Sunday, September 23, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 19: Curry Potatoes

Colors and flavors to celebrate the day after fall equinox and the start of Libra season.
Uganda kicks off this last week of Vegan Mofo. This is a country in the central part of Africa bordered by Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Congo, and Rwanda with English and Swahili as official languages as well as some twenty more local vernaculars. It is home to tourist attractions such as Queen Elizabeth Park (their most popular), the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (where half of the world's mountain gorillas exist), and Margherita Peak (the highest mountain range in Africa).
In Ugandan cuisine, indigenous cooking and contemporary methods thruve together with cassava, rice, plantains, sesame seeds, spices, and peppers as main components. Specialty foods are luwondo (a stew that can be made of mushrooms steamed in banana leaves), malewa (a bamboo shoots dish), and kikomando (chapati bread served with fried beans). In addition to Fanta, tea, and chai, fermented banana wine is a thing.
Alongside my Ugandan curried potatoes, a recipe from Genius Kitchen, are Brussels sprouts coated in generous teaspoons of coconut nit'r kibbeh, salt, and black pepper, making for another colorful, fulfilling meal.

Curried Potatoes Ingredients and Preparation

8-9 red potatoes (or 2 small sweet potato/Yukon)
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/4 cup onion
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon curry paste
4 small bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Boil potatoes. Drain and set aside.
In a medium pot, combine coconut oil and onions, searing until brown. Add garlic and stir together for thirty seconds.
Bring in the rest of the ingredients.
Lower heat and simmer for ten minutes.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 18: Daraba

Another hearty, vegetable stew.
Chad--located in north central Africa-- is the 22nd largest country in the world and Lake Chad is the second largest wetland on the continent. The official languages are Arabic and French, but  over one hundred other tongues are currently spoken. They recently had a cultural and national museum open to celebrate the complexities of the country's history and its people (there are some 200 different ethnicities spread throughout).
Southern Chad actually has inhabitants whom eat only plant based. Foods like lentils, melon, mango, plantains, papaya, and pineapple are consumed. Daraba is the traditional vegetable and peanut dish that is perfect now with the temperature dropping. Modeled after Notes From the Kitchen's recipe sans the okra and eggplant, I added sweet potato scraps from previous peeling efforts and callaloo (which you could use spinach or mixed greens). The broth is creamy and rich thanks to the addition of peanut butter-- a huge favorite on every country of the continent! I rarely cook with peanut butter, but these past few weeks have shaped my love for jam's best friend in a new engaging way. And this bowl licking stew is addictive. Although in Chad, they eat daraba with millet, I consumed mine with "buttery" brown rice.

Daraba Ingredients and Preparation

3 cup water
1 sweet potato, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Better Than Boullion
1 cup calaloo (or spinach)
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon paprika
pinch of salt and black pepper

Combine water, sweet potato, carrots, tomatoes, and Better Than Bouillon together in a pot.
Once vegetables are tender, take 3/4 cup stock and mix with peanut butter.
Add callaloo and peanut butter sauce to stew. Simmer for ten minutes.
Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.

Stew close up.

Stew and brown rice at ready.

Dinner is served.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 17: Swahili Ginger and Milk Tea

Give a hoot for sweet and spice and everything is a little nice.
Mozambique--the world's 36th largest country at over 300,000 square miles-- is in the Southeastern part of Africa with the Mozambique River separating it from Madagascar. The official language is Portuguese, but Swahili, Sena, and Makhuwa are also spoken.  In their tropical climate, they have 740 bird species, 200 mammals, and several endangered. Fortunately, there are protected rainforests, national parks, and frontier conservations. Since Portugal's 500 year rule, Mozambique's cuisine has been compromised. Ncima (a maize/corn porridge), rice, cassava are primary foods among cashew nuts, paprika, bay leaves, and coriander.
Sweet Swahili ginger milk tea is the beverage of choice-- the grownups having the caffeinated version while the children settled for decaf. The ginger is strong and aggressive, but the sugar and milk counteract the spice. It can be served hot or cold. The warmth, however, is as comforting as a classic old sweater and a good putdownable book. I found this recipe at Global Table Adventure.

