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February - March 2006


Vegetarian Food Gaining Popularity

by Kumudini D. Valambhia

Gujarati Chef Kaushy Patel (Vegetarian) who was crowned the UK National South Asian Chef of the year 2005 indeed made all Indians, Gujaratis, especially those who are vegetarians, proud of her achievement.

In this male dominated world of professional cooking where main ingredients are chicken and lamb, it is difficult to imagine that a woman cooking vegetarian dishes would steal the thunder from her more illustrious colleagues.

It is a great boost to vegetarianism and will encourage other vegetarian chefs to participate in such events with confidence and self belief. It is unbelievable for the food once described as rabbit food, to triumph over the dishes fit for a lion king. But so often David does triumphs over Goliath.
For a long time, the indigenous people of this country were under the misapprehension that some how a meal that could not provide all the nutrients and vitamins without carnivorous contribution could be a complete meal. This is still the common belief in America and most of the European countries.

Here in England, however, due to serious efforts in educating people, willingly and lovingly undertaken by various vegetarian organizations and tasty veggie dinners served by ISKCON, SHM and many more such religious organizations, the myth that veggie meal is some how incomplete has been laid to rest once and for all.

After all most of the strong and long living animals, both on land and in oceans are naturally vegetarians, that include 30 ton whales that survive on tiny, microscopic organisms known as planktons, elephants, rhinoceros and lumber-some tortoises which live up to the ripe old age of 150 years and more!

It is heartening to note that not only the popularity of the veggie food is on the increase but it is also considered to be healthier and completely risk free. With the spread of Mad Cow disease, Swine fever and now Chicken flu, vegetarianism will become even more fashionable and desirable diet of the health conscious celebrities.

No wonder more and more veggie restaurants are monopolizing the best locations on the high streets , serving mouth watering veggie dinners with more and more indigenous people rubbing shoulders with us, mostly Gujarati and Punjabi Hindus.

While dishes cooked by Kaushy Patel were many and varied, I was surprised not to see any paneer dishes, (curd cheese) my favourite, and the new addition to the veggie armoury.

Sizzling Paneer Tika, chilli Paneer with onions, peppers, capsicums and mushrooms cooked on an open fire is fast becoming popular, indeed overtaking once favourite meat starter dishes such as kebab, chicken tikka and jeera chicken

Now paneer is moving into the main dishes arena, mixed with peas, methi (fenugreek leaves) and spinach to provide a tasty veggie curry.

I feel it is cruel to kill animals like cows, sheep, pigs and even horses, simply to satisfy our taste buds. I would like every one who advocates veggie food, to take this opportunity and would like to request India Link to publish some of Kaushy Patel’s recipes to give veggie dinner a boost.

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