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Mistry solved! Talking vegan and vegetarian diets with Masterchef finalist, Daksha Mistry

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

What a fab morning! I’ve been speaking to Daksha Mistry (a MasterChef finalist and our guest chef for March) about the trend towards vegetarian and indeed vegan diets.

I personally try to be a ‘flexitarian’. This means I eat a little of everything in moderation, with ‘Meat Free Mondays’ as a rule. But what struck me from talking to Daksha was that vegetables can be a food of choice all year round, as they are in the Gujarat area of India that inspires her cooking.

So what did I learn?

Preparation is key This is a lesson that’s so easy to forget. Simply prepping our vegetables for our Nepalese dumplings (“momos”), was a brilliant reminder of the importance of getting organised ahead of time. With the prep done you can get on with a recipe without stopping and starting!

Chopped vs crushed garlic Did you know there’s a big difference between chopped and crushed garlic? Chopped garlic is fine for some recipes, such as a pasta sauce. But when you crush garlic (and there’s no need for a garlic press, just use the flat of your knife), you release the essential oils, resulting in a stronger flavour. You can also purée the garlic. 

In Asian cooking, especially Indian cuisine, it's common practice to use minced or puréed garlic. Cooking with Daksha, we actually grated the garlic clove and then roughly chopped it, dialling up the flavour further!

At the other end of the spectrum, you don’t chop or crush at all. An uncut garlic bulb retains more of its sulphur compounds, thus adding a subtle and slightly sweet garlic flavour to dishes. And definitely try putting whole garlic cloves in a roasting tin with the meat as it can help you create a wonderful sauce.

Ways to peel ginger

I learnt a new skill recently about peeling ginger using the back of a spoon. It’s so efficient, with so much less waste! Daksha of course prepares it this way…

The healthy benefits of White Mooli (Daikon Radish)

White Mooli is a mild-flavoured winter radish usually characterised by fast growing leaves. It resembles a large white plump carrot and is popular in Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cuisines. Daikon can be cut into small strips and stir fried, boiled, pickled or eaten raw. When eaten raw it serves as a diuretic and is a decongestant but be sure to immerse it in water until you are ready to serve it as this prevents it from oxidizing.

White Mooli is chock full of vitamin A,C, E, B6 and other minerals, so can give your body an immunity boost. It is also high in antioxidants and anthocyanins, making it good for your heart. Radishes can even help keep blood pressure under control by aiding the sodium-potassium balance in the body. This anti-hypertensive property is the reason why everybody should eat mooli in the winter, when higher blood pressure is the norm!