The more observant amongst you will notice the word “plant” appears prominently here. Plant? Yes, chums, these are vegan kebabs, made from plants, not chickens or sheeps. How did I get here? Read on…
I wish there was an interesting story behind how these ended up in my shopping basket. I wish I could tell the world that I have renounced eating meat after meeting a mystic on holiday who advised that the survival of our universe depended on it – but that didn’t happen (as it happens, the mystic actually recommended I eat more meat) – the simple but ultimately pedestrian reason is that I was in Morrisons looking at the fresh soups – you know, New Covent Garden etc – and these were on the shelves above.
So, y’know, I thought I’d give it a go.
The thing that intrigued me as I read the packed description was the heavy emphasis on the front – and again on the side – that these need to be cooked. “Cook me, please!” it says! “Please cook me before eating.” is a rather polite demand. This raises two questions – firstly, who on earth would eat something like this cold in the first place? It’s a kebab. Even the meaty variety, say the left-over half eaten kebab to be finished the following morning, needs to be microwaved to within an inch of it’s life to make it palatable. Secondly – they make this point in bold. The emphasis above is not mine – I’ve taken it directly from the packet. Is there a risk to health by not eating it cooked? Being plant-based, you’d have thought that there’s not the same risk of getting food poisoning as there is, say, raw meat – but who knows. The packet says to cook it, so that’s what I did.
The only cooking method on the packet – fry it. Now, this is something I can get behind! At this point, it becomes quite clear that this is part of the aesthetic – frying it really gives it an authentic greasy quality.
Taste-wise, it’s actually really, very good indeed. The folks at Vivera have really nailed the shape and texture – something which is very difficult to do when making fake meat. Flavour – the Shawarma variety is really quite peppery and saturated in cumin, whereas the Greek version is more delicate – I couldn’t really work out what it was meant to taste like, but it wasn’t unpleasant. What I would recommend, if you can expend the time and effort, is to have a “mixed kebab” and eat both in the same serving – I say time and effort is involved as sadly, I could only get the Greek variety from Tesco on a different shopping trip.
The serving suggestion suggests putting these into a pitta bread – as regular readers will know I hate pitta breads so that wasn’t going to happen – but I can confirm that it works quite well in a wrap.
There is one further thing I want to talk about before I go – and that’s the calorific content. It’s remarkably low. According to the packet, there are 167 calories per 100g. If you do as I did – split the pack into two servings and serve with salad, a low calorie garlic and herb (non-vegan, sadly) dressing on a gluten free B-Free sweet potato wrap, you’ve got yourself a kebab that has, in total, less than 300 calories. That, my friends, is pretty insane. If you are watching your weight, you won’t find many tastier ways of doing so.
Vivera Plant Kebabs
£2.50-£3, Shawarma found in Morrisons and Waitrose, Greek found at Tesco.