Slowfood Sunday: Sweet coconut curry

Sundays are great days, especially if you have absolutely nothing to do, and can just concentrate on relaxing. That’s why I’m also a big sucker for foods which you can just throw together and put in the oven to prepare. I was looking around for something nice to make, and found (via Pinterest possiby, or something, I can’t remember) this recipe in a site for healthy living. So if the food tastes good and is healthy, that’s even better!

I must say I was really suspicious of making a dish like this without any chili pepper in it, but decided to be nice this time and play by the rules… Used a tablesauce (Tabasco Habanero) afterwards, which brought a very nice sour contrast to the otherwise sweetish taste!

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Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Coconut Rice

vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
4 dl cooked chickpeas (roughly the same as one can)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
5 dl cauliflower florets
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 can coconut milk
some vegetable broth
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
4 dl spinach or nettle, chopped (lesser amount will do just fine, this isn’t essential for the food)

Coconut rice:
3,5dl parboiled rice (original recipe calls for basmati rice, but parboiled was the only I had)
1 can light coconut milk
1 dl water
1/4 tsp salt

Heat up some oil in a pan, and add the onion, garlic and ginger into the pan. Saute for some time until nice and caramelized. Combine all other curry ingredients except the spinach with the onion mix. If you’re like us, you’ll use a cast-iron pot for making this food. Word of recommendation: leave the sweet potato for the last, it’s easier to mix everything together if your pot isn’t full of sweet potato chunks. Warm up the oven to 150-175 C and let the food cook there for five to six hours.

Making the coconut rice is pretty easy, throw all the ingredients together in a pot, warm until it boils, turn the heat down and let it cook under a lid. While the rice is slowly getting ready (the time depends on the type of rice you use), you might want to add the spinach into your cast-iron pot, mix it a bit and put it back into the oven until you’re ready to eat. When the rice is ready, you’re good to enjoy your curry.

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Flour Friday: Archipelago Bread

The southwestern Finland is rather famous of its sweet and very dark breads. There’s no definitive way how to make them, there are quite likely as many recipes as there are bakers. I picked up this recipe from some magazine, substituted the sour milk with a mixture of soy milk and yogurt and off to baking I went. The result was a truly wonderful bread, which is why we want to share it with you.

skargordsbrod

 

Archipelago Bread

The “sour milk”:

3,5 dl plain soy yoghurt
3 dl soy milk

Rest of the ingredients:

A package of yeast (50g)
2 dl molasses
2 tsp salt

2 dl wheat bran
2 dl rye flour
2 dl beer malts
6,5 – 7 dl wheat flour

Mix together yoghurt and milk to create the faux sour milk. Warm it up to 37 Celsius degrees and add the yeast, salt and molasses. Combine with wheat bran, rye flour and beer malt. Add wheat flour. Don’t worry if the dough seems worryingly loose or fluid at this point. Let rise under a towel for an hour.

Take two baking casseroles and line them with parchment paper. The bins should be big enough for the dough to half fill them. Cover with a blanket and let raise for another hour.

The dough should have risen now to more or less fill the casseroles (or maybe even a bit over the edges.) Bake in the oven at 175C for 1 hour and 20-50 minutes. When the top looks ready and your kitchen smells wonderful, they’re ready.

If you want a deluxe bread, brush the breads with a mixture of molasses and water after you have removed them from the oven and taken out of the bins.

Let cool and enjoy.

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Vegan Tallinn

The summer is very hot and nice, and it was finally time to take a couple of days off from work. A good way to celebrate that is to go on a daytrip somewhere, and we opted to travel to Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We left very early in the morning and came back late night, so it was very essential for us to find something to eat.

After some shopping, we first headed to African Kitchen (homepage) which we already knew to be a nice, cheap and fast place for a quick bite. Vegan/vegetarian friendly too. I had some african fried rice with soya (the portion was bigger than I expected, so much for a quick bite!) and while madame Tofuhead entertained herself with some fresh orange salad. Both were very nice, affordable and helped us to survive many hours in the blazing heat outside.

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After some more hours of shopping, enjoying local craft beers and wandering around, we decided to test our luck with Vegan Restoran V (homepage, Facebook). We had heard before the place is very popular (how awesome is that for a vegan restaurant, eh!) and it might be a bit hard to get a table without a prior reservation, but luck was on our side this time… Popped in, asked if it’s possible to get a table for two for an hour or so (before we had to head back to harbour to catch out boat), and ta-dah – a table we got. Pretty much all the tables were reserved for early evening, so if you’re planning a visit there on a tight schedule, do place a reservation ahead.

It’s a rather small restaurant, nicely low-key decorated with a great atmosphere. The waiters are very friendly and overall the service was top class. Being the burger enthusiast I am, I had no chance but to order a chickpea burger, while Tofuhead had some stuffed zucchini with a tofu broccoli salad. The burger was great, the chickpea patty had a very nice texture and fit in nicely with a slice of tomato, some mayonnaise, onion and everything else stuffed in the burger. And it was very big! Served with some baked veggies on the side, I have no chance but to give it 5 stars out of 5, possibly the best veggie burger I’ve had so far!

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Zucchini slices had a lentil and tomato filling and they were served with fried tofu slices and broccoli. A hint of orange gave nice freshness for the tahini sauce. There were also a few hot pepper slices on the plate, enough to bring some extra spiciness to the dish, but not too many, since dish wasn’t supposed to be hot.

