Coconut, Chickpea & Kale Curry

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I know, I know. I do a LOT of curry recipes on this blog. I can’t help it. I lived in Okinawa where curry is everywhere. While living there I tried Japanese curry, Indian curry, Turkish curry, Thai curry… Probably more than that but I can’t remember. Curry is awesome. That’s why I do so many recipes revolving around curry.

Now first off, I have to tell you this isn’t exactly an original RCV recipe, it’s derived from my cooking course I’m currently taking through Rouxbe (which is AWESOME, by the way). Now I’ve changed quite a few things from their recipe, and decided to share it with you. Originally the dish was just coconut braised chickpeas and spinach. I turned it into coconut braised chickpea curry with kale, because I love curry with coconut milk and I hate cooked spinach. I also took out some other things I didn’t like in the recipe from the course, such as fresh ginger. What can I say? I’ll always be a little bit picky. I’ll never like fresh ginger, raw carrots, cooked spinach, or okra. But the beauty about learning to cook with plants is it is SO versatile! Adapting a recipe is no problem.

So without further babbling…

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Coconut, Chickpea & Kale Curry

Ingredients
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not jarred)
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 – 14 oz can coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup of kale
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional garnish – cilantro

Instructions
Prep work- first dice the onion and mince the garlic and ginger. Next, zest the lemon. Juice the lemon and save for later. Measure out the sun-dried tomatoes and cut into small strips or cubes. Drain & rinse the chickpeas. Measure out the chili flakes and coconut oil.

Getting down to business- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onions. Sweat the onions for about 10 minutes (cook over no more than medium heat without browning). Once soft, add the garlic and ginger powder and cook for another minute. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and chili flakes. Let cook for another minute. Turn up the heat and add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the mixture. Cook for a few minutes. Once the chickpeas are heated through, add in the kale a handful at a time. Lastly, add the coconut milk, curry powder, and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir and a add bit of the reserved lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed. At this point I also added dried turmeric just for color and nutritional purposes, but it adds no flavor to the dish so it can be omitted. Once everything has heated through, serve it up with any grain you like, even quinoa would work. I usually use jasmine rice. Garnish each plate with a some fresh cilantro if you wish and enjoy.

Thai red curry with vermicelli noodkes

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This year for my birthday my good friend Kiwa gave me thai red curry pastes. I had been looking all over for a fish-free red curry paste with no luck, so I was very thankful to get these from her. I love Thai curry. It has so many complex flavors and spices, and I think of it as comfort food. Especially when you add vermicelli noodles, which add the perfect texture to this soup. You should be able to find vermicelli noodles and red curry paste at your local store in the ethnic section, or at a specialty Asian foods market.

Ingredients:
4 cups veggie broth
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced in half
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar, honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 ounces vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon turmeric powder (optional)
1/2 cup drained, pressed, cubed tofu (optional)

Optional toppings: cilantro, lemon zest, sliced jalapeño, green onions, bean sprouts

Instructions:
Add all ingredients (except the noodles) to a large soup pot. Bring to medium high heat and let simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add the vermicelli noodles and heat through. They will take about five minutes to cook through.

Serve as soon as the noodles are done. Top with whatever suits your fancy. I like cilantro and green onion on mine. Enjoy!

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Vegan Thai green curry

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You ever cook something and think “wow, this is terrible!” And consider never cooking again? Alternatively, have you ever made something in the kitchen and said to yourself “wow, I am awesome!” ? Well, both of those things happened to me this week.

This week I attempted to make vegan pho, the same kind Kiwa from Dechibica makes. It didn’t go well. I had to throw the whole thing away. I ended up eating one of those pre-packaged vegan soups by Dr. McDougall. Don’t get me wrong, I like those. But I prefer a home cooked meal. I’ve never had a dish that I love more than Kiwa’s pho. So when I tried to recreate it and failed miserably, I almost thought I’d quit cooking. Then I decided I needed a good dish. Just one good dish. If I could make up a dish from scratch using what I know, I could continue cooking.

So that’s when I decided to use a little jar of green curry, combine it with what I know about making curry, add some rice noodles and create something I would be proud of. And you know what? It worked! When I asked my husband to rate it out of 1-10, he gave it a 10.5.

