About Me & FAQs

Email contact veggiebelly@gmail.com

Who are you?
I’m a software services entrepreneur by day and a hobby cook and food blogger by night. I am from India. I live  in Virginia, not far from Washington DC moved to Portland, OR recently.

Why are you vegetarian?
I was raised a vegetarian and have been vegetarian most my life. I love it and will never change it. But you won’t see me preaching vegetarianism. I respect peoples’ eating choices. I have a husband who eats meat and I have no problem with it.

What influences your cooking?
So many things. Growing up in southern India with fiery, bold flavors has certainly influenced my cooking.
I have been to over 36 countries in 6 continents. I’ve lived in 3 countries. Along the way I’ve picked up new ingredients and new methods of cooking.

What are some of the most memorable vegetarian foods/meals you’ve eaten in your travels?
Everywhere I’ve been, confused waiters have stared at me for requesting food without meat. Still, I manage to find fabulous vegetarian food everywhere I go.
Here is a highly incomplete list of some incredible vegetarian foods I’ve had around the world:

  • Tempeh satays skewered on lemon grass stalks in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • Delicious spinach and cheese stuffed gozlemes on the streets of Istanbul, Turkey.
  • An incredible, rustic vegetable tagine made by our camel man in a tent in the Moroccan Sahara desert. Amazingly, this was the only time during my trip in Morocco that I was specifically offered a vegetarian meal – right in the middle of the Sahara desert!
  • Stuffed giant zucchini flowers in Mexico were an amazing experience.
  • The most outstanding Congolese spinach dish, and crisp- on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside Xhosa bread in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Buddhist vegetarian food made with imitation meats in Singapore was an unforgettable experience. I’ve also had one hell of an ingenious ‘monkey head’ curry made out of mushroom and jackfruit in Singapore.
  • Helados (ice cream) in the most mouth watering flavors all over Argentina. The wine in Mendoza, Argentina was also amazing.
  • In Reykjavik, I ate Skyr everyday – a thick, creamy flavored yogurt made from a culture the Vikings brought to Iceland.
  • The best Srilankan string hoppers from a hole-in-the-wall place in Toronto, Canada.
  • Chocolate crepes wrapped in newspaper in Nice, France. We snacked on them one balmy night, while strolling along cobbled streets, watching street performers.
  • The $75 salad in Oslo, Norway wasn’t the best tasting, but was certainly unforgettable – its most I’ve ever paid for a bunch of leaves on a plate.
  • Latvia introduced me to the pinkest think I’ve ever eaten – Latvian cold soup with beets, yogurt and boiled egg.
  • The 14 vegetarian Thai dishes I learned to make at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Every one of them was exquisite.
  • A spicy, meaty jackfruit curry and rotis in Fiji.
  • Warm tapioca and banana pudding in Cambodia.
  • Wedding food on banana leaves in Chettinad, South India, where most my ancestors come from.

In your opinion what are the top countries for vegetarian travel?
1. India
2. UK
3. Singapore
4. Israel
5. USA

What are your favorite foods?
I enjoy Asian cuisine. I like bold, assertive flavors. And ofcourse, the good south Indian that I am, I can’t live without yogurt rice.  I love Popcorn, olives, cheese, anything green especially kale, mustard greens and spinach and anything spicy – I add sriracha to everything.  Did I mention olives? I’m obsessed with them. Cerignola and halkidi are my favorite olives.  If I had a cat I’d name it olive. If I had a dog I’d name it olive. If I had a baby I’d name it olive. Ok..maybe not the baby..but you get the idea.

Your least favorite things?
I’m not the biggest fan of ripe mangoes. Yes, I’ve been told i’m weird! But just because I dont love them, doesn’t mean I deprive my readers of a perfectly good mango recipe :)

What ingredients do you always have on hand in your kitchen?
Olive oil, greek yogurt, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, white wine, garlic, fresh herbs, good quality curry powder, basmati rice, frozen spinach, tomato paste, vanilla extract, a big collection of hot sauces, canned beans, and balsamic vinegar.

What vegetarian ingredients can I use to mimic meat flavors?
Parmesan rind gives soups and stocks a great deep flavor, much like chicken stock. Vegetable bouillon cubes are great in rice and pasta. Save the soaking liquid after rehydrating dried mushrooms like porcini or morels and add them to stocks. I also use mushroom soy sauce, vegan worchestershire sauce, liquid smoke, and kombu.

Favorite kitchen equipment?
I love my Kitchenaid stand mixer. I cant live without my microplane grater, citrus reamer, cast iron grill pan, mortar and pestle, coffee grinder for spices, and my blender.

What camera and photography equipment do you use?
I use a Canon rebel XTi 5D Mark II and also a Canon 7D. I usually use a 50mm 1.8 lens for food and 24-70 2.8 for travel. Rarely, I also use lowel ego lights when there isn’t enough natural light. And a tripod.

