It is no secret that Rob and I may choose our next vacation destination based on its cuisine. Obviously, Iceland wasn’t picked based on its cuisine, although the food I had was top-notch (although not Icelandic).
One country that is creeping up in our list of places to visit is Jamaica. I don’t know how widespread the Rastafari movement is, but with its mostly-vegan cuisine (called ital), vegan options free of chemical and artificial additives should be available throughout Jamaica. According to wikipedia, they prefer more natural vegetables and fruits such as coconut and mango. Rob would be in heaven.
There are Rasta communities around the world, including Toronto where I’ve been to One Love, which serves ital and other Caribbean vegan meals. However, my introduction to Rastafarian cuisine was in Japan of all places. Around the time I was heading to Japan, Heidi gushed over Tokyo’s only ital noodle shop. Sure enough, a lover of food but not even vegetarian at the time, we scoped out this teeny tiny restaurant completely off the tourist track. We enjoyed our noodles and other veggie dishes. While this was Heidi’s best meal of her trip, I will admit that my fresh sashimi was unbeatable at the Tsukiji Market. If I were vegan at the time, I would have really appreciated the vegan soba noodles. In Japan, fresh soba noodles are richer because they are typically made with Japanese fish broth, dashi.
Now that I am vegan, I was stoked to try Rasta Pasta that I found in Big Vegan. A bowl full of vegetables (green beans! mushrooms! collards!, tomato!), with some noodles, too, in a coconut-curry-tomato sauce. It had a lot of the similar ingredients as my favourite Kelp Noodles, Baby Bok Choy, Broccoli and Red Pepper with a Coconut-Peanut Sauce but it was so different. The recipe called for 1 tbsp of curry powder. I’ve made other Caribbean dishes that were unpalatable by their heat (ok for Rob, just not me), so I went tame. I didn’t even use curry powder. I substituted 1 tsp of garam masala instead.
It was a quick noodle stir-fry. With the garam masala, it was savoury. It lacked the sweetness from coconut-peanut sauce, and originally I thought it was rather pungent but truthfully, as I ate the leftovers, that was exactly why I liked it. Nothing too crazy and creamy, just a savoury veggie and noodle dish. However, now that the Madras curry powder has been given the green light in my kitchen, I’d love to try this again with curry powder. If you try it, let me know how you like it!
As a vegan, where would you prefer to travel?
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala (or 1 tbsp curry powder if you dare!)
1/4 tsp allspice
1.5 cups collards (100g), thinly sliced
1 cup fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 cup edamame, thawed
4 oz mushrooms, chopped (I used oyster mushrooms but white ones would be ok too)
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp tomato paste
12 oz kelp noodles, washed (or your favourite thin and long noodles – soba, angel hair, etc – get it boiling while you make the veggies)
1/2 tsp salt
1. Heat a large frypan with the coconut oil over high heat. Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the garam masala and allspice, stirring to lightly toast. Add the collards, tomato, green beans, edamame, mushrooms and chili flakes. Stir-fry over medium-high heat until they have softened, around 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, stir together the stock, coconut milk and tomato paste in a small cup. Pour over the vegetables in the pan and brign toa simmer. Simmer until it was slightly thickened. Season with the salt.
3. Add the pasta, and toss to coat well. Remove from heat and serve hot. Leftovers are great chilled, too.