat Free Mowgli was born – a collection of simple, plant-based meals in the Mowgli style we know and love.” And many Indian recipes are vegan anyway, but not necessarily by design.
The desire to reduce our meat intake is beneficial for health. In Meat Free Mowgli, Nisha weaves her magic again,withhealthy, effortless, and cost-effective plant-based recipes – with just a handful of carefully paired, easily sourced, ingredients. The book’s organised by ingredients – and all the ingredients are easily sourced. Each chapter presents ideas on what to do with our favourite vegetable types: including Roots; Beans; Nightshades; Squashes; Brassicas & Leafy Greens; Lentils & Other Grains; Mushrooms; Fruits as well one one vegetarian chapter for Eggs and Dairy. Dishes include Broccoli and Coconut Bhajis; Broad Bean Stuffed Puris; Samosa Tarts; Tangy Tamarind Roasted Squash; Cashew and Mango Curry; and accompaniments such as Kale Raita; Indian Mushy Peas and Manchurian Honey Potatoes, as well as recipes for pickles, side dishes and chutneys. Sweets and drinks include Baked Rose Yoghurt and Coconut Panna Cotta. Colourful, energising and full of flavour.
Nisha Katona MBE is the creator of the much-loved Mowgli restaurant chain. She can regularly be found sharing her passion for simple, honest cookery on the TV and radio; including BBC’s Great British Menu and Saturday Kitchen; ITV’s This Morning; and an expert panellist on BBC Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet.Meat Free Mowgli is hardback, £25 from Nourish Books, a publisher who is all about enhancing wellbeing through a balanced diet. Here are some tasters for you from this lovely book.
Tangy Tamarind Roasted Squash – SERVES 4 AS A SIDE
Sweet and sour flavours work so beautifully with the luxurious flesh of the butternut squash. This is a dry dish, so I find it works well when served with more saucy dishes such as egg curries or Jackfruit Jalfrezi . It is also beautiful on its own, as a simple lunch dish, with a creamy raita and some salad alongside.
1 small butternut squash (about 800g/ 1lb 12oz), peeled and cut into large chunks
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp panch phoran
1 tsp asafoetida/hing
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp amchur/mango powder
1 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, to garnish
In a large bowl, combine the squash with all the other ingredients, except the lemon juice and coriander, and stir to combine. Leave to marinate for 15–30 minutes, or longer if you have the time.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Arrange the marinated squash over a large baking sheet or roasting pan, then roast for 25–30 minutes, or until cooked through, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even roasting.Serve garnished with lemon juice and coriander
This is a typical Bengali dessert. Baked yogurt is gently sweetened with a light tang and has a firm texture rather like cheesecake. For a pretty pink colour, try to find a genuine Indian rose syrup (in the Asian aisles of supermarkets or in Indian grocers). Other rose syrups will not give such a depth of colour, but will still taste wonderful. You can either make this in a large dish or in individual dishes. Either way, it is the perfect dessert for entertaining as it can be made ahead of time and is super easy.
250g/9oz/1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
125g/4oz/generous 1 ⁄3 cup condensed milk
3 tbsp rose syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp finely chopped pistachios
1 tbsp dried rose petals
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Bring a kettle of water to the boil.In a jug, mix together the Greek yogurt and condensed milk until well combined without any lumps, then add the rose syrup and vanilla extract.
Place 4 ovenproof ramekins in a baking dish, then carefully divide the yogurt mixture among them. Pour enough boiling water into the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, then cover the dish tightly with kitchen foil.Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until set, then remove from the oven and let cool.
When cool, place in the fridge and leave to set for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight.Serve decorated with the chopped pistachios and dried rose petals.