Red Red – Ghanaian Black Eyed Beans Stew

Believe it or not, I used to hate beans. It was only until a year and a half ago (when I gave up meat) that I started to eat more beans and pulses. It was then that I realised they aren’t so bad.

Red Red is a traditional Ghanaian stew made with black eyed beans and tomatoes. The name comes from the colour of stew as it is normally cooked in palm oil. Red Red is typically served with fried ripe (yellow) plantains.

My parents make this regularly and it was not long ago that I thought ‘I’d better make this myself’. So, I did. If you’re like me, you’d prepare this meal at least a day in advance by soaking the black eyed beans in water overnight. I don’t tend to use canned beans for this, but, if it makes your life easier, definitely go for it!

Make sure you have an apotoyewaa (clay grinding pot/large pestle and mortar) at hand, otherwise, be prepared to finely dice onions and scotch bonnet peppers!

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g black eyed beans, soaked in water overnight and washed
  • 200ml palm oil
  • 1 large onion, half sliced, half diced
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 400g chopped tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes (I used Knorr)
  • 2 tsp season-all
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 200ml warm water
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. In a large pot, boil the black eyed beans for 30 – 50 minutes over medium-high heat until soft. Ensure that there is always water in the pot so the beans do not dry up and risk getting burned.
  2. While the beans are boiling, grind up the diced onions and scotch bonnet peppers with a dash of warm water, until you get a smooth mixture.
  3. Heat the palm oil in another pot over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the ground onions and scotch bonnet mixture to the pot and fry off for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the sliced onions and garlic and fry until the onions are soft.
  6. Add in the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock cubes, season all, ginger and paprika. Stir until the stock cubes have dissolved and are fully incorporated. Cover the pot and leave to cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add the warm water to the pot, stir, then leave to cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them, leaving some liquid behind. Add the beans and the liquid to the tomato stew and stir until will combined. Check for salt/seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  9. The Red Red is now ready to be served – enjoy with some fried ripe plantains and/or rice!

On the Bab: A Review

Korean food is becoming more and more popular where I’m from, and for very good reason. I first tried Korean BBQ some years ago with friends. It was a nice and modern restaurant with grills built into the tables. Back then, when I used to eat meat, Korean BBQ was always a great option.

Now that I only go for veggie or fish dishes, it’s a good challenge finding new places to eat. On this occasion, the Korean food spot I went to was called On the Bab.

I visited On the Bab after recommendation from my brother. It’s a Korean restaurant for casual dining. I went there with two friends from university – I hadn’t seen one of them in two years, so it was essentially a reunion. We went to the branch in Old Street, London, around 3pm.

Although this branch does not do table bookings, we were seated straight away, which was quite lucky. It was a small restaurant with tables placed quite close together, typical of a lot of restaurants in this area. I ordered the Gimari Salad, Toppoki and ‘On the Buns’.

Gimari Salad

Price: £4.50

The Gimari Salad is a fried seaweed roll salad. Each roll was nice and crispy and the salad underneath made this starter refreshing. If I could eat these little seaweed rolls all day, I would!

Rating: 5/5

Toppoki

Price: £4.90

My friends swear by Korean rice cakes, and I can see where they’re coming from. This was my first time trying these and I was not disappointed. I had no expectations of the Toppoki, so just went in blind. It was served with a boiled quail egg and a sweet and spicy sauce.

Rating: 4/5

On the Buns – Mushroom Fritter

Price: £8

Two fluffy buns with large mushroom fritters. I had to tackle these with my hands and eat them like burgers. These were so tasty and the textures of soft buns, crispy batter and meaty mushrooms made the experience even better.

Rating: 5/5

On the Bab is a great Korean street food spot and I recommend you visit. I will have to go again to try other vegetarian and pescatarian options. If you’re a meat eater, definitely try their their Korean Fried Chicken, I’ve heard fantastic things about it.

There are four locations all in London: Shoreditch, Covent Garden, St Paul’s and Soho. There will be one opening soon in Paris too!

Overall Rating: 5/5

Location: On the Bab, 305 Old Street, EC1V 9LA

Website: http://onthebab.com/shoreditch/#3rdPage


Spicy Vegan Stir-Fry

My posts have been a bit scattered recently, but, there’s good news: I’ve finally finished university! So, while I’m job hunting, I’ll have more time to tend to this blog. I’ve also booked a cheeky day trip to Amsterdam, so expect some posts about the experience soon.

