Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for chickpea, chard and sunflower seed stew

In India and Africa, we use melon seeds to thicken stews and add protein – and sunflower seeds work in much the same way

People often ask where I get my recipes. Well, here’s the truth: I watch what people put in their baskets at the supermarket and use the sight of something unusual as an excuse to start a conversation. I use innocent social occasions such as an appointment at the hairdressers and time waiting in post office queues to ask people what they cook for themselves in comfort, to celebrate with, or when they have no time at all. I go into Chinese, Sri Lankan and Italian shops and scour the shelves, taking items up to the shopkeeper to ask what possible use they could have for dried kelp slices, long, thin onion flowers or fat-stemmed caper berries.

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