Monday, 29 November 2010

Vegan Tower of Haggis, neeps and tatties

This weekend, when D and me visited the Kelvingrove Museum, I asked him to take a photograph of ‘Haggis Scoticus so that I may share it with you. Haggis Scoticus is the fictional wild haggis animal from which the original haggis is 'claimed' to be made from, see the prepared MacSween example next to it. Even my favourite TV chef Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall knowingly allowed himself to be fooled by Scottish pranksters who led him on Wild Haggis hunt for one of his River Cottage series. Haggis continues to remain an amusing subject for people all over the world.
I have yet to meet a Scottish person to honestly admit to enjoy eating the traditional haggis (sheeps stomach full of offal). I have however met many Scots who talk about the traditional haggis with passion and pride; and this has not swayed with recent debate around the origins of haggis.
I’ve written before how ethnically diverse communities in Scotland have incorporated haggis into their traditional cuisine, for example haggis pakora or bhajis can be found at some South Asian (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) restaurants; haggis wontons and haggis spring rolls at some Chinese Take-aways in Glasgow and haggis samosa in Edinburgh. One of the best places to eat vegetarian haggis samosa in my opinion has to be the Baked Potato in Edinburgh. I think it was around this time last year that I treated my nephew to a vegetarian haggis samosa. It was nice and spicy too. Another modern twist on the haggis is a dish called the ‘Flying Scotsman’ chicken stuffed with haggis. Haggis features quite a lot now in Scottish fast food. There is haggis burger, a patty of fried haggis served on a bun, haggis fritters, haggis pasties, haggis pies topped with a swirly mash, haggis savoury crepes, haggis wrapped in tortilla, haggis nachos, haggis lasagne, haggis macaroni cheese, haggis crisps and much much more. I’ve even created some with my own twist, mushroom haggis pakoras, haggis pakora bites, and haggis tikkia.

As a person who prefers to eat her vegetables, I have absolutely no idea what the meat version of haggis tastes like, but I can tell you that the vegetarian alternative is a bit like a smooth oaty- bean and nut roast.
I know haggis, neeps and tatties are traditionally served as a main course of a Burns Night Supper and Hogmanay, not St Andrews day celebrated on the 30th November. St Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. But it is not often I eat meat-free haggis, so any excuse is welcome. Also chances are I may not be living in Scotland this time come next year, and good haggis may not be easy to find in places like England and Wales, so I thought it would be a good time to start making some from scratch made with various pulses, oats and vegetables.

There are so many vegetarian and haggis recipes on the world wide web, however the recipe I made was adapted from Hendersons. If anyone should be making a good version of vegetarian Haggis, it has to be Hendersons Bistro and Restaurant, a Scottish institution.

Those of you who read my blog often, will know that I am not a huge fan of vegetables mashed, but if I am to stay within the traditional boundaries of haggis, neeps and tatties, then the one thing I can do is present it slightly differently to those I’ve made in the past, often shaped into quenelles or placed in rings. Once all the components were made, I spooned, pressed and layered each into individual pudding basins and then gently placed onto a plate, if you are not eating these immediately then, they can be gently steamed for 20 minutes before serving. If you don’t have individual basins, you could do in a large basin and bring it ceremoniously to the table.
Can you guess what is missing from this picture? Greens? No Gravy! It does look a bit dry, but you will have to take my word for it when I tell you this veggie haggis was quite moist.

Now having had the ready-made vegetarian haggis and home-made version, I asked D for his opinion. He said he thoroughly enjoyed it, it had substance and it had flavour. He had one criticism, and it was nothing to do with the vegan haggis, it was my tatties, I did not mash them well. Well I did say, I didn’t like mashed veg.
Vegan Haggis
Serves 4
50g pinhead oatmeal (soaked for 1 hour)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, sliced finely
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon Tamari
100g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
100g puy lentils
100g of cooked kidney beans, about 1/2 tin, rinsed and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Saute onion, garlic and seasoning in the oil until soft. Add the lentils and carrot and simmer on low heat until the lentils are soft, stirring to prevent sticking. The moisture content of the soaked lentils and carrot should be sufficient, but if not add a very small amount of water. Add the mushroom and allow to soften before adding the kidney beans. Season with black pepper to taste. Finally add the drained and rinsed oatmeal and mix well. Serve warm. Adapted from Henderson's Wholefood Cookbook.


