Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go, Fitzroy North

I love the Moroccan soup bar. I love its ethos, the fact that it gives refugee woman a place to work and find their feet, and I love the vegetarian food.

Everytime I visit Melbourne, I find an excuse to wander past on the no. 11 tram and have my fix of the chickpea bake. I have tried to make this dish, but even with the release of the recipe as part of the cook book, I could not get the taste right.

So when I found out that Hana Assafiri had opened a second soup bar, it was open for lunch and now PIZZA was available: how could a good foodie say no?

At lunchtime, there are two options, an open plate and soup with bread.

Open plate ($12.50):
Lunch plate - angle 1

Lunch plate crispy potatoes

Moroccan cabbage salad, cous cous salad, pearl barley salad, a little chickpea bake, hummous, a piece of deep fried haloumi, a mixed vegetable fritter, crispy slices of potato. I was dining in a party of four, and everyone else had googly eyes for my plate.

Spinach and Lentil Soup ($7.50):

Spinach and Lentil Soup

There are two kinds of soup available when we visit: harira and a spinach and lentil soup, both with a tomato base. The harira soup is like an Italian minestrone with chickpeas instead of pasta. It’s lifted with the addition of pureed preserved limes. The spinach and lentil is tangy, perhaps with a little vinegar.

Marrakizza pizza ($15):


Moroccan pizza. This has a thin crust but an extra yummy chewiness. It’s not just pizza toppings on a flat bread. Tomato base with feta, dried black olives, diced tomato. The whole lot is topped with crispy sweet potato shards, fresh rocket, a swirl of spicy chermoula and preserved lemon puree. Gluten free is available for $1 more.

Dinner box ($12.50):
Dinner Box

You can order an open dinner plate to eat in ($15), takeaway with or without your own container. The takeaway dinner bowl included chickpea bake, saffron rice, tomato & lentils, baked vegetables, some green salad and a few pickles.

Nus nus:
Nus Nus

This is Moroccan style coffee, served with a mini piece of Turkish delight. There is a layer of milk, a shot of espresso, and a layer of foam on top. Like a little weather system, the whole thing kind of swirls around with the temperature differential. It is good to sit and sip, and I want another one.

I love the Moroccan soup bar, but I love the two go version a lot more. It’s open at lunchtime (so i don’t have to wait until after 6pm for my fix), and the lunchtime open plate is a bargain. You can still get the banquet here. Service at night can be a little haphazard as they rely on a raffle ticket numbering system for both dine in and takeaway. You save $2 if you bring your own takeaway container. And yes, you can still ask for a whole serving of chickpea bake in your takeaway box.

Moroccan Soup Bar Two Go
street: 316 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North, VIC 3068
Phone: +61-03-9486-3500

11:00AM – 3:00PM , 6:00PM – 10:00PM
1100-1500 hours, 1800 – 2200 hours.
Closed Monday lunch

Nourishing Quarter

I had a little trepidation when ringing to make a booking at Nourishing Quarter. It had been the record breaking wettest month in Sydney ever, and when I was told that I would be getting a courtyard table I had to confirm –

“Will I be undercover? Will I get cold?”.

The response was: “Yes, it’s quite cosy back there.”


Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I feared. You walk through the main body of the restaurant, past the kitchen, past the dripping wet smaller courtyard at a lower level, and then up into a small back room with blankets, a heater and your very own waitress.

After confirming the gluten free options (everything except for the “pretty dumplings”) we ordered:

* nourishing rolls with Thom Mint
* ancient grains within our grasps
* amaranth and quinoa noodles salads (in two sauces) with crispy tofu

There were a selection of herbal teas on offer, and after giving each on an aroma test, we decided on the Vitali-tea for two.

NQ -tea

It had lemongrass as one of the components and was quite delicate in flavour even though it had coloured up during infusion. Aren’t the tea pot and cup and saucer gorgeous? The pot was refilled with some more hot water when the chilli in the dishes got a bit too much.

The rice paper rolls were the first to arrive:

Nourishing Rolls

These are described as:
“South American Royal Qunioa grains, Omega-3 Chia Seeds, light stir-fried crispy julienne vegetables, diced tofu, rolled in Vietnames rice paper, served with NQ special Peanut & Bean Dipping Sauce”

Instead of the wheat based soy sauce as noted in the menu, the rolls came with a small dish of chilli sauce (it seemed like siracha sauce or similar), and a small dish of what seemed like fermented apple sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. In fact, every dish came with these two sauces, which was my only quibble about the place. The rolls themselves were very meaty in a nutty kind of way, and quite delicate.

