The headline on the Whatsapp image I received,said ‘Life beyond cheese’.It was about a vegan cookery demo held at Arttdinox (Race Course) organised by Bio Basics and On the Go restaurant.
While an Indian vegan diet is easy to follow,it does get a bit challenging when one wants to dish up some continental fare.
So the idea of a vegan cheese was quite intriguing. We were a group of 15 members who had registered to be a part of this workshop conducted by Nina Oswald ,from Germany.Having converted exclusively to a plant based diet a few years ago,she started the interaction by talking about how the change had a positive impact on her health.
The well done up kitchen space was a great backdrop and offered a comfortable location for this demo.The counter was spread with fresh produce,nut butters, sprouts,natural cocoa powder,dried fruits ,seeds and lots more that were required to whip up tasty vegan dishes.
Nina began the demo by whizzing up the blender to make fresh almond milk.The audience were each given copies of the recipes that were to be showcased that morning.
Ranjana (restaurateur) was all praise for the meticulous execution of tasks undertaken by Nina from very early in the day in order to have this demo run smoothly.She added that they had hoped for a larger turnout because putting up such a show required a great deal of prep in advance.
After sampling some of the date sweetened almond milk ,we were treated to cups of hot chocolate also made with the same milk.
Next on the menu was the making of the cream cheese.The process consisted of a simple blending of just a few ingredients;soaked cashewnuts, tofu, lemon juice,water ,garlic ,pepper and salt. We tasted a batch that was made the previous day because Nina said that it needed time for the flavours to develop. Paired with flax millet crackers it tasted unbelievably good, exactly like a full dairy cream cheese.Nina pointed out that the word ‘cheese’ actually refers to food that has been fermented and not necessarily anything to do with dairy.
Then came a vibrant salad with fresh mango and papaya from Devi’s garden along with cucumber,fenugreek ,coriander and mint leaves from Bio basics to which was added a dressing made with nuts.This was served in environment friendly palm fibre bowls and topped with a generous helping of sprouts. It was deliciously satisfying.
Nina made a valid point when she said that eating healthy does not mean that one has to punish themselves.We just need to eat food that’s good for us in a form that makes us happy! For instance, it was easier to eat the raw methi leaves when mixed in the salad than to try and chomp on them plain!
Roasted tomatoes,bell peppers and onions were quickly blitzed to make a pasta sauce along with tahini paste for added creaminess. Most of us in the room did not expect this meal to end with a fudgy chocolate truffle treat.Nina confessed to having a sweet tooth and talked about how she amalgamated naturally sweet ingredients to satiate her dessert loving taste buds.The secret ingredient in the fudge was yellow pumpkin(believe it or not)
She exuded a friendly vibe and chatted easily with the group who were all eager to learn about enriching their diet.
While Nina Oswald does not insist that the vegan diet is the way forward,she does urge us to connect with the land,educate ourselves about packaged foods and above all embrace a diet that sustains health.The 2 hours spent in her company were well worth our time and I can’t wait to make a batch of that unctuous vegan cream cheese.
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