Jun 012020

The Cooking Group

The Cooking Group meets each week on Saturday mornings in Eltham. Under Vasundhara Kandpal’s leadership, they cook three or four plant-based dishes, which they then eat together over lunch. Each month Vasundhara shares one of her recipes in this blog.

Vasundahara runs the Green Karma meals delivery service in Eltham.

Jun 012020

1 cup semolina
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1 cup onion
1 cup capsicum, diced
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 tablespoons fennel powder
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
fresh coriander, for garnish
lemon, for taste


Roast the semolina in 1 tablespoon of oil. Remove.

In the hot oil, add the mustard seeds, chilli flakes and coriander powder. Then add the fennel powder.

Add the onions and saute for a minute.

Add the veggies and saute for a minute.

Add then salt. Then add the roasted semolina. Then mix well.

Add water and cover with a lid. Let it cook for 5 minutes.

May 252020

Whereas normal tofu is made out of soy beans, Burmese tofu is made out of chickpeas.


The tofu itself:
1 cup chickpea flour
2-3 cups water
salt, herbs, spice (optional)

The amount of water to use depends on your desired consistency: 2 cups for extra firm tofu; 3 cups for soft tofu.

The marinade:
3 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
½ cup soaked and peeled almonds
1 tablespoon (kashmiri chilli or a non-hot chilli)
3 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon aniseed (ajwain)
2 teaspoons chickpea flour
1 lemon juice
1 teaspoon black pepper


To make the tofu, grease a bread pan and keep ready.

Divide the water in half. Boil half of the water and meanwhile mix flour in other half of the water. Pour the chickpea flour mixture into boiling water and keep stirring until it is cooked. You can taste test the mixture at this point carefully, to ensure that there is no raw chickpea flour flavour.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and even it out if needed. Let it cool, then refrigerate for at least an hour to set.

Remove the set slab from the pan. Slice into cubes. Store in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 4 -5 days.

To make the marinade, mix the ginger, garlic, almonds, lemon juice, black pepper and red chilli together in a food processor to form a paste.

In a pan, heat the mustard oil, add aniseed and chickpea flour. It will become foamy.

Mix the paste and mustard mixture to form the marinade.

Marinate the tofu for a few hours.

Grill before serving!

Squeeze lemon and fresh coriander before serving.

May 182020

Self-raising flour
2 medium beetroots
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup basil
½ cup walnuts
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup oil


Boil beetroot and puree.

Knead dough by mixing ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, beetroot puree and dough. Add only as much flour as is just sufficient to bring everything together. Put the dough aside.

Bring one litre or more of water to the boil and add salt and oil in it.

Chop the garlic and basil finely. Grind the walnuts in a mortar coarsely or chop using a knife.

Roll the dough into snake-like cylindrical shapes, cut them in pieces and boil.

When the gnocchi is cooked, it will float on the surface of water.

Remove the floating gnocchi and keep adding the fresh gnocchi until the batch is done.

In a pot, heat 1/3 cup oil. Add garlic and black pepper. Cook until the garlic is soft. Add the basil and walnuts. Just a quick fry is all that is needed. Then add the gnocchi, toss well until everything is well coated with garlic, basil and nuts.

May 112020

½ cup oats
½ cup raisins, dates or dried apricots
½ cup nuts
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Ingredients – filling
1 cup veggie puree – carrots, beetroot, pumpkin
½ cup nuts – macadamia, cashews, almonds
2 tablespoons oat flour
½ cup sugar (preferably white so that the colour of the filling is not changed)
1/3 cup coconut oil
½ cup boiling water
1 lemon/lime juice and zest
garnish – flower petals, lemon zest, chocolate shavings etc

For the turkish flavours, add rose water and rose petals.


Blend all the ingredients of the crust in a food processor. Check if it is crumbly. If not, you can add a little water or coconut oil to make it crumble.

Press it on a greased cake pan – springform or one that has a separable base.

Blend all the ingredients of the filling in a high speed blender.

Pour over your crust and let it set in fridge overnight or for 4-5 hours.

Garnish with your favourite things, such as rose petals and pistachios.

Apr 302020

1½ cup sweet potato puree or boiled cubes
3/4 cup full cream coconut cream
4-5 tablespoons cocoa/cacao powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons syrup or ½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon coffee (optional)


Blend everything in a blender.

Before setting the mousse, check the taste and adjust the sweetness as necessary. The sweetness should be on the higher side because, once the mousse sets and cools, the sweetness decreases. Also if you feel there is a taste of sweet potato, add a little more vanilla essence. The chocolate level can also be adjusted.

Set in the fridge.

Garnish with nuts, seeds or toasted crunchy peanuts.

Apr 222020

This is a nut-free, egg-free and dairy-free recipe. To make it gluten-free, replace the plain flour with a mixture of chickpea flour and rice flour (ratio 2:1).



2 tablespoons red onion
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached plain flour
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1½ teaspoons cayenne powder
1 teaspoon sriracha/chile garlic/hot sauce
1 inch ginger
4 cloves garlic

on the baking tray

2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 cup water
2 teaspoons oil
4-5 cups cauliflower florets


Pre heat oven to 215degC.

Blend all the ingredients except the cauliflower in a blender to form a smooth paste. If the batter is too thin, add 1-2 tablespoons flour, as required.

final product

Add the cauliflower florets in the batter and let then marinate for 15 minutes.

