Eggplant and broccoli curry in a hurry (easy ways to make nice thick curry gravy without all the preservatives)

In 1997 I was working in the kitchen at a music festival in Osho Leela in Dorset. I was incredibly new to the world of Osho and there was a lot of hype about Miten and his girlfriend Deva Premal performing in concert. I wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about and when someone asked me if I was going I replied probably not as I would be washing the dishes after dinner while the concert was on. That night as I set to the dishes with the other kitchen crew we were inundated with helpers and were told to get the dishes done as quick as we could because the concert wouldn’t start without us.

As soon as the dishes were done we ran to the room where the concert was being held and as promised the concert hadn’t started and we were ushered to front row seats. In all my working life I had never been treated like this. I couldn’t believe it and cried in gratitude the whole way through the concert. We found out later it was Miten’s idea to wait and give us the front row seats.

Talking with friends about the concert afterwards someone told me Deva Premal had been a vegetarian her whole life and I was in awe of how lucky she was to have been given that choice from birth.

Since establishing my catering business it had always been my dream to cater on one of Deva Premal and Miten’s retreats and this year that dream was realised. I asked Deva this year if I could interview her on being vegetarian and she agreed. We didn’t get it together to do the interview in person but Deva and Miten recorded their answers from Corfu earlier this year.

I was once again overwhelmed with gratitude and spent the entire time listening to the interview in tears. I feel so excited to be sharing with you their answers to these questions about being vegetarian for life. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

How long have you been vegetarian?

Deva: I’ve been a vegetarian ever since I was born, which is forty five years ago.

Miten: Me about the same amount of time, about forty years ago I became a vegetarian.

Why did you choose to be vegetarian?

Miten: I just never liked meat – simple. I was too young to ask why i didn’t like it  – I just ate it out of a somnambulistic kind of attitude adopted in childhood. Once I realized I could make choices for myself I stopped participating in the murdering of animals.

Deva: I didn’t choose it! It was a normal day to day reality in my family. Although my parents always gave me the choice, like, to eat it in school etc, but I never wanted to try it. Fish either – Ive never tasted it. But my parents were great – they just made it clear that they wouldn’t cook it for us, but you are welcome to eat it somewhere else, but, fortunately, I just never was attracted to it.

Miten: The wake up call for me was when I connected the dots between lambs and lamb chops! That was the breakthrough for me. Eating other people’s babies?…yuk…a horror story. The horror of doing that went really deep in me and still now when people – friends – mention lamb chops or such, I just get sick to my stomach: So, that really was a big one for me.

I also remember once, being in switzerland where we were playing and there was a farm opposite the venue. I saw a cow being separated from its calf and I saw the anguish and the freak out of them both..

In your life time have you ever been tempted to eat meat?

Deva: Never. I never felt I was missing out. I suppose because my parents told me I could eat it if i wanted. I didn’t see it as if it was some big forbidden thing that I was missing out on and had to secretly try. But somehow the idea of crunching around on flesh just felt like a horrible thing to be doing. I guess that answers your question!

Miten: No, me too. In fact I don’t even like seitan. Anything that reminds me of meat like fake chicken nuggets and things like that turn my stomach a bit. Things that taste like pork? Hello!?

Have you ever had any health problems due to being vegetarian?

Deva: We haven’t. So far so good, so far so great.

Miten: Let’s put it this way – I’ve only missed 2 days work in 23 years if you count the concerts we’ve had to cancel due to ill health. I’m a healthy old guy! 69 next year, and still exercising and travelling the world with our full on touring schedule – 24 countries last year. Of course, I have issues with the body as it gets older, but I’m strong in my spirit and as long as I continue to take care of my body I don’t have any health issues around being a veggie.

Is it important to you that you are both vegetarians?

Deva: It is great. I am so happy that when we met that we both were vegetarian. When I came to Osho it was like coming home because the food in the ashram and in the communes was vegetarian. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to ask what I can and what can’t I eat when not with my family.

Sadly, I got quite a shock in the later years, when meat began to creep in to the food. I took it for granted that everyone in Osho’s world was vegetarian. Not so! I found out that wasn’t the case at all – people just became vegetarians while living in the ashram. Once they were outside, many – not all – were into their preferences of chickens and pigs etc…and that made me sad and alienated from my ‘sannyas’ family at times.

But that I met Miten, somebody who is so rooted in his outlook towards animals – that makes me so happy.

Miten: I couldn’t be with somebody who eats meat – that’s just the bottom line really.

Are there any social implications for you being vegetarian?

Miten: Sometimes I’ve thought to myself that I would like my friends not to eat meat when we go out together. The other day we were out to lunch with a friend and she ordered chicken, and basically I don’t really have a problem with it. It was ok. I watched her eat it and carried on talking and having a good time together. But I have to say it made me more careful about who I eat with when going to restaurants. I now take them for tea and (vegan) cakes instead!