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PS. Sorry for the potato quality pictures, they were taken with a cellphone camera.

 

New look for the blog!

Nothing special here, just decided to finally change the appearance of the blog. The old theme was only supposed to be a temporary one to get the blog rolling, but suddenly years had passed and the whole visual look was more and more dated…

Of course there’s only so much you can do with the free themes of WordPress.com, but hopefully this new one is a bit more pleasing (and most importantly, less depressingly dark!) than the old one.

Cheers!

The Pumpkin Pie of Mari El

It’s Sunday and time for the “free choice”-day. As our first week has been about the eastern parts of Europe, we’ll finish it off with something truly special: a pie from the Mari El Republic.

Maris are of the same Fenno-Ugric language family as Finns are (earlier we covered another part of the same family, Hungarians) even though we live thousands of kilometers apart.  So, in a way they’re our eastern cousins or something like that. The Mari have their own republic within the Russian Federation, but are still under a campaign of heavy russificiation, with closures of many Mari language newspapers and such. If you wish to learn more of their struggles, click here for further reading.

Some time ago Ville Haapasalo, a popular actor in both Finland and Russia, hosted a new travelling tv-show called “Suomensukuiset 30 päivässä” (or “The Finnic people in 30 days”) where he travelled in various republics of Russia meeting Finnic people. In one episode he participated in baking this pie with local Mari women and it looked so great we just had to try to reverse-engineer the recipe. This is what we were able to decipher from the episode, if there are other unmentioned ingredients, we’re completely unaware of them. However the pie is very tasty even like this and puts your pumpkin harvest into great use!

palus1

Paluš (Палуш)

dough:
2 dl soy milk
1 tsp baking powder
0,5 tsp salt
5 dl wheat flour

filling:
2 dl rice
water
1 ball basic seitan
about 50 g margarine
4 dl pumpkin cubes
salt

Mix soy milk, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add enough wheat flour to form a soft dough.

Bring water to boil, add the rice and cook 10 minutes. The rice should be only half cooked. Dice the seitan. Melt about 1 tbsp margarine on a frying pan and fry seitan until lightly browned. Mix rice, seitan and pumpkin together and season with salt.

Roll about 3/4 of the dough into a large circle. The circle should be big enough to cover bottom and edges of a oven proof dish with some dough overlapping on edges. Put the dough to the dish and add the filling on it. Put lumps of margarine on top of the filling. Roll the rest of the dough into a smaller circle, put it on top of the pie. Pinch the edges of the doughs together tightly to create a decorative edge. Bake in 175-200 Celsius degrees 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

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According to the tv-show, this pie is eaten at various festivities. It’s also quite filling, so if you plan on not freezing leftovers or so, invite a couple of friends over and have a good time.

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It’s also a bit hard – or at least was to us – to keep the pie in one piece after cutting it. Maybe that is how it’s supposed to be.

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Lentil loaf

This is our take on another childhood favourite. Or at least I really liked meatloaf as a kid, my grand-aunt made possibly the best meatloaf ever, but sadly she passed away 15 years ago, so I’ll possibly never learn the secret ingredients she used. Anyway, there are as many variations to meatloaf as there are cuisines, this is based on the Finnish version which is essentially meatballs in the shape of a loaf and no stuffing.

But of course our version is made from lentils. We gave other alternatives (tofu, seitan) a thought, but decided it would possibly be easiest to get the sort of consistency required by using legumes.

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Lentil Loaf

2.5 dl lentils
water for boiling
1 dl dry bread crumbs
1 dl quick oats
2 dl soy or oat milk
1 red onion
2 celery stalks
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
pepper
1,5 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp strong mustard
0,5 dl wheat flour

Boil the lentils until they’re soft (about 30 minutes), drain. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Soak bread crumbs and oats in soy milk while the lentils are cooking. Chop the onion and celery stalks. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté until onions are soft. Mix all the ingredients together. Grease a dish with margarine or oil and form a loaf in it with wet hands. Bake 15 minutes in 200 Celsius degrees, add about 1 dl water and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. You can also cook vegetables in the same dish. Harder veggies like carrots or potatoes cook in the same time as the loaf, softer like zucchini and tomatoes require shorter cooking time, so add them with the water of even later.

For a truly Finnish experience, side this with boiled or mashed potatoes and serve with brown sauce.

Good Life in the Caribbean

We were married in October and now we’re on our honeymoon in Barbados. The food here is based on fish and chicken, but we’ve always managed to fid something to eat.

We also found a vegan restaurant called The Good Life located near Accra Beach, Christ Church. It’s not far from our hotel, about 30 minutes walk, and a bus there takes only few minutes. Their menu was filled with dishes that sounded delicious, so it was hard to decide what to order. Finally we chose Deluxe Vegetable Wrap and Good Life House Salad.

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CAM00031The wrap was very tasty and it was the first time I ate plantain. Tofuhead’s salad was topped with almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins etc. and it was also very tasty and filling.  We had beer with dinner and for the dessert we ordered fruit smoothies. Prices in the restaurant were very reasonable, all this costed about 30€. We definitely recommend trying this restaurant if you ever go to Barbados.