It’s easy to make, it’s insanely delicious, and it’s perfect for a cold winters night.

Ingredients
2 Tbs green curry paste
1 can coconut milk (top cream part only, not the water)
1 & 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 sliced white or yellow onion
1 & 1/2 Tbs coconut oil 3 cups veggie broth
5 kafir lime leaves
2 tablespoons soy sauce

8 oz rice noodles or rice, for serving

Instructions
In a large pot, sauté the onions in the coconut oil for about two minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, sauté for two more minutes. Add the curry paste and sauté for a minute, then add the two cups of veggie broth and the kafir lime leaves. Bring soup to a simmer. Once it’s fragrant and the lime leaves have released their flavors, remove them and discard. Add the coconut milk and soy sauce, then bring to a simmer and let it cook for about five minutes. Remove from the heat and serve with rice noodles or rice. You can do a different kind of noodles if you want, sometimes I use somebody noodles instead of rice noodles. You could also add some carrots, spinach, or bok choy. It’s easy to make it your own.   I hope you enjoy this as much as we did! 🙂

Farewell to Okinawa

So, we left Okinawa two months ago. I’ve been wanting to write about my journey but it’s been really hectic here! We just got our household goods, and have officially moved off of the air mattress. Praise The Lord. However, our stuff being here further affirmed that we officially are no longer residents of Japan. We had to say a few very hard goodbyes. While living in Okinawa I became a babysitter and a food blogger. Both of these activities came with the joy of meeting wonderful people, who I had to say goodbye to. One of them was Ito, owner of the delicious vegan cafe I’ve written about before, Cafe Sprout. Before I left she gave me this hand painted bag and a hand written card. I had so many wonderful conversations with Ito, who is a funny, surfing, well traveled, cat loving, awesome vegan chef who I will always cherish my times with. The bag she have me will remind me of her and her adorable cucumber-eating cat, Moana.

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I want to post about our last night in Okinawa, because it was an incredibly special night full of vegan food, vegan (and non vegan) friends, and lots of tears. I partly haven’t wanted to write this because I’ve been in an eight week long daze thinking I’ll suddenly wake up and be back in my house in Japan. But alas, all good things come to an end. And Okinawa ended on a beautiful, bittersweet note at my favorite place in the world- Dechibica.

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As you know if you’ve become familiar with me, dechibica is my home away from home. I went there at least once a week, I spent my birthday there, shared tales of the incredible food and even more incredible owners with every person I know, and shared photos on Instagram of them constantly accompanied with many hashtags. So naturally, what better place to have our farewell party?

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I approached the owners, Kiwa and Taku, about the idea and they were gracious enough to accommodate us and 10 of our friends. They offered to have a buffet style dinner with all of our favorites, plus a few special extras they threw in! There was of course taco rice, Singapore fried tofu, and vegan pho. A full drink bar with so many juices, teas, and coffee with soy milk.

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Shizuka, who works at dechibica, went to our going away party and made us a raw vegan mango cheesecake for dessert. I love Shizuka’s food, her raw desserts are always delicious. She always said hello to me every time I came to Dechibica, and I was so happy she was there to say goodbye to us.

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There was also tofu cocoa cake, which Kiwa gave me the recipe for (yay!). I love her tofu cocoa cake, it was a staple for me every time I ordered an iced coffee there. I plan to make it at home soon, along with Kiwa’s vegan pho.

I was so grateful to our friends for being there. We had such a wonderful time with lots of laughs, I couldn’t have asked for a more special evening.

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One person was especially difficult to say goodbye to. My vegan partner, my favorite blogger, my yoga inspiration and the woman who’s photos will always far surpass mine, Carola. Carola and I went vegan together. She was with me through my husbands deployment. She is so dear to my heart, she inspires me, makes me laugh, encourages me, sends me grumpy cat memes through IMessage, and I miss her every day. I’m thankful to have been able to share my time with her in Okinawa.

