Classic Vegetarian Cookery: Over 250 Recipes from Around the World

Classic Vegetarian Cookery: Over 250 Recipes from Around the World

by Arto der Haroutunian


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By the internationally acclaimed author Arto der Haroutunian, Classic Vegetarian Cookery has been unavailable for almost 20 years. Now reissued in a new hardback edition, it offers over 250 recipes from all around the world. This book is about vegetables: the known, the little known and the few still largely unknown. It is vegetarian because vegetables are at their best when treated as they are without the addition of meat, fish or poultry.

What is collected here is a rich, wholesome repertoire of fascinating recipes reflecting man’s tireless drive to create food that flatters his palate, fills his stomach and satisfies his bodily needs. Southeast Asia and the Far East vegetarian diets have been used for centuries by those whose philosophy and religion (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Zen-Buddhism and their offshoots) sanction the right of animals to live, seeing their killing as sinful and indeed some say the best vegetable dishes of India, China and Japan are still found in Buddhist monasteries.

Today, in the West, it is not so much religion but rather a wish to nurture their health which has prompted a great many people to eat more and more vegetables. There is a very definite trend towards eating less meat and other fatty foods. People are reducing their meat consumption in a simple but valid pursuit of better health and a more equitable ecological balance. Doctors have carried out numerous studies on this subject and have arrived at a simple conclusion – vegetarians in general appear to be healthier than non-vegetarians; their bodies are leaner, their blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels lower.

Economy, too, plays a major role in this transformation. It is becoming more and more expensive to live on a meat diet. The author says ‘I believe we have no choice but to eat more vegetables in the future. I do not think we will all become vegetarians but I am sure we will consume more vegetables, fruits and nuts, many of which are still unknown to us and as yet unavailable in our corner shops. What is already there, however, is a magnificent array of all the goodness of Nature brought ‘at great expense and with a great deal of trouble from all corners of the world for us to indulge in, in the pursuit of our earthly pleasures.’

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781908117014
Publisher: Grub Street
Publication date: 07/02/2012
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Arto der Haroutunian died in 1987 at the untimely age of 47. He is survived by his wife and son who still live in Manchester. As well as his passion for cooking, he was a painter of international reputation who exhibited all over the world. His other interests included composing music and translating Turkish, Arab, Persian and Armenian authors. He was a true polymath.

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'A big man can carrye a heavy load, a good soup can carrye a dinner.'

English saying

Soup, from the French soupe, meaning a broth or a bouillon made with various vegetables and/or meat and often incorporating pulses, grains and fruits, is today subdivided into two main categories — clear soup and thick soup. Clear soup is a consommé with diverse garnishes, while a thick soup is either puréed or thickened with cream, yogurt, roux or some other liaising element such as rice, bread or eggs.

For thousands of years soup was, and in certain societies still is, the basic food of the people. The North African harira soups or the Caucasian abour or chorbas, ranging from very light yogurt or fruit-based soups to the many substantial ones which are eaten as entire meals, are very typical of those of Central Europe, Africa and the American continents.

Man's first breakthrough in evolving a culinary tradition may have commenced with the technology of grilling the flesh of animals he so ruthlessly hunted, but the art of cooking was undoubtedly born when he threw chunks of meat, vegetables and herbs into a large container, covered them with water and created the first broth or stew.

Few people in Britain and North America make their own soup any more, preferring the '57' and more varieties commercially available; the more's the pity, for a 'good cook is soon perceived by her ability in preparing broth'. In Europe and the rest of the world soups are still prepared at home and still form part of the basic diet.

There is nothing as nourishing and appetising as a large bowl of home-made soup, whether served at the start of a meal, as is the custom in Europe, throughout the course of a meal, as in China, or often at the end of the meal, as in certain Middle Eastern lands.

A basic component of soups is the stock, which is usually prepared with a meat (often bones), chicken or fish base. Obviously for vegetarians — in the strictest sense of the word — the most difficult thing is to arrive at an acceptable stock. To achieve this one must cook the vegetables slowly in order to extract all the mineral salts. If you then wish to thicken the soup use a roux, which is a mixture of butter and flour cooked together (see Glossary).

