Three spicy mains, one delicious starter and three catering-level-wonderful fragrant beverages make for an eclectic picnic menu that will keep you happy and hydrated. All plant-based and gluten-free.
Vegan Arugula-Chilli Spread x GF Crackers
When you crave something plant-based to nibble, but hate a salad or veggie sticks. Also: crackers! Always a good idea.
For this spread, finely chop washed arugula leaves and red chillies to taste, then blend with a vegan “cream cheese”(we use Soyananda, enriched with Omega 3) and spread crackers with the mix.
We use Schär’s gluten-free, vegan salted crackers.
South Indian Flavours for Hot Summer Days
As I’ve learned in the Goldhahn & Sampson ‘Monsoon Cuisine’ course a little while ago, South Indian food is ideal for hot and humid climate – free from onion and garlic, yet super spicy to promote your circulatory activity, and plant-based. With Berlin drowning and suffocating at once, I’ve got to say the recipes we learned to cook in that course and since truly a fragrant delight. And not complicated at all.
Lentil dishes are popular all over the world, and Indian cuisine is no exception. Something I like to do is combine two different dal dishes together, fried green lentils and a yellow lentil soup if just for a fun colour combo (green and red) and for the taste explosion. But you can, of course, make just one of them – absolutely enjoyable.
For the savoury Green Lentil Dal Fry, put thoroughly washed green lentils into water until the water boils (1 cup lentils, 2 cups water), if the water builds foam, scoop it away, add 1 tsp. ground turmeric and let simmer until soft. When the lentils are done, add salt to taste and prepare the spice mix: heat a pan, add coconut oil, a pinky-sized chunk of fresh ginger root cut in long thin slices, 1 tbsp. dry curry leaves, 1 tbsp. brown mustard seeds and chopped red chillies to taste. Stir-fry until fragrant but be cautious and don’t let them burn. Pour the lentils into the mix and stir.
For the Yellow/ Red Lentil Soup, roast the following ingredients without oil (!): 1 tbsp. brown mustard seeds, 1 tsp. carom or cumin, 1 tbsp. fenugreek seeds, 1 tbsp. black pepper, 2 tbsp. coriander seeds and 4 tbsp. yellow lentils (Toor or Channa) as well as a tiny teeny pinch Asafoetida. Once the lentils turn dark/ rosy, add the chillies and stir, stir, stir. Remove from pan and pestle until fine.
Next, cook ½ cup lentils in 2 cups water until tender, add salt to taste and blend until you obtain a runny puree.
In a new pot, mix 1,5 cups water with 1 tbsp. Tamarind and the pestled spices, let boil. Next, stir in the lentil puree and let simmer. Finish by adding 1 cup fresh pineapple juice
The Potato and Broccoli Curry is a super easy to make comfort food staple.
Blend 2 chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp. garam masala and – optional – chilli powder to taste until you have a sauce. In a hot pan, stir fry roughly chopped skinned potatoes and broccoli chunks in 2-3 tbsp. coconut oil (if the veggies start to stick to the pan, I add a little hot water), add the tomato sauce and simmer until well cooked. Season with tamarind, salt, or additional chilli flakes to taste. I like my curries pure, but you can add cooked rice or even quinoa.
All taste delicious served warm or cold.
Rosé and White… that Aren’t Wines
As you might remember from last year’s pink, blue and green mocktail recipes, I love me a fancy drink but I like to keep it free from actual alcohol.
Also: cold brew tea is a thing now.
Did anybody call my name?
In all due seriousness though, when I found these Japanese cold brew bottles designed as wine bottles, 30 each, my heart might have skipped a beat or two. You might recognise them from last Christmas’ gift ideas for foodies. Pitchers don’t look really elegant or particularly “adult” to me. Entertaining guests with healthy food must be super pleasing to the eye!
Cold brewing tea is easy: tea, cold water and 5 hours to overnight in the fridge, and you’re good.
To make the “Rosé”, I used Tee Kontor Kiel’s own figs and roses herbs and dry fruit blend, and to make the “White” – an organic white tea blend with mint. But pure oolongs, white and green teas also work for cold brew tea, some revealing astonishingly fruity and delicate notes that you don’t otherwise notice in warm tea.
When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Kombucha
Fermented foods are all the craze, and the actually pretty unsighly kombucha SCOBY (or at least, its sparkly body of work) is now close to becoming an Instagram staple just as flamingos, pineapples and palm leaves.
And why shouldn’t it? In summer, real, raw homemade kombucha is as refreshing as a delicious sorbet ice but comes with added vitamins (B12) and, depending on your “brewing” methods and preferences, much less sugar. I am yet to see actual studies proving all its health benefits, but it’s definitely a healthier beverage than sugared sodas. My own organic kombucha SCOBY comes from the Berlin-based ‘buch pundits Fairment and the tea I use for its first fermentation is a flavonoid-rich sencha variety and an organic raw sugar. You can even brew fructose-free kombucha, and experiment with all kinds of teas as well as fruits, berries, and herbs for the second fermentation round!
My favourite recipe for a summer-fresh kombucha is to add chopped organic sweet limes (or lemons) or lemons and grated ginger to the second fermentation (and the first fermentation includes organic ingredients: sencha + raw sugar + the Fairment SCOBY). All the flavours penetrate the bubbly beverage already overnight, but if you give your second fermentation a few more days, this one will beat any ginger ale or bitter lemon out there.