I was flicking through the gorgeous Dish magazine the other day, and spied a lamb kofta recipe drizzled with feta and some other herbs as part of a Summer BBQ spread. It inspired me to give your traditional BBQ a conscious make-over! I dog-eared the page and decided to re-create the recipe, entirely vegan – and as it just happened, raw as well.
I have learnt through my adventures in raw foods over the years that you can cleverly recreate any flavour if you know how to combine the right textures, herbs and spices. Once you learn the alchemy behind it, there is really nothing you can’t do. I was trained by Sayuri Tanaka, and still to this day the most exquisite raw foods I have ever tried have been prepared by her hands. Crumbed calamari rings, sashimi, and eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce are among the incredible raw and vegan-ised dishes she has mastered.
Making Raw Vegan ‘Meats’
First of all, I add to check in with myself here, if you have a plant-based diet and lifestyle, why would you even want to create 'meats'? What's the attraction? I guess it's more about being creative with flavours and adventurous with plant foods - the end product here has a fabulous texture and some serious flavour - and that was certainly the goal.
Anyway, creating a ‘meat’ made from nuts and seeds is actually quite achievable, especially when you match the complementary spices.
A tip – miso and nama shoyu (raw soy sauce) are fabulous when recreating these types of dishes. Miso is a fermented food and can be made not only from soy beans but also from rice, barley and other grains. Sold as a paste, the darker the miso the richer and more ‘meatier’ the taste. In contrast, white miso is actually quite sweet with a subtle saltiness, I’ve used it numerous times in my raw cakes - as just the right amount of salty enhances and compliments the sweetness.
Miso and nama shoyu also happen to be naturally salty foods, so to this point, its worth adding any extra salt at the end.
Spice wise, it helps to think of what kind of dish you are preparing. In this case, I wanted a bit of a Middle Eastern feel, so rosemary, thyme, coriander, garlic, lemon and cumin seemed to fit (especially with the pistachio and yoghurt on top).
In making the raw vegan kofta, I used some properly prepared buckwheat – that is, I soaked and sprouted it over the course of three days. This is a relatively simple process and could be shortened to just a quick soak – although the sprouted buckwheat gives it a lovely soft texture. Added benefit – buckwheat, as a seed, contains anti-nutrients that prevent the body from effectively absorbing the minerals it contains. The soaking and sprouting process helps to remove them.
Aside from the time it takes to soak the nuts, seeds and buckwheat in the recipe, it is super simple to prepare – you just throw everything in the food processor and blend, roll them up and dehydrate.
[bctt tweet="Raw Vegan Kofta? Yes, it's a thing. Get onto it here."]
Making Raw Cashew Yoghurt
In the name of giving that magazine’s recipe an entirely plant-based makeover, I also made a simple minted yoghurt to dress it with. I use the term ‘yoghurt’ very loosely here – only because it tastes like a minted yoghurt. It hasn’t however been cultured with probiotics so isn’t a true dairy alternative. The recipe is a classic with a twist – a simple cashew based sour cream recipe with a little extra sea salt and a handful of fresh mint leaves. To achieve a true cashew ‘yoghurt’, you would blend the nuts with water, stir in the probiotic and leave it to culture for 24 hours. Then you would add the other flavours in before serving (the apple cider vinegar, lemon, sea salt and mint).
Finally, I usually make my own ferments, but there is a great brand I love when I’m feeling lazy (Be Nourished). They make a fabulous red kraut.
So, the kofta – with the miso, the minted ‘yoghurt’ – if you cultured it that is, and the kraut, are all great sources of friendly gut-loving bacteria. That’s a nice added bonus to our conscious make over isn’t it?!
I bought bamboo skewers for an authentic kofta look, and served them inside whitloaf leaves. Radicchio would also work. Some crushed pistachios and a scattering of fresh herbs dressed them up nicely. The recipe makes 12 and can easily be doubled for a larger batch. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge if you don’t finish them all at once.
Truly delicious, without harm to any other beautiful creature, as it should be. Enjoy!
When a thing disturbs the peace of your heart, give it up.
RAW VEGAN KOFTAS
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup soaked and sprouted buckwheat*
- ½ cup organic sun dried tomatoes (no added oil/spices)
- 2 Medjool dates pitted
- Zest of half a lemon
- 2 teaspoons miso paste darker the better
- 2 teaspoons nama shoyu raw soy sauce, or use tamari
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder
- 1½ teaspoons rosemary dried
- 1 heaped tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- A very scant ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepperTo serve:
- Fermented red cabbage/beets pistachio and fresh herbs
- Whitloaf/radicchio leaves to serve in
*Alternatively, simple soak in ample water for a few hours, then rinse and drain very well before use.
- A few hours before you are ready to start making the kofta (2-4 hours), soak the walnuts, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes and dates in water to soften them.
- If you haven’t the time to properly soak and sprout buckwheat (this can be a three day process), then prepare them the same way you would the nuts and seeds, however, soaking and sprouting will give a much softer texture.
- After the soaking time is over, rinse and drain nuts, seeds, dates and buckwheat. Place in a food processor. Only add half the sundried tomatoes at this point – blending the rest in last gives a great texture.
- Add all other ingredients and blend till well combined, almost like a paste.
- Add the remainder sun dried tomatoes for a final blend.
- Roll into small little logs, about a tablespoon of mixture each. Insert bamboo skewers if you have them.
- Place on a dehydrator teflex sheet and dehydrate for two hours at a slightly higher temp (135˚F) then turn down to 115˚F for another six hours.
- Serve each kofta inside a whitloaf leaf, with the raw minted cashew yoghut (see recipe below) and a little of the cabbage/beet ferment, crushed pistachios and fresh herbs.
Raw Minted Cashew Yoghurt
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 5 tbspn water
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tspn apple cider vinegar
- 2 good pinches of coarse sea salt
- 6 large fresh mint leaves
- Soak the cashews in ample water for a few hours (2-5 hours), then drain and rinse.
- Add cashews and all other ingredients (including those 5 tablespoons of water) to a blender, whiz till creamy.
- Serve with koftas and keep in the fridge.
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