For a vegetable stock use the recipe in the Glossary. With certain soups I have suggested using water, with others ingredients such as yogurt, milk, cream, coconut milk or miso — the choice is yours.


There are three important points to consider when making a soup — flavour, texture and colour.

Flavour is usually subdivided into two categories — 'warm' or 'cool'. The first applies to soups where spices are generously used. The second to those that include fruit juices, yogurt or cream and fresh herbs.

Texture has come to play a more important role than in the past as thick, rich soups, such as those from Africa, the Middle East and Central Europe, have given way to the French-inspired consommés.

Colour of course is of supreme importance. The elegant light green of a watercress soup patterned with a few streaks of milk-white yogurt, or the rich, ruby red of aUkrainian borsch, the green of a thick pea soup or the light blue-green of an avocado soup sprinkled with paprika or cumin will enhance the dining table and make the contents of the tureen more appetising.

asparagus soup

Asparagus was loved by the ancient Egyptians and the Romans, and was highly prized by the khalifs of Baghdad of the '1001 Nights' fame. It makes an excellent soup and there are several variations. The recipe below is an Anglo-French standard.

* * *

450 g (1 lb) fresh asparagus
600 ml (1 pint) water
50 g (2 oz) butter
50 g (2 oz) flour
600 ml (1 pint) milk
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) black pepper
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) nutmeg


30 ml (2 tablespoons) finely chopped parsley or chervil

1 Wash the asparagus, cut off the tips and reserve. Cut the stalks into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces, place in a saucepan, cover with the water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the stalks with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the reserved tips to the water, cover then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, reserving both the tips and the cooking water.

2 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the flour and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Mix the milk and cooking liquid together and make up to 1.1 litres (2 pints) with water if necessary.

Gradually mix this into the roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes, still stirring all the time.

3 Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the reserved asparagus tips and simmer for a further 2–3 minutes. Serve garnished with the parsley or chervil.

VARIATION: The famed POTAGE CRÈME D'ASPERGES D'ARGENTEUIL makes use of the best-known French asparagus variety — Argenteuil. This soup is related to the one above, but is much thicker and richer, incorporating both cream and béchamel sauce. Use the tips of 450 g (1 lb) white asparagus, blanched. Simmer them in 50 g (2 oz) melted butter, covered, for 10–15 minutes. Add 1.1 litres (2 pints) béchamel sauce (see Glossary) and simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Either pass the mixture through a sieve, rubbing through as much asparagus as possible, or process in a blender until smooth. Return to the pan and dilute to the thickness you require with milk. Season with 7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt and 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper and bring gently back to the boil. Just before serving stir in 450 ml (¾ pint) cream.

Serve garnished with freshly chopped parsley or chervil and with croutons, fried lightly in butter or vegetable oil.

lo sun — chuk matong

asparagus and bamboo shoot soup

A popular soup from the Hopeh and Shantung regions of northeast China. It is typical of the numerous vegetable-based soups that are simple and delicately flavoured.

There are many varieties of bamboo shoots (chuk sun), each with its own characteristic flavour and sweetness. Fresh shoots are lightly sweet in taste with a crunchy texture. Originally a north Chinese vegetable popular in the cuisines of Shanghai, Peking and Nanking, bamboo shoots now appear in Cantonese-owned restaurants — although not, I understand, on Cantonese dining tables. You can buy both canned and dried bamboo shoots from Chinese food shops.

* * *

45 ml (3 tablespoons) oil
4–5 spring onions, thinly sliced
450 g (1 lb) asparagus, tough root ends discarded, cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
225 g (8 oz) canned bamboo shoots, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes
2.3 litres (4 pints) vegetable stock (see Glossary)
30 ml (2 tablespoons) soy sauce
7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) ground ginger
30 ml (2 tablespoons) dry sherry
5 ml (1 teaspoon) sesame oil

1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the spring onions and asparagus and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add the cubed bamboo shoots and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, soy sauce, salt, pepper and ginger and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 1¼–1½ hours.

