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!



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.



Tofu Tuesday: Fried Rice

Fried rice is a common dish in Asia, especially in China. It often contains eggs, meat, shrimps etc. but our version is vegan of course. It’s a quick and easy meal if you have some leftover rice in your fridge. I recommend planning ahead and cooking some extra rice so you can make fried rice next day. This version is mild flavored, add more spices if you prefer spicier. Or pour some hot sauce on top.


Tofu and Vegetable Fried Rice

4-5 dl cooked rice (turmeric for cooking water)
250 g tofu
1 big carrot
½ red bell pepper
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
0,5 tsp sesame oil
0,5 tsp ground cumin
0,5 tsp ginger powder
1,5 dl frozen peas
1,5-2 dl mung bean sprouts
1 tbsp lemon juice
chopped cilantro (optional)
soy sauce, sweet chili sauce and/or hot pepper sauce for serving

Peel the carrot, onion and garlic cloves. Dice tofu, carrot and bell pepper. Chop onion and garlic. Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, cumin and ginger in a small bowl.

Heat the oil in a large pan, a wok is good. Fry tofu for a minute or two and add soy sauce mixture to the pan. Continue frying until tofu is nicely browned. Remove tofu from the pan. Add a little oil if needed. Sauté onion and carrot until the onion starts to get soft and add bell pepper and garlic. Continue sautéing until vegetables are done and stir in peas. Add rice and cook couple of minutes stirring often. Finally add tofu, bean sprouts and lemon juice. Season with salt if needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro.


Carib’ Jerk Seitan

This year’s Vegan MoFo is nearing its end and as always, the best things come last. For an ultimate Saturday experience we have something all over the Carib’. Jerk(y) seitan, rice and peas and a nice salad. The marinade for the seitan is very spicy and if you’re not accustomed to hot foods, you might want to adjust the amount of chili to your taste. The marinade recipe is from Michael Harwood’s book Super Hot Chili Pepper Cookbook. The original recipe uses chicken, which we substituted with seitan from FatFree Vegan Kitchen blog. Rice and peas were available pretty much everywhere when we were in Barbados and they serve as a nice very protein-rich supplement for the spicy seitan. And on the top of it all, the salad brings some freshness to the whole package.


Jerk Seitan

1 batch seitan ribz

jerk marinade:
1 small habanero pepper
6 lemon drop peppers
6 riot peppers
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ginger powder or 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp strong mustard
0, 5 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp apple vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt, black pepper
oil for frying

Chop the chili peppers coarsely and quickly blend them. Add rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Put the seitan and marinade into a plastic bag and rub the marinade on the seitan pieces. Marinade in a refrigerator couple of hours.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the seitans on both sides until browned.

Simple Rice and beans

6 dl water
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp vegetable broth powder
4 dl cooked black beans
3 dl rice

Bring the water to boil and add rest of the ingredients. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).


Palestinian Upside Down

Maqloobeh is a Palestinian dish and it means upside down. The name describes how it’s cooked, the things you put on the bottom of the pot will be on top when served, just like upside down cake. Maqloobeh is usually made of rice, eggplant and lamb or chicken, but it can also include cauliflower and other vegetables. Our vegan maqloobeh is made of rice, eggplant and soy cutlets and it’s based on this recipe. The recipe makes a huge amount of food (enough for 6-8), so better invite friends for dinner, or freeze the leftovers.



10-12 dry soy cutlets
1 big eggplant or 2 small/medium
3-4 potatoes
2 onions
5 big garlic cloves
1 l rice, soaked 10 minutes in water and drained
a lot of oil for frying
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

spice mix:
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp all spice
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cardamom
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Boil the soy cutlets in water according the instructions on the package. Drain and allow to cool a little. Meanwhile grind all the spices together. When the soy cutlets aren’t too hot to handle, rub half of the spice mixture on them. Allow to marinade half an hour or longer.

Slice the eggplant 1 cm thick slices, smaller eggplants can be sliced lengthwise. Sprinkle salt on them and let them “cry” for half an hour, OR soak them in salted water for half an hour. Wipe dry with tissue paper. Peel and slice the potatoes. Peel and chop onions and garlic cloves. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices both sides until a little browned, they don’t need to be completely cooked. Set aside. Add more oil if needed and fry the potatoes next, again until lightly browned. Set them aside too. Add more oil and quickly fry the onions and garlic until soft. Set aside. Last, but not least, add more oil and fry soy cutlets until browned. Set aside, and add 1,5 litres water to the pan, or as much as you can. Turn the heat on high to warm the water.

Arrange the soy cutlets into a big pot (5 l pot is good). Cover them with eggplant slices. Put the potatoes and onions to the pot next. Next put the soaked rice and sprinkle the remaining spice mix and some salt on top. Put a plate on the rice to prevent spices and onions to rise on top of the rice. Carefully pour the heated water (doesn’t need to be boiling hot) on the plate, so it flows nicely to the pot and doesn’t stir the rice. If you didn’t manage to heat all 1,5 litres on the pan, add more water to get total 1,5 l to the pot. Heat on medium heat until the water starts to bubble a little and then simmer on low heat until the rice is fluffy (30 minutes or so). Don’t stir!

