Category Archives: Indian

My vegan pregnancy in India

I am a happy mom to a highly energetic 15 month old baby girl. After all our travels, we settled down and had a super cute cherub in 2015. I had a wonderful pregnancy in India filled with supportive family, friends, coworkers and bosses, for which I am eternally grateful.

I was vegan for my entire pregnancy and veganism is still pretty young in India. During my time there veganism got a lot more exciting in Bangalore, but that is a story for another day. Expectant mothers need a steady supply of nutrients and we tend to get serious about it especially when there is a little bub to consider.

How does a vegan pregnant woman in India get all her vitamins and minerals? Read on.

Finger Millet (Ragi)

Finger millet or Ragi is India’s blessing. Its abundantly available all over the South, is eaten almost daily in some form or the other in Karnatake state and is really cheap. Less than 50 cents for a kilo! Killer prices.

It makes up for the lack of availability of things like quinoa, steel cut or rolled oats (quick cooking oats is available aplenty). Its a rich source of calcium, protein, iron and many other things!

It does have an acquired taste. There are tons of ways to eat it – as rotis, dosai, idli, ragi balls or ragi mudde (not my favorite, but definitely a nutritional storehouse). I enjoy drinking it as a porridge with some soy milk and sweetener mixed in. I recently discovered that you can mix some ragi & water/milk in your rice cooker and set the timer (if available) to make it when you are ready. Cool isnt it?

100 grams of Ragi (about 3 ounces) has about 350 mg of calcium. Thats a little more than from a glass of milk. A tall glass of ragi porridge cooked with a bit of calcium fortified soy milk is a great way to start the day. I made it a point to have ragi in some for the other every day during my pregnancy. My weight gain was healthy, my doctor was not concerned and I had the energy to work until the day before I gave birth.

Amaranth

When Quinoa costs 500 rupees for 250 grams ($8 for 8 ounces), its time to look for alternatives. Amaranth seeds are a complete protein like Quinoa. Its being lauded here on Huffington post. The seeds are not easily available in India, but the flour is very easy to obtain on department store shelves.

Greens:

India has a phenomenal collection of cooking greens, each with distinctive tastes. All the leafy greens mentioned below are super high in Calcium and offer enough variety to keep the palette from getting bored. Agathi takes a bit getting used to, but remember that 100 grams of the food contains a whopping 1130 mg of Calcium. Its hard to eat 100 grams of the greens in a single sitting, but I’ve often had made into a soup with tomatoes, onions and some lentils. Delicious!

  • Moringa leaves (murungai keerai) – easily available in local produce stalls. I dont see it much in supermarkets though.
  • Agathi keerai – Not easy to obtain. However, every local market will have a greens seller who can easily get it during their next produce run when asked.
  • Fenugreek leaves – Easy to find and easier to grow! I am now growing fenugreek leaves in an old salad box filled with some soil and got a seedling in just 3 days!

Soy Milk

Soy milk is available in most established large chain supermarkets, even in suburbs of metros. They come in various flavors. Mango and pistachio are particularly flavorful. Typically the unsweetened version is not calcium fortified. However, the sweetened flavored versions in some brands were fortified with calcium. Soy milk brands in India to try are Staeta or Sofit.

Shelcal HD

Super cheap source of Calcium supplements easily available in even the smallest, most rural pharmacy. The HD variety also contains Vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

While there are many contradictory articles on this controversial topics, I strongly urge all vegan pregnant women to take a B12 supplement. In India, doctors prescribe a Iron, folic acid and b-complex supplement to all expectant mothers and this contains 5mcg of B-12. I often supplemented this by NUROKIND OD which contains 1500 mcg of Mecobalamin. Its incredibly cheap, Rs. 4 per tablet and need not be consumed every day. Its a sublingual tablet (place under your tongue until it dissolves) about every 3-4 days. Nurokind OD is an easily available Vitamin B-12 supplement across India.

DHA

In the US, DHA supplements are typically a part of the prenatal tablet. But they are usually not vegan. In the US, I have easy access to Deva’s DHA supplements, but this is not available in India. I hope this changes soon, since there are so many vegetarians in the country and this will definitely be popular. I took a DHA supplement that my doctor prescribed, knowing its not vegan. Not ideal, but not a risk I was willing to take.

