You Asked For It: Vegan Teens, Pressure Cooking, And Fava Beans in Bombay

You Asked For It is a recurring feature on Holy Cow! where I reply to a handful of questions in my mailbox. I choose the questions on the basis of how useful I think the replies will be to all or most of my readers. If you have a question, just shoot me a line using the contact form. And if you think you have something to add to my answers, feel free.

How do you go vegan when the rest of your family doesn’t want to? I really want to, but it just seems it would be harder if you are surrounded by people who do eat milk and eggs and honey and all that stuff.
Savanah, 13

Going vegan in a household where you do not make the primary decisions on cooking and shopping can be challenging, but an increasing number of teens are now going vegan, often with the blessings of their families. The reason why many parents are reluctant to support children who want to go vegan is because they worry that he/she might not get the necessary nutrition from plant-based foods. But research shows the many benefits of a plant-based diet over one that includes animal products, and there are many great resources available today that any parent can educate themselves on the benefits of a plant-based diet, including sites like and Also, a growing number of well-known faces and names have boosted the credibility of plant-based diets in recent years, including Bill Clinton who says he saw an improvement in his heart health after beginning a mostly vegan diet.

Learning to cook yourself, if it’s feasible, can help. A couple of healthy, delicious vegan meals for your family could just do the trick in convincing them that a vegan diet can work for you. For inspiration, there are also some great vegan cooking sites run by teens, including the Joy of Vegan Eating, which I recently came across.

 Is mango pulp the same as mango puree


I use the terms “mango pulp” and “mango puree” interchangeably in my recipes. If you do not have access to fresh mangoes, which most of us don’t, use the canned pulp or puree you can buy at any Indian grocery store. It’s what I use.

I cannot get whole wheat pastry flour where I live. I have experimented with using whole  wheat flour , a mix of whole and maida, just maida, but all turn out heavy/ lumpy. I am not sure what consistency the mixture should be. I have read about not mixing too much as well so gluten does not develop – how much is too much?

The closest substitute I’ve found to whole-wheat pastry flour is whole-wheat durum flour– the flour used to make chapatis. It’s definitely not the same, but durum flour tends to be lighter than regular whole-wheat flour. For best results, use half durum flour and half all-purpose flour in my recipes that call for whole-wheat pastry flour.

Cake batter for different kinds of cakes can have different consistencies, but typically they are about as thick as a pancake batter (not a dosa batter, which is runnier).

And you’re right that you should never, ever, overmix a cake batter made with all-purpose flour because you can develop the gluten and turn it tough. If you need to beat air into the cake, the time to do it is when you are creaming together the vegan butter and sugar and other liquids. Once the flour goes in, mix or fold very quickly and minimally until you get a smooth, even batter. Cake flour is more forgiving because it has less gluten.

I love my pressure cooker and use it all the time to cook beans.  Can you offer a suggestion for how to prepare whole masoor in the pressure cooker?

Cooking lentils in a pressure cooker can be a challenge and often not advisable because they sometimes tend to clog the pressure valve. Many pressure cooker brands here in the United States warn against cooking lentils in pressure cookers.

When I cook lentils in the pressure cooker, I build the pressure over medium-low heat and reduce the heat  further until the lentils are cooked and the pressure releases– it works for me but, again, it might not for you. Although pressure cookers are much safer now than they ever were before, always heed your manufacturer’s directions when cooking in one.

Try cooking lentils, including whole masoor, in the microwave which is far less dangerous and works like a charm. Cover the lentils with about an inch of water and zap in instalments of 10 minutes at a time until you get the desired tenderness. The cooking time will differ for different lentils. Pink lentils, for instance, cook very fast while mung lentils would take more time and patience. Soaking the lentils for a few hours, if you have the time, can reduce cooking time.

Is there a way to subscribe to your blog via email?

