“Yeah, but veganising a Romani recipe means it’s not really Romani anymore, because the whole point of Gypsy cooking is that you use just the stuff you find around you,” I protested to Caitlin the last time she came to stay.
She gave me that long-suffering look that means ‘You’re an idiot sometimes, but I love you anyway’, and pointed out that pretty much all recipes aren’t exactly the way they started out. And also that I wouldn’t be foraging these things from the hedges in any case, so it didn’t really make sense to put restrictions on what I could use.
Saviako is a Romani dish that’s a bit like a samosa, except that I’m crap at folding pastry into triangles, so mine are sort of misshapen pouches. I maintain however that ugly food often tastes really good.
Much Romani cooking is about using up every last bit of whatever you have, and about flavouring things strongly with herbs and spices. And about keeping warm and giving you energy – travelling is hard work. A lot of Romani people work in jobs that involve high levels of physical exercise: blacksmith (petulengro), woodsman (veshengro), and so on. Even those who have more sedentary day jobs – fortune-teller (dukka), writer (lavengro) – will still have to pitch in and help out with the day-to-day tasks, which when you live in a group of caravans (vitsa) involves a lot of dragging stuff about and building things and generally being energetic.
This is our justification for the level of oil and carbs in our dishes. Also, because it makes them delicious.
You will need:
- Filo pastry
- Soy mince
- Vegan cream cheese (I used Gozo chive casheese)
- Salt & pepper
- Various herbs (I used herbes de Provence)
- An onion
Heat the oil, herbs and spices, salt and pepper in a pan.
Don’t forget to throw a bit of salt over your left shoulder to avoid bengalo baxt (bad luck).
Chop the onion.
When the oil in the pan is nice and fizzly, drop the onion in. Keep stirring it to make it not too stick-to-the-bottom-y.
Briefly soak the soy mince in water. Drain it. Add it to the pan and stir it about until everything is nice and warm.
Add the cream cheese and raisins. Stir some more.
Once it’s all mixed together, set this aside and turn your attention to the filo pastry.
While you’re doing this bit, heat some more oil in another pan. Make it very angrily hissy oil.
Place a bit of the mixture inside a couple of sheets of pastry and roll it all up. You can either make normal-sized samosa type triangles, or just pouches if you’re crap at triangles, or ONE GIANT MASSIVE TRIANGLE if you get a bit overenthusiastic about the whole thing.
Drop it into the hissy oil.
(I did warn you this wasn’t a “healthy” recipe.)
Flip it over, make sure it’s crispy on both sides.
Repeat until all the pastry and mixture is used up.