Fasting is a common element of many cultures and culinary traditions. It can take various forms, but it always involves shunning a certain kind of food. Maybe I should rather say circumventing, because when you approach your diet from the perspective of what you cannot eat, your eyes suddenly open up to unthought possibilities.
The long-held tradition of lent has, for instance, left a non negligible imprint on the Greek culinary tradition. Throughout the years, the imagination and creativity of cooks embracing possibilities rather than being deterred by restrictions has created a stand alone chapter of almost vegan cuisine. The innovation still goes on.
Greek Lent is typically the time for relishing in pulses and grains, which are great sources of protein, iron and vitamins. It is the time when sesame paste is used in sauces, or becomes the dream stuffing of scrumptious breads and cookies.
Fast-food does definitively not equal a compromise of taste. Neither is it a synonym of painstakingly complex cooking. On the contrary, it is a great opportunity to thrive in good quality vegetarian/vegan food. So this is what my next couple of posts are going to be about: vegan and gluten-free fast-food.
The other day, I made a Mexican inspired salad for dinner and served it with roasted sweet potatoes, guacamole and a tomato salsa.
The salad was a colourful and tasty mix of raw vegetables:
Diced carrots, beetroot and cucumber; half a can of corn and red beans each (or make from scratch). A dressing of oil, vinegar, honey and finely chopped chilli. Sprinkled with parsley and coriander.
My clear favorite on the table though, was the tomato salsa inspired by a Gujarati side-dish that I tasted in Ahmedabad two years ago. For this cummin-tomato salsa you will need:
five medium-sized tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp of cummin seeds
1 tsp of coriander seeds, crushed in the mortar
fresh chilli or chilli powder
Cut the tomatoes in slices length wise, mix with the chopped garlic and chilli (to taste); set aside to let the flavours blend.
Heat up a table-spoon of oil and add the cummin and coriander; heat until the cummin starts dancing in the pan.
Add the tomato mix into the pan and stir on medium heat. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt.
Cook until the tomatoes are soft. If the mix starts drying out, add some tablespoons of water and keep mixing now and then so that they tomatoes won’t burn.
This salsa goes great together with a juicy salad and some warm tortilla-like bread.