UAE: 5 vegetarian and vegan recipes for all to try

UAE: 5 vegetarian and vegan recipes for all to try

Lacking inspiration for meat-free dinners? Dig into these recipes from UAE chefs

Mango sticky rice
Mango sticky rice Image Credit: Supplied/Café Isan

There’s very few things that are more 2021 than embracing a vegetarian – or vegan – lifestyle. Numerous health benefits? Check. Better for the environment? Check. Spares the lives of animals? Check.

The twin terms vegan (a diet free of all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and even honey) or vegetarian (a diet free of any animal flesh, including meat, poultry and fish) no longer evoke images of flavourless plates of vegetables and joyless salads – and these recipes of full-of-flavour starters, mains and dessert prove exactly that.

Christopher Kinsley, Head chef at Flow

From Christopher Kinsley, Head chef at Flow (Jumeirah Emirates Towers and Dubai Internet City), for starters we have a vegan, vinegary, farro and heirloom tomato salad and a vegetarian puy lentil salad with zucchini and eggplant (just change up the cheese-yoghurt dressing to make this vegan). For a spicy main, there's the delicious, protein-packed vegan Indian-style turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf.

New Chaklang, head chef and co-owner of Café Isan

Meanwhile, New Chaklang, head chef and co-owner of Café Isan at JLT gives us recipes to a delish vegan Thai basil stir-fry with long beans, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and carrots. For dessert, there's the classic Thai dish mango sticky rice – all vegan because it uses coconut milk.

Dig right in for a guilt-free week.

Farro and heirloom tomato salad

Farro and heirloom tomato salad
Farro and heirloom tomato salad Image Credit: Supplied/Flow

Makes 5 portions


500 gms farro

300 gms heirloom tomato

1 orange

50 gms cucumber

20 gms mint

20 gms basil

20 gms zaatar

50 gms pomegranate seeds

15 gms parsley

For dressing

20 gms Dijon mustard

25 mls balsamic vinegar

15 mls apple cider vinegar

20 gms pomegranate molasses

50 ml olive oil


1. Cook farro in salted water until smooth.

2. Chop heirloom tomatoes into halves.

3. Zest orange and cut into slices.

4. Peel cucumber and dice.

5. Mix with all the other ingredients in a bowl.

6. For the dressing, mix Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses in a bowl and whisk while slowly, adding in olive oil.

Lentil salad

Serves 4

Lentil salad
Lentil salad Image Credit: Suuplied/Flow


500 gms puy lentils

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp curry powder (store bought or mix equal ratios of coriander and cumin powder, with a dash of ginger powder and mustard powder, along with some turmeric powder)

1 tbsp coriander powder

1 medium green zucchini

1 medium yellow zucchini

1 medium eggplant

50 gms cucumber

50 gms pomegranate seeds

10 gms dry oregano

15 gms fresh mint julienne

15 gms fresh parsley julienne

1 lemon

For the dressing

50 gms feta cheese

5 gms crushed cumin

50 ml olive oil

50 gms low fat yoghurt


1. Cook the lentils in salted water for 15 minutes.

2. Once cooked, drain the lentils and add the spices listed, mix well and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

3. Dice both the zucchini and eggplant and sauté on high heat, add the spices, salt, and black pepper and cook well.

4. Remove the vegetables from heat once cooked to cool down.

5. Peel and dice cucumbers.

6. Add the rest of the ingredients except lemon and mix together.

7. For the dressing, add all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk. Slowly pour olive oil while whisking.

8. Add the zest of one lemon to the salad and add dressing on top.

9. Serve immediately!

Turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf

Serves 4

Turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf
Turmeric chickpea and tomato pilaf Image Credit: Supplied/Flow


For the tomato pilaf

500 gms green freekeh

250 gms fresh plum tomato

40 ml olive oil

80 gms chopped red onion

25 gms chopped garlic

3 gms chilli powder

6 gm garam masala (one 2-inch piece of cinnamon, 2 to 3 green cardamom, 2 to 3 cloves, 1/2 tspn black pepper, 1 bay leaf, 1 star anise - slightly dry roasted and powdered fine in a cofee grinder)

3 gms coriander powder

3 gms turmeric powder

4 gms fine salt

2 gms cracked black pepper

For the turmeric chickpea

25 ml olive oil

400 gms cooked chickpea

20 gms turmeric powder

50 gms brown raisins

120 gms fresh plum tomato

20 gms chopped mint

20 gms chopped coriander


Tomato pilaf

1. Wash the fresh freekeh in cold water and rinse.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in the freekeh. Cook for 10 minutes.

3. Once cooked, drain the freekeh and set aside.

4. Add olive oil to a saucepan.

5. Once hot, add the garlic, onions, spices, and salt to the pan and cook until golden brown.

6. Add in the cooked freekeh to the pan.

7. Cook the freekeh for 2 more minutes.

8. Add tomatoes and water and cook until the water evaporates (10-15 minutes on medium heat)

9. Remove from the heat and let it cool down.

Turmeric chickpea

1. In a hot pan, add the olive oil, chickpeas, and turmeric powder.

2. Cook until golden brown then set aside to cool down.

3. In a mixing bowl add in the turmeric chickpeas, raisins, chopped herbs, tomato, and tomato pilaf and mix all together.

4. Serve and enjoy!

Thai basil stir-fry

Serves 2

Thai basil Stir-fry
Thai basil Stir-fry Image Credit: Supplied/Café Isan


Hard tofu (x10 1cm cubes)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 pieces chopped garlic

Chopped chillies (red or green) to your spice requirements

1 piece long green bean

5 gms red onion

5 florets cauliflower

5 florets broccoli

1-inch squares x 5 pieces white cabbage

1 carrot, chopped

10 pieces Thai hot basil leaves

1 tsp sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp vegan oyster sauce (mushroom)

¼ tsp black pepper powder

Jasmine rice, to serve


1. Fry (pan or deep fry) tofu cubes, removing any excess oil. Place in a bowl and leave to cool down slightly.

2. In another pan or preferably wok put the oil and heat to a medium level, add in the garlic and chillies and stir until almost browned.

3. Add the tofu, long green bean, red onion and all remaining vegetables and keep stirring on a medium heat until 80 per cent cooked.

4. Add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, black pepper and a little water (about 2 tbsp) on a high heat and when the vegetables are cooked add in the Thai basil leaves and stir for 5 seconds before removing from the heat.

5. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

Mango sticky rice

Serves 2


200 gms glutinous rice

150 ml coconut milk

2 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

Half a piece sweet Thai mango

½ tsp roasted sesame seeds


1. Wash the glutinous rice and soak in water for at least 5 hours (preferably overnight). Drain and steam.

2. Heat the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a pan until it boils, then add the glutinous rice and keep stirring until your desired thickness (coconut milk has reduced). Place into a serving bowl.

3. Slice the mango and put it alongside or on top of the sticky rice and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds.

Tip: A side sauce can be added and made by mixing coconut milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a pan (keeps in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).

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