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Archive for May 16th, 2021

Tempeh, the do-anything plant-based protein

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Sonal Ved has an interesting short article on tempeh in Food52. A couple of things to note: if you eat a good variety of whole plant foods (not refined or highly processed), including beans/lentils and intact whole grains, there is no need at all to worry about protein intake: if you get enough calories, you’ll get enough protein. His comments about poor people in India, whose diet is limited and meager.

I’ll also note that it is a pleasure to make your own tempeh, particularly if your oven has a “proofing” setting (to help bread rise, for example), which provides an ideal temperature for the growing tempeh. I have a fair number of posts on my own efforts (and lessons learned), with this post being the summary. You can buy tempeh culture from Cultures for Health. Ziploc Fresh Produce bags work exceptionally well for making tempeh.

Two warnings: Don’t cook the beans with baking soda (which makes beans tender and quicker cooking). The microbes that make tempeh require an acid environment (thus the splash of vinegar mixed into the dried cooked beans). And don’t add spices, many of which have anti-microbial properties (and thus are used to help preserve foods).

The article begins:

Vegetarians spend a large part of the day trying to figure out ways to add more protein to their diet. Even for an Indian vegetarian, whose average meal is more or less balanced—carbohydrates from roti or rice, vitamins and minerals from sabzi, and protein from dal—it can be exciting to move beyond lentils and sprouts in search of more protein.

Beyond the everyday staples above, the most obvious vegetarian choice of protein across the country is paneer, followed by tofu and soy granules. I like to crumble ample amounts of tofu in my morning burji (a spiced scramble of sorts) and make keema out of soy granules, sometimes stuffing it into a samosa to make a quick snack. I turn chickpea mash into kebabs, saving paneer for rich vegetarian kormas and saags. But with so much noise around dairy (for reasons related to human health and animal welfare), the lack of availability of homemade tofu, and the fact that soy granules always come out of a cardboard box, meeting tempeh has changed the game for me.

Tempeh wasn’t such a big part of my Indian kitchen until two years ago, though it has been around since the 1800s. Originating in Java, tempeh has long been an important part of the Indonesian meal. But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when a few artisanal tempeh makers started selling it in small quantities, that it became accessible for urban cooks in India.

Essentially made out of fermented soybeans and sometimes also chickpeas, tempeh in India is experiencing a slow but sure boom. Case in point is the new wave of small-batch tempeh brands popping up everywhere from Bengaluru to Mumbai, from Tempe Wala to Health on PlantsHello Tempayy to Tempe di Mumbai.

Tempeh is dense and toothsome, but without the meat-like chew that processed faux meat products often have (and which many vegetarians, like myself, don’t quite love). And as far as I’m concerned, if I can find a plant-based protein that will absorb flavors, won’t break down while grilling and charring, and will bring a hearty texture into my dish, then it’s a worthy contender to add to my repertoire; with it, I can make Indian dishes such as Kashmiri rogan josh, Rajasthani laal maas, Himachali mutton rara, and others that feel impossible to replicate without the addition of meat. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

16 May 2021 at 8:15 am

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