This is the trickiest part of making maqloobeh. Put a large serving plate on top of your pot and carefully flip upside down. The pot is rather heavy, and we did this together. I was afraid I’d made a huge mess if I had flipped it alone. Sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top. Serve with salad and/or plain soy yogurt.


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!


Paluš (Палуш)

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

2 dl rice
1 ball basic seitan
about 50 g margarine
4 dl pumpkin cubes

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.


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.


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.


Maybe The Best Thing from Karelia

There are lots of different pies that come from Karelia, but for some reason rice pies are called Karelian pies all over Finland. Karelian pies have a thin rye crust and rice porridge as filling. They’re usually served with egg-butter (mixture of boiled eggs and butter, seasoned with salt). Crust can be made from only rye flour, but adding some wheat flour makes it easier to handle. Dough is usually rolled with pulikka, but you can of course use regular rolling pin as well. Similar pies are also often made with mashed potatoes or carrot and rice as filling. Mashed potatoes are my favourite filling, but most people seem to prefer rice.

This recipe is from a cooking zine Trapped Under Slice #2. The recipe was already vegan, so we didn’t even have to substitute dairy products with similar vegan products. Despite the English name, the zine is written in Finnish and I’ve translated the recipe here. The zine also had a recipe for vegan “egg-butter”. I made some minor changes, and the recipe here is written as I made it. I haven’t seen kala namak anywhere, but I suppose it would be better than sea salt for this purpose.


Karelian Pies (20-30 pcs)

1 l unsweetened soy (or oat) milk
2 dl porridge rice
2 tbsp margarine

3 dl water
1 tsp salt
2 dl wheat flour
4-5 dl rye flour

for brushing:
margarine, soy milk

Make the filling first. Bring 2 dl soy milk to boil. Add the rice and simmer until the rice has absorbed the milk. Add the rest of the milk, bring to boil and simmer on low heat about 40 minutes or until your porridge looks ready. Stir often, because the milk burns easily! Add margarine and season with salt. Allow to cool.

The dough: combine water, salt and wheat flour in a bowl. Add enough rye flour to make a nice ball of dough. If you don’t start rolling the dough right away, you can wrap it in plastic wrap and keep in refrigerator.

Divide the dough in two. Wrap one half in plastic wrap to prevent drying. Take the other half and form a stick of it. Cut it in equal size pieces and form them into balls. Roll each ball into a flat oval or circle, use a lot of rye flour. Cover the circles with plastic so they don’t get too dry. Put a heaping tbsp of filling on each circle, spread it, but leave the edges empty. Fold the edges on the filling and pinch them with your fingers. Make pies of the other half of the dough same way.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and put the pies on it. They won’t rise or anything, so you don’t need to leave space between them. Bake in 275 Celsius degrees. Melt some margarine and add a little soy milk to it. Brush the baked pies with the mixture (or dip them in it) and cover with a towel. Serve with margarine or eggless spread.

Eggless Spread

125 g (half a package) tofu
1-2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 dl chickpeas
150 g margarine
sea salt

Crumble the tofu. Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the tofu several minutes. Turn off the heat and add soy sauce and basil. Allow to cool. Mash the chickpeas and combine with tofu mixture and margarine. Season with salt.


The Grand Finale of Vegan MoFo 2012

This post is the last post of VeganMoFo 2012. The month has passed quickly, and we hadn’t tried all the interesting recipes we have found from the old cookbooks. You may see recipes from 1920’s in the future too.

Cabbage rolls are tasty and filling. Making them is time consuming, but they’re definitely worth it. The usual filling is rice and  minced meat, but the old cookbook had a recipe with a mushroom filling. We’ve always baked the cabbage rolls in oven, but this recipe instructed cooking them on stove top. Nearly all cabbage dishes are served with lingonberries here in Finland, and we had these cabbage rolls with lingonberry jam, boiled potatoes and rosolli.

Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Filling

1 cabbage

1 dl rice + water for cooking
1,5 dl salted mushrooms + water for soaking
2 tbsp oil or margarine
1 small onion
1 dl cream
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dry bread crumbs

margarine for frying
water or vegetable broth
1 dl cream
1-2 tbsp wheat flour (optional)

Boil the cabbage leaves until they’re soft enough to roll. You can either separate them first and then boil, or boil the whole cabbage head and then separate the leaves, I prefer boiling it whole. Cut the thick center vein thinner.

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the package. Soak the mushrooms until they’re not too salty. Then chop finely. Chop the onion and small inner leaves of the cabbage. Heat the oil in a pan and fry onion and chopped cabbage until lightly browned. Add the rest of the filling ingredients.

Put about 1 tbsp filling on each cabbage leave and roll. Melt the margarine in a pan and fry the first batch cabbage rolls until browned. Transfer them to a large pot. Rinse the pan with small amount of water and pour to the pot. Continue with the rest of the cabbage rolls, rinsing the pan after each batch. Cover the pot with lid and simmer until the cabbage is soft. Put the cabbage rolls on a serving dish, whisk the cream to the sauce (and add wheat flour mixed with small amount of cold water if you want thicker sauce). Simmer 5 minutes and serve the sauce with the rolls.