Mekhala Living – Organic Vegan Thai Inspired Condiments

Mekhala Living  is a Singapore-based company making vegan and organic food products. Almost all are vegan, except for one which has honey. They pride themselves as an independent company using only natural ingredients from Thailand, working closely with local farmers. They kindly gave me an array of condiments for me to try.

The usual ingredients in them are Himalayan salt, coconut sugar, various spices and herbs plus xanthan gum – nothing of what we shouldn’t put in our bodies.  So far I tried 3 sauces for stir fries and roasting – basil garlic, black pepper, miso lime chilli. This post are stir fry recipes, and next post shall be on the roasted goodies.

Veggie fusilli with black pepper sauce:

The sauce is pretty fiery with a strong kick! Flavours protein rich foods like tempeh very well. So I paired with homegrown Thai basil for a herb fragrance and snow peas for sweetness and crunch.

You’ll need:

One serving of fusilli pasta, slightly undercooked according to packet instructions

3 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp Mekhala Living’s Black Pepper Sauce

A pinch of salt

One handful of fresh Thai basil

One small block of tempeh, sliced

4-5 holland snow peas, each cut in half

Heat the oil in a pan. Place the tempeh, thai basil, black pepper sauce and salt in. Stir fry until tempeh turns brown. Add pasta and snow peas, more oil if needed. Fry until peas turn dark green. Season with more salt/sauce if needed, ready to serve!

Stir fried Nai Bai with basil garlic sauce:

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Basil garlic is great with green leafy vegetables with crunchy or juicy stems. Usually I will chop onions or garlic, but with the sauce time is saved!

You’ll need:

A bunch of nai bai, ends cut off and washed

2 tbsp Mekhala’s Basil Garlic sauce

2 tbsp olive oil

a pinch of sea salt

Place all ingredients in a wok/pan and coat the veggies evenly with sauce and oil. Turn heat to medium, slowly stir and flip until veggies shrink and the stem turns translucent. Season with more salt/sauce if needed, then ready to serve!

Mixed stir fry with miso lime chilli:

This sauce is the most versatile of all – good on its own or with other condiments. It flavours dishes well and harmonises with most foods. Thus, most suitable with dishes with many types of ingredients. This method of cooking works best with all types of hardy veggies instead of leafy ones; add proteins like tofu and legumes to give thickness to the sauce.

You’ll need:

Half and onion, chopped

2 tbsp Mekhala Miso Lime Chilli sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce mixed with ½ cup water

1 tbsp fermented chilli sauce (homemade)

3-4 strings of french beans, cut

2 strips of tofu puffs, cut into squares

1 bamboo shoot, sliced

About half cup cooked chickpeas

I stir fried the onions in oil first, then added the sauces, long beans, chickpeas and simmered them till the beans turn a darker green. Lastly I added the bamboo shoots and tofu puffs, letting them simmer for 30 seconds. Transfer all to a plate, garnish with fresh herbs and ready to serve!

Recipes for the same sauces used for roasting coming up soon. Meanwhile visit their online store or their shop at Pasarbella and check out their amazing range of food products from brown rice to jams.

A peek at vegan food in Beijing

Recently I visited Beijing with the family. Due to the short time we stayed we didn’t venture out in search of veg restaurants, so we braved a couple of non-veg restaurants and asked for vegan food. And it wasn’t a problem at all when we communicated clearly! What we had was delicious, refined and eye-opening. So here are those that I especially loved, do look out for them if you visit Beijing.

Top picture – Steamed cake with raisins. Ovens aren’t used in Chinese cuisine, so cakes are usually steamed to a light, fluffy texture.

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Pickled radish stir fried with vermicelli and chilli. My favourite, not only because I love anything sour and spicy, but this is not overly done on spiciness. Vermicelli is a transparent noodle made from green bean or sweet potato starch, the thinner type are made from rice.

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This may look a little scary but it’s refreshingly cool and chewy – The noodle is made from Kudzu root, used in Chinese medicine to clear excess heat. Tossed in light vinegar, sesame oil and garnished with chilli and chives.

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Chinese toon sprouts tossed with smoked tofu strips. The sprouts resembles the taste of onions, but has an uplifting quality and doesn’t cloud your breathe.

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Deep fried yam rolls – the ends are dipped in white sesame which makes the first and last bite most interesting.

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These look like pears but are not! The ‘stalk’ is a strip of dried sweet potato.

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Surprise, surprise – it’s fresh red bean paste wrapped in sticky rice dough and deep fried.

Traditionally Chinese food does not use dairy, so those without animal ingredients are usually vegan. Just beware of hidden ingredients like lard, gravy and meat stocks. Three points for those wanting to travel there:

  •  Go to a restaurant that is clean, not some roadside stall or eatery. Not only it lessens your chances of an upset stomach, restaurants have well – trained staff too. We went to a place that specializes in roast duck because there weren’t any other places to eat, but still had our fill. The waitress looked puzzled to why we would not order any duck, but asked no questions.
  •  Communicate clearly – because some people classify shrimps or chicken stock as vegetarian. Best is to write a list and show it to them – no animal fat, meat stock, milk, eggs, seafood.
  •  Most restaurants provide wet tissue, you can use it to clean your utensils. And many use disposable chopsticks – so no worries about using anything with a faint fishy smell.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Moist muffins with spiced apple cubes inside. 2 step process – pickle the apples overnight then make the muffin base. Makes 12.

Preparing the apples:

2 granny smith apples (the green apples), peeled and cut into small cubes

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp non-dairy milk

1 cup brown sugar

a pinch of sea salt

1 tbsp cinnamon powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 5-8 hours.

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Muffin base:

2/3 cup grapeseed oil

1 cup non-dairy milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp sea salt

½ tbsp cinnamon powder

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp baking powder

2 and a half cups flour

Preheat oven to 175 C. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda and powder, sugar, cinnamon powder) in a large bowl, make a hole in the middle of the mix and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients (oil, plant milk, vanilla) in another bowl. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mix and stir in one direction. Combine well to a brown batter.

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Add the apple mixture and mix well (in the same stirring direction).

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Spoon into muffin tins or cupcake paper. Take note to fill them at about two-thirds only. Bake at 175 C for 15-20 minutes, or till a toothpick comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the muffin. Transfer on a cooling rack and serve when completely cooled.

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Oatmeal, coconut and peppermint choco bites

Just 4 ingredients + NO FOOD PROCESSOR NEEDED! For the health-loving sweet tooth/snack lover. It’s a little hard to find vegan chocolate chips here so I chopped up some vegan peppermint dark chocolate. Makes about 12.

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You’ll need:

1 cup oatmeal

7-10 pitted medjool dates (soak if too dry)

¼ cup vegan peppermint chocolate chips

½ cup shredded coconut

Add everything to a large mixing bowl. Mash with a fork till you get a nice firm “dough” which sticks together when pressed. Roll into bite-sized balls and dip in shredded coconut.

Ready to eat immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours for a firmer texture. Simple!

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