Now, for this week’s recipe…

If you’re looking for a quick mid-week meal, a stir-fry is the way to go. You can prepare your vegetables ahead of time and store them in the fridge for even less hassle.

This stir-fry includes bell peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms, tofu and of course, chillies for heat. To get the tofu crispy, I made sure to flatten the tofu block with something heavy overnight. This helps to remove the moisture from the tofu.

Enjoy this stir-fry on top of some brown rice, or have it as a starter. Whatever works for you!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced
  • Half a block of tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 125g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp season-all

Method

  1. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil over a medium heat.
  2. Fry off the garlic, ginger and chillies for 1 minute.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then add the tofu. Fry until crisp and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onions, peppers and mushrooms and fry for about 3 minutes, until tender.
  5. Add the spinach, soy sauce and season all. Stir until the spinach has wilted, then remove from the heat. Enjoy!

Vegetable Noodle Soup

A warming, light noodle soup packed with a variety of crunchy and soft vegetables, topped off with a soft-boiled egg.

This dish is definitely a new favourite of mine and is very simple to make. The first time I made it was during winter; evenings were cold and coursework deadlines were nearing fast. After a long day of work, this meal kept the cold away and gave me a much needed boost of energy.

If an egg isn’t for you, try this recipe using a protein of your choice such as chicken or beef.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 200g dry udon noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 700ml vegetable stock (or two vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 700ml of boiling hot water)
  • 50ml mirin
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • Salt to taste
  • 80g spring greens, sliced
  • 120g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 large free range eggs (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chillies (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Fry the minced garlic and ginger for thirty seconds to one minute. Add the onions and mushrooms, stir and cook for two minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then add the mirin and soy sauce. Cook for another minute.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and the spring greens into the pot. Stir and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt/seasoning if necessary.
  4. In a smaller pot, boil water and place in the eggs. Boil the eggs for six to seven minutes to achieve a soft yolk. Once cooked, place in cold water to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, peel off the egg shell.
  5. In another pot, cook your noodles according to the packet’s instructions (the brand I used needed only three minutes).
  6. To serve, place the noodles in a bowl, pour over the vegetable soup along with the mushrooms, onions and spring greens. Top with the boiled egg sliced in half, the chopped spring onions and the sliced bell peppers. Sprinkle over some crushed chillies and enjoy!

Meat-free: Week 32

After going ‘cold-turkey’ and excluding meat and seafood from my meals in January, I’ve managed to last 32 weeks!

I’ve been able to try out foods I’d never usually go for, or eat foods that I thought I hated. Tofu being one of them.

Over these months, I’ve learned that I really only miss one animal food group: seafood. I miss prawns, I miss lobster, I miss sea bass, I miss my mum’s fried yam with pepper sauce and mackerel. The pepper sauce just isn’t the same without fish!

I think I’ll be returning to seafood once in a while, but not too often because this meatless lifestyle has been very agreeable with my bank account.

The challenge of not eating meat and seafood was easier when I was living away from home (in a place with not much variety). But now that I’m back in London, there are just so many restaurants and food markets I can visit – right on my doorstep.

The difference this time is that I’ll approach these places to eat with an open mind. Last year, you’d never catch me eating at a vegan restaurant – in fact, I was definitely turning my nose up at them. But now, I can say I’m that little bit more adventurous, and a lot more willing to try out different cuisines.


Mooshies Vegan Burger: A Review

“Vegan burgers? No thanks.”

Before giving up meat and fish, I was a huge burger fan. I’ve had fantastic beef and chicken burgers from Honest Burgers, Patty & Bun, The Blues Kitchen and more. I didn’t think that a vegetarian or vegan burger would be able to be on par with, or even better than a ‘traditional’ burger.

But, joke’s on me because I’ve found some fire!

It’s been six months since giving up meat and fish, and the burgers I’ve tried were mostly average. However, a couple of burger joints gave me glimmers of hope, including:

  • The ‘Cheese Melt’ burger from Byron (London)
  • The ‘Juicy Boris’ burger from 7Bone Burger Co. (Portsmouth)

Other than the two mentioned above, burger options typically had a bean patty, or a portobello mushroom with some kind of cheese.