Deva: Personally I don’t really like to watch when meat is very explicit on a plate like something obviously very meaty. Or when it’s smelly – for example, I especially find salmon or fish so disgusting that I can’t even imagine that somebody would want to eat it! But I also don’t like to make a rule that you can’t eat meat around me. I enjoy being more accepting of that because I know – deep down – we all do our best and we all have our addictions. It does disturb Miten but it doesn’t disturb me as much (apart from the salmon!).

As you travel the world do you experience any difficulty in being vegetarian?  Is it easy to eat out for example?

Deva: Mostly it’s ok now.

Miten: It’s changed a lot in the past few years. I remember there being hardly anything for vegetarians in airports. Literally, nothing. The only thing you could sometime get was what they call a roast vegetable sandwich. If you were lucky. We always carry bags of nuts and seeds that Deva roasts before the tour.

What we usually do as soon as we get to a city is we ask the promoter either for the local Indian restaurant or – even better – if they have a vegetarian restaurant or vegan restaurant. Also Italian restaurants are ok – you can always get some pasta and salad.

The good news – and it was really a surprise on our last European tour – was to discover so many great vegan restaurants in the most unexpected places – Russia, Slovenia, Romania, Israel, Croatia…really hip restaurants with great food.

What is your favourite meal?

Miten: Easy – rice, dhal and Aloo Gobi…prepared either by Manose. or anything prepared by my friend DevaPriya – she was ashram food preparation guru – and she really treats us to the most amazing food whenever we visit her.

Deva: Personally I couldn’t say. I love so many different things from nice green, crispy fresh salads to  Indian food to Thai food to Italian food. I love the variety and I am happy I don’t have to restrict myself to one thing.

Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for anyone starting on the path of vegetarianism?

Miten: Enjoy the ride! – there is so much to discover – so many culinary – and spiritual – delights ahead. Vegetarianism is not a political statement – it’s pure pleasure. If we do some good at the same time by not killing and eating our fellow travellers and their babies, then that’s a bonus in itself.

 

Towards the end of the interview Miten also mentioned that Deva was a salad queen and made dressing that she inherited from her mum and that he thought it would be a great idea to publish a Deva Cook book. He said Deva cooks some great food and meals. I was quite delighted to hear Deva say that some of the recipes she cooks come from my cook book. You can imagine how fast my tears flowed after hearing that!

I asked Deva if she could share one of her favourite salad dressings and she said a combination of balsamico herb salt olive oil and maple syrup. So here is a recipe I have been making which people who like a little sweet in their salads love.

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup balsamico

1 tsp Australian herb salt (the organic one)

1 tsp maple syrup

Place in a jar and shake until combined.

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The Vegetarian Cooking School

The Vegetarian Chef and Lifestyle Training

This training is for:

People who want to become part of the fastest growing market in organic and ethical food.
People who have wanted to run their own plant based restaurant or catering business or for those who need to be inspired in their current business.
People who would you like to build a repertoire of skills that will support their own and family’s health and wellbeing.

People who have vegan family members and want to learn how to provide wholesome and nutritionally well balanced food.

With the training we offer at The Vegetarian Cooking School you not only learn skills and attain knowledge on all there is to know about healthy and delicious plant based cuisine but you will also be treated with the utmost respect. Only plant based foods sourced ethically and organically will be used and you will not have to handle any meat products or animal bi products.

When I decided to start my business I looked everywhere for a vegetarian chef’s training and the only one I could attend was one where I would be either faced with cooking meat or watching others do so. I was not prepared to compromise my principles and ethics in order to follow my dreams of having a vegetarian catering business. I did it alone and put all I knew from my vast experience of being a vegetarian into practice and learnt along the way.

When I was fifteen I spent a week in a conventional kitchen on work experience. As I was a sensitive young being I was ridiculed and laughed at and was told I could never make it in the world of food if I wasn’t prepared to cook meat. I believed them and didn’t follow my dream. I went on to be a care worker and teacher before embarking on my dream again at the age of thirty-eight and now I bring both my teaching skills and vast knowledge of vegetarian cooking together in one comprehensive training.

The training is a hands-on course where you will be taught by Veet Karen and specialist teachers and trainers. The training is broken up into nine modules, all with 2 to 4 units in each module. Class sizes will be kept small so you can receive lots of individual attention.

You will be required to complete tasks in your own time in between each module in order to pass the module and move onto the next module. Some of these tasks will involve work experience (for those training for home purposes the experience will be at home). The training comprises 300 contact hours plus 400 hours home or work practice.

It is a requirement that you attend the foundation module first and then modules 7,8 & 9 at the end of the training. However modules 2 to 6 can be taken in any order. This way you can complete the course in six quick months or you can choose to do the course over two years.

The training is held in one of the most evolved areas in Australia in regards of organic and ethical food. Byron Bay is a very supportive community for healthy living and healthy eating, with four weekly farmers markets.