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Finally, sadly, it was time to say goodbye to Kiwa and her husband Taku. It was very difficult. For many months I had spent hours and hours with them, talking and laughing and sharing food. I never expected to have such a close relationship with Kiwa, but she became one of my very best friends in Okinawa. I appreciate her friendship, her talent for cooking, and her generosity. I was blessed to have her in my life in Okinawa. I am forever grateful. So thank you Kiwa for your kindness, all of the mango lassis and taco rice, sharing recipes, vegan donuts, the hugs. And thank you for hosting such a beautiful goodbye party. I can’t express to you how thankful Carlos and I are to you and every one at Dechibica. We miss you every day.

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So, my time in Okinawa is over. But I have many adventures to come. I plan to get back in the swing of blogging frequently throughout the week. Getting the “Weekly wishes” going again (although don’t be surprised if my wish is to go back to Dechibica). I will always remember the experiences and people and food in Okinawa. All of which have made me who I am today.

Forever grateful.

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Spicy yellow veggie curry

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Happy Monday from Japan! Today I have a curry recipe for you that stems from the woman who makes the best curry on the island, Kiwa from dechibica. Kiwa and I have become friends in my time here. I often bring her baked goods from home and she gives me gifts as well. One of her gifts that she gave me is a bottle of vegan curry paste, and a recipe of how to use it. She is truly the kindest, most generous person I have met here in Okinawa. I cherish her friendship and every gift she gives me.

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My husband LOVES when I make this recipe. It’s his new favorite. I make a delicious curried sweet potato soup, and it’s delicious. But this is his new favorite. And I think it’s mine too. He’s thankful for Kiwa as well, since it’s really her recipe. She’s like the culinary Dumbledore. One of her curries takes TWO DAYS to make. She impresses me with her skill and the depth of flavor her food has. So I was pleasantly surprised when I tasted this curry I made at home and was just as taken back by the deliciousness. Isn’t it fun being in awe of your own food?

Since I don’t always have a jar of the curry paste she buys on hand, I’ve learned to make my own in a pinch that mimics the one Kiwa gave me. I don’t even know the name of the one she gave me, honestly.

If you haven’t tried curry, today is a great time to start! Mondays are usually everyone’s least favorite day of the week, so I recommend making this your Monday meal. That way you have something delicious and comforting to look forward to.

Spicy yellow curry
Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are. We always have leftovers.

Curry paste ingredients
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon tamarind paste
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Curried potato ingredients
1 large white potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons oil
1 & 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion powder

Everything else
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms of choice, I use Enoki mushrooms
1 carrot, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup veggie broth
1 cup full fat canned coconut milk
Soy sauce, to taste

Brown or white rice, or quinoa, for serving

Instructions
In a small bowl, mix curry paste ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

Mix together the ingredients for the curried potatoes. Bake at 450 on a greased baking sheet for 40 minutes.

Sauté the veggies in the coconut oil on medium heat. Sauté until they are cooked through but still have a bit of a bite to them, you don’t want mushy veggies. That’s sissy stuff. Add the rest of the ingredients and turn the heat to medium high. Once it’s bubbling rapidly, remove from the heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon.

Serve the curry on top of your grain (or pseudo-grain) of choice, and top with the curried potatoes.

The next day take the left overs to work and watch your coworkers stare at your food in envy.

Enjoy!

Dechibica – my favorite place in Okinawa

My blog is fun. I like making up recipes, i like posting them, and I absolutely love the feedback I get from people about my food. But being that I only have five months left in Okinawa before my husband and I move back to the United States, I  want to start sharing with all of you some of the food and people I’ve come across in my time here. Hopefully this inspires people and encourages them that being vegan in this part of Japan is fun, fairly easy, and an amazing experience.

I want to tell you about my favorite place here in Okinawa. It’s a small restaurant called Dechibica.

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Dechibica is owned by a wonderful, kind woman named Kiwa. Her name means “Peace over this century”. Isn’t that beautiful? It suits her. She and her husband run the place along with a few other very sweet employees. As soon as you walk into the place, it feels like home. Everyone is friendly, it smells delicious, and I love the way its decorated. If my mom owned a cafe, I imagine it would look like Dechibica.