The ancient grains were served in big iceberg lettuce cups:

lettuce cups

These are described as:
“Lettuce pouches carrying the red royal quinoa grains, with exotic mushrooms, marinade protein beancurd, crunchy diced seasonable vegetables & sprouts, served with sprinkles of sesame seeds, black pepper, Omega-3 Chia Seeds and a zesty sesame oil, lime and chilli accentuated dressings”

They appeared to be a vegan version of that Cantonese Chinese dish of Sang Choy Bow: minced duck in lettuce leaves. Being of a scientific bent, I had to poke through the whole dish and analyse what was in it. I think that got pretty much every ingredient, except for “this white crunchy thing, that doesn’t have a taste. It’s not celery, fennel, celeriac, or potato.” Our waitress didn’t know and consulted the kitchen. It was jicama.

The ancient grains were very quickly followed by the salad:

amaranth quinoa mungbean salad

These are described as:
“An Asian-style noodle salad using Qunioa/Amaranth & rice flour base, and mung bean noodles with vietnames spearmint, coriander, roasted sesame seasoning, garnished with living sprouts and crispy marinated tofu”

I dived straight into this, because I didn’t want the crunchy stuff to go soggy.  The crunchy stuff were skeins of twisted tofu/beancurd sheets that had been marinated and deepfried to “resemble” roast duck. There was a nice mixture of amaranth/quinoa noodles, mung bean noodles, julienned carrot and cucumber. It reminded me of a cross between a Thai and Vietanamese noodle salad.

The salad dressing was intriguing: I picked up notes of apple cider vinegar (not too harsh), toasted sesame oil, citrus and chilli. Not just the chilli sauce on the side, but there was some in the dressing too. I wouldn’t say that the crispy tofu stuff tasted like “duck”, more like “marinaded tofu”.

Dessert was a choice of either mango or a chocolate strawberry cheesecake. We chose chocolate cheesecake:

NQ - tofu cheesecake

We were once again intrigued about how you would do a vegan gluten free “biscuit” base. It turned out to be coconut cream and peanuts (and possibly a little shredded coconut in there too: It reminded me of an Arnott’s butternut snap biscuit – the ones that are in the plain assortment). The “cheesecake” itself, I didn’t much care for, but H really liked. It had a slight ‘sour’ aftertaste to it, and the strawberry ontop looked like a defrosted frozen strawberry. Surprisingly the accompanying orange and apple slices, dusted with cinnamon were very tasty.

It was indeed, cosy in the courtyard. The total damage came to $65 for two, including a $2.50 charge for the extra cup for the pot of tea.

The list of ingredients in the ancient grains cups wethinks were: carrot, snow peas, red quinoa, coriander, vietnamese mint, wood ear mushroom, chinese white fungus, firm tofu, jicama, sesame seeds.
Nourishing Quarter

street: 315 Cleveland St, Redfern NSW 2016
phone: 61-2-8399-0888

Dinner Tuesday to Saturday in two sittings: @1800, or @2000 hours
Closed Mondays

Vege Delight Restaurant, Quakers Hill

I had a dinner date with a friend. She suggested we try a new place that had opened in Quakers Hill. We are both fans of the Masala Dosa (!Crispy! I must always have this crispy), so we decided to give Vege Delight a try.

Their slogan is: “No Egg, No Meat, No Worries!”

The restaurant was empty at 630pm on a weekday night, but as we were finishing up it started to fill. The takeaway menu is slightly different to the eat-in, mainly in that some of the set meals are not available. There seem to be quite a few dishes that I have not seen at other places, including Makki Di Roti – a corn based bread, Jal Jeera and Badam milk beverages. The prices are the same for eat in or takeaway.

We ordered:

Masala Dosa ($12.90)
Dal Makhini ($10.90)
Saag thali set meal, which included two pieces of Makki Di Roti ($18.90)
Jal Jeera ($3.90)

Unfortunately, there was no Badam milk available, so I went without. It sounds a bit like the Mexican horchatas drink: Milk with a richness of almonds and sugar topped with saffron and cardamon. You can see why I wanted to try it.

