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Dressed-up veggies

Asian-inspired vegetarian cooking can be flavorful and fast.

Appetizing: Hema Parekh, author of 'The Asian Vegan Kitchen' cookbook, prepared a platter of mushroom balls on a recent visit to Boston.

Mary Knox Merrill – staff

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Hema Parekh is the author of two cookbooks on Japanese cuisine. A lifelong vegetarian, Ms. Parekh grew up in India but has spent the past 25 years living in Tokyo with her husband and two children. Her most recent cookbook is a fusion of Asian traditions, "The Asian Vegan Kitchen: Authentic and Appetizing Dishes from a Continent of Rich Flavors." She recently sat down for an interview with the Monitor to talk about vegetarian and vegan dishes following a cooking demonstration at Northeastern University in Boston.

How has cooking vegetarian or vegan meals changed over the past 20 years or so?

I think it is a revelation that vegetarian cooking can be fun. The flavor of each of the dishes comes from the ingredients and fresh herbs.

When I [first arrived in Japan] 25 years ago, [many people] did not understand what it meant to be a vegetarian. They presumed that vegetarians only ate salads or stir-fried dishes, steamed or boiled vegetables. So it was very important to explain ... that you could be eating delicious food from different cuisines and still be a vegetarian [or] a vegan.

In your cookbook, you emphasize how the different Asian cuisines have influenced one another. Do you feel that Asian dishes are constantly evolving?


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