It certainly looks older than it actually is, but tonight my copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian cooking was gently coaxed from the corner of the kitchen bookshelf, from where it’s been sitting untouched for the last couple of months.
Loaned, but more likely, given by Future-Mother-in-Law about 6 years ago the frayed edges of the purple hard back have an almost velvety feel. Inside the pages are brown and slightly brittle, with the odd mystery brown spot, similar to the papery liver-spotted hands of the very old. The recipes themselves have some of the plainest and most forgettable names I have ever seen: aubergine with tomatoes, lentils with spinach, pressed bean curd with cabbage, it doesn’t fill me with inspiration. However, a glance at Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food has similar plain names, the difference I think is in the language that Slater uses, with more oozing and drizzling.
Eastern Vegetarian cooking lacks the beautiful shallow depth of field photography that are popular in many of my cookery books, instead there are plain drawings of vegetables and diagrams for preparation; it really is a book from before the era of celebrity cooks and bloggers I guess.
This stew seemed like a good bet on a wet and windy September afternoon and had me going back for seconds and thirds.
Potato Stew (China) from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking
2 fl oz veg oil
2 cloves garlic peeled and lightly crushed
2 5p piece sized slices of ginger, lightly crushed
340g potatoes peeled, cut into 4 cm cubes
225g green beans or leafy veg
2 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 4 cm long segments
2fl oz Chinese dark soy sauce
4 tsp sugar
2 tbs shaohsing wine or dry sherry
On a medium high flame, add garlic and ginger, fry for 15 seconds, then add potatoes beans and carrots. Fry for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms. Stir & fry for 1 minute and add 500ml water, the soy sauce sugar and wine. Bring to the boil, then cover, lower the heat and simmer for 20 mins or until tender. When tender, remove the cover and turn the heat to high, boiling away most of liquid. Ideally you want to be left with 1/2 cm sauce at the bottom. Stir the vegetables gently as you boil liquid down. Remove the ginger and garlic if you wish prior to serving.