- Category: Dining
- Written by Gisele Turner
A restaurant which caters exclusively for vegans is rare in Durban; although the concept of veganism is popular with eco-conscious folk, the reality of adopting a diet that does not include any animal products is daunting, even for lacto vegetarians, who are more than half way there. Chilliplum, in The Village, Richdon’s Centre, in Hillcrest, is pure vegan territory and it ticks a number of other planet-friendly boxes for good measure
A small but determined group of committed vegetarians made their way to Hillcrest to enjoy a guilt- free Sunday lunch. Truth is, serious vegetarians worry about things like kitchen utensils, grills, ovens and crockery being used for both the veg and the non-veg customers. The joy of having a whole menu devoted to vegetarian tastes is unsurpassed; only those who have paged through the entire a la carte and finally settled for the side dish of wedges and creamed spinach can have any idea.
Chilliplum makes no concessions to non-vegans as far as ingredients are concerned, but they offer a tantalising array of dishes that even a carnivore would appreciate. Eating at Chilliplum is a global experience as signature dishes, given the vegan treatment, come from around the world. Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Thai, Mexican, Japanese and fusion foods grace the menu. The starters are appetisers, geared to whet the taste buds.
Mains are hearty, with black beans, polenta, pasta, curries and mushroom based dishes geared to satisfying larger appetites. This are counterbalanced with a selection of salads, featuring home grown organic saladings and herbs in combination with avocado or grilled vegetables and seasonal fruit like strawberries. The dressings, often a tell-tale pointer of a chef who knows his business, are well balanced and tasty. Roasted seeds are de rigeur in a health oriented restaurant, but my teeth were not quite up to the unshelled butternut seeds.
My friends tucked into their various choices and platters were cleaned. We looked to out attentive friendly waitress for guidance on the desserts, excited that none of them contained eggs or bovine gelatine. There was a chocolate cake, a carrot cake, a chocolate mousse and a chocolate and orange cheese cake. I was keen on the mousse, made from creamed avocado and cocoa powder, and Ursula, the manageress, kindly made a special one for me without Kahlua. Cappuccinos served with yummy little raw chocolate biscuits rounded off the meal.
The secret of good vegan cuisine lies in the capacity to emulate popular and delicious foods with non animal products; along with natures’ cornucopia of fruits and vegetables, pulse and grains, nuts, seeds and virgin oils are used to create foods that look as good as they taste. A vegan restaurant that serves excellent food goes a long way to dispelling the myths that abound of skinny pallid anaemic non-meat eaters nibbling carrot sticks. Chilliplum offers good value for money, a pleasant and well spaced precinct which incorporates a wide veranda, friendly and efficient service – and a salve to the eco-aware conscience! You will find it at The Village, Richdon’s Shopping Centre; call 031 765 2590 to book. Live music is sometimes on the menu with musos such as Steve Fataar creating the buzz.