Cover of the book "The Asian Vegan Kitchen"

VeganMofo: The Asian Vegan Kitchen

For the month of September, this blog will be devoted to VeganMofo. Tune in while I provide short reviews of some of my favorite, and least favorite, vegan cookbooks. 

Quick one today since my cat wants snuggles and I’m not one to deny her.

Today’s book is The Asian Vegan Kitchen by Hema Parekh. Parekh gives a sampling of recipes from around Asia. She covers better known cuisines like Indian and Chinese, but also devotes chapters to underappreciated areas like Malaysia and Burma. The recipes are all accessible to home cooks, with surprisingly few ingredients that couldn’t be found in an ordinary grocery store. In some cases, this accessibility means toning down the authenticity, but in this case I appreciate it. Books that focus on presenting a truly authentic view of a country like Burma: Rivers of Flavor or Pok Pok are often ‘special occasion’ books, for those weekends where you want to spend all day in the grocery store and all evening tinkering away in the kitchen. The Asian Vegan Kitchen is truly a weeknight, home cooking kind of book, with many of the recipes coming from her own weeknight repertoire.

This book is an especially interesting specimen of vegan cookbook because she does not harp on the fact that she is veganizing often very fishy meals. Some swaparoos are obvious, like the teriyaki tofu steak. In other cases, she just picks naturally vegan or “all but the fish sauce” dishes, like the delicious Japanese Braised Onions and Potatoes. In this sense, the book is very much like The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

Not every cookbook needs to be full color or elaborate. Some just need to be useful, and this book definitely falls into that category.

VeganMofo: The Alternative Vegan

For the month of September, this blog will be devoted to VeganMofo. Tune in while I provide short reviews of some of my favorite, and least favorite, vegan cookbooks.

Alternative Vegan is the type of cookbook that would really be a recipe zine, if passing around recipes zines by hand was still something people did. It’s a 20-something vegan (and restaurant) chef describing the kind of food that he cooks at home at night, like rice and beans, throw-everything-in-the-pot-soup, and roasted potatoes. The only twist is that many of the recipes are not just bachelor food, but Indian bachelor food. The beans and rice here is Venn Pongal and the pickles he presents are Indian pickles. More experienced chefs might not want a cookbook that has a recipe that calls for nothing more than spreading hummus on lavash, but new cooks or cooks working in a constrained space like a dorm might feel relieved to know that there is something that they can make with limited resources.

You can preview many of Dino’s recipes at his blog: Alternative Vegan.