Spicy tofu and mushrooms

Ingredients:

– 200 gr of tofu
– 200 gr of abalone mushrooms
– 200 gr of capsicum (you can use any type of large size pepper of your preference)
– 1 onion
– 1 tomato
– 1 chili
– 6 garlic cloves
– ginger
– tomato sauce
– soya sauce
– coconut oil
– mustard seeds
– salt
– black pepper and cumin powder (or any spice of your preference)

Preparation:

– Smash and cut the garlic cloves and the ginger very small. Cut the tofu in cubes and mix it with the minced garlic and ginger, add the soya sauce, salt, black pepper and cumin powder. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

– Chop the tomato and the mushrooms in 2 or 4 pieces depending on their size (i like to keep them in big chunks). Slice the capsicum and onion.

– Heat oil in a large frying pan and add some mustard seeds. Add half of the sliced onion and the sliced chili. Stir and wait until it becomes golden.

– Add the mushroom and let it fry for a few minutes. You can sprinkle a bit of salt and black pepper powder to taste. Add the tomato, then the tofu, and finally the capsicum and the rest of the onion (stir and let if cook for a few minutes in between). Add tomato sauce and stir. Let it cook until ready.

Serve it immediately with rice, noodles or pasta.

Gotu Kola Sambol

I love the taste and smell of the Gotu Kola herb (Centella asiatica; for the wikipedia article click here). As a side dish, this sambol makes any meal highly nutritious and it’s even regarded as a medicinal food. It’s also very easy to make and you can use Parsley if Gotu Kola is not available.

Ingredients:

– 1 bunch of Gotu Kola (if unavailable use Parsley)
– 3 red onions (this is a very small type of onion about the size of a garlic clove, so if you only have big onions just use 1/4 onion)
– 1 small tomato
– 3 table spoons of shredded coconut (if unavailable you can use desiccated coconut mixed with 1 table spoon of water)
– 1 green chilli
– 1 lime
– salt and black pepper

Preparation:

– Wash the Gotu Kola very well. Soak it in salt water and then drain it. Chop it very thinly including the stalk.
– Slice the onions and the green chilli also very thinly, and chop the tomato in very small cubes.
– Put all the above in a bowl and add the coconut, the juice of a squeezed lime, salt and pepper to taste.
– Mix everything well and it’s ready to serve.

Tip: After being chopped, the Gotu Kola can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days but should be preserved before adding the coconut.

Cucumber and Pineapple Salad

This salad is deliciously fresh and extremely easy to make. It’s a great side dish you should definitely try!

Ingredients:

– 1/2 pineapple
– 1 big cucumber
– 1 tomato
– 1 lime
– salt and black pepper

Preparation:

– Peel the pineapple and the cucumber and remove the cucumber seeds. Cut the tomato in half and also remove it’s seeds.
– Chop these 3 items in very small cubes, around 1cm long, and put it in a bowl.
– Squeeze the lime and pour the juice over the salad. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
– Mix everything well and it’s ready to eat!

Cowpea with coconut milk

This is a traditional Sri Lankan curry dish which can go very well with rice, pasta, or even mixed in some salads. It is also not very hot for the spice sensible taste.

Ingredients:
– 500 gr. of cowpea
– coconut oil
– mustard seeds
– cloves
– 2 chopped green chili
– 3 or 4 red onions
– curry leaves
– pandan leaf
– 1/2 tea spoon of turmeric
– 2 tea spoons of toasted curry powder
– 10 pieces of garlic shopped in large slices
– salt
– 1 cup of coconut milk powder dissolved into 4 cups of water
– small cinnamon stick

Preparation:

– Put the cowpea in a basin with water until it gets swollen. It will take a few hours to be ready.
– Wash the cowpea and boil in water for 20 minutes.
– Heat up some coconut oil in a saucepan and add some mustard seeds, cloves, the green chilies, half of the red onions, the curry leaves and the panda leaves.
– Fry the cowpea in this saucepan for a few minutes always mixing well.
– Add the turmeric, toasted curry powder, garlic and the rest of the onions, salt, coconut milk and the cinnamon stick.
– Leave it cooking until ready ( around 30 minutes).

Starting…

Born and raised in Portugal I came to work in Sri Lanka in the beginning of 2011. Since the arrival, one of the aspects in Sri Lankan culture which has most differed from my Portuguese habits was the food and culinary. After the initial shock I can honestly say that despite being very different from one another, both these gastronomical traditions are very rich and diverse, and the sense of taste plays a significant part in the countries cultures.

I learned that vegetarianism is praised in many Asian countries such as Sri Lanka. People boast about being vegetarian! In any restaurant you will find vegetarian dishes and I find after some time that the ingredients for vegetarian cooking are even cheaper in the supermarkets. It is totally embedded in the culture! People know how to cook using mostly vegetable proteins and be healthy with it. It is also morally praised if you can keep a diet free from the killing of other beings, as it is not considered that animals exist to be exploited by humans.

This is totally opposite from Portugal and (i believe in all) Europe, where vegetarianism as a way of living is not so much popular and is sometimes even seen as an unnatural and freaky thought of some minorities. It is not easy to find products such as tofu or soy in a regular supermarket and they are usually expensive. Most people don’t know much about the nutritional qualities of their food and the meat or fish are the main ingredients in any major meal and are consumed more than what is even recommended by doctors.

I always admired vegetarianism because I never liked the suffering and death of animals. Also, I believe if it is correctly applied in a nutritionally balanced diet, it can contribute to a healthier condition in our body.

As a personal challenge, I am committed to learn how to cook good vegetarian recipes, to try this new way of life and check for myself about it’s health benefits. And of course to share my experience with the world through this blog. Later on I hope to share some gardening experiences as well. I intend to grow some veggies myself, as gardening is another one of my hobbies!

Note: Although there won’t be any meat or fish in these recipes some may contain dairy products and/or eggs, as they are not obtained through the killing of animals.