After hearing about Mooshies from a friend, I checked them out on Instagram and Facebook to see what all the hype was about. I saw great reviews about their ‘Pulled Mooshie’ burger which has slow-cooked BBQ jackfruit and coleslaw, and their ‘Cheese Sticks’ looked amazing.

When visiting, I ordered the Fillet-Om-Phish, Cheese Sticks, and French Fries. My friend ordered the Pulled Mooshie, and Homemade Guacamole with Plantain Crisps.

The Fillet-Om-Phish

Burger

Price: £7.50

This has battered aubergine, tartar sauce, seaweed, lettuce and cheese, all in between a multigrain seeded brioche bun.

This definitely reminded me of a fish burger even though there was no fish in sight. The seaweed took it to another level and the various textures made it enjoyable to eat. Somehow, my burger bun disappeared towards the end which made the final bites a little messy, but other than that, a very nice burger at a very good price. This burger is definitely up there as a favourite.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Cheese Sticks

Cheese Sticks 2

Price: £6.50

This came as three large vegan cheese sticks with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

The outside was crispy, and the inside was filled to the brim with hot and bright yellow/orange vegan cheese. I was excited to taste this as I love cheese. I had my first bite and it took a while for me to understand the flavour. And then I realised that it had a similar taste and colour to American Cheese. The sweet chilli sauce helped that processed-cheese-like flavour though. On another note, a few £s should be slashed from the price!

Rating: 2.5/5

The French Fries

Fries 2

Price: £3

You can’t really go wrong with French fries can you? These were a great portion size, and they came out hot, with a crispy outside, and a fluffy inside. I just gave it a pinch of sea salt and pepper as I usually do. Job done.

Rating: 5/5

While my meal as a whole was great, my friend’s was quite the opposite. She described the Pulled Mooshie burger as just ‘coleslaw and bread’! Another visit may have to be made to find out if this is true or not, because there was so much hype about the BBQ jackfruit.

I will definitely be having the Fillet-Om-Phish again, along with some other sides. And a bonus for those local to Brick Lane in London: Mooshies is available for delivery via Deliveroo and Uber Eats!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Location: Mooshies, 104 Brick Ln, London, E1 6RL
Website: https://veganburger.org/

Meat-free: Week 16

I’ve made it to week 16!

These last few months have been very interesting. I’ve tried foods that I would have never usually have before: some good, some bad. I’ve also noticed myself leaning towards one particular type of cuisine.

Weeks 5 – 8 saw myself going for a variety of seeds/grains/pasta such as:

  • Bulgur
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Wild rice

Bulgur or couscous would be used in a stir-fry along with soy sauce, and vegetables such as peppers, onions and mushrooms.

I’d cook quinoa and mix in vegetables similar to the above, but top with feta or halloumi, and a squeeze of lemon or lime for some freshness.

Brown rice with a stew or curry was one of my go-to’s. Otherwise, I’d have a mix of brown rice and wild rice with stewed or roasted vegetables.

Wholewheat pasta was used to make delicious pasta bakes, topped with cheese of course.

I was also trying to find a vegetarian burger at this point – not the burgers that only have a portobello mushroom as the ‘patty’. I’ve tried the falafel type burgers – one from a restaurant, and one at home – and surprisingly, they were heavy. Flavour was there, but it was a mission trying to finish them.

Weeks 9 – 15 I explored Indian food. Before removing meat from my diet, I only had Indian food once in a blue moon. But, if I was to order out on a Friday from an Indian takeaway, I’d go for a Chicken Dhansak.

Now, I’ve had many dishes that include ingredients such as spinach, paneer, potatoes and lentils. Indians really do make vegetarian dishes taste great!

Despite the variety of food, week 16 saw the temptation for meat come in. I’m actually starting to miss it now. I gave in and tried a vegetarian sausage, thinking it would taste nice. It tasted like cardboard. Safe to say I’m never having that again.

I wonder how long this can last because… I could really do with a good burger right now.


Quinoa, Stir-fried Vegetables & Feta Salad

I was in the mood for having ”super grains” after having some from the cafe at work a few weeks ago. It was a quinoa, sultana and almond salad. Of course, I picked out the sultanas (it’s a texture thing), and just had the quinoa and almonds, along with some lettuce, onions and tomatoes. It tasted great.