I saw this vegan DHA tablet, but its pretty expensive!

I think I covered most things about a vegan pregnancy in India. I would still like to talk about some over the counter products that are accidentally vegan and easily available in most large cities.

Easy and low cost Vegan pizza

This is my first post for vegan Mofo even though it began yesterday. But I am now at a remote no-signal area in Coorg and could not get any signal anywhere even though I had the post composed yesterday! That said, here is some yummy, cheap, quick and easy vegan pizza. 

Vegan Mofo is a superb concept where vegan food bloggers blog all through the month (October this time) barring weekends and connect with fellow vegans from around the world. This great event is organized by the folks at the amazing Post Punk Kitchen! I am participating too because I love PPK, veganism and reading great vegan blogs. There is usually a theme to this event. My theme this time is very simple – its more a goal really – I just plan to put up my pictures and vegan-food-related information from South America by the end of Mofo. Not terribly exciting, I know. However, I hope the next vegan who goes to South America will find my information useful. I really doubt I’ll post 20 times this month – thats jut far too prolific for me, but I’ll do my best.

After four amazing months in South America, I am now living in Bangalore, India. Its been very exciting meeting the local vegan group here through potlucks, group lunches and other impromptu meetups. Being vegan here is easy and not so easy at the same time. The most basic south indian dishes are all vegan, so one never goes hungry. However, eating out with friends is more complicated – since I am always ordering the same things. I recently went to a five star restaurant for a birthday lunch and ended up passing on most of the dishes on the pre-fixe menu as they were all dairy heavy. Until the Chinese food came out. :)

Anyway, one thing I miss the most about being in India – vegan pizza with daiya! I’ve just moved here from the bay area, California where daiya cheese was available widely. My favorite hangouts there were z-pizza in Mountain View and Patxis in Palo Alto. No Daiya for me now.

Recently Swami decided to buy some Margherita pizza from the store. He was concerned about my dinner, so I promised him that I’d make one for myself. So I just decided to whip up this really cheap version at home using store bought pizza base. Each base costs only Rs. 10/- and I topped it with organic tomatoes and an impromptu tofu-mint sauce. The verdict – he liked mine more than his cheesy version, despite having left it in the oven a tad too long!

What you need:

  • Whole wheat pizza base from store
  • any pizza sauce
  • fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • basil leaves – fresh or dried
  • tofu sauce

tofu sauce: blend together: one packet firm tofu, a handful of mint leaves, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I then garnished the pizza with dried basil flakes.

Vegan 7 cup sweet for Deepavali (Gluten Free)

Today is the last day of vegan mofo. Unfortunately, I have been unable to blog every weekday as I had originally planned. Ah well, life just happened. However, I have been checking out vegan mofo entries from the blogosphere and having fun looking at all the food that’s being cooked.

For Deepavali this time, I wanted to branch out to Indian sweets, a domain which is held by copious amounts of ghee and milk. I found a vegan friendly recipe for the 7-cup-sweet, popularly known as the 7-cup-cake (though there is nothing cakey about it). This is a sweet my mom used to make when I was younger and I wanted to see if I could veganize it. Indian sweets are just not my forte, as my hand can rarely seem to part with the amount of fat it requires. The end result usually leaves a lot to be desired. So this time, I sucked it up, used the requisite amount of fat (I used Earth Balance vegan butter) and gave it some elbow grease. While my version looks nothing like the original version I was inspired from, I think I can explain what happened. J

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Ingredients for veganized 7 cup cake (makes about 15 squares):

I used a 1/3 measuring cup as 1 measure:

  • 1 measure dessicated coconut (the finely shredded almost powdery variety)
  • 1 measure chickpea flour (Besan)
  • 1 measure non dairy milk (I used Trader Joe’s drinkable coconut milk)
  • 3 measures (I used dark brown sugar, hence the brown color)
  • 1 measure melted earth balance

Directions

  • I followed the directions listed in the link above.

Tip:

You’ll be tempted to take it out as soon as it reduces and thickens. But it’ll only result in a gooey mass (which is also delicious). Be persistent as timing is key, the mixture will reduce considerably and when you stir the contents with a spatula, the contents should completely clear the pan, and you should be able to see the pan underneath. That turned out to be the best time to take your skillet off the stove. If its too gooey, put it back on medium heat and let it thicken some more.