Our Community Through Food
Are you guilty of watching Netflix while you mindlessly eat your way through dinner? We, on the Healthy Cooking Team part of the Peer Health Educators, definitely are.
Although we might not always be aware of it, food is a fundamental part of our identity. Whether it’s bringing back fond memories of our childhood, or just reminding us of the deliciousness of home-cooked meals (and not frozen pizza…), our food preferences are personally meaningful and different from each other.
Furthermore, for many of us, food is really our only connection left to our cultural heritage. And so, our Healthy Cooking Team would love to share with all of you just a few recipes that are personally and culturally significant to each of us. We hope you enjoy a taste of Cameroon, India, China, and Pakistan!
Gernique: Let me introduce you to Ndole and Plantain from Cameroon, West Africa.
Ndole originate from the Littoral province is one of Cameroon’s top dishes you will be sure to see at any event. Bitter leaf originates from West Africa, can be cooked in different ways and has many different local names such as ewuro, onugbu, shuwaka, atidot (Nigeria); awonyono, onyono (Ghana), mululuza, omubirizi (Uganda) and Ndole (Cameroon). This recipe was passed down to me from my mother who learnt it from her mother. This dish represents party time for most Cameroonian especially from those who live in the diaspora as it provides comfort from being so far away from our loved ones.
1 lb Frozen washed bitter leaf (Can substitute with spinach) ½ kb boiled beef ½ lb stock fish ¾ cup crayfish ½ lb fresh shrimps 2 Large onions 1 small ginger root 4-5 cloves garlic 1 stalk celery 1 stalk of leek or 3 green onions ¼ cup parsley 2-3 scotch bonnet (optional) 1tbsp white pepper powder 1tbsp Njansang powder 1tsp ground country onion powder (rondelles) 1tsp African nutmeg powder (Pebe, wede aba, ehuru) 2 cups skinless peanuts (washed and boiled) 2 bouillon cubes Salt to taste 1 cup of Olive oil Plantain
**For vegetarian or vegan options, omit the meat, fish, crayfish or shrimp.
Defrost bitter leaf or spinach, squeeze and keep aside.
Peel the onion and garlic and wash along with the scotch bonnet, ginger, celery, leeks and parsley
Heat 2tbsp of oil in a pan, then add your washed and diced meat with some sliced onions, salt and fry for 5mins then add some water and boil till tender.
Boil the stocked fish with salt and water for 10mins, select out the bones and set aside along with its stock.
Blend boiled peanuts with onion, ginger, garlic, celery, parsley, scotch bonnet and leek into a fine paste occasionally adding fish stock.
Add this fine peanut mix to the meat pan with all the powdered ingredients, bouillon cube, salt, crayfish and stocked fish and give it a good stir.
Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes with the occasional stirring and tasting to adjust salt.
Throw in the bitter leaf/spinach and stir until it is well mixed in with the paste and allow to cook for 8-10mins.
Sautee the rest of the onions with the shrimps in the remaining oil and pour into the Ndole and stir.
Let it stand for a minute et voila Ndole is done!
Peel your plantain and boil until soft.
Serve your Ndole hot with some plantain and enjoy!
Preet’s Chai Tea:
Chai tea is a necessity in almost any Indian household. I remember as a child I would wake up early for school, I remember the first thing I would wake up to in the morning, was the scent of the first pot of chai put on by my grandmother. I recall as I would walk out the door after getting to school my mother would have put on another pot of tea for herself.
Furthermore, throughout the day my family would have multiple cups of chai. I had even been taught early on in my life each step on how to prepare the chai, recalling that the most important part one is to not keep your eyes off the milk.
In my culture, chai represents not only the start of the day but also coming together with friends and family as it is customary to offer a cup to any of your guests. A warm and flavorful cup of chai should be enjoyed by everyone, I have included a recipe below, so you are able to prepare one yourself.
Any strong black tea will work for this such as Assam or Darjeeling, in my home we use orange pekoe. If you have loose leaf tea, add 2-3 tablespoons to 1 and 1/2 cups of a pot of boiling water. If you do not have loose leaf tea, then you should add a tea bag to the pot of boiling water instead. Allow the tea to boil until the water is very dark in colour, approximately 4 min on medium heat.
In the meantime, crush 2-3 cloves, 2 cardamon pods and 1/3 of a cinnamon stick.
Add the crushed spices and 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds if you wish and continue to let the tea simmer on med-low heat for about 3-5 more min. Add 3/4 of milk and continue to let simmer until the milk has boiled. Filter the tea with a strainer in to cups and serve the chai.
Check out the recipe in full here: https://www.indianhealthyrecipes.com/masala-tea-chai/
For as long as I can remember, I always hated dumplings – as a Chinese Canadian, saying these words is basically sacrilegious. I’m not sure when or why, but over time, my hatred of these small meat- or vegetable-filled dough balls (they don’t really look like spheres, but it’s the only word I could really think of… “oval-like columns” just sounds weird).
Perhaps it might have been how our family always sat together on Lunar New Year’s Eve to make these dumplings to eat altogether at midnight.
While I may not have loved the food itself when I was young, I always loved gathering with my entire family to prepare the food together.
Now having moved away from home for university, I appreciate dumplings (both the food and the process of making them!) more than ever, and I never fail to bring some home-made dumplings with me to Kingston around Lunar New Year season!
Dumplings are usually filled with ground meat (like pork or beef) and vegetables (like Napa cabbage, green onions, chives, etc.), and seasoned with garlic, sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce. My family also likes to put shrimp and mushrooms for our dumpling fillings! You can also make the dumplings completely vegan or vegetarian by substituting the animal products with the ingredient of your choice. Ultimately, dumplings are a great dish for any time of year, and they have certainly become my comfort food now. I hope you enjoy them! 😊
Here’s a link to an easy recipe: https://www.thespruceeats.com/jiaozi-chinese-dumplings-694504
Wala‘s Chaat Papri:
Chaat papri is my absolute favorite appetizer snack to enjoy! Many Muslims around the world observe the month of Ramadan in April where we fast from dawn to sunset. I love the vibes during Ramadan as family and friends get together to break fast and prepare food together. So, as I was thinking about what food to write about, I couldn’t help but think about chaat papri! This year was my first Ramadan fasting away from home so I really missed the good vibes and some chaat papri from home!
So how do I describe chaat papri? Papris are like super crunchy and crispy chips that can be made at home or store-bought. Traditionally, the papris are buried beneath boiled potatoes, chickpeas, chilled yoghurt and topped with an assortment of chutneys/sauces (mint chutney, and sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney) that are so flavourful and are the best part about the chaat. I like to add the papri at the end for the extra crunch and so it doesn’t get soggy by the yogurt and chutneys.
All the ingredients can be made from scratch, or you can buy them readymade at a South Asian grocery store. Each bite is full of complementary and contrasting textures and flavors and I’m sure everyone can enjoy some part of it! This recipe is super easy to customize for various dietary needs and easy to make if you have all the ingredients on hand. I hope you give it a try! Ramadan Mubarak to everyone observing it.
Here’s a link to an easy recipe: https://sconceandscone.com/2021/03/07/papri-chaat/