Forget hummus … Get Dokukinetta

Dokukinetta might actually be better than hummus, or at least for those with under-stocked cupboards and 13hour work days, living in a vegan unfriendly environment.

In the land of buckwheat, chickpeas come few and far between, as does tahini paste, and time, so I made my own, with ingredients universally stocked by our beloved little produktis (corner shops).

Dokukinetta has no chickpeas, hardly any olive oil, no tahini paste and no lemon juice, and can be made in exactly 5 minutes. Attention : strong flavours


1 medium can kidney beans (400g net weight)

1 small can black olives (approx 200 net weight)

2 cloves garlic

dash of olive oil


Chop garlic

Rinse beans

Put garlic, beans and olives in food processor (or grab your hand blender or potato  masher)

Add dash of olive oil

Mash, crush, blend and bash into submission or at least until the mixture achieves a paste-like texture.

Attention : strong flavours guaranteed


Dill : 1 handful dill

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Some silken tofu for extra creaminess


Dokukina Daikon

Daikon is a recent discovery of mine. A nice Indian waiter in our local Himalayas (restaurant) laughed at me when I asked him what it was. I was intrigued by the menu’s claims to improved digestion. I ate the salad, enjoyed it and decided I wanted more – not even waiting to see how it would treat my darling digestive tract. The next day, I bought a daikon the size of my forearm.

The same night, struck by a severe bout of sleeplessness, I headed to my local 24h produkti (shop) at 5am to rustle up some potato cakes for breakfast. They had another intriguing vegetable; the size of a tennis ball and bright green. I decided that even abnormal green radishes needed love, so I adopted it. Turns out, it was a green turnip. Same difference.

I am not a recipe expert, I don’t believe in planning, nor weighing, nor precision – in general. This is what happens when you unleash a beast in a Soviet kitchen.

Jumping the culinary fences and surviving the fall …



1/2 daikon (large)

1/2 medium onion

1 medium green turnip

1 slice lemon

1 cm fresh ginger

1 lime leaf

1/2 dried red chili pepper (large)

How to?

Using a food processor or a hand grater, shred the daikon, onion, turnip and ginger.

Squeeze juice of lemon slice over above ingredients.

Crush fresh lime leaf between palms, add to mix.

Chop or crush chili pepper between palms, add to mix.

Mix everything together properly (leaving the lime leaf whole).

Let sit in fridge for minimum 30 min, the longer the better (the flavours fuse better).

Dokukina Daikon

Voila, one spicy fresh salad your body will thank you for.

D-Day + 5 : Surviving Meatless Moscow

48 days later …

Or so. I lost count. Dates are not my strong point.

March 18th, 2O13

I became a vegan for orthodox Lent (the only time of the year you can get vegan food everywhere in Moscow), mainly inspired by the long grey and unrelenting winter, lack of sunlight and lack of an inspiration. Deadlines inspire me.

May 5th, 2013

I met my deadline. No meat for the whole of orthodox Lent. A whole 48 days. Or so. And I am still alive. So naturally on Easter Sunday, a.k.a. May 5th, I and many other locals headed to the shop.

Shoppers gradually filled their trolleys with cottage cheese, eggs, beer, vodka, milk, potatoes, yoghurt, and some more cottage cheese…. and sausages.

I, on the other hand, did not.

And I felt nothing. Not even a twinge. I never craved the meat I “gave up”. I  was not flummoxed by a dairy desire. I may have inadvertently slipped up once or twice. Anyone who tells you they didn’t is lying. The truth of the matter is that I feel great.

So there you have it. 48 days later and I have decided to prolong my experiment.


Day 37 : Odessa, land of good foods and great moods

Life  sleepily emerges from its annual winter hiatus.

“APRIL GETAWAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaY ”

For indeed, it is that time again. The April Getaway, a moment to FORGET all those weatherly woes and INDULGE away from work, life and friends.

What can I buy for 8,500 rubles?

A flight to  Odessa, Ukraine’s capital of the Black Sea. A 250 year old maritime town built over the remains of Greek seaports and approximately 2500 km of sandstone catacombs. As no one really cares about the exact details of landing times, bowel movements and who I shared my armrest with, I’ll get straight to the juicy point, after thanking my great friend Gina for bearing the brunt of my obsolete grumpiness and infusing our travels with her bounding enthusiasm!