All modules have been created to ensure wholefoods, organic, biodynamic and ethical produce is used. In addition to a wholefoods approach the food created in each of the modules will be incredibly delicious as this is essential to preparing great vegetarian cuisine.

The training program

Module 1 Foundation

Unit 1 Safe food handling Protein 1Unit 2 Protein 2 – nutritional benefits of a vegetarian diet and vitamins and minerals in a plant based diet

Unit 3 Organic, biodynamic and ethical produce

Unit 4 Food science and knife skills

Module 2 Raw cuisine

Unit 1 Simple raw cuisineUnit 2 Dehydration

Unit 3 Dehydration and cakes

Module 3 Ayurvedic cuisine

Unit 1 Ayurvedic cuisineUnit 2 Fusion Ayurvedic cuisine

Module 4 Macrobiotic and wholefoods

Unit 1 Macrobiotic cookingUnit 2 Wholefoods cooking

Unit 3 Wholefoods cooking

Module 5 Ferments fermentation, sprouting and sourdough

Unit 1 Sauerkrauts and pickles, sproutingUnit 2 Sourdough and fermented beans (tempeh)

Module 6 Dietary needs

Unit 1 Gluten intolerance and dairy intoleranceUnit 2 Diabetes

Unit 3 Allergies and KPU

Unit 4 Low fod map diets and other specialised diets

Module 7 Menu and meal planning

Unit 1 Menu planningUnit 2 Menu planning

Unit 3 Menu planning

Module 8 Advanced skills

Unit 1 Gourmet vegan vegetarian 1Unit 2 Gourmet presentation 1

Unit 3 Specialist baking skills 1

Module 9 Final hands on practical
3 days of practical hands on experience and graduation

Where is the training held

The training is held in the Byron Bay shire Northern NSW.

 

Teachers

Veet Karen and selected expert teachers.

 

Times

Each day will start at 8:30 am and finish at 5:30 pm and if there is a market day during the module the day will start at 6:45 and finish between 3:30 pm or 5 pm depending on the module.

 

Dates for 2016

Module one
11th to 14th February
31st March to 3rd April
21st to 24th April
2nd to the 5th June
21st to 24th July
11th to 14th of August
15th to 18th September
1st to 4th December
Other modules for 2016

Module 2 April 8th to 10th
Module 3 May 7th and 8th
module 4 May12th to 14th
Module 5 May 28th to 29th
Module 6 June 9th to 12th
Module 7 June 16th to 18th
Module 8 July 29th to 31st
module 9 August 3rd to 6th

Further in 2016

Module 2 August 19th to 21st
Module 3 August 27th to 28th
module 4 September 8th to 10th
Module 5 October 15th to 16th
Module 6 October 21st to 24th
Module 7 November 4th to 6th
Module 8 December 9th to 11th
Module 9 December 14th to 17th

How to apply

Contact Veet for The Vegetarian Cooking School Training dates, prospectus and application form.

What people are saying about module one

Thank you Veet for the most wonderful 4 day cooking workshop you laid on. It was truly inspirational, innovative and live changing. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and skills with us all. I felt so motivated I couldn’t wait to get back, stock my cupboards full of whole foods and start to cook!

Thank you for all the effort you put into your teachings, I felt truly nurtured and nourished at every step of the journey. Each and every meal was a feast and the recipes were so creative and truly scrumptious. I loved the meditation to keep us on task. To top it all we all went home with a goodie bag. If anyone out there is thinking about it, just do it you won’t regret it!! Allie Godfrey Market Manager North Byron Farmers Market

After completing module one of the vegetarian cooking school I am so inspired to experiment and play in the kitchen, creating delights for anyone who steps into my world. I am more than excited for the rest of the course and can tell my cooking science has already shifted up in gears. My presentation, cutting skills, flavour and love for cooking have all multiplied tenfold. Arianne Schreiber.

I enjoyed module one so much! I’ve learnt so much about nutrition, cooking skills and adapting recipes to vegan ingredients!! I am so fired up and excited about cooking again. Veet is a wonderful teacher and the other participants were amazing! I wholeheartedly recommend it!! Caroline Helmore

I first met Veet a few years ago when she catered for a week long Yoga Retreat in Byron Bay. What struck me about her was her amazing fresh and tasty food and the care she took of each and everyone one of us with each meal – it really did feel that there was a lot of love in her food! The chance to join the Vegetarian Cooking School was one I could not miss so I flew down from Cairns especially to join the 1st Module.

Each day was incredible and very inspiring! I was lucky enough to share the experience with 5 other passionate cooks and we all relished the chance to learn and create! Veet has a wealth of knowledge that she is willing to share and such a caring heart – I can truly recommend the school to anyone wanting to become a vegetarian or vegan chef or just cook ‘real’ food at home! Ali Sequeira

 

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