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Meera Sodha's vegan store-cupboard recipes for lockdown | Food


If you saw my mother’s store-cupboards, you might think she’s been in lockdown for years. Each one is like Narnia: from the outside, you would not know of the vast world that lies behind. There are thigh-high buckets full of rice and chapati flour, three-litre jars (four across and four deep) of all the pulses, rice and spices available in the modern world, and a whole shelf dedicated to value kitchen roll.

In her defence, her family, like many political refugees, have seen real hardship and her bulk-buying comes, in part, from needing to find a smarter way to cook and save, but also from a deep-seated fear, much like we’re all experiencing now, of potentially going hungry.

It’s safe to say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I love to cook from the store-cupboard – it gives me an enormous thrill to conjure up a meal made from dormant grains and tins. But when ingredients are sparse, freshness becomes a prized but much-needed luxury, so here is a list of recipes from my archive to help you make use of your store-cupboard, together with a few vegetables you might find in the shops now. Meera Sodha

KA: You can swap out the choi sum for any greens and the sake for dry sherry.





Iraqi white bean stew, also known as fasoulia.



Iraqi white bean stew, also known as fasoulia. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Katy Gilhooly. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

Kitchen Aide: This would work with just about any bean, whether tinned or dried (and soaked and cooked first, of course). If allspice is scarce, try a mixture of equal parts ground nutmeg, cinnamon and clove; and use parsley (or, indeed, any fresh herb you fancy) instead of the coriander.





Aubergine Katsu curry



Aubergine Katsu curry Photograph: Rob White/The Guardian. Food styling: Rukmini Iyer

KA: For when you can’t get to Wagamama… you can sub the panko for normal breadcrumbs and pickle whatever vegetable takes your fancy, if you can’t find radishes.





Meera Sodha’s Lebanese green beans and vermicelli rice.



Meera Sodha’s Lebanese green beans and vermicelli rice. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

KA: Use any thin pasta in place of the vermicelli; orzo would be another option. And if you can’t get green beans, try courgette batons or asparagus instead, though those both need less cooking, or they’ll turn to absolute mush.





Peanut and broccoli pad thai



Peanut and broccoli pad thai Photograph: Rob White/The Guardian. Food styling: Amy Stephenson

KA: Sub out purple sprouting broccoli for normal broccoli, brown rice syrup for brown sugar, Thai basil for basil leaves. If you want to keep ginger and Thai chillies for longer, prep and freeze the ginger in portions, and freeze the Thai chillies as they are.





Broccoli, fennel stew and chickpeas stew



Broccoli, fennel stew and chickpeas stew Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

KA: Sub the fennel for more broccoli, or even tomatoes (or anything else you have, such as celery, carrots or peppers).





New potato, chard and coconut curry



New potato, chard and coconut curry Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

KA: If chard proves hard to come by, just use another green instead: mature spinach or savoy cabbage, say, or kale, in which case it will need more cooking – a five-minute blanch and refresh should do it.





Aloo peanut tikki with coconut and pea chutney



Aloo peanut tikki with coconut and pea chutney Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

KA: There are as many variations on the tikki as there are people who eat them – mix and match to suit tastes and availability.





Meera Sodha’s chocolate, olive oil and passion fruit cake.



Meera Sodha’s chocolate, olive oil and passion fruit cake. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay.

KA: No butter, no eggs, no raising agent. If you don’t have the passion fruit, it doesn’t matter – either leave it out or swap in some other tart or acidic fruit.

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