Copyright Information & Privacy Policy
All writing, recipes and photos in this blog, unless noted otherwise, are original creations of mine and are copyrighted. All rights reserved. If you’d like to use my material, recipes or photos from this blog, please ask me first.

View privacy policy.

You can email me at veggiebelly@gmail.com

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Veggie Belly

{ 2 trackbacks }

Mushroom Tikka Masala | A Curry of a Life
August 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm
Mushroom Tikka Masala | Mushroom Tikka Masala Recipe | Easy Asian Recipes at RasaMalaysia.com
March 30, 2013 at 9:19 am

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

1 geetika July 22, 2009 at 6:26 pm

hello, i just happen to bump in ur blog and then eventually in ur website and photos..
you are toooo good.. i am amazed to see ur presentation, explaination and picturization.. everything.. every photo of urs looks like a master piece.. u are soo creative..

keep up the good work.

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2 nithya at hungrydesi July 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

love your list of most memorable travel foods!

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3 sheba September 7, 2009 at 1:14 am

Hey u have a really lovely space..and super pics too…

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4 shubha September 28, 2009 at 12:14 am

oh, you have an amazing blog and am darn sure u r a great cook.One look at ur recipes and anyone cud easily say that. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, I cud bump into urs.

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5 nags October 3, 2009 at 11:39 pm

i am quite besotted with your writing, your pictures and your list of good vegetarian stuff you’ve eaten around the world. The mushrooms you’ve mentioned are very popular here in SG but the husband and I are yet to go. We keep planning and postponing!

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6 Sofia November 9, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Love your website! Also–Northern VA, eh? I’m a Fairfax girl–Chantilly, if you know it!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

@Sofia, yeah! I dont live far from you!

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7 Rajika November 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Hi Sala,

What a fantastic website you have! I am really impressed . You are a real gourmet cook.
Keep it up! It was great meeting up with you the other day.

Hope to see you soon.

Love,

Rajika

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8 Su-yin November 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I think you’ve got a really interesting list of memorable vegetarian food. I agree that Malaysians/Singaporeans have great ways of coming up with imitation meats from things like tofu – I can barely tell the difference sometimes, and it’s amazing how they come up with such variety.

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9 Ritu March 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Please ignore my comment on your website about the camera. Now I know what you are using. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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10 Audacious May 4, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Hi! I just found your site by way of epicute.com. they put your lemonade up and it looks mighty tasty. I’m not very vegetarian, but all your recipes looks very good! I especially thing the pea and mint soup looks tasty, I can’t wait to make it when my peas are ready!
-audacious

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11 Lori May 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

Hi!

After reading this section I feel so connected to the way you think about food, although I am much more of a food eater than a food maker. I have cut meat out of my diet for the most part, although I do occasionally eat it when I’m out for dinner.

Basically, I just never cook with it and I ‘m so happy that your blog is beautiful and delicious without meat.

Keep up all the great recipes!!!

Lori
http://cooktravelwritelearn.blogspot.com

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12 Sanjeeta kk June 16, 2010 at 8:06 am

Great pictures and good recipes.

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13 Fieran June 20, 2010 at 2:17 am

Living in Oslo, I totally understand the $75 dollar salad :)

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14 SC July 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I just discovered your website a couple of days ago…to say the least…I am amazed at your talent. All your recipes look so wonderful and ofcourse the pictures are breathtaking. You are really inspiring. Thanks for that.

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15 Jim September 13, 2010 at 4:35 pm

As a vegetarian of 42 years and a collector of vegetarian cookbooks, I have to tell you that yours are the most appetizing food images I’ve ever seen. I applaud the beauty of your presentations, and the appealing inventiveness of your culinary creations. Brilliant!

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16 Erin October 6, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Hi Sala! It was great to meet you last night. Thanks for sharing your blog with me! Good luck and good vibes.

Erin

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17 Savitha Ramesh October 20, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Hi sala,
I am a beginner to blog and cooking. I just heard from my frnd abt ur blog…….
I am totally mesmerized, by the way u cook, ur photos……… wow..
fantstic… immediately i added u in my list….
Lot to learn from ur blog……….
Keep it up………

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18 Visalakshi Palaniappan November 20, 2010 at 5:25 am

I did’nt realise until today ( I happen to visit your website only today ) that you are such a gourment cook. Your website and the photography are excellent. I tried your tofu grilled and peas and mint soup. They came out very well, thank you. All the best!