Swahili Ginger Milk Tea Ingredients and Preparation

1 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup black tea
1/3 cup grated ginger (or 2 tablespoon ground)
1 cup almond milk
3 tablespoon sugar

Bring water to a boil. Add tea and ginger. While simmering, pour in the dairy free milk and sugar.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 16: "Fish" Balls

"Fish" balls are lightly crunchy bite.
The smallest country on Africa's mainland, The Gambia's population of two million is almost the same amount of Philadelphia inhabitants. The Gambia--a tropical climate region-- is named after the river its nearly surrounded by, a river that in fact empties into the Atlantic Ocean. English is the official language although there are other spoken native tongues. In culinary regard, foods such as rice, black eyed peas, cassava, plantains, peanuts, cabbage are among the fare thoroughly enjoyed.
Gambians love their fish balls, having them at any time of the day usually with a light stew or over white rice. I never had fish balls (let alone a whole fish staring lifelessly at me from its POV on a plate) and recreated a Genius Kitchen recipe.
I was utterly surprised that these no animals harmed delicacies came out well. After all, it hasn't been a winning week as far as experiments go. The crisp exterior holds up for the creamy, savory interior-- very interesting flavors and texture profiles.
As for now, I am super stuffed. I ate five "fish" balls with a basic topping of Just Mayo Garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. For dessert, I had a glass of almond milk alongside the mistake makroudhs (kept in the refrigerator). They turned into chilled dense butter cookies with the cherry date filling enhancing their sweetness. Funny how failures become something entirely unexpected.

"Fish" Balls Ingredients and Preparation

1/4 cup walnuts, crushed
1 cup cornmeal mush
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley
1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoon flax meal + 6 tablespoon water)
1 cup breadcrumbs (used Watusee Foods Chickpea Crumbs)

coconut or olive oil for frying

Combine walnuts, cornmeal mush. mashed potatoes, onion, ketchup, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, salt, and black pepper-- mix well.

Tablespoon out the batter. Set up a station for the flax egg and the breadcrumbs. Dip the balls in flax and coat them in breadcrumbs.

Covered and ready to go.

In a skillet, pan sear the "fish" balls on all sides.

Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 15: Mustard Tofu

Pan seared tofu coated in mustard sauce might be one of the more interesting creations made this month.
Gabon-- located on the equator-- is in the central part of Africa and its earliest settlers were the Pygmy peoples before the Bantu came. Rainforests cover 85% of the country and a group called "The Raconteurs" want to keep alive the Gabonese tradition of oral storytelling folklore and mythology through language of the Fangs. Their cuisine is largely influenced by former French rule, but rice, cassava, plantains, guava, mangoes, and bananas have always been primary staples.
Mustard chicken is Gabon's signature must have dish. Of course, I thought why not tofu? Now I'm not the hugest mustard fan, only adding a tiny bit to mac n cheese or so. Nothing much else. The tangy mustard combined with garlic, lemon, and onions bring amazing flavor. Plus, one can sub out tofu for any of the delicious chik'in out in the market-- Beyond Meat or gardein.

Mustard Tofu Ingredients and Preparation

2 tablespoon olive oil
extra firm tofu
red or yellow onion
3 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon cornmeal
2 tablespoon water (add more if thicker consistency desired)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 small tomato
dried parsley

Whisk together Dijon mustard, cornmeal, water, garlic, turmeric, cumin, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
Cover tofu cutlets in the mustard sauce.
In a nonstick skillet, fry up onions until brown and add the marinated mustard tofu. Cook for several minutes on each side.

