✈️The second half of my global vegan recipe series based on the world travels of Chris & Carolyn Caldicott, authors of World Food Cafe, offers delicious recipes from Cuba, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Mexico.🌴
A delicious black bean soup recipe cooked with bell peppers and flavored with red wine vinegar. It is served over white rice cooked in veggie broth and fresh parsely.
When the Caldicotts were in Havana, Cuba the restaurants where they dined were elegant but the food itself was less than desirable. One evening they were lured into following a yound man whom they originally deemed a bit sketchy through a back alley of Havana. He claimed his aunt would prepare them a delicious cuban meal for a few dollars. Turns out it was true.
One repeating theme of their travels (sometimes scary) throughout was how they managed to befriend the locals who would end up feeding the couple in their homes. These home-cooked meals would eventually be the basis for their cookbook and London-based restaurant.
In their cookbook they have recipes for flavorful Havana black beans and an herb-infused white rice. I turn mine into a soup trying to keep with the traditional flavors of Cuba.
I did a quick soak of Goya dry black beans (1 lb, picking thru for debris first) in 8 cups hot water, boiling for 2 minutes, then allowing to sit for 1 hour.
I then used my pressure cooker to cook the beans (after draining the soaking water and rinsing), with 8 cups water, 2 bay leaves and “epizote” which is supposed to aid digestion.
After beans were cooked (for 18 minutes, allowing to release pressure on its own which took another 30 min), I discarded the bay leaves.
In a pan, I sauteed a chopped red and orange bell pepper, the rest of the red onion diced, and 4 cloves of garlic minced + 2 tsp each dried oregano + ground cumin & 1/4 tsp red chili flakes. I mashed half of this with 1 cup of the black beans then added all to soup. The last addition to the soup is apple cider vinegar, 2 TBS. Notes: I think next time I will try red wine vinegar, tomato paste, and add 1 TBS of oregano & cumin. It seemed a bit bland but have found with black bean soup it’s best to cook the meal the day before to enhance the flavors.
I pureed my own soup & added lime juice, hot sauce, fresh ground black pepper, & parsley. When that wasn’t enough for my tastebuds, I strayed from the Cuban theme and added nutritional yeast & scallions. Topped with broccoli while R topped over rice.
Now to Costa Rica!
For this recipe I made a creamy coconut curry spiced with cinnamon and thyme then ladled the curry over steamed plantains.
When the Caldicotts ventured to the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica they stayed at the Tiskita Jungle Lodge (still exists today). They describe a jungle full of monkeys, colorful frogs, and very loud unseen insects. Their cabin in the jungle on one particular evening contained a very large scorpion. Their short flight over to the caribbean side of Costa Rica is where I base my recipe: Dice and saute 1/2 cup of shallots, 3 cloves garlic, 2 red or yellow bell peppers + 1 jalapenos for 10 minutes. Add water to keep from sticking. Now add in a bay leaf, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/8-1/4 tsp cinnamon, + 2 tsp curry powder. Drain and rinse 2 cans of black-eyed peas and add this + 1.5 cups water to the pot (alternatively, add 1 can black-eyed peas & 1 cup diced tempeh cubes). Bring to boil then turn down to low & add 1 can coconut milk. While the pepper mix cooks, peel & dice 1 large (very ripe) plantain. I like to pan-saute in water (adding water as needed) for 6 minutes with lid.
To my bowl I add the curry + plantains, topping with Sriracha sauce + a squirt of lime juice. R had his curry over quinoa with hot sauce. I served with green beans although asparagus tastes even better. Mango slices might be nice also.Now to Ethiopia, located in northern East Africa. The authors call this country a “…schizophrenic (place) for a vegetarian traveler.” To explain, many Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians and are therefore fasting (no meat) for two days a week and two months of the year during Lent.
As a result, their traditional wat, or spicy stew that contains meat, is replaced with vegetables and legumes.
So if you are vegetarian and plan a trip to Ethiopia, the Lent months of March and April might be a good time to go.:-)
Most Ethiopians don’t use utensils, but use injera (or flatbread) instead to soak up their spicy wats or even to eat salads.
A common spice in Ethiopia is called bebere (pronounced “bear berry”) which can be a made into a paste or a powder and is an essential spice ingredient in a wat.
Chris & Carolyn Caldicott have recipes for both berbere paste and an Ethiopian vegetable wat in their World Food Cafe book that are amazing.
- I came across another Ethiopian recipe from the Vegan Richa food blog called Kik Alicha or split pea stew. This is the recipe I made using yellow split peas (as opposed to green) which I found at our local health food market.
- I also found another Kik Alicha recipe on The Washington Post website which has a recipe for berbere spice powder.
- Or try this berbere paste recipe.
Enjoy a taste of Ethiopia from your own home kitchen!Oaxacan Mole Sauce: A rich yet simple mole sauce from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, which, according to the authors “…is a land of rugged mountains, ancient Zapotec and Mixtec ruins, Indian markets, and winding valleys around the preserved colonial gem of Cortez’s southern capital of Oaxaca city.”
Daytime in Oaxaca one will find stalls and shops containing blocks of chocolate and “piloncillo” (unrefined sugar), staple ingredients of a traditional Mexican mole sauce (along with chiles).
Another less appealing food item found on display were piles of grasshoppers, much to the authors’ horror.
There are many variations of mole sauce and the one written by the Caldicott’s is quite elaborate. My version is much simpler, using ground roasted almonds, dark chocolate, tomatoes, paprika, chile, onion, & garlic. The original recipe I found on 101 Cookbooks blog and slightly adapted it to suit my taste speeding up the cooking time as well.
Serve with tortillas or cornbread or serve flourless over steamed green beans, plantains, potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, & corn.
To make the mole sauce: Measure 1/3 cup raw almonds (whole & chopped or sliced) and dry pan-roast in a small pre-heated pan (takes about 3 min on med-low heat) shaking the pan to keep from burning. Grind (in a clean coffee grinder) until smooth.
Now in a skillet, water-or-oil-saute on medium heat 1/2 yellow onion chopped, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 minced jalapeno (optional), & 2 tsp paprika (add water sprinkles to keep from sticking) for about 10 minutes then add 1 can diced tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes.
Now add 1 square (or 2 ) of 70% or higher vegan dark chocolate (choose a high cocoa content with few ingredients). Stir until chocolate has melted and ground almonds are combined. This sauce can be left as is and served with pinto beans and steamed kale + the ingredients listed above or blended into a smooth sauce. Enjoy!