Land, pay toO much for a taxi, touch down in hostel, head out for food. Drink wine. Get weak at the knees from the excess of oxygen. Nap at hostel. Return out for food.


Vareniki – the Ukrainian boiled dumpling stuffed with potato and mushrooms, vegan-friendly handmade deliciousness . For the meat-eaters, try Pelmeni, same thing, but with meat.

Midnight horseback ride in dresses  – ever so inappropriate – but oh-so-much fun.

Kagor – the Moldovan wine. A full-on  blast of sweet red dessert wine which  marries itself to perfection with sunny skies and a warm sea breezes.

Prices – a glass of wine is worth approximately 2 euro, two plates of pelmeni and two homemade smoked fruit drinks for 8.50euros (the price of Starbucks coffee in Moscow)


Everything was awesome.


Breakfast glory by yours truly.

Catacomb capers brought us out of town and deep into the underground.

Seashore cycling led us along the Black Sea, all the way out to the tacky seashore resort of Arkadia.

Stuffed cabbage, Borsch and Pampushii for dinner

Georgian wine – semi-sweet, again. When in Rome, eat pizza, when in the Slavic South, drink semi-sweet red wine.


Food, flight and Domodedovo fury.


Kasha with dates and homemade jam. Kasha is porridge. In order to survive life, you should eat kasha once a day according to Slavic tradition. This can come as rolled oats, oatmeal, semolina, buchwheat, rice or anything else you can boil with a healthy pinch of salt and top with jam or fruit or berries or even eat with bread and butter.

Heading to Odessa, head for …

Hostel :  TIU Front Page – central, clean, friendly, helpful, books taxis and tours.

Catacomb tour: contact Egor for some stony shananigans or go through TIU Hostel

Bikes: 3 days for 20euros here or 4euros per hour at “Passage”, on the corner of Deribasovskaya Ulitsa (near the cathedral)

Day 32: A suitable replacement for meat and milk





Today I learned a few subtle nuances we may all do well to integrate into any thoughts we care to proffer to someone seeking the meaning of life … 

Mainly, the difference between to “not like” one’s job and to “hate” one’s job.

1- Most people DO NOT LIKE their job, but it’s survivable and the misspent time leaves a very vague sensation of getting older, but not knowing where the time has gone

2- Any job which makes leaves one with a sense of stupidity and/or inadequacy or other -y words, can be equated to HATE and should be considered as far more serious than the normal NOT LIKing complaints.

As I am currently hovering between 1 and 2 with no distinguishable winner just yet, I have decided to replace milk and meat by cigarettes – vegan of course – and with just the right balance of chemicals and smoke.



Just add wine.

Day 30: I bet you can’t go vegan – VOTE

Day 30: 1 month on, what next?

Yes, I am alive…

My work has been sapping my creative juices.

Add 10.30 hours of work spent in front of a screen, millions of words read per day, a couple hundred written too, hours of footage screened-cut-and aired. And voila – one freshly-pressed wordpress writer fresh out of words.

Still vegan though …


I very truthfully feel good. I am not the victim of cravings. Somehow the odour of meat gets stronger – and less appealing – the longer you live without it. I do not miss milk. I have absolutely no urge for any processed foods.

I enjoy opening my cupboard and seeing a wide array of nuts, cereals, oils,  flours and spices – and knowing what’s in them. I get excited when I open my fridge and seeing it overflowing with fresh colourful produce.

I consume products depending on the nutrients they contain and what delicious flavours I can carve from them.  I appreciate everything I eat knowing that it satisfies my body’s needs.

I do not regret Mc Donalds or Moscow restaurants because my hands can make more amazing meals than anything any scientist could ever cook up. I contemplate and create my own diet with no added sugar, oil, E- s, monos, polysaturates, MSGs, etcs.

I go to the gym and out-crunch the male population convinced that beer and meat will make them stronger. I outrun meandering ladies on the treadmill whose frames betray their food disdain.

I feel sorry that people wrinkle their nose at the idea of veganism. I feed them homemade cakes, breads, soups, salads and anything else I can carry in my bag. Then I tell them the truth. I enjoy their pleasant surprise.

One thing, if any.

I feel bad refusing people’s offers of food. And if you are among those people, I must apologise once again.

First month conclusion?

This  idea originally  spawned with a deadline – the 5th of May – Russia’s official end date for Lent.

I am now reviewing this decision with the potential outcome of a indefinite finish line.