After going vegan, one of the happiest realizations I had was that it was not really the meat I missed in dishes I would no longer cook or eat: it was the spices.In fact, whenever I remember an old favorite, like a meat curry or biryani, I find that cooking the dish with vegetable substitutes and the same spices gives me the same satisfied feeling. In the past, I’ve shared recipes for such old favorites as My Dad’s “Not Mutton” Mushroom Curry and biryani. For these I used vegetables like mushrooms to substitute for the meat, but in today’s recipe I use a more common meat substitute: textured vegetable protein, or TVP.
Kheema, or mince, usually refers to lamb or goat meat mince in India. The TVP granules are made of soy and have a great, chewy texture besides loads of great protein. So you get all the joy of eating kheema without the fat and cruelty. What more could one ask for?
I make the vegan kheema almost exactly like I used to make the regular version: with lots of veggies and spices. As I almost always do, I made my own spice mix, but you can subsitute with garam masala powder if you happen to have it on hand. I also add some coconut milk to my kheema which takes the edge off the spices, while adding yet another layer of flavor and texture.
The end result is a highly nutritious, delicious dish that’s wonderful with chapatis and even rice. Trust me, you’ll never miss the meat. And it takes far less time to cook than meat would, which, in my book, makes it an all-round winner.
- 1 cup soya granules or textured vegetable protein (TVP), soaked in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.
- 1 tbsp canola or any vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup carrots, cut into a very small dice
- 1 cup green peas (I used frozen)
- ½ cup frozen corn kernels
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 4-5 sprigs of mint, leaves removed from the stems, then chopped
- Grind into a fine powder in a coffee/spice grinder:
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 3 cardamom cloves
- 4 cloves
- 1 1-inch stick of cinnamon
- 2 red chillies
- 1 tbsp peppercorns (use less or skip if you don't want the kheema to be too spicy)
- Heat the oil in a wide saucepan.
- Add the ginger and garlic and saute for a minute until fragrant but don't let it burn.
- On medium heat, add the spice powder and stir to toast, about a minute.
- Add the carrots and stir for a minute.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes are broken down and the juices have evaporated.
- Add the peas, corn kernels and the textured vegetable protein. Add the salt.
- Cook for about 15 more minutes, until all the flavors have blended.
- Add the coconut milk, mix in, and turn off the heat. Add the mint and mix.
- Serve hot with chapatis or rice.