IrfindingVegan: Paper Boat

You enter an eatery. You go to the display counter (if it’s a café) or ask for the menu (if it’s a restaurant). If you are non-vegetarian, you can have everything the eatery offers. If you are vegetarian, you have only half the items available to fill your stomach. (This is especially in a country like India, where there are clear demarcations – typically half – for non-veg/veg items.) And if you are vegan – especially in a country like India – you have… two items to satiate your hunger. And if you’re lucky, they aren’t fries and samosas (fried, triangular savouries).

Since I started the process of turning vegan (in January 2014; and went vegan by March 2015; why so long? I wanted to be a lifestyle vegan, not just a dietary vegan; so, right down to no lanolin in my bathing soap), I encountered the above scenario over and over again. As a result, I started eating more at home and, outside, mainly at Subway.

Again, in a country like India, the vegan culture is yet to catch on, though it is making good progress. (I’m looking forward to Tovo, an organic-vegan restaurant, coming soon to my neighbourhood.) Until then, as a beneficiary gesture to fellow and wish-to-be vegans, here is IrfindingVegan, a series that will feature products (beginning with food and later going on to other items), eateries, and cities (and countries, if/when I get to travel abroad) that are mostly, if not all, vegan-friendly. So you know just where to go to eat up with conscience.

First up, a product/brand that’s after my heart.

I recently (re)discovered Paper Boat, and promptly (re)fell in love with it. Paper Boat is a brand of earthy, almost-rustic, brimming-with-nature and bubbling-with-goodness beverages. “Drinks from our grandparents’ time”, as I say. “Drinks and memories”, as Paper Boat’s nostalgia-evoking, heart-warming advertising says. These drinks are seriously farm-fashioned, with several ingredients that don’t have English names (kokum, a berry of the mangosteen family) or at least not as mouthwatering ones (jal jeera, “cumin powder water”; see?).

Paper Boat Logo

Paper Boat has, in the two-odd years of its sailing, come out with 10 beverages in all, sourced from across India, and they are looking to bring out some more. Here’s the present list, along with vital annotations, such as how each should be best enjoyed (all in my opinion, of course).

Paper Boat Beverages

Name

Origin Key Ingredients Key Characteristic Best Enjoyed With/During

Aam Panna

North (mostly)

Raw mango
(= aam), lemon, spices
Coolant

Hot summer day; lunch; neat

Jal Jeera

North (mostly) Cumin, lemon, black pepper, rock salt Appetiser

Lunch; neat

Kokum

West Kokum, lemon, spices Coolant

Hot summer day; lunch; neat

Aamras

West Mango, spices “Liquid snack”

After play; after meals; after anything in summer

Jamun Kala Khatta

North (mostly) Indian blackberry
(= jamun), lemon, spices
Coolant

After playing with friends in the heat; neat

Sattu

East Chickpea flour (= sattu), lemon, onion, spices Invigorant

Light meal

Golgappe ka Pani

All Tamarind, lemon, red chilli, black salt “Snacketiser”

[This is the water (= pani) served with mashed potatoes, Bengal gram/chickpea, and spices in fried, crispy, hollow balls (= golgappe)].

Snacks

Chilled Rasam

South Tamarind, tomato Accompaniment

[This – the hot version – is had with rice in South India.]

Snacks; rice

Ginger Lemon Tea

East Darjeeling tea, ginger, lemon

Refresher

Hot summer evening

Tulsi Tea North, East

Darjeeling tea, basil (= tulsi), lemon

Invigorant

After a hard day’s work

My favourites? The three right at the top. The two teas aren’t too bad either; at least, they’re better than the bottled iced teas available in the market. And three – Sattu, Golgappe ka Pani, Chilled Rasam – don’t seem to be easily available. (Any not-so favourites? Only one, Aamras. It could do better, but then, I have other ways of getting my liquid mangoes.)

I have checked all the ingredients – like any conscientious vegan does – and they are all vegan. Not a single dairy ingredient (very hard to do without in cow-worshipping and milk-loving India) and no honey either. (Honey is being touted by many food marketers as the cure-all for all health evils without the evils of sugar. Tell that to the poor, slogging bees: “Honey, where did all the honey I made go?” “Chill, you know it is just puke. Now, have some aamras.”)

Now, the question is, will this continue? What I mean is that the brand is looking to add more earthy beverages to its mix, which after some time could very well mean the lassis (frothy, whipped yoghurt, blended with spices/sugar, popular in North-West India) and the kadis (liquefied sour yoghurt, mixed with chickpea flour, popular in the West/North-West). Will Paper Boat go down that path? Hope not. But then, I’m not the product manager or owner.

Until then, enjoy the 10 heaveganly concoctions above!

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