Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Ayubowan - Contemporary Sri Lankan Cuisine

We were celebrating at the weekend. I've sold my flat at last and we've had an offer accepted on a house so I'm going to be leaving Manchester and moving to Glossop. I'll still work in the Northern Quarter in Manchester but I won't be deprived of vegan food at home as Glossop is pretty good for vegans too. The Globe pub serves an exclusively vegan menu, the Hare and Hounds has a vegetarian and vegan menu, The Oakwood pub and The Soup Seller do some vegan stews and curries and several cafes have soy milk. The Peak of Health is a great healthfood shop, Sowerbutts is an amazing greengrocers and there's an M and S Food. Not bad for a small town with just a few shopping streets. There's also 2 new more recently opened businesses with vegan offers. We've yet to check out Pico Lounge but last Saturday we made it to Ayubowan.

We'd heard nothing but great reviews of this place that serves contemporary Sri Lankan cuisine. We found that all the staff we spoke to were clued up on veganism, indeed one of the waitresses is vegan and she explained what we could order from the menu. Of the starters there are two dishes that are suitable for vegans so we ordered them both. Above is Matt's Pariphpu Vardi which was spicy fritters of red lentils and curry leaves and below is my Kanda Bhaji. For deep fried food these both tasted delightfully fresh and light and we loved the little dishes of chutney that accompanied them.

There are five vegetarian main course curries and we were delighted to hear that they are all vegan. I was also delighted to hear that they are all mild which was great news for me with my chilli intolerance although the restaurant are also happy to make things spicier on request. There's a choice of Cashew and Green Pea, Jackfruit and Chickpea, White Potato, Spinach and Parripa and Banana Flower. We went for the first two alongside a Roti bread and Kaju Bhath which was an amazing rice dishes flavoured with cashews, cinnamon, cardommon, cloves, raisins and crispy fried onions.

We had hoped that the traditional dessert of Wattalappam might be vegan from reading the menu but it turned out that it contained egg. Our waitress told us that they had featured a vegan brownie for a while but no vegan desserts were currently available. To be honest I was too full to want dessert anyway by this point! We were really impressed by both the food and the service. There was a wait for the food. We arrived at 7.30 and didn't get our mains until 9 but the food was so beautifully fresh and well presented that I don't mind a bit of a wait when it's this good a standard. It was also Saturday night and the restaurant was full. I'm already looking forward to another visit and trying the rest of the curries!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Vegan Village

I love Vegan Village. Nine years ago when I first started to drift towards veganism I was looking for recipes containing certain foods to help with some health problems. Two websites that I found really great were Post Punk Kitchen and Vegan Village and I return to both for recipes to this day. If you're not familiar with it Vegan Village is a UK website that covers all sorts of information for vegans as well as a great listings noticeboard. If you're holding an event or looking for a vegan friendly houseshare or job make sure you check this out. They also have a recipe section.

Over the years I've come back again and again to certain recipes. The Mushroom and Ale Pie and Goan Tofu Curry are particular favourites and the Mushroom and Chestnut Wellington has been part of many a Christmas dinner! In the picture above is something I've just made for the first time - Mushroom Crustade and in typical Vegan Village style it tasty, easy to make comfort food.
Another reason I want to give a shout out to Vegan Village is that it's my go to website to refer non-vegans to when they ask me for advice on something to cook for a vegan friend. The recipes aren't complicated, they are clearly set out and they use UK measures. Much as I love my measuring cups and North American recipes I know these can be a bit daunting for some UK cooks especially on top of not being used to cooking for vegans.
I served the Mushroom Crustade with steamed veggies and the paprika, rosemary roasted potatoes from Vegan Brunch. It's an other VV recipe that I'll definitely be making again.