ข้าวห่อใบบัว (kaow haw bi bua)
Sometime last year I decided that I needed to eat less meat and be a fully fledged member of the ‘flexitarian’ club — a mostly vegetarian. One of my greatest discoveries here to enable this new eating consciousness is a top-nosh service here called Vegie Thai — vegetarian lunches delivered to my office every day for 30 baht ($1). I know, right? Aside from the mock meat, which I’ll eat but am not the biggest fan of, most of the dishes are fantastic; either as standalone dishes or as adaptations of meat-based ones.
The man who runs the business, Duang, is a total whiz who has clearly had a lot of experience with developing vegetarian recipes and he knows what he’s doing. Thais, as a whole, don’t really do vegetarianism so someone like him is a real anomaly. There’s a focus on fresh vegetables so I’m convinced that he’s familiar with Vietnamese food; a lot of his dishes are reminiscent of dishes I like to eat.
And the other day I had a new thing for lunch that was truly worth writing about: lilypad rice. Well, technically it’s called rice wrapped in lily leaf (in Thai) but I prefer my name for it. Eating rice wrapped up in a leaf is something I have done in many times and in many places, but usually it’s banana leaf. I never knew you could use lilypads in the same way.
I don’t know how I would go about finding the meat version of this particular dish as I’ve never seen it for sale, but just as it was, it was perfect; I unwrapped two layers of lilypads and, like a parcel of goodness, inside I found rice, kidney beans, lotus seeds, sliced mushrooms, a bit of mock meat for protein. It was delicious, nourishing and wholesome — and environmentally friendly.