Coconut Curry and Peppered Tofu: Vegan Jamaican Recipes from Riaz Phillips | Caribbean food and drink

Jhere are a lot of things i crave about Jamaican food, beyond jerk and meat curry. In kitchen shops, tucked away in malls, on roadsides and in the hills, Rastafarians and Seventh-day Adventists serve a daily rotating feast of plant-based dishes that celebrate the island’s fresh produce. , leafy vegetables with starchy roots. and bright fruit, combined with local herbs and spices.

Sweet potato, chickpeas and coconut curry (top photo)

Unlike Guyana and Trinidad, Jamaica does not have a large Indian community. This dish is therefore a kind of crucible of the Caribbean Sea, merging Chanaor curried chickpeas, with a Jamaican vegetable curry. Softened chickpeas are drowned in a silky coconut curry sauce, the tangy heat of fresh ginger and a whole scotch bonnet.

Preparation 20 mins
To cook 40 minutes
Serves 4-6

75ml rapeseed or vegetable oil
½ large onion
finely chopped
3 cloves of garlicpeeled and minced
2.5cm piece of fresh Gingerpeeled and minced
2 spring onionswhite and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1½ tbsp curry powder (mild or medium)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1x 400g
canned chickpeasdrained
1 x 400ml box of coconut milk
1 tbsp All purpose seasoning
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g
Yampeeled and cut into 2.5 cm pieces
1 large carrotsliced
1½ peppers (mix of colors), seeded and cut into 1cm dice
2 large tomatoesdiced (or 8 cherry tomatoes, halved)
4 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon maple syrup or light brown sugar
(optional)
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1
scotch bonnet peppertogether

For the okra
2 tablespoons coconut oil
A pinch of dried chili flakes
5–6 okra
headed and stemmed, halved lengthwise

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for two minutes, add the garlic, ginger and the white part of the spring onions, then cook for another two minutes.

Add the curry powder, cumin and a tablespoon of water, and stir for a minute to combine. Stir in chickpeas, coat with seasoning, then add coconut milk, all-purpose seasoning and cinnamon, and continue to stir for about a minute.

Then stir in the sweet potato, carrot, peppers, tomatoes and thyme. Add salt, black pepper, maple syrup or sugar, if using, and grated coconut, stir, then add the scotch bonnet. Reduce the heat to low, cover with the lid and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir, cover again and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.

Meanwhile, cook the okra. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the chili flakes. Add the okra and fry until they begin to brown slightly. Remove with a spatula and drain on paper towels. Add the okra and its spicy oil to the pan of coconut chickpeas or serve separately, if you prefer.

Serve with the green part of the spring onions.

Pepper Tofu

Peppered tofu from Riaz Phillips.

One of the dishes that has popped up in many Jamaican Ital shacks and restaurants is this sticky, sweet and sour vegan version of pepper steak, which is influenced by the country’s Chinese communities. Beef steak strips are reinvented in the form of tofu, which sits in a thickened mixture of sweet soy sauce that you’ll be hard-pressed not to enjoy every last drop.

Preparation 20 mins
To cook 25 minutes
Serves 4

400g firm tofuwell drained, patted dry and cut into 2.5 cm wide slices
5 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 tablespoons cornstarch
(cornstarch)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (AKA black)
or tomato ketchup
5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of maple syrup Where sweet brown sugar
1 teaspoon browning (optional)
4 tablespoons rapeseed oil
½ onionminced
2 spring onionswhite and green parts separated, thinly sliced
3 sprigs of thyme
½ scotch bonnet pepperseeded and thinly sliced
3–4 garlic clovespeeled and minced
2.5cm fresh piece Gingerpeeled and minced
½ carrotjulienned
1 red pepperseeded and sliced
½ tomatochopped (optional)

Put the tofu in a shallow bowl and add the soy sauce. Gently swirl until coated, taking care not to break the slices. Add three tablespoons of cornstarch, then turn to coat all sides of the tofu and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the dark soy sauce or ketchup, vinegar, maple syrup or sugar, browning, if using, and 90ml of water, then set aside. In another bowl, mix three tablespoons of water with the remaining cornstarch.

Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Fry the tofu, in batches, for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel while you cook the rest of the tofu, adding more oil if needed. Drain and reserve.

Wipe out wok or skillet and heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, the new onions, keep part of the green part for the garnish, the thyme and the scotch bonnet. Sauté for three to five minutes, then add the garlic and ginger, then cook for another two minutes.

Add dark soy sauce mixture and stir to combine. Then add the cornstarch water and cook, stirring, for one to two minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

Add the carrot, bell pepper, and tomato, if using, and three tablespoons of water, then stir until combined. Cover with the lid and cook for two minutes. Add the tofu and reheat, adding an additional two to three tablespoons of water if needed. Cover and reheat, then serve, sprinkling the green part of the spring onions.

Michael M. Tomlin