If I see from the view of a convert, it can be hard to be a vegetarian or vegan eater. If you’re out to eat, the restaurant might not have options that fit your diet, especially if a vegan. If you mostly cook at home, it can be hard to find recipes that fit into your vegetarian or vegan meal plan. Don’t get me wrong, there may be plenty of recipes that will work, but what about the times when you find an awesome recipe that contains ingredients, like gelatin or eggs you would rather not use? That’s when it’s time for substitutions, the smart way.
One of my readers, Carolyn recently shared her thoughts on being vegan and cooking vegan food. She says substitutions can be easy, but some not really. When it comes to spices and flavor enhancers the idea is simple: Find something that tastes similar. For example, if your recipe calls for lemon or lime juice, they can usually be interchanged without any issues. If you need cinnamon but don’t have any, you could use nutmeg or allspice instead. These types of substitutions are fairly easy, but what about when it comes to more substantial ingredients in the dish? Tofu is a decent substitute for some kinds of meat, but you might be better off just leaving it out altogether. For dairy, there are many soy alternatives available that are almost exactly the same as the original.
When it comes to baking and sweets, it can get tricky. Also comes the egg conundrum! One of the biggest substitution issues, especially in baking, comes with eggs. It can be challenging to get the right substitutions, so always start by figuring out what role the eggs play in the dish. In pancakes, for example, eggs don’t play much of a role in structure or taste. If you understand what substitution works where, you’ll be surprised at how many more dishes you’ll be able to add to your cooking repertoire.
Personally for me, though I consume eggs in camouflaged form in desserts, I have never liked anything beyond that. Infact, in the past year and half, since my pregnancy and delivery, I never bought eggs home. I can't stand the smell of eggs fried on an open pan and the air wafting from omelette stalls even in far distance make me pukish.
On similar lines of what is stated above, I often make this Besan Cheela, a pancake made with spiced gram flour (also called as chickpea flour, garbanzo flour or besan) batter for our breakfast. Besan Cheela, a popular North Indian street food snack is sure to satisfy your rumbling appetite.
Besan Cheela / Vegan Gluten-free Omelette
2 cups besan (also called as gram flour, chickpea flour, garbanzo flour)
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chopped green chillies
1/2 cup chopped coriander (dhania)
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 cup water
Oil for cooking
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and gradually add a cup of water to get smooth, dropping consistency batter, similar to the one we get when an egg is whipped.
Heat a non-stick pan/tava on a medium flame. Grease it well with a teaspoon of oil. Pour a ladle full of batter and spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Cover it with the lid and allow to cook for 4 to 5 minutes on a medium flame or till it browns in colour and the edges crisp. Open the lid, drizzle some oil and turn it upside down and cook the other side till it turns to brown in colour and crispy. Repeat the same process with the remaining batter. Serve hot with tomato sauce.
Served hot with either green chutney or tomato ketchup, this Besan Cheela is a lip smacking dish that easily makes up for an excellent eggless, vegan and gluten-free omlette with similar textures and flavors to that of it's egg-y counterparts, ofcourse devoid of that awful smell or taste from eggs. Gram flour has relatively high proportions of protein in comparison to other flours, so you'll not miss out on that. Though this is quite satisfying for our breakfast, this is a fantastic tea-time snack too. Simple and easy to make, it can be put together in less than 5 mins and is a good rescue for bachelor cooking or to serve at-the-drop-of-hat guests.