Jamie’s Meat Free Meals: Review of Episode Three

Image result for sri bangla sahib gurudwara

This episode features a bean burger. I am rather cynical when it comes to bean burgers. They are something I eat at other people’s barbecues, something I keep in the freezer for when I am too tired to cook, something a bit meh, not special or a treat. A burger is laden with fat and calories, a treat, terrible for the planet, served with carbs and accompanied by a side of more deep-fried carbs. (They’ve found a way of adding even more calories by using brioche buns, which is what Marie Antoinette suggested the masses eat). The burger is an American symbol of excess, somehow associated (by men) with manliness. A bean burger isn’t any of the above. If you were to equate it with men, the bean burger would probably be Jeremy Corbyn.

There are two burgers which got my seal of approval and I still think about them… One was from Gourmet Burger Kitchen in 2009. The ‘burger’ was a huge slab of bread-crumbed goat’s cheese. There were slices of roasted red pepper and aubergine, avocado, red onion marmalade and the usual trimmings of lettuce and tomato. It was too big to feasibly eat in the manner of a burger. The other memorable vegetarian burger I ate was on the Cowley Road in Oxford at a ridiculous hipster restaurant that I assumed must be some ironic piece of performance art, a pastiche of itself. The burger patty was made of macaroni cheese, bread-crumbed and fried. Laden with calories, fat, and carbs, an American import of excess. Was it a symbol of manliness? Perhaps in a roundabout way… Macaroni cheese is oft viewed as food for children and men who fixate on red meat usually have rather childlike attitudes to vegetables.

But who am I to argue with the country’s favourite chef who is also the nation’s best selling non-fiction author. I think he’s created this recipe to look like a beef burger. He uses a range of pricey wild mushrooms but I’m not sure I’d bother making it. The man however does do trimmings very well. Lovely fresh salsa with Mexican flavours, especially given the glut of tomatoes we have in the garden. He adds lime, chipotle, coriander and mango, which is a surprise addition but I bet it works really well. He reiterates how full of flavour it is. Yes, I’d imagine it is given everything in there…

Jamie then pops to Jerusalem to see some Arabic speaking ladies making fattoush as part of their catering company. We see sumac, pomegranate molasses, pickled turnips, more pomegranates and chili dipped lemons. He goes to the market in Tel Aviv, full of piles of spices, olives, fresh fruit and veg. A lady with enormous glasses makes him a tahini, cauliflower and tomato salad which he tucks into with gusto. I find myself thinking of the cauliflower craze we went through. Ottolenghi introduced Channel 4 viewers to Middle Eastern cuisine, the broadsheets switched us on to Honey&Co and Palomar and Berber&Q started selling a hugely popular shawarma cauliflower head, adorned with tahini and pomegranate. But of course it became a bit weird and bastardized, ending with Tesco encouraging us to make ‘cauliflower steaks’ and M&S selling plastic-wrapped slices of cauliflower for £2.50. Sigh.

I am a bit disappointed with the next oddly tahini-free segment. He makes a griddled corn salad with popcorn croutons and a blue cheese dressing. Too American, thank you. I feel tempted to switch off the television and instead leaf through my copy of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.

It’s back to India after this for Jamie and he visits the Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, the largest Sikh temple in Delhi which feeds 10 million people a year. We see what I assume is shabad kirtan with not one but two harmoniums, along with an enormous golden sringhasana and a man fanning a chamara or yak tail fan. Jamie puts a turban on and heads into the kitchen, where he sings and stirs with the men volunteering in the kitchen and chapatis are turned out at lightening speed. This is vegetarian food as I know it but on a much bigger scale. I thought we had big pots in the temple… It’s all very familiar, lines of people sitting on the floor and eating from metal plates with separate compartments.

Jamie enthuses about the inclusive, generous hospitality he’s seen in the gurudwara (oddly he doesn’t eat anything) and sets about making a tomato curry. I’m slightly puzzled that he uses south Indian flavours – curry leaves, coconut and fenugreek – after visiting northern India. He uses those expensive multicolored tomatoes again, blanching and skinning them. I’m not quite sure about the saffron or mango chutney that he adds either. It does look good, especially the combination of tomato and coconut but it needs some dal and a stodgy subji, maybe potatoes – it’s not quite a full meal. The rice also seems to have cooked itself again…

The main feeling I’m left with after watching this is nostalgia for the food I grew up eating at the temple, but what’s new there? It’s a bit late to make chapatis now but I might find a Sikh gurudwara to visit, where all visitors are fed.

The image above was taken from: https://www.goibibo.com/destinations/delhi/places-to-visit-in-delhi/gurudwara-bangla-sahib-2138720373146144951/