Yes, just click the orange button under the page title that says “Subscribe now for free recipe updates in your mailbox or reader.” On the following page, under “Subscribe Now,” scroll down to the little blue envelope icon that says “Get Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes delivered by email.” Enter your email, and you’re all set.

Where do you get green / dried fava beans in Mumbai or anywhere else in India?

I don’t really know the answer to this but was hoping anyone living in India who reads this might be able to help? Deepak would definitely appreciate it.

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  1. says

    Vaishali! Thank you so much for the shout-out. I actually had people who are not my schoofriends visit my blog. Hoorah!

    I also just posted about why I went vegan, after seeing Savannah’s question. I was so excited that I typed the whole thing up in half an hour. I’ve been meaning to do a post like that since I started blogging, so it was all in my head anyway :)

  2. Samarpita says

    Vaishali, I have been cooking whole masoor in the pressure cooker forever, primarily since the skin does not come off and clog the vent. I usually fry the onion, garlic, ginger, whatever spices I wish to add on that day, chopped tomatoes, may be a chopped potato, add the dal, add sufficient water and put it on a low flame. I usually never pressure cook anything on high, since I feel that takes a longer time and can sometimes lead to water coming out of the vent(talk about idiosyncrasies). I have done this in both Hawkins and Futura pressure cookers with no problems ever.

  3. says

    Priya, Thanks.

    Mihika, You’re welcome, and keep up the good work!

    Samarpita, thanks very much for sharing your tips on the dal. And you’re doing the wise thing by running the pressure cooker on low because I’ve noticed too that placing it on a high flame can often cause the water to start coming out of the vent and even from under the lid.

  4. Sasha says

    Sensible replies.
    However I have to disagree about the pressure cookers. I have no clue about what pressure cooker you are using or what types are available in the US, but here in India, we use pressure cookers almost everyday to cook just about everything :)
    We cook rice, beans, lentils in the pressure cooker. I personally do too and have never faced any problems.

    I don’t prepare ‘dal’ in the pressure cooker directly. However I do pre-cook my lentils in the pressure cooker. I pour sufficient water in to create the pressure, add my lentils in a small vessel with a little water, cover with lid and whistle and put it on high heat. After a couple of whistles (or more for kidney beans), I lower heat to minimum for 3-5 minutes and then turn it off. I wait for about 10-15 minutes until the cooker has cooled down before attempting to open the lid.

    Sometimes I cover the vessel inside with a lid just to avoid the lentils splattering on the inside of the pressure cooker’s lid.

    Also if I’m in a big rush to take the lentils out, I cool the pressure cooker under running water in the sink before opening its lid.

    Sorry for the lengthy reply! :)

  5. says

    Sasha, thanks for your reply and instructions– those are very helpful.
    It is true that in India we cook lentils in pressure cookers all the time, but the cookers available here are often very differently built than the ones in India because– I presume– they are designed to suit the way locals cook. Also, cookers here are not sold with separate compartments the way they are in India– if I remember correctly, Indian cookers usually have a three-tier contraption that goes inside and the rice goes in the bottom vessel, the lentils in the middle, and veggies on top. That ensures the lentils are covered and do not get into the vent. Cookers here in the US don’t have that three-tier container, so you pretty much cook everything in the main body of the cooker which increases the chances of the lentils clogging the vent.
    That said, I do cook lentils in my locally-bought Fagor cooker but it took some fiddling with the temperature before I could cook the lentils without causing the liquid to spray through the valve. For someone not used to cooking lentils in a pressure cooker, it can definitely be a challenge.

  6. says

    Hi Vaishali,

    Love your blog and the pictures!

    Just wanted to answer Deepak’s question. Fava Beans (dried and fresh) are available at Crawford Market in Bombay.

  7. says

    I use pressure cooker all the time-rice, beans, lentils, biryani. You have to put a little oil in the cooker to prevent foaming. See Lorna Sass books. My library has two, “Cooking Under Pressure” and “The Pressured Cook” Either one has all the info you need to pressure cook anything.

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