Monthly Archives: February 2014

Savoury spuds and mango magic at Ethos

stuffed potatoesBaked stuffed potatoes are hard to do badly, but they’re equally hard to do well.

Sure, a baked potato is, well, a baked potato, which is a pretty good beginning right there. Though any filling is usually swimming in butter and cheese or sour cream. But when I wandered in to Ethos for lunch today I saw the cabinet had a stuffed potato that’s different and quite delicious, savoury and not rich ($8). Served with a side of fresh greens, which tasted as though they came straight from the Ethos garden outside the cafe doors. You can even sit in the courtyard at one of the long rustic communal tables, as I like to do, between the raised garden beds and watch the veges (and flowers and shrubs and herbs) grow…

… and linger over the vegan mango and lime cake ($6). Vegan – no egg – definitely delicious mango, not too heavy, a generous serve that’s enough for two, with optional yoghurt on request (I did).

After all those carbs I felt quite virtuous at selecting two crunchy salads for a $7 takeaway dinner box. The carrot and beetroot with pumpkin seeds mix is one I know, but the Asian slaw will be a new one to sample. Ethos salads go light on the dressing, which is a relief; there’s always that additional flavour added to the veges, but the salads leave you feeling clean and summery.

To eat with the salads I bought a freshly baked loaf of gluten-free buckwheat and coconut bread. To my surprise it slices evenly and unlike most whole grains is quite a light bread, only very slightly crumbly but not dry tasting; the taste of buckwheat is pleasantly present and not dominant, and a slice or two with avocado is definitely more-ish. Add some hummus and/or tempeh chips and that’s a tasty meal complete.

Ethos cafe is at East West Organics, Portage Rd, New Lynn


Spices reign at Mumbai Chaat

Indian vegetarian food is in a class of its own. With millions of committed vegetarians who reflect centuries of spiritual heritage, the basis of their  cooking is lacto-vegetarian and vegan. Only soft dairy is used, mainly ghee (a clean-burning high quality version of butter), boiled milk, yoghurt and paneer, a home made cottage cheese.

The underlying charm of Indian vegetarian cooking resides in the selection and cooking methods used for the spices. In the hands of a cook who understands the subtle emphasis that gives such rich variety to their dishes, it can be unmatched for complexity of flavours.

Mumbai Chaat  is among the best. A fresh, companionable family-run cafe in Sandringham village, the menu offers a range of chaat – snacks – as well as quick meals. Their samosa with tamarind chutney is a hearty spiced version of this well-known chaat; we find that one makes a sufficient entree for two diners.

Chef Pratibha Ambani offers a changing array of curries (i.e. savoury vegetables) to choose from for the Regular Thali, which includes one curry, daal, rice and five roti. Matt and I found one Thali and a couple of additional small bowls of curry to be a satisfying meal between us.

Maharaji thaliIn addition to the 5 wafer-thin roti and a bowl of rice, our platter contained 1 bowl of vege korma (veges in a creamy sauce), 1 of stuffed eggplant, 1 chole (chickpeas in gravy), 1 gujerati dhal (a thin sweet-sour sauce), 1 methi mutter malai (peas in fenugreek), and 1 bowl of a sweetly tangy yoghurt & chopped apple raita, all delicious and quite differently spiced to perfection.

Thali prices start at around $13.50, depending on extras.

And we each had a glass of their excellent mango lassi. Perfect.


At Ethos Cafe

My childhood memory of mushrooms on toast involves almost black, iron-rich wild mushrooms picked fresh from farmers’ paddocks, cooked in a little butter. The mushrooms were hearty enough on their own to be a satisfying meal; toast was a delicious addition that mopped up the juices.

Cafe versions of mushrooms on toast are so often disappointing. You’re served pale mushrooms with little flavour, drowned in cream, on white buttered toast that goes soggy as soon as the sauce soaks into the dough.

Ethos organic vegetarian cafe at East West Organics Superstore in New Lynn delivers the closest I’ve come to the real thing. Dark brown mushrooms cooked with care and no cream (vegan), matched with Ethos bakery’s own tangy sourdough rolls that soak up the juices but retain their firm texture and flavour and add just the right degree of substance. Plus a side of butter. All for $18. Very satisfactory.