Fribergaskolan goes Meat Free Monday

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It is almost a year back when I started my first Meat Free Monday Cooking workshops in Stockholm. I started these classes for two reasons, the first being the positive impact veggie food can make on climate change and second was to showcase the delicious diversity of vegetarian food from India. India being a country with a long history of vegetarianism provides an abundance of inspiritation to initiatives like Meat Free Monday.  Interesting for one to know is that approximately 2500 years ago, two religions were born in India, Buddhism and Jainism with ahimsa or non-violence against any living being the leading principle, creating a culture of vegetarianism. 2000 years ago when India was one of the richest countries in the world, it became high status symbol to become a vegetarian, where restraint was considered noble.  Personally for me, it became easy to be vegetarian once a week, as I grew up at home with a culture similar to Meat free Monday where we went vegetarian once a week, usually on a Tuesday. Noble Tuesdays!

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                                                                                             Photos courtesy: Jessica Sävvy Bergman

Fribergaskolan in Stockholm celebrated World Environment Day with a whole day event to showcase their commitment to the environment via food. I had been asked by the Principal Gunnar Rydwik and teacher Ewa Bergman to come and assist the school  and help execute this event on the 5th of June 2013. My focus areas was to help prepare the students to make the food, inspire them to bring some ingredients from their own gardens, teach them how to make the food, project manage the actual production of the food for the event and prepare a speech presentation on my philosophy with Meat Free Monday and other good food initiatives to get children to like veggies.

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A special team was set up with the home economics teachers Torgny and Karim and head chef Gunilla  , whereupon we agreed upon the menu, recipes, sourcing and planning for the event. The recipes and the menu we chose were vegetarian seasonal, balanced, near produced(as long as possible), health focused yet tasteful, ecological, new and interesting. The final menu was an asparagus lentil soup, Indian whole-wheat flatbread with green peas and feta filling, apple salsa, rhubarb chutney and strawberry rhubarb crumble with vanilla cardemum yoghurt.  All the rhubarb came from the homes of the students and some teachers and this was as a great way to highlight own produced food. The 50 students, the home economic teachers and the head chef were the real heroes of the day. They helped produce the food for the whole school and were simply fantastic to work with. What suprised me was their openess and ease to  test new tastes, food, ideas and cooking styles. The students and the teachers loved the food as we saw many of them coming back for seconds and thirds during the actual food service.

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It was a very successful day for the environment as 464 students at Fribergaskolan  learned how food affects the environment. This was further highlighted by workshops with Jonas Paulsson, from Swedish Meat Free Monday, on the greatest environmental impact – meat – and how we can influence a better future by reducing meat-eating. Other interesting workshops were held with Anna K Sjögren, dietician and journalist from Allt om Mat who showcased a health perspective and Jens Dolk, food – and wine writer from TV 4, who taught students about taste and how the senses affect appetite.

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I am happy to share one of the most liked recipes of the day the Asparagus Dahl Soup. Bon Appetit with a big cheer for a greener planet!

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                                                                                                   Photos courtesy: Jessica Sävvy Bergman

Asparagus Dahl Soup

Dhal is basic to all Indian meals specially as this is the greatest source for proteins! We have over 50 varieties of dhal and this recipe can be used for making other types of dhal also like red and green lentils. Be Creative with the  toppings or veggies!

Recipe

Serves 4-6

  • 500 gms asparagus( remove the bottom, save the top for garnishing and chop the rest into very small pieces)
  • 300gms chana dhal lentils ( soaked for 1/2hour if its chana dhal)
  • 2 medium sized potatoes
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  •  ½ tablespoon red chili.
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  •  2 large fresh tomatos, chopped or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  •  3 dl white cooking wine
  • 1  vegetable stock
  • 5 dl gradde
  • Salt
  • Tamarind 100 gms

Method:

  1. Soak the chana dhal for about 1/2 hours rinse and drain the water.
  2. In a separate soup pan add the chopped asparagus, potato pieces, lentils and water enough to cover. Add cooking wine, cream  and vegetable stock and bring to the boil with the lid on. Simmer then the lid on until the vegetables are soft and the lentils are mushy.
  3. Cut onions in bits. Grate the garlic and ginger coarsely. In a frying pan, mix onion, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the spices and stir until the onions are browned. Add the tomatoes. After 3-4 minutes remove this mixture and add it to the broth in the soup pan. Let it cook together for 5 mins.
  4. Mix the vegetables into a smooth puree. Add salt to taste.
  5. Cover the tamarind in some warm water and after 10  mins squeeze out the juice and carefully using a sift take out the juice. Add this carefully to the soup while tasting for tartness.
  6. Tips: If the consistency is still too thick you can add a few dl of cream/ water to thin it.
  7. Garnish and serve with bread, rice  and or salad.

Namaste!

Meat Free Monday: http://meatfreemondays.com/

Köttfri Måndag: http://kottfrimandag.se/

My Cooking Classes: http://ootbtravel.com/category/gourmet/cooking-club/

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