2 Remove from the heat, stir in the sherry and sesame oil and serve.

azokod abour

aubergine and chickpea soup

Aubergine, the 'Queen of vegetables' as one Persian poet of the twelfth century penned, is the vegetable of Middle Eastern cuisines.

It is particularly at its best in Armenian-Turkish cookery, from where this recipe originates.

Traditionally sour (unripe) grapes were used. If you have a vine in your garden use the unripe grapes, but if not, I suggest an excellent alternative, sumac, which is the berry of a small shrub that grows wild in northern Iran, the Caucasus and Turkey. The berry, reddish in colour, is powdered and then used in soups and stews.

It has a sharp lemony flavour and can be bought in many Greek and Middle Eastern shops.

* * *

45 ml (3 tablespoons) oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450 g (1 lb) aubergines, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) cubes
50 g (2 oz) chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water,
drained, cooked in boiling water until tender and drained
50 g (2 oz) whole lentils, washed
1.7 litres (3 pints) water or vegetable stock (see Glossary)
4 large tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped juice of 1 large lemon
10 ml (2 teaspoons) sumac powder or
30 ml (2 more tablespoons) lemon juice
7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt
10 ml (2 teaspoons) dried mint

1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the garlic and fry for 1 minute. Add the aubergine cubes and fry, turning frequently for 2–3 minutes. Add the drained chickpeas and lentils to the pan with the water or stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

2 Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and sumac and simmer for a further 45 minutes or until the lentils and chickpeas are really tender. If necessary, add a little more water or stock to maintain about 1.4–1.7 litres (2½–3 pints) of liquid.

3 Stir in the salt and mint, simmer for a few more minutes and serve.

sopa de aguacate

avocado soup

Avocado is a remarkable fruit-vegetable, one of Nature's many gifts that arrived in the Old World from the New — to be more precise from South America. Avocado was known in Britain as far back as the seventeenth century, but it was only a few decades ago that it appeared on a regular basis in our high street greengrocers. Since then it has become standard fare, not only in restaurants and hotels all over Britain and Europe but, more importantly, in our homes.

Avocados make a fine soup. This one is of South American origin, though I hasten to add that there are many excellent avocado soups in North American and Israeli cuisines — all of recent vintage. Serve it cold.

* * *

2 ripe avocados, peeled and stoned
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) black pepper
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) allspice
15 ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
900 ml (1½ pints) milk

2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or chives

1 Chop the avocado flesh and place in a blender with the garlic, salt, pepper, allspice and lemon juice and blend to a thick pulp. If necessary add a little of the milk to help it blend smoothly. Turn into a large bowl and stir in the milk.

2 Chill for at least 1 hour and then serve garnished with the mint or chives.

bean soups

'Hunger makes raw beans into almonds'

German proverb

A quick glance at your local supermarket shelves will convince you of three facts. First, that we have come a long way from the day when Esau sold his inheritance for a bowl of lentil soup — since there was nothing else available — second, that many beans from the Leguminosae family crossed the Atlantic after the conquest of the New World and, third, that there are now so many beans available, both fresh and dried, that one is momentarily at a loss to know what to do with them.

The solution is simple. Study the cuisines of the Mediterranean coastline (north and south), the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. They have, more than any others, mastered the art of bean cookery.

Your supermarket shelves are filled to the brim with broad beans, butter beans, haricot beans, flageolet beans, runner beans, french beans, black beans, black-eyed beans, kidney beans, Adzuki (Japanese) beans, chickpeas, different coloured lentils, mung beans, Egyptian brown beans (ful), pinto beans, soya beans and many others — all full of colour, texture and, above all, goodness.

Next to cereals, beans are the most important of human foods. The protein content of some varieties is higher than that of any other vegetable and can be substituted for animal protein in human nutrition.

For further information on beans see the Glossary.

sopa de frigoles negros

black bean soup

The first bean soup I have chosen is from the Caribbean — from the island of Cuba, famed for her middle-aged revolutionaries, sugar-cane plantations and dark-haired maidens between whose ivory thighs it is rumoured that the flavoursome Havana cigars are rolled. The soup is full of flavour too.

