This vegetable loaf came about as the result of the challenge that we, the 4 Velveteers, set for ourselves this month. One thing I really enjoy about being in this group is the sheer variety of challenges, which really make us go beyond our comfort zones and explore possibilities we probably wouldn’t otherwise. I also like the creative freedom that allows each one of us works on one theme but interprets the challenge in our own unique way with a recipe of our choice.
This month’s challenge, Asha's choice, was to create a savoury dish in which fruits (fresh or dried) played a defining role in terms of providing flavour to the overall dish. No fruit salads allowed!
In my traditional style of cooking fruit, especially mangoes and ripe plantains and to a lesser extent pineapple and grapes, are regularly used in savoury dishes. I thought I would look outside India, however, for this challenge as it would mean cooking something I hadn’t tried before.
Searching out fruit in savoury dishes type of combinations, I realized that most western style cooking involved fruit based sauces which were served with meat or poultry. Then I came across a vegetarian recipe which seemed to hold some promise. I have wanted to make a vegetable loaf for sometime now and the time had finally arrived.
Now, I’m not sure where this month has gone exactly. Apart from routine everyday happenings, I have a lot more happening keeping me busy that I haven’t found the time to do this challenge till now. I’m also 2 days beyond the deadline! But, I do believe that it is better to be a bit late than never, so here I am.
This vegetable loaf is savoury and sweet notes are provided by dried apricots (and raisins if you will consider them as fruit) in the loaf and fresh mango and mango chutney in the the accompanying sauce.
The recipe I chose contained eggs which I wanted to avoid. I halved that recipe, substituted the eggs with bread and chickpea flour (besan) and added a little more vegetables. I made some changes to adjust for availability of ingredients and taste. I added a bit more spice, as I found the original a bit bland for our tastes.
If you would like to try this loaf, I would suggest taking a look at the original recipe as you might find that more suited to your taste.
While we found the loaf quite moist and tasty even though it looks a bit dry on the top. This because I did not pour some sauce on the loaf halfway through baking, as I didn’t want my savoury loaf to be too sweet.
I think it might have tasted better if I had baked them better as cutlets/ patties as these would have been crisper than the loaf. This is not a reflection on the vegetable loaf, but just our personal preference.
So you could choose to bake the loaf for brunch or as cutlets for a snack.
To serve with the vegetable loaf, I used readymade jalapeño jam and mango chutney with fresh mango to make a sweet, salty and quite spicy chutney-like thick sauce. If you prefer, you may serve it with another sauce/ chutney of your choice.
Eggless Vegetable And Nut Loaf
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
3/4 cup dry red lentils (masoor dal)
1 medium carrot, grated (approx. 1/4 cup)
6 to 8 green beans, finely sliced (approx. 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup cabbage, finely shredded
1/3 cup snipped dried apricots
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
red chilli flakes (to taste)
3 slices (small) day old bread
2 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
salt to taste
Cook the red lentils in water till done. You can do this by adding the lentils to 1 1/2 cups water and bringing this to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 10 minutes till done. Drain the water and keep aside.
Otherwise pressure cook the lentils with 1 cup water till done, like I did.
Tear up the bread slices into large chunks and run in the blender till they become crumbs (flakes). Keep aside.
Heat the oil in a pan, and sauté the onions and garlic paste till the onions become soft. Add the apricots, raisins, carrots, beans and cabbage and stir fry till cooked and tender. Add the garam masala and salt (to taste, as more salt has to be added later) and cook for a minute and take the pan off the heat.
In a large bowl, put the cooked mixture, crumbed bread, chickpea flour, the cooked rice, cooked lentils, baking powder, chilli flakes, walnuts, salt (as required) and chopped coriander. Using your fingers, mix everything together well.
Press the mixture into a small greased loaf tin. Bake at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes till done.
Take the loaf out and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool until still slightly warm. Slice with a sharp serrated knife and serve with a sweet and spicy chutney (recipe below) or ketchup, if you prefer.
This recipe serves 4.
Sweet And Spicy Mango Jalapeño Sauce
(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
1/4 cup sweet and spicy mango chutney
1/4 cup jalapeño jam
2 to 3 tbsp water
1/4 cup chopped fresh mango
In a saucepan, mix the mango chutney, the jalapeño jam and the water and cook it over medium heat. Keep mixing it well so that it becomes a smooth sauce. Add the mango pieces and cook for a couple of minutes more, then take it off the heat.
Once it cools, it will thicken a little so add enough water so that when slightly warm, you have a thick chutney-like sauce of pouring consistency.
The four of us (Alessio, Asha, Pamela and I) go velveteering, as we like to call our kitchen adventures, with a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine every month. Each of us will share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs.
If you would like to join us, please leave a comment at this post or send me a mail and we’ll get back to you.
This month Madhuli, also a food blogger, joining us. I will be linking up to the others as and when they publish their posts.
This month’s Velveteer recipes:
Alessio: Crostini With Spiced Pork Patty, Celery Cream And Yellow Peach
Asha : Pears And Ribs
Pamela: Green Papaya Curry
Madhuli: Raw Banana Cutlets With Mixed Fruit Chutney
Ken: Skillet Roasted Sweet n Sour Pork