Oxford Student Sasha Gill brings us vegan cooking made easy | University of Oxford
Chana fries photo from 'Jackfruit and Blue Ginger' recipe book by Oxford student Sasha Gill
Chana fries photo from 'Jackfruit and Blue Ginger' recipe book by Oxford student Sasha Gill

Oxford Student Sasha Gill brings us vegan cooking made easy

Lincoln College student, Sasha Gill, is a professional photographer, cook, and writer – who also happens to be studying Medicine at Oxford.

Sasha’s first book ‘Jackfruit and Blue Ginger’ (Murdoch Books, 2019) is a recipe book about some of our favourite Asian foods, made vegan.

Sasha, who is half Indian and half Eurasian, was attracted to vegetarianism as a teenager for health reasons, and has gradually cut all animal products from her diet for environmental reasons.

As part of the True Planet campaign, we’ve shared one of Sasha’s favourite vegan recipes below. 

Chana masala fries

The secret to getting a restaurant-like result lies in the chana masala spice blend, which can be found online or in Asian supermarkets. However, if you can’t get it, simply use more garam masala. Do also keep an eye out for mango powder (amchoor), as it imparts a distinctive tartness, making all the difference to the taste.

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 potatoes, about 600 g in total
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • juice of ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Chana masala

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida, optional
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2.5 cm slice ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 x 400 g tins chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 teaspoons chana masala spice blend (or garam masala)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon mango powder or 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • juice of ½  lemon
  • chopped coriander (cilantro) and pickled red onion, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 200°C, and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Cut the potatoes into thin wedges and let them soak in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towel. Place the wedges on the baking tray and sprinkle over the garam masala, oil, lime juice and salt. Toss well to coat, then cook in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the wedges halfway.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds and asafoetida until the cumin is aromatic and the asafoetida loses its pungency. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Continue to fry until the onion is soft and translucent, and you can smell the sizzling garlic. Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are softened and saucy, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, garam masala and chana masala spice blend, and stir well. Cook for another 5 minutes to thicken it slightly – it’s ready when it is more gravy-like and no longer watery. Stir in the sugar, salt, green mango powder and lemon juice. Serve the chana masala on top of the spiced potato wedges, with coriander and some pickled red onion. 

*This has chilli powder in it, so add less of it if you don’t like spicy food, using more garam masala instead.