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Kiwa and her husband have lived in Okinawa for three years, and she says they’ve been married for ten years. That surprised me, because she looks so young! She and her husband met in school, just like my husband and I did. They moved here to Okinawa after the Fukushima disaster and opened up Dechibica in Yomitan, a very nice part of Okinawa with lots of little cafes and bakeries. Kiwa tells me about other places where I can find vegan food in Okinawa. Sometimes I bring her things I’ve made in my own kitchen. But my food is not nearly as delicious as hers. I eat at Dechibica very often because frankly, I am obsessed. I even go by myself when my husband is at work and I have a day off. It’s the perfect place to read my cookbooks while sipping on some delicious coffee and choosing some delicious food from their menu.
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I have been here many, many times. My husband loves it because even though I’m vegan, he is not (Just like Kiwa and her husband!). He is an at home lacto-ovo-vegetarian, but outside of the house he eats meat. (UPDATE- As of 4/2014, my husband is now vegan. Yay!) Dechibica makes curry that he loves, he orders it every time we go. There is a lot of curry to try in Okinawa, and out of all that he’s tried the Panang chicken curry at Dechibica is his favorite.Image

I promise he loves the food, but he hates when I take pictures of him. Anyway, my favorite thing on the menu (it is hard to choose one) is the vietnam noodle set. It’s a spicy vegan pho dish and it is so incredible. I’ve never had anything like it before!

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The sets always come with a veggie plate, and what I love about it is that there are so many types of vegetables to try. Some of them I’ve never tried before. The plates always look beautiful, like a work of art. They put so much heart and work into their food and I love that!
I’ve also tried some of their other dishes, like their Singapore tofu rice set, vegan taco rice, avocado curry, and their waffles. Everything at Dechibica is delicious!

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At Christmastime this past year, they were taking reservations for dinners one weekend a few days before christmas. They prepared a special menu. I surprised my husband with a date night there just the two of us. We were so excited when we saw the food, it was four courses! My husband ordered the chicken and I got tofu steaks stuffed with eggplant and cashew cheese. The food was amazing, and I am sad that we will not be here net year should they do the Christmas dinner again. We are never disappointed by anything we try there.

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So, if you are ever in Okinawa, stop into Dechibica to see Kiwa and try her incredible food. Whether you’re vegan or a meat eater, this place has something for everyone. They even have kids toys if you want to bring your little ones with you! Kiwa has two adorable sons of her own who I’ve seen there before. By far, this place is the restaurant I will miss the most when I leave. Okinawa is an amazing place and I’m lucky to have lived here and started my vegan lifestyle here.

Dechibica

  • Address: Japan, Okinawa Prefecture, Nakagami District, Yomitan, Furugen, 648
  • Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. , closed Sundays
  • Phone: 098-957-0111

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Vegan curried squash, coconut milk, lentil soup

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I never tried any type of curry until I moved to Japan. There is a restaurant here that’s very popular called Coco’s, and they make curry that makes my husband swoon. I’ve tried many types of curry since we’ve been here, and by far my favorite is thai curry. But I haven’t attempted that yet. I’m getting to it, I just have to work up the courage because thai curry is so delicious and complex, and I hate making food that’s sub par.

So I was on a mission to make curry that would make my husband swoon like he does for cocos. I needed some guidance. Normally I’m good at figuring out recipes on my own, but curry is foreign territory for me. My mother had sent me a cookbook called The Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Judith Finlayson. There’s a recipe in it for curried squash and red lentil soup with coconut. I decided to attempt it, change a few things, and see what would happen. And many things happened. For one thing, it made my house smell like angels and happiness. And the other thing it did was make my husband fall in love with me all over again. So here’s my spin on Judith’s recipe, and I definitely recommend picking up her book.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup red lentils
4 cups veggie stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can coconut milk
1/2 a roasted butternut squash, cubed
2 onions, sliced
7 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

Instructions
This is a great one pot meal. I just put very thing into the crockpot, gave it a stir, cooked it on high for 4 and a half hours in the crockpot, and served with fresh cilantro. It was seriously perfect. If you know how to make naan bread, you should serve it with naan bread. I just made garlic toast instead. Either way, the soup is delicious and you can’t go wrong. Enjoy!