You need to unleash the mad scientist in you, and look at an ingredient in terms of how it “behaves” when tampered with, and not what it's called or what you are used to seeing it as. You want to mimic the smell, taste, and texture of your favourite dish, and when you find the winning combination of your plant-based ingredients to do just that, the end result is often better than the original! Let me clarify further. Think milk. What does it do? It thickens, it whitens, and it “kormanizes” (just go with it). Since each plant milk is of a different taste and consistency, you may want to learn a little about each one to enjoy them at their best. For instance, rice milk has a thin consistency and is great in tea and coffee. But if you make rice pudding with it, then you are basically cooking rice in rice, and I will not be held responsible for the result! Personally, I would pick the creamiest, thickest milk such a coconut/soy/oat milk to make my desserts and the same to thicken my kormas and curries. But when I am making a spreadable cheese, sour cream, or alfredo sauce, then it's got to be cashews. Cashews, when blended or pureed, have no pulp, welcome other flavours and ingredients like a friendly host, and spread on bread like a dream! Give this a try.
RECIPE FOR CASHEW CREAM CHEESE
1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for 6 to 8 hours)
⅓ tsp salt
Pour out the water from the cashews and place them in a blender. Make this into a smooth paste adding a little water. Now leave this to ferment in a glass container for 8–24 hours depending on the room temperature, until it begins to smell sour. Add salt. Mix well and serve. Refrigerate to store.
This can keep for 10 days or more. It is ideal for making cheesy sauces, dips and spreads or can even just be directly spread on bread.
It can even be used on baked dishes and will brown slightly when baked.
Note- The fermentation time differs based on the room temperature and the climate of the place where you are. Please keep an eye on the cheese after 8 hrs. It should be placed in the refrigerator after it begins to smell sour. Mix in herbs of your choice and serve over bread or crackers! Serves 4–6.
Now you must be wondering why go through all this trouble? Why not just stick to dairy milk like a “normal” person? After all, you are not killing the animal to extract her milk and everyone knows that when we don't drink gallons of dairy milk every day, we catch the brittle bone disease, shrivel up and die. NOT TRUE!
Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do—to nourish their young—but calves on dairy farms are taken away from their mothers when they are just 1 day old. They are fed milk replacers so that their mothers' milk can be sold to humans. Female cows are artificially inseminated shortly after their first birthdays. After giving birth, they lactate for 10 months and are then inseminated again, continuing the cycle. Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floors; others are confined to massive, crowded lots, where they are forced to live amid their own feces. Cows have a natural lifespan of about 20 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years. However, the stress caused by the conditions on factory farms leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time that they're 4 or 5 years old, at which time they are sent to be slaughtered. Normally, these animals would produce only enough milk to meet the needs of their calves, but genetic manipulation—and, in many cases, antibiotics and hormones— are used to cause each cow to produce massive amounts of milk each year.
THE VEAL CONNECTION
If we consume milk, we're subsidising the veal industry, which has recently become “fashionable” in Dhaka. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are often taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 1 day old to be chained in tiny stalls for three to 18 weeks and raised for veal.
HUMAN BODIES FIGHT COW'S MILK
Cow's milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infants and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. Most people begin to produce less lactase, the enzyme that helps with the digestion of milk, when they are as young as 2 years old. This reduction can lead to lactose intolerance, which can cause bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes, and even trigger asthma.
CALCIUM AND PROTEIN MYTHS
Although American women consume tremendous amounts of calcium, their rates of osteoporosis are among the highest in the world. Conversely, Chinese people consume half as much calcium (most of it from plant sources) and have a very low incidence of the bone disease. Some thirty-three medical studies indicate that rather than preventing the disease, milk may actually increase women's risk of getting osteoporosis. A Harvard Nurses' Study of more than 77,000 women aged 34 to 59 found that those who consumed two or more glasses of milk per day had higher risks of broken hips and arms than those who drank one glass or less per day. T. Colin Campbell, professor of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, said, “The association between the intake of animal protein and fracture rates appears to be as strong as that between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.”
Milk, like eggs, meat and all other animal products, contains no essential nutrients that can't be got from plants. In fact, in some cases, plant based products contain higher amount and quality of nutrients minus all the antibiotic and hormones that come with dairy milk. So next time you see that famous “got milk?” billboard again, whisper to yourself “yep, got plant based milk!”