Dinner at Rumi, Brunswick East

After today’s lunch, I was quite determined to have a green juice for dinner but we had a last minute change of plans and the chance to enjoy good company so we headed off to Rumi in Brunswick East.  I’ve never been there before but my sister recommended the vegan options.

The staff that served us were incredibly helpful and went through all the vegan options.  I chose the fried (I know, I know) potatoes with lemon, garlic and sumac.  These were nice and crunchy on the outside and enough for a few people to share, if you have other dishes.  The idea at Rumi is that food is shared, rather than a big meal all to yourself.  I also went for the eggplant dish (not listed on the website’s menu) with mint and red onion and a yoghurt sauce– the vegan option was a tahini sauce in place of the yoghurt. A plain pita bread was rolled up and served alongside:

Rumi dinner

These were very tasty and certainly best enjoyed with company where everyone shares what’s on offer.  I asked about vegan desserts and the options were the Persian floss, Turkish Delight (made with cornflour not gelatine) and pistachio halva.  However as these were not made by Rumi, they could not guarantee they were definitely vegan.  The in-house options that could be veganised were dates with (I think) labneh, or poached peaches without the dairy component, but essentially you’d end up with just dates or the peaches.  So those two options didn’t really appeal to me, even though I appreciate that Rumi were happy to make these vegan.

Rumi is located at 116 Lygon Street in East Brunswick.  As I said, staff were great and I left there feeling quite happy that more people seem to get the whole vegan thing. 

* A note on how I felt, given I’ve been mostly raw all week: I did feel the effect of eating the oil in the eggplant and potatoes.  I haven’t been eating much oil this week, just the odd teensy bit of coconut oil in smoothies here and there, when taking nuts/fats in to consideration.  I really feel an urge to go completely green-juice this week!

Al Nada All Vegan Lebanese Sweets, Coburg

Today I met up with my buddy T, also referred to as She Who Turned Veganopoulous Vegan, for a gym session.  Gym sessions are really good when your training partner says something like “did you know about the new Lebanese vegan sweets place on Sydney Road?”

Yes folks, ALL VEGAN LEBANESE SWEETS.  Oh my goodness.  Now, these Lebanese sweets are very similar to Greek sweets.  Think baklava and other nuts-and-filo delights.  As the Greek sweets all (mostly) have honey or butter between the sheets of filo pastry, it’s a no no for me.  So imagine my delight (and T’s delight) when we saw THIS:

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ALL VEGANS WELCOME!  Adorable!

Equally adorable is the delightful Mimmo.  She was telling us all about converting the sweets to vegan recipes and her interest in veganism and helping animals.  Unfortunately she has lost some of her regular customers since changing the recipes (boo to those people I say) but she has absolutely won me over.  And she has won new vegan customers too.

I really do encourage my Melbourne readers to head to Al Nada and talk to Mimmo.  Seriously peeps, THIS is the kind of business that should be supported.  Mimmo has changed family recipes and gone against some cultural expectations by taking the business in the vegan direction.  As a person who grew up with cultural expectations heaped upon me, I certainly appreciate what Mimmo has done here. So please check out the shop  🙂  Everything baked on the premises is vegan, though the sweets (more biscuity things) brought in from outside are not vegan.  There is vegan Lebanese shortbread though!

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Al Nada Sweets is located at 160 Sydney Road in Coburg.  There are some tables and chairs inside.  And huge trays of sweets  🙂  Go go go!

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Lunch at Zaatar

I must begin by saying Zaatar is not a vegetarian/vegan establishment.  However their ‘pizza’ bases are vegan (I again received confirmation when I visited today) and I’d like to share my selections with youse all.

I love the plain zaatar, cooked fresh for you and costs $1.00:

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When I go there to eat, I get a zaatar base topped with olive, capsicum, onion and tomato.  I think this cost about $3.00:

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I often buy the spinach pide (no photo as I didn’t get this today) and it’s delicious.

Now some of you may be wagging a finger at me saying now Vegan Opoulous, aren’t you supposed to be avoiding gluten?  HMMM?  And to that I say yea verily you may scold in fairness, but I am going to get tested for glutenny problems and apparently I have to not avoid gluten.  And if I absolutely MUST eat gluten, it’s coming in the form of Zaatar’s zaatars.  Mmmkay?  Because they’re just so yum.

Zaatar gets quite busy during lunch hours but I’ve always been able to find a table.  It’s a great option for a budget friendly meal.  I went there today with non-vegan Husband so there’s something for everyone.  There are dips and salad as well as vegetarian pastries and sweets.  Zaatar is a family establishment and I always see lots of families with young children enjoying their meals.

Zaatar is located on the corner of Sydney Road and Munro St,  Coburg (so the northern part of Sydney Road as you head towards Bell Street).  They are open 7 days a week from 7am to 8pm.

“I’ll be back!”

Carrot Semolina Halva from Vegan Eats World

It seems all I am doing these days is trying out new recipes.  I have quite a few functions on this month where I have to take  food so I’ve been trying stuff out.

My latest experiment was the Carrot Semolina Halva from Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Eats World.  I’ve had many variations of halva in my time, as different cultures have their own versions.  My grandmother made hers with lots of oil and semolina that spits in the pot and you have to be careful not to take your eye out with spattering oil.  Here’s a photo I found online, my grandmother used to pour hers in to a pie dish and turn it out, so the pieces were about 1cm high:

 My mum makes another version which turns out almost like a blancmange, again using lots of oil.  Here’s a picture I found which looks like the one my mum makes except mum adds chopped walnuts:

And then there’s the grey halva  you buy in Middle Eastern and Greek delis, which is basically tahini with a ton of sweetener (and it’s delicious and often vegan, check to see if it contains honey as some brands do).  Some have nuts mixed in, or chocolate:

I find all halva a bit too sweet so when I tried this recipe I cut the sugar way down.  Bad photo time.  The wall behind the books looks grotty, I know, but I swear it’s not grime or anything gross!  I haven’t bothered touching it up as we’re going to rip it all out next year:

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It tasted pretty good (I’m a fan of cardamom), but the consistency wasn’t right, probably because I changed the recipe to suit my tastes 🙂  When it set I couldn’t cut it in to individual pieces as it was a bit too soft for that but this would be great served in individual bowls.  This is a recipe I would make again, cutting the sugar again by a lot and serving it in smaller bowls.

Thumbs up to Terry though, this is a really good recipe!