Recipe for a Vegan Cassoulet with Indian spices inspired by my visit to the Borough Market in London
A trip to Borough Market in London
Alight at the London Bridge tube station and hardly a few 100 steps from the exit is London’s iconic Borough Market. If you call yourself a foodie, this is one place you cannot afford to miss.
On my trip to London in 2018, I kept an entire morning free to feast my senses on the fresh seasonal produce and dishes from nearly every cuisine imaginable. Aromas of dishes wafting all around made my stomach rumble even though I had eaten breakfast.
You’ll find delightful souvenirs for yourself or your foodie family and friends. Some of them being chilli varieties from around the world, truffles from Italy, caramelised nuts, preserves, Turkish delight, fruit powders, small kitchen equipment and chopping boards.
Cooking inspirations are guaranteed to spring at you from every corner. I came across a stall preparing two large vats of seasonal vegan dishes, one of them being a mixed vegetable vegan cassoulet, which turned out to be the inspiration for this recipe.
What is a cassoulet?
A cassoulet is traditionally a slow-cooked, meat heavy stew originating from the South of France. One of the main ingredient in a cassoulet is white beans. This vegan cassoulet recipe omits the sausages and other meaty ingredients. The vegetables and herbs play a strong supporting role in this dish. The recipe gets an Indian touch to it by way of a few spices that lend both colour and more flavour to the dish.
You can use either canned white beans or soaked and cooked dried white beans for this vegan cassoulet. Make your own versions by using herbs and spices of your choice.
The garlicky breadcrumb garnish with the added punch from smoked paprika gives the cassoulet its final flourish. You can avoid this step if you are short of time and garnish with finely chopped herbs instead.
Serve this vegan cassoulet with plain steamed rice or millet, slices of crusty bread or creamy polenta.
White beans Vs Black Eyed Peas
The beans I have used in this recipe are white beans, also sold as Mangalorean beans, haricot beans, navy beans. These are not the same as black eyed peas. White beans are fully white in colour with no black specks. The flavour is much milder and neutral as compared to black eyed peas. Dried beans need to be soaked for 4-5 hours and pressure cooked for 6 minutes. You can also buy canned beans.
More White Beans recipes you might like:
White beans sundal (snack)
White beans, greens and eggs in a skillet (breakfast / brunch)
Beer baked beans crostini (appetiser / snack)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 medium sized onion finely chopped
- 1 medium sized carrot finely chopped
- 1 sprig spring onions with greens finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp red chilli powder or paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans or a 400 g can of haricot beans
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp grated fresh garlic
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Heat oil in a pan. On medium heat, saute the garlic, onion, carrot and spring onions for 5-7 minutes until somewhat softened.
- Add the bay leaves and fry along with the vegetables for a few seconds.
- To this, add the oregano, turmeric, chilli powder, ground cumin and stock cube. Add water to the pan and bring it to a boil.
- Combine the cooked beans with the rest of the ingredients in the pan and on a high flame, allow the stew to come to a boil. Reduce the flame, cover the pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
- Mix in the tomato puree and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add some water to the pan if the stew is getting too dry. Check for seasoning and add some salt if required, factoring in that the cooked beans and the stock cube already have salt in them.
- To prepare the garlicky breadcrumbs, heat the oil in a pan and combine breadcrumbs, garlic and smoked paprika. Saute on medium flame for 5-7 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crisp.
- Remove the cassoulet into a serving bowl and top with crispy breadcrumbs. Serve with rice or polenta.