Top finished tofu with tomato slices and parsley.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 14: Cherry Date Filling

Well, there was this cherry date filling that worked out.
Between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nile Delta is Tunisia--formerly Ifriqiya (Africa). Tunisia is a place with beach tourist attractions, the World Heritage Site of the Ruins of Dougga, and some fifty art galleries. Tunisian diet is rich in Mediterranean flare. Ingredients such as olive oil, spices, and tomatoes are abundantly consumed. One dish that is well-known to the area is lablabi-- a chickpea and garlic stew bookmarked for the future. They love fire grilled vegetables, include black cumin in their harissa, and couscous is a primary staple. It is also number 42 (behind Morocco and Algeria) in worldwide cherry production.
Makroudh is a beloved pastry traditionally filled with dates or figs-- like a classic Fig Newton and glazed with honey and orange blossom water. I found this recipe with ingredients listed in grams and milliliters and significant errors (for example how much boiling water to add to flour and butter mixture) quite problematic. Plus, without pictorial aide, I was generally lost on accurate preparation. For one thing, the dough was too weak to roll the filling in and as end result tasted far too buttery. It obviously needed more flour.
Still, for all the effort, this refined sugar free cherry date filling is worth writing about. It is sweet and vibrant, smells heavenly (has anyone simmered cherries, dates, and spices before?), great for any successfully created makroudh or hand pie/pop tart.
I will attempt to make makroudh again (using a different recipe) and use the cherry date filling.

Cherry Date Filling Ingredients and Preparation

1 cup medjool dates
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup frozen cherries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon arrowroot (or cornstarch)

Soak medjool dates for an hour or so.
Puree and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine cherries, cherry juice, cinnamon, and cardamom on low heat for about five to seven minutes.
Pour into date mixture. Blend this together and place contents into the same saucepan, adding the arrowroot to thicken.

Bubbling cherries for the cherry fiend.

Warm, thick filling.

These makroudh are not bad, but have the potential to be better. It was my first time working with semolina flour-- flour finer than whole wheat and all-purpose. 

There also wasn't enough filling in the centers. It made sense to spoon extra on top. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Vegan Mofo 2018 Post 13: Kulwha

Soy ground is seasoned to perfection next to lemon-garlic brown rice.
Eritrea is located in Northern Africa, with parts of its coast adjacent to the Red Sea-- coincidentally the ancient Greek definition of Eritrea. Although the country has no official language, Tigrinya is mostly spoken and written, seen as the de facto for national identity. Eritrea's cuisine has influences from Italy--their former conquerors-- for there is a tremendous penchant for tomatoes.
Also, I watched the delightful Life Is Fare at the Blackstar Film Festival this past summer-- it stars a first generation Eritrean, artist Sephora Woldu, who also wrote and directed.
Eritrea and Ethiopia (the Southern neighbor that has always had great plight) have quite similar cooking styles. For example, Kulwha (Eritrean stir fry) calls for berbere (Ethiopian spice) and nit'r kibbeh (spiced ghee very popular in Ethiopia). I made my own nit'r kibbeh using coconut oil as a basis as opposed to butter. Miyoko's Kitchen could have worked, but at the same time, I wanted a simple, cost effective solution. As for lamb (something that I never had), I always replace with soy ground. There are apparently vegan lamb varieties somewhere in existence as well as recipes for homemade seitan creations.
I quite enjoyed the process of making the nit'r kibbeh and prepping the overall meal. It is time consuming, a learning curve that ups the value of how we see our pantry ingredients (some of which we probably rarely use). Plus, it amazed me that one could get so much flavor into soy ground, enhance its properties into complex and intriguing to consume.

Kulwha Ingredients and Preparation

coconut nit'r kibbeh
1 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cardamom
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Lightlife Soy Ground
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon coconut nit'r kibbeh
1 tablespoon berbere
1 teaspoon spice pulp*
pinch of salt

This coconut nit'r kibbeh is modeled after My Darling Gourmet's recipe with slight alterations to make less. 

Simmer coconut oil with ingredients for thirty minutes, stirring to keep from burning. Separate with sieve or strainer into an air-tight container, and place in refrigerator for four hours or longer until it becomes a golden yellow solid. Retain the spice pulp. But discard the cinnamon stick.

In a skillet, combine olive oil with soy ground, onions, coconut nit'r kibbeh, spice pulp, and salt.

Dinner is served.

Very tasty.