The Chilli Pickle Brighton – Yum Yum!

I’d never heard of the restaurant the Chilli Pickle when I stumbled on this restaurant in Brighton… I was thinking about having a burger and chips or a pizza but then I saw Tamil Masala Dosa on the menu and was sold! I am a sucker for a dosa – a rice pancake stuffed with spiced potato. The Chilli Pickle

For started my fella and I shared a dish called Raj Kachori; five puri shells filled with potato and mung dal. These little gems were drizzled in pomegranate syrup and served with a ginger, green chilli and mint chutney and a tamarind chutney both in shot glasses. Inspiring and inventive but not too pretentious; no foam or dust in sight!

The dosa came with a sambar and kuzhambu curry; a vegetable stew made with tamarind and vegetable drumsticks (inedible looking chunks of woody veg but if you suck the middle out of these, it is delicious! The vegan version of marrowbone but without a dead animal on your plate!) It came with a red coconut sambal and a coconut chutney – all very fresh and vibrant tasting. Lovely tasty food and just the right amount. Three big bottles of beer, one starter and two mains cost less than £50. I’ll be back!


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VBites Brighton

I was in Brighton to work at Vegfest, who organise Europe’s biggest vegan events. I was with two friends and we were on the hunt for somewhere nice to eat. We opted for Heather Mill’s café VBites. Heather moved this café a couple of miles down the road from the lagoon at Hove a year or so ago and it is now based on East Street – very centrally in Brighton. They sell meals made using VBites (previously Redwoods Wholefoods) products. My two companions opted for burger and chips – it looked great, especially the sweet potato fries. I had ‘fish’ and chips. My fish steaks were convincingly fishy and had I not been in a vegan café I might have panicked a bit! The rocket salad, and caper mint mayo was tasty! You can have a glass of wine or a beer too… Quick, easy and not too pricy, you can also shop while you eat; the shelves are stocked with vegan goodies including vegan salad cream, parmesan in a shaker and other treats. Bring your wallet!


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Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

I got a big bag of ripe tomatoes at my favourite veg shop at the weekend for 99p! I cut them in half and roasted them in the oven with some garlic at 150°C for a couple of hours. Then I blended them with some cooked red lentils. I added a pinch of Bouillon (you could use smoked paprika or chili powder) and some freshly ground pepper then served with some chopped coriander. Pretty darn fancy for not much cost I reckon.

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Vegan Sunday Roast – Pub Grub it ain’t!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA local pub in Bristol has started doing Sunday roasts and are offering a range of vegan options! I’m so tired of finding lasagne or some generic ‘nut roast’ as the only non-meat option. The Thunderbolt is not a veggie pub (they do meat) but they are well-versed in veggie/vegan cooking – the chef used to work at Bristol vegetarian restaurant Café Maitreya. They served up a real treat! I had a Cashew and Spiced Carrot Strudel made Celeriac, Swede and Filo Pastry. There was also a Pecan and Walnut Roast which looked very good. It was accompanied by peas, broccoli spears and red cabbage. The vegan mains were all £9.95 which I thought was good value. The highlight though had to be the dessert… Chocolate Ganache with Hazelnut Nougatine Base with Honeycomb and Mocha Sorbet! All for £4.95! I had to go for a walk around the famous Arnos Vale Cemetery to walk it off a bit. Lovely Sunday treat and I will definitely be back!

Chocolate Ganache with Hazelnut Nougatine Base

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Salad Riot but no Rat

Ever feel like you need a new inner tube? I’ve eaten so much crap over the winter I need to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlay off the mashed potatoes, sausages and beans and get with the salads! This evening I tried to put a bit of everything I had in the fridge on the plate. Red cabbage and carrot slaw with raisins, pine nuts and flaxseed and truffle oil, sprouted seeds, tomato and garlic salad, mixed leaf salad with balsamic dressing, mixed bean salad with herbs and homemade hummus with smoked paprika. The plate was a riot of colour and it felt great eating it. I am now inspired to experiment a bit more, I may even hide a rat in the bottom of the bowl!

A salad which is much favoured in France is made  of witloof chicory, cut about one and a half inches long and mixed with a French salad dressing. A small piece of bread has previously been rubbed with garlic and is hidden in the bottom of the salad bowl. The French call this little piece of bread ‘the rat’. Isabelle Vischer


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Vegan Dumplings

DumplingsI made my own mincemeat this year and had some leftover veggie suet so I thought I would make dumplings. I thought it was going to be complicated but they are easy peasy. The stew was a new recipe for me cobbled together from various online sources. First make a roux (melt a dollop or marg in a pan and stir in a tablespoonful of flour). Heat it for a couple of minutes then throw in some small onions (halved or quartered depending on their size). Stir it around so the onion gets covered in the roux. Chuck in some large chunky veg: carrots, celery, cauliflower… whatever you fancy. Add some stock, slowly so the roux doesn’t go lumpy. Add enough stock so that the veg are just peeking out – they will relax down as they cook and the stock reduces. Add some herbs (I added a few sprigs of thyme then took them out at the end). If you want a hearty stew then stir in a tin of butterbeans or some other bean (borlotti or cannelinni beans would be OK). Now leave it on a low heat while you make your dumplings. I used 125g of plain flour with 1 large teaspoonful of baking powder and 50g veggie suet and some fresh thyme. Mix it all together then add a couple of tablespoonfuls of warm water and rub together to form a soft dough. You may need more water but don’t let it get soggy. Roll the dough into 8-10 small balls and plop them onto the top of your Dumplingsstew. Stick the pan in the oven (lid off if you like a crusty dumpling) and leave it on a low heat (100°C) while you nip down the pub for a swift pint. When you get home the house will small amazing! Turn the heat up to 180°C for a few minutes while you heat up some peas or broccoli and dish up your dumpling stew piping hot! Bloody lovely on a miserable grey January evening!

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Festive vegan duck salad

This is a great festive salad to perk you up after a big blow out roast! Wow your meaty friends with this vegan treat at a Boxing Day buffet when everyone is expecting cold greasy tasteless lumps of turkey! It is a riot of colour and flavour…

  • 2 tins of vegetarian duck, sliced into strips
  • 1 large handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground five-spice
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 4 large handfuls of mixed salad leaves, such as chicory, rocket, spinach, watercress
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ½ pomegranate
  • For the dressing
  • juice of 1 clementine
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ pomegranate
  • ½ red onion, peeled and coarsely grated
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely grated

Chop the veggie duck into thin strips and put into a pan on a medium heat. Add the cashew nuts and five-spice. Give it all a good stir, then let it toast away while you get on with your salad. Give the pan a shake every now and then to make sure nothing sticks or burns. Mix the  coriander in a bowl with the mixed salad leaves. Make the dressing in a separate bowl by mixing the juice from the clementine and lime. Squeeze the juice from one of the pomegranate halves through your hands to catch any seeds then discard them. Stir in the grated onion. Add olive oil; use the same volume of virgin olive oil as you have juice so the volume of your dressing doubles. Add the soya sauce and sesame oil. Squeeze the juice out of the grated ginger into the dressing and discard the pulp. Stir and taste, you may need more soya sauce or lime juice. Drizzle over enough dressing to coat the salad leaves then toss. Add the syrup to the pan with the duck and stir through until coated. Turn the heat up for the last few seconds to crisp up the duck pieces. Loosely toss together the leaves and most of the duck and nuts then drop the remaining duck and nut mixture over the leaves. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the salad like little jewels! Garnish with some finely sliced red chilli and serve straight away! If you have thin crispy pancakes, all the better – this is great party food – guest can make their own pancakes at the table.

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