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Tamika Francis started Food & Folklore as a way to respect global food traditions through pop-up dinners, culinary classes and storytelling. He shared with us Rastafarian Ital Stew made with vegetables, spices and thick coconut milk. If you are wondering where Ital came from, he also shared it with us:
“Caribbean cuisine reflects the origin of the mixture of recipes, from African influences from Portuguese, French, Spanish, Latin American, and in some cases, even Chinese, Indian and Jewish roots. In addition, the population has created a unique style in this region.
One of them is creation is “Ital” food.
While most Jamaican dishes have meat or fish, Italian cuisine is vegetarian or vegan. Developed by Rastafarian (a modern religion that began in Jamaica in the 1930s in response to poverty and oppression), Ital food is a natural cooking method that avoids processed foods, additives, trans fats, salt and sugar. The word “ital” comes from the word vital and is similar to the concept of halal.
The idea is that food is medicine and must be consumed intentionally. “
Rastafarian Ital Stew
Preparation: 15 min
Cooking: 25-30 min
Ready in: 45 minutes
Aromatic / Seasoning
1 medium garlic, medium diced
2 scallions thinly sliced
6 cloves of minced garlic or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 inch finely chopped ginger or 2 tsp grounded ginger
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 Tbsp turmeric ground
6-8 dried clove herbs (allspice berries), grounded
Freshly ground black pepper
Produce / Root Vegetables
1 medium butternut or Calabaza / West India pumpkin peeled and diced
2 sweet potatoes are being peeled and diced
3 medium sized carrots are cut into koin inch coins
1/2 green cabbage being cut into small pieces
2 tsp coconut oil or neutral oil
1, 16 ounces of coconut milk can be unsweetened
1 cup of vegetable broth / or store-bought (low sodium)
1 ripe (but hard) plantain peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick circles
salt, to taste or a piece of lime
A little bit of cayenne pepper or some scotch bonnet pepper slices
Garnish with sliced green onions
- Heat the oil in a medium Dutch pan over medium heat.
- Over medium-low heat add onions and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pan and stir-fry until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. If you use salt, add it here.
- Add some green onions, give grounded allspice berries and cook constantly stirring for one minute or until fragrant.
- Add calabaza or squash. Cook for 2 minutes, to coat completely with herbs & soften each part.
- Add potatoes, carrots to coat completely with seasonings – add ¼ cup of broth to relax the spices from the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add coconut milk & thyme. Add the remaining stock only if the vegetables are not completely covered by liquid in the pan at this time. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables with about half an inch of liquid on top of the vegetables. Bring to a boil quickly, then reduce the heat to low and simmer.
- Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the stew is thick and all vegetables are cooked tender but hold their shape, and the liquid is slightly reduced and thick.
- Then add cabbage & plantains.
- Season with salt or lemon and pepper – optional.
- Discard the thyme and the stew into a garnish bowl with the remaining green onions to serve.
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