The Masala Lassi arrived first. This was described as a beverage with tangy Indian spices .
It was nice and refreshing with a good sour tang. It took away the heat of the dishes without the heaviness that a mango lassi offers.

The saag thali set meal was next to arrive:

Vege Delight

Clockwise from top left of the tray we have makki di roti, Sarson da Saag, Paneer Makhni, a ginger and green chilli pickle, a turnip salad (mooli salad). You can also see the masala lassi on the far left.

The corn based bread, Makki di roti, is awesome. This is the first time that I have seen this style of bread on a menu. We are assured at the time of ordering that it is wheat free*.

Saag is an intense green dish made from ‘mustard leaves’ and spinach. It’s what a Punjabi Popeye would eat. I find it is too intense to eat on its own, so it is good the set dish comes with a variety of tastes. The ginger and chilli pickle is deceptively mild and tasty, until you find a chilli seed that blows your head off. Paneer Makhni tastes like an overly sweet “butter chicken” sauce, but with cubes of paneer cheese.

Dal Makhini:

Vege Delight - Dal Makhni

I ordered this dish as a just in case I got hungry. It is black lentils slow cooked with tomato, ginger, coriander and butter. It reminded me a lot of an Indian version of refried beans, and worked quite well mixed with steamed rice.

Masala Dosa:

Vege Delight

The Masala dosa is very crispy, and the accompanying sambal is light and refreshing without too much chilli. The coconut chutney has a slightly sour fermented taste, and is not quite to my liking.

* Unfortunately for my gluten-free friend, the stomach pains later on suggested that perhaps the corn bread was not “wheat free”. In addition, I check my Book of Asian Ingredients which states that the recipe uses corn meal and atta flour; “Atta flour is fine wholemeal flour … Other flours bearing the name atta are bajra atta (millet flour) or jowar atta (sorghum flour). However atta usually refers to wheat flour. “. Perhaps this is a misunderstanding on our part in not confirming what the ingredients were. Perhaps to the waitress, ‘atta flour’ is not the same as ‘wheat flour’.

I will be visiting this place again for the sheer variety of different vegetarian dishes available. You can even order pizza/pasta dishes with an Indian twist. However, if you are someone with food intolerances, it would be advised to double and triple check the ingredients before you order, to avoid any misunderstandings.

Vege Delight Restaurant, Quakers Hill
street: 6 Douglas Road, Quakers Hill NSW
phone: +61-2-9837-0307

Miso Vegetables (Yasai dengaku カボチャ)

Trying to clear out my fridge, I thought that I would make something in the style of miso eggplant (nasu dengaku).

Recipe is from momofukufor2.

1 tablespoons mirin*
1 tablespoons sake (or any alcohol to hand)
2 tablespoons miso paste*
3 tablespoons sugar*
Four to six chunky slices of vegetables –
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
sliced green onions*, for garnish

Place the mirin (I used verjuice) and alcohol (tequila) in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to cook off. Then add the miso and stir until smooth. Stir in the sugar, reduce the heat to very low, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally.

I used ‘sweet miso’ rather than ‘shiro miso’. This has half the amount of salt than the aka miso, and I thought that I would get a better miso taste, and less salt. So I compensated by using 2 tablespoons of sugar instead of 3.

When the sugar is added to the mixture on the stove, the mixture turns into this glossy oozy caramel.

Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Slice the zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut pumpkin into chunky slices, about 3cm thick. Parboil the vegetables for 5 minutes, drain.

Miso Vegetables

Score on each side with a knife and sprinkle with sesame oil. Place under grill until it colours, then flip over. Sprinkle with sesame oil and place under the grill again.

Spread the miso sauce on the vegetables and put them back under the grill until the sauce bubbles up–this should take less than a minute, so watch them closely. Enjoy hot, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.

I had some organic snow pea sprouts, which I snipped up and sprinkled as the garnish.

Miso Vegetables


Not bad. It seems that the vegetables really are just a carrier for sticky sweet miso flavoured caramel. I had difficulty getting the tops to brown without burning.

Next time?

Spread the sauce over more vegetables – that’s what I’m interested in, not the sugar! I definitely think that the recipe worked with the pumpkin and zucchini. I would separately toast the sesame seeds (as recommended in the original recipe), rather than try and toast on the veggie. The use of the sweet miso paste is really a winner because it isn’t salty at all. I may even reduce the amount of sugar next time.