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19 Janani December 3, 2010 at 8:56 am

Hi! I’m an Indian living in Tamil Nadu. I’m a vegetarian . I love cooking even though I haven’t cooked anything other than a hot boil of Maggi. I’ve been surfing the internet for a good vegetarian website and I’m happy that I found your blog. Its fabulous and I love the pictures. They’re mouth watering!! :) Thank you for your awesome recipes!
Have a good day!
Janani

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20 Lily Drew December 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Hi Sala,

I just have to say that I stumbled upon your website and have been most grateful ever since! Your recipes are easy to follow and absolutely delicious. As a newly converted vegetarian, I have been looking for easy and tasty dishes and luckily found your fantastic site. Thanks for sharing!

All the best,

Lily

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21 Dipty January 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Hi Sala,
I stumbled across your blog and I am glad that I did. You are one amazing woman. Your recipes are simple to follow and photos of them are really good. Keep up he good work

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22 Dipen January 17, 2011 at 10:16 am

Hmm…no ripe mangoes.. What about ripe bananas? White, mushy and stinky! just kidding :)
Your blog is awesome. Great combinations, very imaginative. My wife and I love your recipes.
Thanks!

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23 Lindsey February 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

A blog exquisette and filled with veggies?! What more could I want, so glad to find you! I am a lifelong vegetarian, far less traveled, and Indian food is our very favorite. Valentine’s Day? Aditi. 2 Year Wedding Anniversary? Rasika. Also a northern Virginia food blogger enjoying my passion after work is over!

Fantastic blog!

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24 Priya Mahadevan February 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm

This is a wonderful idea – I may just have to use this for my intro – How wonderful to know in a nutshell who you are and your experiences – Gives a good insight to your as a person.

First time on your site – Wonderful and I will find you on Facebook cheers, priya

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25 Nancy Coffin March 5, 2011 at 5:01 am

Interesting recipes and nice photographs, very creative :-)

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26 Julie March 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm

LOL, I just left a note on the Cambodia page about a south Indian restaurant in Siem Reap and then came here to see that you are from southern India! If you ever go back to SR and eat there I’d love to know what you think of it! Thanks for a really nice blog!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Lol! I did see a few Indian places in SR, but passed them up becase I wanted to eat local food :)

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27 Julie March 12, 2011 at 8:04 am

Yes. After a month of wonderful Khmer food we went in for a break – and b/c the Khmer food we had in SR wasn’t all that great. Loving your blog! Can’t wait to make some stuff!

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28 Filiz Tugal March 15, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Hi Sala ,
I found your web page from Stumble too. I liked very much your recipes and food photos :) Thanks for sharing . Please keep posting , these are wonderful..
I am Turkish and am happy that you like our Spinach Gözleme :) )
Thank you so much …

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29 justbeenme March 28, 2011 at 11:52 am

36 countries cum’on..wow have world at ur feets!!!
my-my here is another super talented gal from india!wow!!
U have a great blog with great pic n presentation!I like ur style of writing.

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30 Rajani@eatwritethink April 6, 2011 at 6:11 am

hi just found you… love your site, great recipes… everything :)

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31 Gopika April 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Woww.. I reached veggiebelly in pursuit of some camera techniques! And its like entering a room full of chocolates for me! :) Awesome blog and awesome recipes. I am a budding cook and will certainly follow your blog from now on :) Do keep posting such awesome recipes..

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32 Chandana May 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Just discovered your blog ..amazing .. you are very talented .. thank you for sharing all this information!

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33 Vulu @vulusRecipe.com July 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Hey, You have got an amazing piece of recipe/food blog here. I just love the way you presented all, it’s so details. Specially I liked lots of picture, it helps to understand the whole recipe very well.

You are so creative. Keep up the good work. Wishing you all the best.

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34 Chuck Bluestein August 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Hi! I saw you on Twitter. I like the way that you mention both vegan and vegetarian. Above is my Twitter website where my name is. Although there is a wheel next to it going in circles so here it is here. http://twitter.com/#!/whizkid7 It has on it 11 amazing vegan recipes collected as being the best of the best.

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35 Suma Subramaniam September 4, 2011 at 1:54 am

Hi

I came across your recipe forThai Red Curry Fried rice and it looks absolutely delicious. Thanks for sharing. You have a lovely lovely blog!

Best,
Suma.

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36 Samira September 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Hey,
I came across your website a few minutes ago on someone’s Facebook and as a writer by profession, let me just say your recipes sound as enjoyable as the words you put down. I loved your conversational style and your sense of humor. The photographs of both yours and your parents’ house look lovely. As a student, I am still awaiting my own little culinary cave.

I love cooking, am vegetarian and am from South India too so I greatly appreciate all the authentic and modified recipes you’ve chosen to share. Will keep reading, so keep posting:-)

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37 vineeta September 28, 2011 at 12:01 am

i saw ur page while browsing chefinyou….must say ur very creative…..n one little common thing between us is even i dnt like ripe mangoes…..heheheh…..gud work…..n keep it up….

