Pelau a one pot meal for the busy vegan
I have been reading a lot of press about the debate to offer more vegetarian and vegan meals in the American school system and if these changes take place it would be a historical event. I am not one of those preachy vegans to be honest but I try to educate those who are interested. I think if each countries dishes and delicacies can be veganized then more people would be more open veganism and would not think about it too much because if it taste good why fight right? If I invite someone to eat at my house I definitely would not serve them quinoa or bulgur they just are not used to it and I would scare them off. When some of us go vegan we tend to forget all about our roots and move on to new things. I love new foods but it may not always be the case for everyone. In the next couple of post I will be veganizing more Barbadian dishes so veganism can be closer to home for some. In the future I will move on to more Caribbean favourites.
Barbados School Meals Service
I had a love hate relationship with this dish and it was because my young palate did not appreciate the taste. I ate this dish once a week when I was at primary school in Barbados. Barbados school meals service was a free service offered by the government to children in the primary school. The dishes were balanced and some of them were very tasty. My parents use to give me my own lunch to take to school but the School Meals was virtually free but they insisted. If I saw something I liked from School Meals I would weigh the odds with what I had in my lunchbox and decide if I was going to ditch my lunch for it. One memory I have about school meals was that they used an ice cream scoop to dispense the meals.If you were aged 5 to 7 you got one scoop of food, if you were 8 to 11 you got 2 scoops and, if you were a chubby child you got 3 scoops for weight maintenance! They just loved to see children with a big appetite. The school meals servers at my school were darlings they knew all 780 children eating habits and they were like your parents home away from home.My foundest memory was a server by the name of Miss Thorpe who noticed I threw my milk in the garbage everyday and one day she ask me what was wrong. I told her it stinks and it was just too sweet,(they would add this sweet syrup to the milk kinda strawberry to get picky children to drink their milk). She started making my milk without sugar everyday and setting aside for me. At 7 years old I thought that was the sweetest thing and even today I still think it was. On Mondays we would have hot macaroni pie with sweet peas and an orange for dessert and on Wednesday we would have this dish scooped out on our plates with that icec ream scoop.
This is a popular Caribbean one pot meal.Trindadians make an excellent version of this using peas,coconut milk and one or several protein sources.In Barbados we make it with many different vegetables and never with peas. Bajangyal do not challenge me on this one this is something I know for sure! The colour preference of this dish is something that always sparks convo. Some like their pelau very dark almost black and some like it very pale light brown. I like mine in between. How do I get this dark colour? Colouring or browning gives this dish its dark appearance.Browning can be easily made at home. Here is how you do it.
Turn on your extractor fan and probably put a towel on your fire alarm. Heat up a pot that you do not have a lot of respect for because this tends to stick to your pan. Add two tbs of brown sugar to the dry pot and heat it until the colour goes from light brown to dark brown almost black. Immediately add your protein or rice to this black sticky matter and make sure the colour coats whatever you want coloured.Do not touch the browning even if it looks harmless it would stick to your fingers and give you a burn you will always remember. I used browning to colour my sweet potatoes in the pudding post brown.You must be careful with Browning as if too much of it is used it will make your dish bitter so when I post recipes with browning I will say how much of it to use. I also like to add colour with molasses.I spoke about browning in a previous post but there are some commercial brownings available in Barbados and the Caribbean. Make use of your West Indian groceries if you have them around and ask questions. I know in NY there are a gazillion West Indian grocery stores. They usually have Caribbean flags displayed on the outside of the store.
So what pelau is a one pot cooked up seasoned rice with vegetables and a protein source, a balanced meal. Something you can just make a big ole pot of and serve salad on the side. I guess you are starting to realise that rice is just not some tasteless side that you take a few bites of. Rice sometimes is the star of the meal. The pelau tends not to be as dry as the other rice dishes I have done. It is slightly sticky from the sauce that the rice is cooked in.
I will be posting some of these recipes soon but I need to decide which ones I will choose for traditional favourites for the book so bear me here. I will be back later in the week with a famous Bajan Street food veganized I hope!