  1. Lovely presentation. I like vegetarian haggis but I absolutely adore meat haggis - sorry. And I love my neeps and tatties too. I often put carrots through my neeps to give a better colour and a bit of sweetness.

  2. I am sure that most non vegetarians would prefer your haggis to the original one :-)

  3. Affy braw!!!. Was just talking about haggis last night - my hubby does enjoy having it so there is one person for you. Will have to try this vegetarian version on him soon and maybe try to squeeze it into Xmas dinner...the dundonian family aren't that good with veg so hopefully they won't mind me bringing my own along :0)
    Thank you so much.

  4. we had haggis tonight and have leftovers for tomorrow night - e loves any excuse to suggest I make haggis - I thought I might make haggis nachos tomorrow night - though all your ideas have me swithering

    and what's this about you leaving scotland - sounds like change might be in the air!

  5. Haggis reminds me of the tripe my mother used to make, similar in that it is stomach material, which I could never "stomach" as a child. Your vegetarian version looks delicious, Mango. It reminds me of the lentil loaf I often like to make, but without the oatmeal, which must be a very nice filler. And I love what I think are your Scotty salt and pepper shakers. We had our first snowflakes this weekend, but the ground is still workable in the garden, which is good for this time of year. Happy winter!

  6. I love that cruet set! I also love the story of the wild haggis, fantastic.

  7. Thanks Louise.
    No need to apologise that you like the meat haggis more. I still like you :) I actually find neeps sweet, so would not brave further to add more sweetness with carrots. I know D would like it though.

    Thank you Alessandra.
    I hope so :-)

    Plummy Mummy.
    Ah good to learn that your hubby likes his original haggis :) I will be interested to read what he thinks of the vegetarian version as this style of cooking doesn't excite most vegetarians and vegans. Take care

    Hi Johanna GGG.
    I have leftover haggis too, but won't be making nachos (maybe next time). This times its haggis burgers. I also have some neeps left over and have ideas for that too.

    Yes, work is not good here. Really depressing really but I will share more when i am clear headed about it, too emotional/angry to write about it right now. I am seeking opportunities outside of Scotland now, added to this is the fact that D also wants to be near his mother in England!

    Hi Barbara GF.
    I remember my mother cooking tripe when i was small and noone but her liked it. Thankfully it did not feature much on the menu. I remember calling it 'furry bones'
    This version is packed with flavour. Depending on how you present it, I guess it can be called a lentil loaf.

    Thanks about the Scotty salt and pepper shakers. I was pleased when I saw them, cost me only £1.99p which is a bargain.

    I wish the snow would stop here, travellign to and from work has been hard. My trains have been cancelled all week. Lucky that you can still work the ground, I cannot even see my garden plot :) Happy winter!

    Thank you Kath.
    I like them too and had to have them at the bargain price of £1.99p. Glad you enjoyed reading about the wild haggis, still amuses me.

  8. Thank you for this recipe. My husband adores haggis (blech), though he hasn't had it in years. I think I may surprise him with this. :)

  9. Your welcome Mama.
    If you do make this, please let us know how he found it. Kind wishes.

  10. My dorm in university celebrated Robbie Burns day and served haggis. Can you imagine the awfulness that is college dorm haggis??? But your vegan version actually sounds quite lovely.

  11. Thank you Carolyn.
    I can just imagine (eek).

  12. totally new dish for to try one day..thanks for sharing !

  13. Thank you Jagruti.
    So lovely to hear from you.
    If you are ever in Scotland, I would strongly encourage you to try the vegetarian version.

  14. Last comment for tonight, I promise :)

    I was only 7 when I was in Scotland, but I have quite vivid memories of learning about them at school. We drew pictures of the legendary Haggis and even wrote poems. And of course we learnt about Robert Burns... I think the activities were in honour of his birthday. Funny how some things stick in your mind more than others!

  15. Sumaiyyah, I must clarify just in case you don't knwo it. I am not Scottish, i came up for Uni from Wales and ended up staying.

    Its interesting to read of your memories of Scotland as a child. I find it quite amusing living in Scotland sometimes, you turn on the news and you are constantly reminded that you are in Scotand, the papers are 'The Scottish....this and that' a bit of a shock when you come from Wales. I've never seen papers in Wales being sold at 'The Welsh Herald' or the Welsh News. it can be rather amusing at times,

  16. Great idea for a dish - I wonder how it will compare to the real thing now I've converted to vegetarianism!


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