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38 harshika October 16, 2011 at 4:57 am

Love your blog! Came here via saffronandsilk of Kamini’s. And am in love. I have never seen such a detailed ‘about’ section on a food blog at least. Perfect. I dont have a food blog but really do enjoy cooking. It is a great stress buster. I am also a purist. I read once on another very popular food blog of Mallika Basu http://www.quickindiancooking.com that indian food should not be cooked in olive oil. While I am all up for experimenting in the kitchen, this one I have to agree to. What do you think of that? Yes yes I know you have a thing for olives, lol. No but seriously, I also happen to agree that indian cuisine is quite an art, very precise one at that, be it from any corner of India and olive oil has no place in our desi pantries. peanut, mustard, coconut , sunflower and ofcourse our fav desi ghee is the de rigeur. I have ofcourse used olive oil in a phase of health conciousness, but realised something didnt quite sit right, errr, in the mouth! I tried meat and veggies both- didn’t do it for me I’m afraid! What are your views then?
Nevertheless, I am so enjoying going through your archives…will be sure to try as many recipes here as I can and send you feedback too!
good job here…
cheers
harshika
dubai

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

I dont use olive oil for indian cooking, vegetable or canola oil is best! But on the rare occassion that I only have olive oil on hand, i might use it in Indian food but its not my first preference :)

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39 Madhu Babu November 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

About the ganache topping for the beet cake… Thanks for the amazingly quick and even more amazingly great tip!! I might try my springform pan which would make life easier, you think? Otherwise it would be a scoop n serve cake..

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40 Lakshmi December 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Very interesting, unique profile. 36 countries on 6 continents??!! Wow…

It is a coincidence that I should find your blog just a couple of days ago and you happen to be from Portland, too:). Portland is a great city for vegetarians and vegans.

Keep up the good work!

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41 gargi February 12, 2012 at 7:49 pm

When are you coming to NYC?! Please hold a cooking class and I guarantee it will be sold out. I just came upon your blog last few days and already have bookmarked ove 30 recipes to try! Thanks for making vegetarian cooking easy and fun~

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42 Shelly May 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Gorgeous blog. Do you have any recipes for using persimmons? I picked up some frozen whole Hachiya persimmons at Trader Joe’s but I’m not quite sure what to do with them… Thank you!

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43 Soumya May 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Hi,

My search for a club sandwich with chutney led me here and I eventually forgot what I was looking for ! You have created a wonderful space. What I find most admirable is the openness in each of your writings, the spirit of sharing what you know and what you are. I am a new fan.

- Soumya

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44 Vickie July 28, 2012 at 1:43 am

I love your blog and will be following!
PS I hope you are composting ?

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45 Diane Lee August 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Hi Sala, I’m trying find delicious ways to make more veggies in order to make my husband eat more vegetables. I am so excited about cooking your recipes in my California kitchen!

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46 Lou S August 29, 2012 at 9:08 am

Hi,
Love your blog and recipes! It would be even better if you were on Bloglovin’, which is where I mostly like to follow and keep up to date with the blogs I read.
Thanks!
Lou

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47 Vaishnavi/aonecentlife December 17, 2012 at 12:25 am

Hello

Loved your write up here and I am a part of the dislike-mango club! My family wonders if I was wool gathering when God passed out this particular thing :)

Loving your recipes…hope to see more n more!

Thanks
Vaishnavi

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48 Laura January 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

Just stumbled on your blog while looking for a new biryani recipe. I can’t wait to try some of the other recipes you’ve listed here!! (Such as your kale and white bean patties… yum!) – and quick question, but have you tried making them with phyllo instead of puff pastry?

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49 deedee January 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Hi! I chanced upon your website when I’m searching for some recipes. Definitely will bookmark this and share on my blogroll too! My husband and his family eat meat too while I don’t. =)

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50 Krithika March 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hi Sala,

Do you have the recipe for madurai jigarthanda?

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51 Deepali Jain April 6, 2013 at 2:31 am

Hi Sala,

You have a great blog here..

I was looking for details on DMBLGiT for the month of April. Can you please direct me to where the details are as I can’t seem to find them.

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

I am not hosting this month, please look for the announcement about who is hosting on spittnonextra

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52 sadiya May 3, 2013 at 5:53 am

I would like to do an alliance with you. request you to please share your email id with me.

Thanks
Sadiya

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53 Alychef August 20, 2013 at 12:40 am

This site is amazing, superb lay out, exciting and dynamic links, colourful…..I just wonder how a vegetarian recipe could include Parmesan rind to give a meaty flavour, when Parmesan isn’t vegetarian either? Hmmm….I await response with baited breath!

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54 Marilyn December 1, 2013 at 5:08 am

Cheese is vegetarion, not vegan?

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