World Vegan Day has been observed since 1994 with The Vegan Society being set up in 1944. The day is intended to celebrate how far veganism has come from its early days as a lifestyle choice and dietary requirement. It’s also aimed to educate and inform people of the benefits to the planet and their health a vegan lifestyle brings.
Chantelle Nicholson says “To me, veganism encapsulates a lifestyle choice, which excludes using animals for food, clothing or any other purpose, be it a bee or an Iberico pig. However, plant-based eating is based on a diet rich in all things that come from a plant, and not from any animal source. It does not seek to advocate anything more or less. It is rather simple in its form. But in all of this, we cannot forget we are talking about food. To me, food is so much more than nutrients I put in my body. It is a great source of enjoyment, of creativity, of fun, of friendship and of delicious tastes and flavours. This trumps all”.
With this lifestyle choice becoming increasingly popular within the dining scene, Tredwells in Covent Garden, sees the importance of having vegan dishes readily available for those who are seeking an alternative to meat and fish dishes. With the menu changing seasonally, there is always a plant-based option available on the à la carte such as swiss chard pancake, coconut, turmeric and cashew. Or, for those looking for a deeper understanding of what plant-based cooking is all about, Tredwells have a dedicated 5-course ‘Vegwells‘ tasting menu showcasing sensational flavour combinations and can be paired with matching vegan wines.
Below Chantelle shares an autumnal recipe from her cookbook ‘Planted’, an extraordinary collection of go-to recipes that showcase the versatility of vegetables and combine an eclectic love of world flavours.
Cavalo Nero and Split Pea Biryani Recipe
“I am a big fan of biryani; it is the perfect comfort food with a delicious spice infusion. I have taken inspiration for this recipe from a wonderful cook, and friend, Sabrina Ghayour. I enjoyed the crispy base of her version so much, which is called tahdig in Persian cuisine. When I was making her recipe for the first time she advised to make loads of crispy onions; it was sound advice!” — Chantelle Nicholson
150ml vegetable oil, plus an extra 25ml
4 onions, peeled and finely sliced
180g yellow split peas, rinsed well
400ml coconut milk
400g balsamic rice, washed until the water runs clear
Pinch of saffron threads
25g non-dairy butter
250g cavalo Nero
FOR THE SPICE BASE
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
4cm knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
4cm knob of turmeric, peeled and finely grated
1 green chilli, finely diced
2 bay leaves
12 cardamom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 bunch of coriander, leaves finely chopped
Heat 150ml of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a moderately high heat. When almost smoking, add the onions and salt and cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper to drain. Retain the oil.
Pour half the retained oil into a large saucepan and set over a medium heat. When hot, add all the ingredients from the spice base. Season with a little salt and cook for 5 minutes until fragrant. Add 300ml of warm water and the split peas, stirring well. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
While the spice base is cooking, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add the rice and part-cook for 6 minutes. Drain well.
Put the saffron in a small bowl and pour over 50ml of boiling water.
Line the base of a medium to large saucepan with a circle of parchment paper. Put 25ml vegetable oil, plus the butter, on top of the paper and set over a moderately high heat. When hot, layer a third of the rice base. Spoon over a little of the saffron water. Layer half the split pea mix on top, followed by half the cavalo nero leaves and a third of the crispy onions. Repeat the layers. Top with the remaining third of rice, the saffon water and onions. Cover with a firmly fitting lid and cook over a low-medium heat for 40 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid and check while cooking, as the steam will escape, which is needed to cook the rice.
Check the biryani after 40 minutes to see if the rice is al dente. If so, it is ready. If not, leave for a further 10 minutes.
When ready serve with coconut yoghurt and coriander alongside.