Archive for July 16th, 2014

July 16, 2014

Bennachin Restaurant, a taste of Africa in New Orleans

by ashley
Akara - Black Eyed Pea Fritters

Akara – Black Eyed Pea Fritters

I’ve been so busy these last six months and it was left up to Jessica to keep up the blog (she did a great job, thanks Jess!!). Finally I am back in town and ready to share all of my experiences with our readers. Since I last posted I’ve been to Orlando, Denver, New Orleans, Lisbon (Portugal), Vaduz (Liechtenstein), Munich (Germany), Baden Baden (Germany), Innsbruck (Austria), Chur (Switzerland), Fussen (Germany), Frankfurt (Germany), Strasbourg (France) and several other cities in Europe that would make this list way too long. I won’t have updates from all of these places individually, but I plan to post as much information as I can on vegetarian eating in these regions.

A while ago I posted some pictures on the Facebook page (if you don’t follow us on Facebook, please click here!) of a meal I had in New Orleans that was amazing. Away from the hustle and bustle of the touristy side of Bourbon street lies Bennachin Restaurant, an African restaurant with amazing food and prices. If you are looking for a unique experience while visiting New Orleans, you should definitely give them a visit. I have been wanting to try Ethiopian food, but could never find an African restaurant from any country in South Florida. Bennachin focuses on cuisine from Gambia and Cameroon, catering heavily to vegan and vegetarian diners as well as meat eaters.

Kone ni Makondo - Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains

Kone ni Makondo – Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains

The interior has an intimate, homey and inviting atmosphere that put us at ease immediately. The staff were so friendly and all of the guests were also helpful when it came time to order. The menu was foreign to us, but we asked guests around us what they were eating and chose items that looked good. I ordered Akara (black-eyed pea fritters, $4.50 VEGAN), Kone ni Makondo (Black-eyed peas in onion and tomato stew served with coconut rice and fried ripe plantains, $13.95 VEGAN) and Makondo Yogurt (fried plantains with yogurt sauce, $5.00 VEG/DAIRY). The portion sizes are enormous here and I really didn’t need any appetizer or dessert, but I was so intrigued by everything I wanted to try as much as I could. Unfortunately we only learned of their famous Jama-Jama (sautéed spinach, $4.50 VEGAN) after ordering, which is a hit at the annual Jazz and Heritage Festival. When I am in New Orleans again, I will definitely go back and order it.

Makondo Yogurt - fried plantains with yogurt sauce

Makondo Yogurt – fried plantains with yogurt sauce

The restaurant has been a staple of New Orleans since 1992 yet many tourists don’t get to experience it, even though it is well within walking distance of the tourist area. Located at 1212 Royal Street, it is only one block off of Bourbon Street and less than a mile from Canal Street. Their full menu and more information about the restaurant can be found on their website at http://www.bennachinrestaurant.com/.

July 16, 2014

The Wonders of Ghee and Ladoo/Laddu

by ashley

Ghee and Ladoo/Laddu Ghee is traditionally used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali and Sri Lankan cuisine, however versions of it are used throughout the world. It is very similar to clarified butter and made almost in the same way, just cooked a bit longer until the milk solids are browned. While not vegan, the process of making Ghee removes all of the milk solids, so it is a safe alternative to those with milk/lactose allergies. The flavor of your Ghee will depend greatly on the quality of the butter you start with. The best Ghee will come from grass fed cows, best if you can find fresh butter from a local farmer. If you are not near a farming community and live in the United States or Canada, Kerrygold butter is also a great alternative. Make sure you buy the full fat, traditional Kerrygold if you choose that route.

I am most familiar with the traditional uses of Ghee in Indian cooking, which they use to cook rice, dosas, curries and many other popular items. Ghee is also frequently served on the side for dipping in Indian cuisine. Naan, one of my favorite breads in the world, is usually brushed with Ghee while cooking to give it that sweet, buttery flavor.  

Ghee can be used to cook almost anything requiring the use of butter or oil, and when prepared with high quality butter it will contain no trans fats. So while Ghee is 100% fat, many doctors agree it is much healthier than many oils. Trans fats have been shown in laboratory testing to raise the risk of heart disease. Be careful if you choose to purchase pre-made Ghee instead of making your own, as there are many companies that market as “pure Ghee” when in fact they use vegetable oils containing trans fats. When made properly, Ghee is aromatic and nutty, with a hint of sweetness that lends itself to a variety of dishes and cuisines.

 

Making Ghee at Home

What you’ll need:

1lb high quality, full fat, unsalted butter

Large pot

Wooden spoon
Double mesh strainer

Cheesecloth

Large mixing bowl with lip for pouring

Jars for storage (I use mason jars)

 

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter foams and starts to boil. Lower heat to medium low and let simmer, do not stir in this phase. Allow the butter to continue to simmer until the foam disappears and the butter starts to clear. While waiting, place your double mesh strainer over the mixing bowl with the cheesecloth laid over the strainer. You will see the milk solids begin to form, stir gently a few times just to let the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pot.  Keep simmering, stirring occasionally so the milk solids don’t stick. Your Ghee will be finished cooking once the milk solids are a medium golden brown and the butter is finished foaming. Immediately pour the Ghee over the cheesecloth to strain out the milk solids. Some may choose to discard these, others can follow my short recipe below for a delicious treat to make with these. Pour into glass jars for storage. Your Ghee should be a lovely clear gold color, which will solidify as it cools. It is now ready for use!

 

Ladoo (Laddu) – Tasty treats made from leftover milk solids

Ladoo/Laddu

If you do not have a dairy allergy, there is no reason to discard the delicious milk solids that are left over from your homemade Ghee. They are very simple to make and are a great way to enjoy the fruits of your Ghee labor right away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you’ll need:

Leftover milk solids from making Ghee (recipe above)

½ cup wheat flour

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp Ghee

3 tbsp halved raw, unsalted cashews (optional)

Parchment paper

 

Combine the milk solids, sugar and wheat flour in the same pan you just made Ghee, mix well to fully incorporate and heat over medium low until golden brown. In separate pan, lightly fry the cashews in two tablespoons of Ghee. Add cashews to the wheat mixture and incorporate by hand, adding the remaining tablespoon of Ghee if mixture is not wet enough. Begin hand forming small balls in your hands and set out on parchment. These can be eaten immediately or cooled and eaten at room temperature. Either way, they are delicious!

 

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