What I've been cooking #13: East by Meera Sodha


It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Meera Sodha. I have all her cookbooks and religiously read her vegan column in the Guardian each week. I'm not sure why it took me so long to order her newest offering East but I finally did a week before the UK went into lockdown. What a great purchase it turned out to be! I'm lucky that I have a well-stocked larder so have most of the cupboard essentials listed in the book. I just need to order in fresh food. Thank the lord for veg box deliveries eh? The cookbook is all vegetarian or vegan with lots of recipes coming from her Guardian column. They aren't the most authentic recipes but rather a riff on recipes from all over East Asia. Meera just has a knack for writing recipes for the home cook. They always work so unbelievably well and she really does know what flavours go together. I know this is a cookbook I'm going to pull out time and time again. The pages are already well loved!


Honey, soy and ginger braised tofu
Up until we went to Malaysia last February I always avoided Tofu like the plague. I was convinced it wasn't for me. Then I had it fried and suddenly everything changed. Smother it in cornflour, fry it in batches and you'll be greeted with something incredibly addictive. I added the extra step of coating it in cornflour in this recipe and it made all the difference. The sauce was sweet and spicy thanks to addition of gochujang, fast becoming one of my favourite things to add to a dish. I served it with roasted purple sprouting broccoli and some brown rice. As soon as I took my first bite, I vowed to make it again.


Paneer, tomato and kale saag
Admittedly I kept things fairly traditional and used spinach instead of kale. I had loads in the freezer and didn't want to make an unnecessary trip to the shops to buy kale. I love cooking curry, eating curry and the smell of curry. It just feels so homely to me and proper comfort food. I'd have it everyday for dinner. I've only recently been cooking with paneer at home but I'm addicted to the cheese. I served this with some pilau rice and it was delicious. I halved the recipe for two people but kept the same qualities for four with the sauce. I like my curries to be very saucy! I'd love to try it with kale to see how it differs.


Sun House chilli eggs
Wow this had a kick to them! I love any type of baked eggs and as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it out. I loved the fact it wasn't as saucy as other baked egg dishes and the addition of cheddar cheese was a game changer.


Mushroom bao
I made bao. I can't quite believe it! Five years ago I didn't even know how to boil pasta, I started baking then moved into teaching myself to cook a few years later. It still blows my mind when I manage to create something edible and delicious! These turned out to be quite fat and in hindsight I should have rolled them a bit thinner and made the recommended 10 rather than eight. But I am so happy with out they turned out and it was fab to use the bamboo steamer I treated myself to in lockdown. I couldn't believe how simple these bao were to make. Meera's instructions were flawless!


Black-eyed bean and chickpea usal
I added extra broth to this so that I had more to dip my bread into. This didn't wow me at all and I think it's the recipe I enjoyed the least. It just didn't spark any joy and I didn't immediately think I wanted to make it again after I had finished. To me, that is always a good sign of any recipe.  It's great to use up those tins at the back of your cupboard and it does make a quick, simple lunch.


Sodha family masala omelette
I made this for lunch to eat alongside a simple mixed, green salad. As always I do the full recipe and we eat it over two days.  I subbed in Kasmiri chili powder for the green finger chilli and dried coriander leaf for fresh as that is what I had in the house. We've got to work with what we've got! I preferred the Sun House chilli eggs and would suggest you make that one instead.


Kimchi fried rice
Kimchi is one of those ingredients that I always pick up if I see it in our local Asian supermarket. It's such a great store cupboard essential and you can make so many different types of dishes with it. I love the tang of the fermented cabbage. Fried rice is pure comfort food isn't it? This version lives up the expectations I gave it. I loved it! I imagine it'll be even better as leftovers the next day. Definitely do not skip the fried egg on top!

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A Essex based lifestyle blogger who lives a champagne life on a lemonade purse!

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