Next Wednesday, I’m going to attend my first cooking class EVER! I’m really excited about that! I’ve been considering trying cooking classes for a while but I didn’t know where to go, as a Vegetarian (mostly Vegan) Health Nut Amateur Cook. Well, I’ve stumble across L’Armoire du Haut and I think it’s going to be perfect for me! I’ve subscribed for a course about Indian Food (miam miam!) where we’ll be making Chapati and Aloo Gobi, among other things. Yay!
This class gave me the idea of sharing with you one of my boyfriends favourite dish : Palak Tofu. When I tried this recipe for the first time, he was so thrilled he told me I should do it again and again and again! I’ve made it a couple of time since, and it keeps getting better each time! I’ve never been to India myself, and I wouldn’t say I know a lot about Indian Food (even though I totally fancy it), so I couldn’t say how authentic this recipe is. But it’s good, and I would say — at the risk of shocking some of you — that it’s all that matters to me…. As “cheesy” as it may seem, I could even say that nothing feels better than eating something good with the one(s) you love, and that’s all that matters. Don’t be fooled by my “authenticity insecurity”, this plate is good! Oh, yes it is! I took the recipe on Olives for Dinner and didn’t change it a lot (I tried to make it a little more simple by changing or combining some steps of the recipe). I love Olives for Dinner! Their recipes are totally my style, and the pictures are GREAT. Sometimes I wish my boyfriend could take my pictures and do all the editing (wink, wink, honey! Are you reading?!) He taught me everything I know about photography, but he really is a better photographer than I am! Ah, maybe someday I’ll be surpassing the master! 😉
Hum, seems like I have a lot to tell right now… Can you imagine I’ve been introducing my mother to vegetarian food today? Wow, this could be a long story! How can I put this? I’ve been raised by my mother as an omnivore, and she was quite a good cook! I’d say she was really into traditional cooking : we used to eat Lasagna, Beef Stew, Sheppard’s Pie, Chicken Breast and Pork Loins. Most of what we were eating was accompanied by a Salad or Steamed Vegetables. Even if my mother wasn’t at all into Nutrition, I guess she did a good job by instinct, balancing proteins with vegetables and grains without thinking about it. When I got my first apartment, a few years ago, my mother completely stopped cooking, cause she wasn’t enthusiast to do it just for herself. My mother was a good cook, but she didn’t like to cook. She did it all for me, and I can only be grateful.
Being on my own, I got more and more interested by food. It’s only recently that I went Vegetarian and really started eating clean (meaning non processed) organic food. I feel good about the fact that I’m a newbie to this lifestyle and that I still have so much to learn! So many years in front of me to grow better at cooking!
One of the thing that made me feel sad about all this habit change is that my mother knew I was a “good cook”, but I felt like she was afraid to eat at my place! Indeed, she was really doubtful about Vegetarian food. Well, not just doubtful, scared. Tofu and chickpeas sounded to her like weird things that could certainly not taste good. I had her eating a bit of tofu last summer, and she liked it. But today, I had her over for lunch and we ate delicious sweet potato and black beans tortilla with pesto (I’ll be posting the recipe soon) and she was so enthusiast over it! I even put sprouted lentils on top of the salad and she loved it all! Wow, I didn’t even think she would accept to try legumes someday! I was really pleased! One step at the time, I think I could get her to really enjoy healthy eating. I love my mummy. I want her healthy.
This wasn’t even the only culinary experience of the day for my mummy. We went shopping all afternoon and it was so late when we got at my place I offered to bring her to a restaurant. “Which one?” she inquired. “Lola Rosa“, I said. “Lola what?”, she responded. “Lola Rosa, a Vegetarian restaurant”. I must say I saw fear in her eyes. “Vegetarian? Is there going to be something I like? Something I can eat?” She even tried telling me she wasn’t hungry. Well, let me tell you we went to Lola Rosa and she love it so much she even looked sad when her plate was finished. She was joking about the fact she could lick her plate! She even took a bite in my boyfriend’s plate and loved it as well. She told me we would come back, with all my Aunts and Family. Gosh, this felt great. I made my mummy eating Vegetarian all day and she completely loved it! It’s kinda weird to say, but I feel really proud. And happy.
Now, let’s get to that Tofu Palak recipe! Here’s what you’ll need :
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coconut vinegar (optional)
- 1 block of extra-firm tofu, well pressed and cut into dice-sized cubes
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 7 oz (1 cup) canned diced tomatoes
- 16 oz (500g) bag of chopped frozen spinach
- 1 cup of water
- fresh cilantro, chopped, for serving
- Brown rice and vegan naan, for serving (optional)
Marinade the tofu cubes with coconut milk, coconut vinegar and a pinch of salt in the fridge for a few hours (optional but highly recommended).
Heath a non-adhesive pan to medium. Take the tofu out of the coconut milk and put it in the pan (you’ll use the leftover coconut milk later). Cook the tofu until it gets a little bit golden on every side. **I completely ruined this part by not using a non-stick pan this time ; all the golden crisp of the tofu stayed in the bottom of the pan… Oups!
Put the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor and mix them until the mix is kinda homogenous. Transfer to a medium or big size pot with the coconut oil. Let this mixture caramelize to low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Lower the heat a bit and add the spices (curry powder, garam masala, ground cloves and fennel seeds) to the onion mixture, then let it simmer for a minute or two. Add the diced tomatoes, the spinach and the cup of water. mix well and wait until the spinach are completely heated through. Add the tofu and the leftover coconut milk marinade to the pan. Mix it all together until everything is hot.
Serve the Palak tofu and garnish with coriander leaves. You can also add some Fleur de sel, to taste.
Time to eat! You can serve this Palak with naan bread and/or brown rice.
** In case you’re wondering how I put my rice in cute little spheres, I must say it’s incredibly easy. I simply take my 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup measuring cup (that is roundly shaped) and use it as a spoon to take the rice in my rice cooking pan. I tap it a little to make sure the rice in compacted well, then add a little bit if needed until the measuring cup is full. Then, I turn the cup upside down over my serving plate and leave the rice fall of the cup gently. As simple as this!