Line the florets on a baking tray and spray or brush with oil.

Bake for 30-35 minutes while rotating it midway through.

You can add some capsicum and onions halfway through the cooking for extra crunch and flavours.

Serve hot!

Apr 152020

Some people like eggs but have to restrict their consumption because of cholesterol problems. Here is a fully cholesterol-free omelette. It’s also great for your fibre intake.


1 cup chickpea flour (aka besan)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt (preferably black salt)
2 cups water, or as required
Oil, as required to grease the pan and taste
Onions, coriander leaves and green chilli (all optional)
Other flavourings such as herbs or garlic powder (all optional)

You can also use wholemeal flour.

For gluten-free, replace the plain flour with rice flour.


Use a non-stick pan.

In a bowl, add the chickpea flour and plain flour with the salt and baking powder.

Give it a thorough mix. Add little water at first and then mix it well with a whisk. Break all the lumps until it forms a smooth paste. Keep adding water little by little until the batter is thin.

Grease a pan, using the oil as required, and spread the batter by moving the pan around. Cook the omelette on a medium flame. Once the upper surface dries out, flip it over.

Apr 102020

Sambar, also spelled sambaar, is a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder, cooked with dal and tamarind broth. It is popular in South Indian and Sri Lankan cuisines.


¼ cup yellow split lentil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch asafoetida
2 teaspoons salt
6-10 fresh curry leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup, onions diced
2 big tomatoes, pureed
1 green chilli, (optional)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 tablespoon tamarind paste or fresh lemon juice
veggies – potatoes, okra, beans, carrots, eggplant, zucchini.


Heat the oil.

When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, red chilli powder, coriander powder and asafoetida. Make sure you don’t burn the spices. Add the tomato puree. Add the curry leaves. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the turmeric and salt. Add the lentils. Add the veggies and cook until the lentils are cooked.

Add the tamarind paste or fresh lemon juice.

Apr 062020

1¼ cups icing sugar
4 cups chickpea flour
¼ cup dry fruits
¾ cup coconut oil


Dry roast 3 cups of the flour until it is golden brown and fragrant. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add the oil and the remaining cup of flour. Cook until golden brown and fragrant. Remove and collect in a bowl. Let it cool down to room temperature.

Dry toast the dry fruits and add to the mixture. Add the dry roasted chickpea flour and the icing sugar. Mix well.

Make balls and garnish with chopped almonds and pistachio.

Tip: the oil shouldn’t be too hot when adding the chickpea flour because it will burn the flour. Keep stirring the chickpea flour when roasting because it burns at the base.

Tip: you can use whole wheat flour instead of chickpea flour.

Mar 222020

Sea salt and herb crust
2 cups self raising flour
2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup oil
water as required to bind things together

1 cup pumpkin, sliced
2 medium beetroots thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch + ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Parsley-garlic topping
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (either curly or flat – both work)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt


Make a dough by mixing all the ingredients. Add water little by little until it forms a crumbly dough.

Prepare the veggies to be arranged on the top of the crust.

Make the parsley oil.

Roll out the dough and arrange the veggies on top of it, leaving about a 2-inch border. Start with a large circle of beetroots around the perimeter, then pumpkins, then repeat until you reach the centre. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and repeat with another layer, if you wish, this time starting with pumpkin. Fold the edges of the dough up over the edges of the vegetables. If any of the dough tears or breaks, press it back together, or use your leftover scraps to patch it up if needed.

Brush the entire galette with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle the ¼ teaspoon salt over the entire thing.

Bake for around 40 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown and the vegetables are fork-tender.

Finally, brush the mixture of parsley over the galette while it is still piping hot.

Feb 282020

1 cup grated beetroot
1 cup onion sliced
1 cup rice
1 lemon zest and juice
1/2 cup nuts (peanut/almond/macadamia)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
7-8 curry leaves (fresh or dried)(optional)
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons salt


Cook the rice.

In a pan, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds, chilli flakes and nuts.

Saute nicely until the nuts are slightly brown. Add tha onions and saute until translucent.

Add the salt and beetroot. Cover it and let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add half of the cooked rice and mix well with the beetroot.

Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Before serving, mix half of the remaining cooked white rice into the beetroot rice. This creates different shades of pink rice.

If you don’t have mustard seeds, just use fresh garlic.

Sprinkle some fresh coriander or parsley and serve.

Feb 012020

Serves 2-3.


1 big onion, roughly cut
3-4 big tomatoes, roughly cut
1 tablespoon cumin
½ cup cashews
1-2 bay leaves (optional)
1-2 cloves (optional)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (optional)
1 pack of extra firm/firm tofu
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons fenugreek dry leaves (optional)


Heat the oil in a pot/pan. When sufficiently hot, add the cumin and the other spices.

Add the onions and saute well.

Add the tomatoes and cashews and saute well.

When the tomatoes are cooked enough to loosen up their shape, stop cooking and let it cool a bit.

Now remove bay leaves and blend everything to a super smooth puree. Add water if needed and to suit your consistency.

Mix the puree and tofu cubes in the pot again and cook for 10-15 minutes again so that the tofu absorbs the sauce. Add the roasted and powdered fenugreek leaves.

Tip: the tofu can be replaced with veggies, fried/boiled potatoes etc.

Tip: the same gravy/ sauce can be used for many other recipes.