Pedro Ruiz is a town in the mountains of Northern Peru. It’s a stop somewhere along the way from Chachapoyas to Iquitos, deep in the middle of the Amazon basin in Peru and we only ever saw it in the dark. My husband and I were slowly working down our way from Ecuador through Peru and we had stopped in this region to explore the beautiful Chachapoyas and were making our way towards Iquitos. This journey itself took us a few days. There would only be a bus a day and it would depart at its own leisure and on occasion, not show up at all! As a traveler, you prepare yourself to be stranded somewhere for a day or two. The route from Chacha to Iquitos looks somewhat like this:

  • Chacha to Pedro Ruiz in a collectivo/van – about 4-5 hours
  • Pedro Ruiz to Yurimaguas in an overnight bus
  • Yurimaguas to Iquitos via ferry where you sleep overnight in your own hammock

We took a detour to a national park along the way to spend 4 days in the Amazon forest through a guided tour we had booked back in Yurimaguas.

Now, back to vegan food! When we arrived at Pedro, it was dark and we had determined that we would have to wait for the bus for at least an hour – this was iffy and somewhat unreliable information, since it could also mean two hours or three or more! We were hungry and I was starting to feel hangry that I wouldnt find anything to eat. I was in the middle of nowhere and wouldnt have asked any questions about ingredients as long as it all looked like plants. My husband, ever the optimist, decided to ask a random chap sitting on the sidewalk with his friend if there was vegetarian food nearby. I nearly balked at this approach – what are the odds that the random person even knows veg food and this middle of nowhere town will actually turn up with something?

My pessimism turned to shock and then disbelief when the guy nodded his head and pointed us vaguely down the road. Just sort of waved his hand and said “that way”. I thought to myself, “no way this guy understood Swami’s spanish. He is probably thinking of something else”. But hope reluctantly bloomed and we walked and walked for a good 20 minutes. I was starting to get anxious that we were too far away from our bus stop when I nearly shrieked in delight on seeing this board ahead: “Restaurante Vegetariano, Monte Sinai in Pedro Ruiz, Peru”.

There is no way to describe this joy in words, but it was just a mad dash from then on. We ran in and ordered food, and were served up an excellent meat free lomo saltado, which I can still remember, to this day. I was sad to leave, knowing that I’d never be back this way, probably in my lifetime. I also have no other picture to share, but I guess some memories are just meant to be cherished in quiet contemplation!


Otavalo was our first stop at Ecuador. After an interesting experience at the Colombia-Ecuador border where we tried our luck at a visa free entry and succeeded (yay!), we were quite charged for shopping at Otavalo. Otavalo is famous for its Saturday market. On this day, the entire town centro is filled with arts and … Read moreVEGAN IN OTAVALO, ECUADOR


BOGOTA Being vegetarian in Bogota is pretty straightforward, as Happycow has 36 listings for Bogota. However, as a vegan, I had a few accidents where I ended up with a bit of cream or cheese on my plate as I didnt make myself very clear in Spanish or forgot something from the list of things … Read moreVEGAN IN COLOMBIA – A THOROUGH GUIDE


My husband and I recently arrived in the city of Bogota, Colombia for our four month South American journey. We have always wanted to travel for an extended period of time and we finally got the opportunity to do so. So we quit our jobs and are backpacking around South America until April. Our tentative … Read moreHOW I ATE VEGAN IN SOUTH AMERICA WHILE BACKPACKING


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 … Read moreVEGAN 7 CUP SWEET (GLUTEN FREE)


For someone embarking on a vegan diet, milk is one of the easiest things to replace, especially with the widespread popularity of soy milk and recently other non dairy milks. Even my parents, who live in the suburbs of Chennai in India have easy access to soy milk in their local supermarket. It took a … Read moreVEGAN MASALA CHAI (INDIAN TEA)

Sweet Potato Kuzhambu/ Sweet Potato In Thick Tamarind Sauce

The very popular cookbook ‘Appetite For Reduction’, which I recently acquired, celebrates the sweet potato in various ways. So when I chanced upon a bag of organic sweet potatoes, I remembered the cookbook and glowing mentions of sweet potato dishes on the PPK forums. 

I havent cooked much with sweet potatoes; so when I spoke to my mom in India, I was curious to know how she made it. I was surprised by the simplicity of the recipe she gave me. I proceeded to make it and it went perfectly well with steaming hot white rice. I love brown rice and its health benefits, but for some dishes you just got to have the real deal.

Beans Poricha Kootu/Green beans and mung dal stew

Today is my first blog post for Vegan MoFo 2011, a very awesome collective vegan blogging event. So for the month of October, I’ll be blogging a lot about vegan food and discovering tons of new stuff from 650+ other blogs.

I’d spent quite a bit of time about what the first post would be and fantasized about making something complex and time consuming, or kicking off with a sweet dish like any self-respecting Indian would do. But the week came and went and soon it was a Friday evening (after a long day at work) and I had to make a quick and nourishing meal in under an hour for couple of friends who were joining me for dinner.

As much as I’d love to throw a fabulous spread, the reality is that I am (like most others) starved for time and need something that is healthy, tasty and quick. It’s no wonder that the humble south indian kootu has a permanent place in my recipe repertoire. And to think I used to turn my nose up at this dish when I was young! Poritha means fried in Tamil and kootu is a general-purpose name for a stew that contains vegetables and lentils/beans seasoned with spices. I really don’t know what is fried here, as I certainly did no such thing. There really are innumerable combinations, and this is definitely not the first or last time a kootu will feature on this blog.


But the real icing on the cake is: it is extremely rare that I come across a poricha kootu recipe that is not vegan – even the omnis make this vegan! To me, that is alone worth extolling its virtues.