4 Ways To Cook Vegetables Like Meat
Bored of the usual sabzis? Try cooking your veggies like meat and discover a whole new flavour palate.
There are times when eating the same old roti-sabzi every day seems so boring. It’s time to take a fresh look at vegetables and try some different cooking methods. Instead of the usual tadka or stir-frying or pressure-cooking, consider treating your veggies like meat. This will not only bring a much-needed variety to your plate but also encourage you to eat more vegetables. Here are some cooking techniques you can use to amp up your veggie intake.
Most vegetables can stand the heat of a grill, and this method of cooking actually makes them taste pretty great! Throw some tomatoes, aubergines, bell peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, and even sweet potatoes on the grill. Just remember to brush them with enough oil and season them adequately. Grill them till tender and slightly charred all over; this takes about 4 to 10 minutes depending upon the vegetables. Did you know you could grill salads as well? Take an entire head of lettuce (preferably a tightly packed one like romaine lettuce), and cut it right through the centre (discard the end). Brush it with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place it on a hot grill flat side down. Once it gets slightly charred, transfer to a plate and dress it up with your favourite creamy dressing.
Smoking meat is a great way to add a deeper flavour to it, and that’s true for veggies as well. In fact, vegetables absorb smoke much quicker than meat, and this technique makes them soft and absolutely bursting with flavour. Use firm vegetables such as carrots, celery, cabbage potatoes etc. for this technique. Soak wood chips of your choice (this affects the aroma) in water for at least an hour, drain and transfer them to a smoker box. Place this box under a grill, close the lid and turn up the heat. Once smoke starts appearing turn the heat to medium and place the veggies (seasoned and tossed in oil) on the grill.
Marinades are key when cooking meats – they add bags of flavour and also help in tenderising the meat. This principle can be applied to cooking vegetables as well. Zucchini, squash, aubergines, mushrooms etc. all work well with a bit of marinating. Slice the vegetables thinly and soak them in the marinade. A marinade needs to have an acid (lime juice, vinegar, wine etc.), a fat (olive oil, sesame oil, coconut milk etc.) and flavourings (ginger, garlic, herbs etc.). Meat marinades such as honey mustard, teriyaki, Worcestershire sauce etc. also go with vegetables.
Pulled pork is a favourite ingredient for making succulent burgers and sandwiches, and with a little imagination, you can easily make a vegetarian version of it. Green jackfruit (kathal) has the perfect texture for replacing pork, but other vegetables can also be used. Peel and grate a mix of veggies such as zucchini, carrot, sweet potato and turnip, toss them in oil along with seasonings and some ketchup and barbeque sauce. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, till all the liquid is cooked off. Stuff inside hamburger buns, top with cheese, pickles and lettuce, and your pulled veggie burger is ready!