I have always regarded vegetarians as the holiest people. Well, you can't blame me. Growing up with the strictest mum on earth, there was ever other reason for a vegetarian meal at home. Tuesdays and Fridays are considered holy days whereas each time mum flipped the Indian calendar listed with religious festivals, what else is new? Back to Sambar, Sodhi, Rasam, Vegetable Curry, vegetarian side dishes (Chana Dal Cabbage, Gobi 65, Pineapple Cucumber Salad, Spices Banana Flower & Mint Chutney) and must have is Potato Stir Fry (Aloo Matar) Actually, I didn’t mind the added bonus of Payasam and Vadai, but vegetarian food so often? Seriously, I couldn’t take it. I literally forced myself to eat. Otherwise a knock on my head.
Additionally, mum will go on and on like a broken record to remind me that abstaining from meat will ensure a place in heaven amongst the holy people. I pretended to listen even though I was so close to asking her to keep quiet, Did I dare? Of course not. Impossible. In an Indian family back then, let me say again, back then, girls can't be seen neither allowed to speak up. One knock again, I don't know why the head is always the target. No wonder I fared badly in exams. Mum of course was unhappy but it gave her more reasons to force me to cook so that my future husband and in laws will be happy.
Eventually, once I started working, I figured out the whole picture to vegetarianism. People are vegetarians for reasons they know best, but they are no angels neither they are a living example of hourglass figures (How To Stay In Shape). They do curse and swear when stuck in jam, they gossip, they get really angry when they can’t reverse out of the temple and how about flesh hanging out of saree blouses and sarees (Saree Fashion Statement & Special Occasion Fashion Statement) you see in temples? Oh, before I forget. Selfing in temples is a must to show the world how pious you are.
Honestly, this whole vegetarianism theory I think has been blown out of proportion. Still, it seems more and more Indians are opting to be vegetarians. I’m not sure why? Perhaps health reasons? Perhaps better be compassionate to animals instead to our Indian neighbours or to our tyrant Indian bosses? Perhaps to remain calm and strong when robbed by the arrogant Indian robbers? So many perhaps I can assume, why, why, tell me why? I am confused. For me, really simple. Check and balance. A combination of vegetarian (Cauliflower Curry & Tapioca Poriyal) and non-vegetarian dishes. However, for the past two years, my other half is a vegetarian (Chili Stir Fried Potatoes, Vegetable Raita & Curried Pumpkin) on Saturdays because of his religious faith. Opps! I spoke too soon yea?
But the good outcome of it is that mum’s wish eventually became my command. She prayed hard I must impress my future husband with my cooking, precisely which is what I am doing. Likewise, my other half is also impressed I take the trouble to put a decent meal because Indian ladies these days are busy on social media they forget to cook. Their husbands on the other hand are not complaining at all. Husbands are secretly eating at mums, thereafter packing food for their wives or they love their maids cooking. Interesting. Isn't it?
Alright, lets now move to the recipe for the day. Since I have spoken at length on vegetarianism (Green Chilli Mango Pickle & Fried Brinjal Sambal) and took you all over the place, logically, it must be a vegetarian recipe (Vegetarian Nyonya Laksa). Indeed. Here I have for you this wholesome one bowl vegetarian Phad Thai made with the quintessential Thai ingredients (Tom Yum Soup Vegetarian & Eggplant Thai Style) to bold up the creamy, aromatic, salty and mildly sweet flavours. Now, forget about what I have said about vegetarians, please tuck in.
For the stock
1 small carrot - remove skin and slice into pieces
5 shallots - remove skin
1 stem of leek - slice into pieces
2 lemongrass - smashed
Some basil leaves
1 inch galangal/lengkuas - remove skin and slice into pieces
Simmer these ingredients with enough water to extract broth.
Drain broth out and keep aside.
Kuey Teow/flat rice noodles - as needed. Blanch to soften
1/2 cup bean sprouts/taugeh - quickly blanch in hot water and keep aside.
1 soft white tofu - gently slice into pieces
1 carrot - remove skin and use the vegetable peeler to strip into thin long pieces
1 cup thick coconut milk'
1 tbsp light soy sauce
A little palm sugar
Calamansi lime - as needed
Some basil leaves - pat dry after washing
Some crushed roasted/fried peanuts
2 tbsp of oil
Salt to taste
Add basil leaves.
Fry till crispy, remove and keep aside.
In the same oil, pour stock.
Season with soy sauce, sugar and salt.
Pour in coconut milk.
Taste to balance up the flavours.
Now, assemble noodles in a bowl with bean sprouts, tofu and carrot.
Pour piping hot broth over.
Garnish with fried basil leaves and peanuts.
Serve at one with calamansi lime and chillies in soy sauce.
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