The Darina Allen Column

VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

This month Darina responds to the growing interest in veganism

Recently, I’ve had requests for vegan recipes as the interest in a vegan life style gathers momentum. The increase in numbers continues to confound the sceptics. There are a variety of reasons why people decide to embrace a vegan diet. For many, it’s a combination of concern for the environmental impact of many of our food producing systems and animal welfare issues.

So what exactly is the definition of a vegan, some would say it’s an extreme form of vegetarianism. The Vegan Society define veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude as far as possible and practicable all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.

Most vegans will also avoid the use of all personal household products tested on animals and avoid buying all animal derived products such has leather, fur and wool.

So strict vegans will not only avoid fish and meat but also butter, honey, eggs and even some wines which may be cleared with egg white. Some cheese contains casein which is not acceptable to vegans. So creating a balanced diet can be deeply challenging and I personally have a concern about ‘dairy delights’, faux franks’, ‘mock meats’ and many of the substitutes.

Vegans need to have a real understanding of nutrition to ensure a balanced diet and to avoid deficiencies such as B12 which is only found naturally in animal products. Many new cookbooks are hitting the shelves – Aine Carli, from Derry in Northern Ireland for example, whose cookbooks, The New Vegan and Keep it Vegan published by Kyle Books are favourites of many.

Another book, Vegan Recipes from the Middle East, is written by Parvin Razavi and published by Grub Street, who have a whole range of vegan cookbooks, . Parvin’s book is full of really appealing recipes from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey and, as a dedicated carnivore friend once remarked about the food at Café Paradiso in Cork – “you wouldn’t miss the meat”. It was of course meant as a compliment, although it could sound a bit offensive to vegans.

Parvin Razavi is a new name on the culinary scene but certainly one to watch. She was born in Iran and spent her early years by the Caspian Sea and in Teheran before her parents moved to Europe. Many of the Middle Eastern recipes she’s created and shared are super simple and can actually be prepared in less than half an hour. Parvin also has a blog, Thx4cooking, that’s worth checking out.


Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Parvin Razavi’s Caramelised Fennel with Fennel Seeds and Barberries

Parvin Razavi’s Caramelised Fennel with Fennel Seeds and Barberries

Preparation time: 20 minutes

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 bulbs of fennel, cut lengthways in ½ cm thick slices
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon barberries
1 tablespoon fresh mint
Pomegranate seeds to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Put the fennel in the hot oil, sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper and fennel seeds and fry until golden brown.

Serve the fennel on a plate and grate lemon zest on top.

Serve garnished with barberries, pomegranate seeds and mint.


Parvin Razavi’s White Bean Hummus

Preparation Time:15 minutes

400 g tin white beans
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch of paprika
1 pinch of ras el hanout (North African spice mix)
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons water

Strain the beans and pureé all the ingredients together in a blender.

Season well to taste.


Parvin Razavi’s Tabouleh with Pomegranate Seeds and Apple

Preparation time: 15 minutes

1-2 tart eating apples, diced
2 spring onions, sliced into rings
1 pomegranate seeds removed from the fruit
1 teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons roast pine nuts
50 g mint, chopped
50 g parsley, chopped
1½ level teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and season with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Steep for 30 minutes and then enjoy. 


 '30 Years at Ballymaloe' - Bord Gáis Avonmore Cookbook of the Year 2013

Good Food Ireland Cookery School of the Year 2012/2013


Ballymaloe Cookery SchoolOnce again, the Ballymaloe Cookery School in East Cork has a great programme of cookery courses for all interests and abilities running throughout 2017. Ranging from a relaxing visit to sit in on an afternoon cookery demonstration to a week long ‘Intensive Introductory Course’.

Sitting in the middle of a 100 acre organic farm the Ballymaloe Cookery School provides its students not only with a life skill learnt under the expert tutelage of their very capable teachers but also a place to relax and unwind from the stresses and strains of normal everyday life. The cottage accommodation available onsite for residential courses consists of a collection of delightful converted outbuildings which have been transformed over the years by the Allens, and other accommodation is available locally for the short courses.


There are currently no comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment
Not a member? Register for your free membership now!
Or leave a comment by logging in with: