Barbecuing is a mindful way to cook
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Veggies and vegans are in for a treat, writes Prudence Wade.
When Rukmini Iyer moved back in with her parents during the first lockdown of 2020, she accidentally found herself with the most honest recipe testers she could have hoped for.
“My mum doesn’t really hold back on constructive criticism,” the food writer and cook admits. “I think her words are, ‘If I don’t tell you, then who will?’”
But that honesty came in useful, with Iyer saying it was “really helpful to get her feedback” – particularly as she used the time to write her latest cookbook dedicated to veggie and vegan barbecue recipes.
Iyer fell in love with the therapeutic elements of barbecuing. “It was probably just being outside a lot,” she confesses. “I wrote the book during the first lockdown – I was in my parents’ garden and I didn’t want to spend any time indoors, because it felt strange to be in that lockdown situation.
“I was even doing all the prep outside. I was taking a chopping board, all my veg, a couple of little bowls, doing all the prep outside and sitting and waiting for the barbecue to light. It was maximising being in open space.”
She also found it a “more mindful way to cook”, while still sharing sharing some similarities with her smash hit Roasting Tin series of books which all focus on easy, one pan meals you bung in the oven. “With this one, it’s similar in you just have to chop some things, put them on the barbecue, take them off and put a nice dressing on,” she says.
“But you’ve got that added element I think is interesting, where you have to be quite watchful. You learn to understand how your barbecue is working. You think about when it’s hot, when it’s not. You’re standing in front of it and it’s a visual and very tactile way to cook – I like that added element that you’re very close to the cooking process.”
Iyer’s book offers an alternative to the meat fiestas we’re used to, and she hopes it will encourage barbecue novices to give green dishes a go. “What’s the worst that could happen?” asks Iyer.
The Green Barbecue: Vegan & Vegetarian Recipes To Cook Outdoors & In by Rukmini Iyer is available now.