* * *

30 ml (2 tablespoons) oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stick with its leaves, chopped
225 g (8 oz) dried black beans, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
2.3 litres (4 pints) water or vegetable stock (see Glossary)
10 ml (2 tablespoons) salt
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) black pepper
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) cayenne pepper juice of 1 large lemon
45 ml (3 tablespoons) dry sherry

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry, stirring frequently, for 3–4 minutes. Add the beans and water or stock and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 1½ hours or until the beans are tender.

2 With a slotted spoon, remove about half of the beans and place in a blender. Add a little of the cooking liquid and process to a smooth purée. Return this to the whole beans in the saucepan, season with the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring constantly.

3 Stir in the lemon juice and sherry and serve garnished with the chopped eggs.

VARIATION: In Mexico 125 g (4 oz) tomato purée is stirred into the soup with the lemon juice and then it is garnished with grated cheese.


greek bean soup

'One may chatter long before the soup boils'

German saying

This is the national soup of Greece and is also popular throughout Turkey, Kurdistan and Armenia. It is simple and wholesome. The greatest honour a host can confer is to offer his guests a bowl of hot fasoulada with crusty Greek bread and some olives, sliced celery, radishes and cucumber. When preparing this soup do use good-quality olive oil — it will enhance the taste.

* * *

120 ml (8 tablespoons) olive oil
1 leek, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
225 g (8 oz) haricot beans, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
1.7 litres (3 pints) water
25 ml (1 heaped tablespoon) tomato purée
7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) paprika
30 ml (2 tablespoons) finely chopped parsley


Lemon wedges

1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the leek, carrots, onion, celery and garlic and fry for 3–4 minutes. Stir in the beans, water and tomato purée and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender.

2 Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges, as many people like to stir a little lemon juice into the soup.

kong na-mool kook

bean sprout soup

A classic from Korea. This is the vegetarian version. Koreans in general love to include small quantities of meat in their soup whether needed or not.

* * *

30 ml (2 tablespoons) oil
6 spring onions, thinly sliced. Slice green tops and set aside
1 celery stick, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) black pepper
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) sugar
15 ml (1 level tablespoon) prepared sesame seeds (see Glossary)
120 ml (8 tablespoons) soy sauce
450 g (1 lb) fresh bean sprouts
2.3 litres (4 pints) water

1 Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the spring onions, celery and garlic and fry until soft. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, prepared sesame seeds and half the soy sauce and fry for 3–4 minutes. Add the bean sprouts and fry for a further 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently.

2 Stir in the remaining soy sauce and the water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 8–10 minutes or until the bean sprouts are tender.

3 Stir in the chopped green spring onion tops and simmer for 5 more minutes.

vartabedi abour

lentil soup

A classic Armenian soup which is also popular in southern Turkey and parts of Syria. The name derives from the story of a young priest who was poor and had little time so he devised this nourishing but simple soup to keep his body alive — his soul, no doubt, was in safe hands.

Use any kind of whole lentils. They come in varying colours of grey, green, yellow and reddish-brown. Lentils have been known and cultivated in the Middle East for centuries, while India is the world's largest producer of this most nutritional pulse.

* * *

175 g (6 oz) whole lentils, rinsed
2.8 litres (5 pints) water
50 g (2 oz) long grain rice, washed thoroughly under cold running water and drained
125 g (4 oz) macaroni or spaghetti, broken into
2.5 cm (1 inch) pieces
50 ml (2 fl oz) oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
7.5 ml (1½ teaspoons) salt
1.25 ml (¼ teaspoon) black pepper
2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) cumin


2.5–5 ml (½ — 1 teaspoon) chilli powder lemon juice

1 Place the lentils and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rice and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Finally, add the macaroni or spaghetti and simmer for another 8–10 minutes or until all the ingredients are tender.


Excerpted from "Classic Vegetarian Cookery"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Arto der Haroutunian.
Excerpted by permission of Grub Street.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

appetisers and dips,
cooked vegetables,
stuffed vegetables,
casseroles and stews,
pies, savouries and accompaniments,
nut and pulse-based dishes,
dressings, sauces and stocks,
pickles, chutneys and sambals,

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