Home Food Founder of Vistro, Harsha Sethi shares two vegan recipes!

Founder of Vistro, Harsha Sethi shares two vegan recipes!

by Shaan Bajaj

A culinary ode to Punjabi women.

By Shaan Bajaj

A Singaporean Punjabi, born and raised between Dubai, Hong Kong and Bangkok, Harsha Sethi credits her upbringing and cultural background with her exposure to a variety of people, cultures and flavours. These experiences in turn cultivated a passion to become a plant-based chef: “I’m not a traditional chef who has been to culinary school but my strengths lie in being creative when it comes to conceptualising new recipes. I view myself as a plant-based artist,” she reveals.

After going vegan with her husband and business partner Navin Sethi, Harsha started experimenting with vegan recipes. Encouraged by Navin, the couple soon opened Bangkok’s beloved and award-winning vegan restaurant, Vistro. “I was nowhere near as passionate about cooking until I met my husband. He is a big food critic and helps refine each item before it goes on the menu,” Harsha says. Before Vistro, they travelled to popular vegan cities like Berlin, Copenhagen and Melbourne to sample different cuisines, bringing their knowledge back to Bangkok and starting their first venture, Mylk & Cheeze, where they sold vegan donuts, vegan cheese, raw desserts, and other vegan food, utilising the space as a lab for Vistro.

“As a Punjabi, food is a big part of social gatherings, from regular meet-ups, celebrations and prayers. Food bonds people together,” Harsha tells me. She adds, “growing up we made sure to eat our meals together. The women in my family and community were all amazing cooks, and I spent a lot of my time in the kitchen. My grandmother used to say, ‘energy transfers through cooking, so pay attention to where you eat.’ That’s why my mum’s food was the best because it was cooked with love.” This message was carried into the conceptualisation of Vistro, i.e. a vegan bistro, with the intention of bringing gourmet flavours from around the globe to like-minded people. Winning Root the Future’s ‘Best Vegan Restaurant’ award in 2021 and 2022 is a testament to Vistro’s success and Harsha is incredibly grateful for having an excellent team who have helped her achieve this.

As for advice for members of the Thai Indian community who would like to pursue a career as a chef or restauranteur? “You have to be really passionate and hands on in a restaurant, especially within the first two years. It is hard work, late nights, less socialising and you spend a lot of time fine-tuning supplies, costing and training kitchen staff. It’s a lot of work every single day, and you need to have the drive and truly be passionate about it to pursue this career.”

MANGO GOCHUJANG SALAD

Prep time: 30 Minutes

Cook time: 5 Minutes

Serving: 2

INGREDIENTS

For the salad

  • ½ tbsp gochujang sauce
  • ½ tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp gochujang flakes,
  • reserve 1 tsp to sprinkle on top
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • 8 oz. curly kale
  • 2 cups raw mango
  • 2 tbsps chopped spring onions
  • 1 ½ tbsp soya sauce or Tamari for a gluten-free option
  • 2 tbsps coconut palm sugar(melted optional)
  • 2 tbsps roasted peanuts, reserve 1 tsp to sprinkle on top
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the Guacamole:

  • 1 avocado
  • ¼cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tsps lime juice
  • 2 tsps cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8tsp sea salt
  • ½ tomato, chopped

For toppings:

  • vegan mayonnaise or cashew cream(recipe for cashew cream in Spiced Mushroom Shawarma Tacos recipe)
  • sesame seeds
  • roasted beetroot, diced (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix the gochujang sauce, barbecue sauce, sesame oil, Dijon mustard, soya sauce, melted coconut palm sugar, sea salt, pepper, roasted peanuts, and gochujang flakes in a bowl. If you like more spice, add 1/2 tsp more gochujang flakes
  2. In another bowl, tear the curly kale into small pieces, and use your fingers to ‘massage’ them with olive oil
  3. Add the celery, peanuts, kale, and raw mango to the sauce, and toss them together
  4. Slice an avocado in half and remove the pit with a knife
  5. To make the guacamole, scoop out the flesh oft he avocado into a bowl, mash it with a fork, and add lime juice
  6. Chop the tomatoes and red onion, and mix them into the avocado, adding salt and cilantro at the end
  7. Place the tossed salad in a bowl then top with as much guacamole and mayonnaise as you want. Add the roasted peanuts, sesame, roasted beetroot and gochujang flakes on top to finish.

Watch the video below!

SPICED MUSHROOM SHAWARMA TACOS

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 25 minutes

Serving 3-4

INGREDIENTS

For Taco filling:

  • 6 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 6-8 tortillas
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 Butterhead lettuce
  • sriracha sauce to taste

For Shawarma Spice Marinade

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp maple or sweetener
  • 1 ½ tbsp fresh lemon juice

For Tzatziki

  • ½ cup cashews, boiled or soaked overnight
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cucumber, grated
  • 2 tsp mint, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
  2. Mix all the spice marinade ingredients in a bowl
  3. Line a baking dish with parchment or baking paper
  4. Mix the portobello mushrooms and sliced onions with the marinade, tossing evenly so that the mixture is evenly spread out
  5. Place the portobello mushrooms and onions in the baking tray, keeping the onions on the bottom of the dish and not on top of the mushrooms. Alternatively, pour the seasoning over the portobello mushrooms and onions in the baking tray, and toss the mixture in the tray.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes or until brown, changing the direction of the pan in the middle time
  7. While the portobello is baking, prepare the tzatziki sauce: put the cashews, sunflower oil, lemon juice, salt and apple cider vinegar in a blender and blend together
  8. Grate the cucumber and squeeze it in a kitchen cloth to remove excess water
  9. Stir the cucumber, mint and chopped dill into the cashew ‘yogurt’
  10. Once the mushrooms are done, slice them thinly11.Heat a non-stick pan over a medium flame and add some vegan butter, place the tortilla on the pan for 30 seconds then flip it on the other side.
  11. Assemble the tacos: First layer the tortilla with butterhead lettuce, then add about 1 tbsp of the tzatiki or more, add the roasted onions, and roasted mushrooms, then the cherry tomatoes, sriracha and dill to garnish.

Watch the video below!

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