Are you a vegetarian/eggitarian like me? If the answer to that question is “yes”, picture this – you’re watching a favourite cookery show on tv. You’re all spruced up with pen and paper to take recipe notes (or atleast mental notes, like me), seated comfortably in your favourite chair. The show starts, and the chef/anchor comes in and what does he/she announce the first recipe for the day as? “Chicken something-something”, or “Fish something-something”. Bam! Your attention goes slack once you hear the words “chicken”, “fish”, “lamb” (or any reference to something that was once able to creep/crawl), and anything after those words are lost in space. Sounds familiar? What do you do then? Do you switch channels, or do you still watch? Earlier, I used to be the kinds that would go “Ewwww!” and prefer the channel switch. Now however, I stay put and watch, and start thinking about how I can make a veg version with the ideas from the recipe. After all, fresh ideas for recipe concepts are always welcome, no?
Glad you agree (else you wouldn’t still be here, right?). So yeah, that’s what this month’s Free-spirit Bloggers‘ theme was all about. Dhivya chose the theme for us, and the challenge was to take a classic (or famous) non-vegetarian dish and give it a vegetarian interpretation. We did have some ground rules as guidelines. Here’s what they were -
1. The final dish should look as close as possible to its non-vegetarian counterpart.
2. If you can also make the texture/taste similar then it would be awesome, although its purely optional.
3. Usage of store-bought Mock meats (or mock anything) is not allowed.
4. It is Lacto Ovo Vegetarian – So eggs and Diary are allowed, but you can take the challenge even further and make a Vegan option if you want to.
I picked the classic dish ‘Lamb Chops’. I adapted from a Vicky Ratnani recipe and made cottage-cheese chops served with a potato cream dip on the side. The Chef says that the marinade for the chops is an adaptation of the classic Italian ‘creme-o-latta’. It was lip-smackingly good, and is also very versatile. The next time, I’m trying the marinade with tofu. Aaah, tofu chops…sounds interesting?
Cottage-cheese Chops with Potato Cream DIP
(Recipe Adapted from: Chef Vicky Ratnani’s Lamb Chops )
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4 persons
Ingredients - Cottage-cheese Chops:
- Cottage-cheese/Paneer – 250 gms (See how to)
- Garlic – 12-15 pods
- Rosemary – a couple of sprigs
- Parsley - a fistful
- Black pepper corns – 1 1/2 tsps
- Lemon zest – 1 tsp
- Olive Oil – 3 tbsps (for blending) + 2 tbsps (for drizzling) + 1 tsp (for pan-frying)
- Salt – to taste
Ingredients – Potato Cream Dip:
- Potato – 1 large, pressure-cooked till soft and mashed
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Rosemary – 1 small sprig
- Elaichi/Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
- Nutmeg powder (optional) – a pinch
- Salt – to taste (keep it very mild)
Procedure - Cottage-cheese Chops:
- Blend all the ingredients except the cottage cheese together to form a smooth paste. Don’t add any water. The oil will get the blender/mixer blades whirring.
- Cut the cottage-cheese into desired shapes – I tried both squares and fingers; either works.
- Generously slather all pieces of the cottage-cheese with your marinade and set on a plate (don’t forget to take a moment and get a whiff of the multitude of flavours hitting your nostrils by now).
- Drizzle some olive oil on the top and refrigerate for about a half hour.
- At the end of the refrigeration period, heat a flat-bottomed pan (preferably non-stick), drizzle a few drops of oil and pan-fry the marinated cottage-cheese pieces until seared. Serve hot with the Potato Cream Dip.
Procedure – Potato Cream Dip:
- Put the milk, rosemary, elaichi powder and nutmeg powder in a thick-bottomed pan and bring to a boil. Allow mixture to cool a bit.
- Blend the milk mixture with the mashed potato and a little salt till it forms a smooth, creamy puree. Transfer to a serving bowl.
So who do you think is the star of this recipe? Rosemary of course! I’m in love with the sweet-scented herb. Though I’d used dry rosemary earlier, this was the first time I was making something with fresh rosemary and with such a predominant role in a recipe. And did we love it or what?!! Do try this when you have a party next time. Aaah, the notes it hits – I can only go this far into tempting you. It is best experienced yourself.
Want a bite before I go?
Here’s what the others dished out.
- Anu – Orange Paneer
- Deepti – Grilled Veggie Sheekh Kababs
- Dhivya – Meatball Sub Sandwich with Seitan
- Lataji – Xacuti with home-made vegetarian mutton
- Nags – A ‘meaty’ recipe idea for Vegtarians
- Siri – Vegetarian Rogan Josh with Tofu and Cauliflower
So what do you think you will do the next time you come across a non-vegetarian recipe? Ignore it and move on, or pay attention and get creative in your kitchen?
Now who was that non-vegetarian that said the vegetarians only eat ‘ghaas-poos’ again? Ghaas-poos eh, really? (for those of you who don’t know, ‘ghaas’ is hindi for grass).