Jamie Does Subji – Review of Episode Two of Jamie’s Meat-Free Meals

Jamie Oliver
My main impression of this episode is of worrying speed. I switch on at two minutes past eight and the cheeky chappy appears to have made most of an aubergine lasagne. He throws whole aubergines and quartered onions into a pan and steams. He gathers some fresh ingredients including TWO types of sage. He chucks in garlic, lemon and chili and the ingredients start to stick and caramelize. Any damage to the pan is remedied by adding tinned tomatoes. It all simmers away and he adds strips of fresh lasagne sheets, cheese and thyme. It looks great but I am deeply troubled by the lasagne sheets poking out. Won’t they have gone horrible and crunchy and burnt? I suspect this is some sort of delicacy… I also note the lack of bechamel sauce. However, it’s great idea to be able to do it all in one dish, straight from pot to oven. It spends twenty minutes in the oven, enough time to tidy up and make a salad. But not so long so that you’re sitting there, staring at the oven as your stomach rumbles, mournfully waiting for dinner to be ready.
Next, a bit more of the footage from the India trip is trotted out. He visits a fruit and veg market, complete with cows wandering about and a dog covered in garlic wrappers. We learn that India is the world’s second largest producer of fruit and veg, which seems to make sense given that it is home to so many vegetarians. Jamie meets a lady who shows him how to make her mum’s beetroot subji. He asks if they can talk about the word ‘subji’. She explains it’s curry, usually dry and always vegetarian. (I am very pleased by this. I eat lots of subji. Can I just say subji from now on?) The beetroot subji seems to make itself; no actual cooking appears to take place at all. I blink and it appears out of nowhere. We do however see that it contains fresh coconut, lime and chili. Amusingly, Jamie points out making a curry doesn’t have to be slow or time consuming.
Back in the UK, I am a bit disappointed that we are not treated to a subji fest in the studio kitchen. Instead he makes an ‘angry bean salad’ with arrabiatta sauce. He chucks cherry tomatoes, the expensive multicoloured kind on the vine, into hot water before blanching and peeling them, telling us how worthwhile the endeavour is. I feel life is too short to be peeling tomatoes. He cooks green beans and fries lots of garlic, chili and mint. I have never seen fresh mint being fried before! He adds the tomatoes and red wine vinegar. Some posh looking bread magically griddles itself off-camera and he adds some mozzarella with a name I can’t remember. He markets this very middle class dish as a version of beans on toast, which I suppose it is… It seems more like the sort of thing Anna Jones would make on Saturday KItchen Live to showcase fresh seasonal ingredients before the ruddy-cheeked overgrown public schoolboy in a striped blazer starts talking about drinks.
We continue whizzing around the world, attending a vegetarian sushi making class. We see California rolls being made and stuffed with a range of veg and topped with butternut squash puree. The lady teaching the class explains the basis of a Japanese meal: five tastes, five colours and five methods of cooking. She also makes sushi with potato, nori and rice. The potato is put through a Japanese grater (I have learnt something else new) and shaped into mini fried cake.
Jamie’s final offering of the evening is dumplings. (I effing love dumplings and am often to be found in PingPong. We had great dim sum in Hong Kong. By contrast, there were almost no vegetarian choices in London’s Soho. The staff were very clear that nothing could be made vegetarian at my request.) The dumpling filling is made with roasted butternut squash and grated broccoli, flavoured with rice wine vinegar, ginger, miso& garlic. I feel somewhat relieved that he doesn’t do the usual tired trick of using mushrooms and banging on about how ‘meaty’ they are. He uses pre-made wonton wrappers, pinching the edges together to make little parcels. He steams them in a non-stick pan with a lid, rather than using a steamer basket. Once the water evaporates, he leaves them to go golden, while he makes some dips. He turns the dumplings out onto a plate; clumped together, they look almost like a tarte tatin. He pops a dumpling in his mouth, grins and the credits roll.
I’d give most of these recipes a go, admittedly one at a time. Sadly, when I make a mess in the kitchen, there are no invisible elves that clear up around me. I’ve got an old aubergine in the fridge which needs using so I might start with the one-pot lasagne!