Solange playing in the background as the smells of ginger, turmeric and coconut fill the air with warm, goodness and comfort. Along with the sizzle of sweet plantain frying in the pan. Whether you were cooking in real time or simply watching, our workshop – (Plan)tain: Cooking up Curiosity in the Kitchen delved into the multifacetedness of food – particularly cultural food while learning how to cook a beginner friendly meal and share in community. As a follow-up to our last Confab – Food for Thought: Nutrition, Wellness and You, we explore what our cultural food holds.
“Food in culture is the embodiment of your voice and identity” says Alannah, co-founder of Whole Hearted Food (IG: @wholeheartedfood1). With her bubbly personality, Alannah led the cooking workshop while sharing her knowledge and experience about food with all of us. A participant shared that, “It [food] helps to reveal the similarities you have with others. I feel like every culture has their version of a meat pie…you can see it in a new light”.
We see this in a savoury empanada or a spicy beef patty, food can be the physical representation of history, connection and knowledge translation. “Food travels – they’re just like people…like history and culture [it] travels around” exclaims Alannah. So whether you say planTAIN or planTIN, have a naan or roti with your curry, “food is a connective moment for all of us”.
Healthy and Nutritious Cultural Food
Alannah Codrington, Our Workshop Facilitator
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- While in a bowl or colander, rinse the rice to remove dust and debris.
For long-grain brown rice, use 1 1/4 cups water to 1 cup rice.
For short grain, use 1 1/2 cups water).
Use a wide shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid to ensure evenly cooked grains.
- Bring rice, water, and salt (1/4 teaspoon per cup of rice) to a boil.
- Cover the rice, and reduce to a slow, steady simmer.
Many recipes call for 50 minutes, but 30 minutes may just be enough.
Rice should be tender, not overly hard, or mushy.
- Let the cooked rice sit for 10 minutes, covered, to absorb maximum moisture; then remove the lid, and fluff the grains with a fork!
Caribbean Stewed Lentils
- 2 cups red or green lentils soaked overnight
- 3 cups water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bouillon cube (low-sodium, vegetarian or meat based) *
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper powder (optional)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tomato, diced
- 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 green onion, thinly diced
- 1 cup pumpkin, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 dash black pepper, to taste
- If using dried lentils, soak in a bowl with water for a few hours or overnight.
- Rinse lentils, put in a saucepan with water, add a dash of salt and bring to a boil.
Allow lentils to come a boil and become tender, then set aside.
- While lentils boil, in another larger pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add garlic, onions, ginger, and bouillon, then turn down heat and stir.
Allow garlic to turn lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes.
- Next add turmeric, cayenne pepper, brown sugar.
Don’t burn the brown sugar and keep stirring while on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Carefully add lentils and water to the large pot containing oil and sugar.
Be EXTREMELY careful, no splashes.
- Stir in pumpkin, carrot, tomato, green onion, cilantro and thyme.
- Increase to medium heat and allow this to simmer for about 25 minutes or until the desired consistency is reached.
- Stir and check every 5 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove pot cover and crush pumpkin if you want a thicker consistency.
Add more water 30 ml at a time and keep pot covered if you would like a thinner consistency.
- Remove thyme before serving and enjoy!
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bag/ bin (16 oz) spinach (organic if possible)
- 3 cloves, crushed garlic
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tomato, sliced
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes.
Don’t let the garlic turn brown.
- Add in sliced onions and stir on a low to medium-low heat so the onions separate, soften, and almost turn translucent.
- Add in spinach and then cover the saucepan.
Let the spinach wilt down for approx. 3-5 minutes.
- Next add in tomato and stir.
Make sure the tomato doesn’t become mushy.
- Reduce heat and then add in salt and black pepper to taste.
Make sure you stir!
- Remove from heat while tomatoes and spinach are at the desired texture.
This shouldn’t be mushy and there should still be liquid in the pan.
- 1 plantain (spotted to black)
- 3 tbsp olive oil for frying
- Using a sharp knife, cut both ends off the plantain.
Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain and peel only as deep as you need.
- In a frying pan, on medium heat, add 2 tbsps. of olive oil.
- Fry 12 to 15 plantain slices at a time until golden brown.
2 to 3 minutes, on each side should be good.
- Transfer with a fork or slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the next batch of plantain as needed.