Sometimes I get bored of having the typical rice, pasta, or potatoes, so quinoa was a good change. Also, my rice cooker broke mid-week, and I can’t be asked to sit in the kitchen to watch over brown rice cooking on the stove after work everyday.

The thought of having to wait for my stainless steel pot to soak in soapy water for at least an hour before being able to wash up, made my head hurt. I really have to do the dishes before eating, or it just feels wrong!

If I could make something in bulk just once, and refrigerate it, I’d be content. Old rice just doesn’t sit well with me, unless I’m stir frying it. I was hoping to find a tasty dish with inexpensive ingredients, so I had a browse on BBC Good Food.

I came across this amazing recipe by Sarah Cook, and gave it my own spin.

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 250g quinoa
  • 3 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
  • 1 large courgette, sliced into ~ 5mm thick semi circles
  • 1 large red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I prefer Knorr)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp season-all
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150g feta cheese, cubed
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)

Method

  1. Follow the packet instructions for cooking the quinoa, but add in the vegetable stock cube and stir. Drain once cooked and separate the grains using a fork.
  2. In a pan, heat the olive oil over a medium/high heat, then add in the chopped onion, bell peppers, courgettes, paprika, chilli flakes, season-all, and black pepper. Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add them to the quinoa.
  4. Add the lemon juice and feta cheese, and stir until well combined.
  5. Serve into a bowl and top with roughly chopped parsley.
Bulgur veg and feta salad
I tried this meal with bulgur wheat as well, and it tasted just as great!

Meat-free: Week 4

Four weeks have passed since giving up meat/fish. It has been fun, but I can’t lie, that first week was a struggle. Here are some quick dives into some of my experiences so far.

Fatigue hit hard

The first week as mentioned, was a struggle. Now surprisingly, it wasn’t because I was craving any meat/fish, it was because of the lack of energy I had. When I still had time off work for the Christmas & New Year break, I could easily take an afternoon nap to rejuvenate. As soon as I was back at work however, it was a mission staying awake.

tenor

If I didn’t get up and take walks, I would have knocked out on my desk. That would have been absolutely shambolic.

Snacking increased

For these first four weeks, some of my meals felt incomplete. The cravings for savoury snacks were something else. Plantain crisps were definitely my go-to (shout out to Asiko). A couple of changes to some meals have gradually curbed these cravings.

Lunch got a lot more interesting

Before 2018, my lunches for work weren’t very inspiring. It would either be some sort of sandwich or a boring salad. Now the challenge of having no meat forces me to be more creative with food, so that I can get the right amount of nutrients.

Pulses are key

So I don’t like many types of beans, let’s get that clear. But lentils and peas? Love them. Before scrapping meat/fish, I’d never actually tried lentils. Not only are pulses an alternative to regular ol’ rice, but they are great sources of protein, iron, and fibre.

Speaking of fibre…

I noticed that the number of bathroom breaks went up.

Need I say more?

tenor (1)

Overall, this challenge has started off quite well, despite the initial hurdles. I haven’t missed the taste of meat (yet), but we’ll see how long that lasts.

Now to conquer February.


New Year, No Meat?

I’m back after giving myself a cheeky two month break – sometimes you just have to!

2018 is going to be a crazy year: that I know for sure. My internship continues until July, followed by going to Ghana in August (speaking this into existence), and then starting my Masters in September. Let me not forget about other things like: house hunting/finding housemates, graduate applications, and learning how to learn again.

I’m getting a headache already.

Anyway, during these past few months, I’ve been getting a bit bored of meat. I haven’t been the hugest red meat eater: it was normally just chicken, turkey, and fish at home. However, if I went out for a meal, I’d try and go for something different – red meat, or some sort of crustacean.

It got to a weird point where someone would ask if I’m vegetarian because I picked up a veggie-friendly meal one too many times. Well, the answer was no. I just like my veg, you know?

Except avocados… those are horrendous, sorry.

So, as a little challenge for myself, I’m going to see how long I can give up meat and fish for – the aim is one year. This could perhaps reshape my creativity with food as well.

I’m looking forward to the challenge, and this new year will bring in more recipes, reviews, and maybe some rants.

See you in the next post!