Vegan MoFo Day 14: Share something delicious & vegan with a non-vegan
In our travels to Palestine, we experienced some of the most generous, kind, and accommodating people we have ever met. As vegans, traveling anywhere, let alone abroad can be challenging and even daunting at times. We knew that Middle-Eastern cuisine was fairly vegan-friendly before our travels to Palestine, but knowing we would spend some time staying overnight in people’s homes, we were not always sure what to expect. We were also told that some folks may not understand what is meant by the term “vegan” so we made sure to spell out our dietary needs by saying things like “we don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.”
We were amazed beyond belief, time after time, when our hosts spoiled us with vegan fare such as creamy hummus, crispy fried falafel, Arabic salad, mo’ajjanat manaeesh (za’atar Palestinian pizza), vegetable maqlobeh (upside down rice), and mujaddara (lentil and bulgur casserole). When we were staying in Aqqaba, near Jenin with our host Asma and her wonderful family, she surprised us one day with vegan pizza on homemade dough topped with corn, mushrooms, black olives, and other yummy veggies. She also made two different kinds of breadsticks stuffed with either za’atar or jelly. The meal was accompanied by a delicious lime drink and ended with a plate of fresh fruit consisting of pears, grapes, apples, and figs. The food, company, and gracious nature of the Palestinian people we met was unmatched by any in our experiences. People gave up their beds for us, allowed us to take showers even if there were water restrictions placed on them by Israel, and were always generous with food, drink, gifts, and laughter. We will never forget their hospitality, nor their struggle.
Fatayar (meaning savory little bundle of dough in arabic) is a Palestinian spinach pie rich in iron and vitamin C.
According to Reed Mangles, editor of Simply Vegan,” beans and dark green leafy vegetables [like spinach] are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.”
While the spinach and lemon in fatayar should is an excellent source of absorbable iron, the Israeli siege on Gaza is causing a manmade malnourishment crisis among the children of Gaza. According to Dr. Mads Gilbert’s report to the UNRWA, ” the prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively”. Along with Israel’s three massive military assaults on Gaza within a six year period (the Jul-August 2014 assault alone killing over 550 children) in 2012 it was release that senior Israel was causing intentional malnutrition in Gaza for the purpose of collective punishment. The plan devised and implemented by senior Israeli officials involved, “put[ting] the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (Electronic Intifada, 2012). To do this, Israeli health officials calculated the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. They then translated those numbers into the maximum number of truckloads of food they would allow in each day (Electronic Intifada, 2012).
As ethical vegans, when thinking and blogging about nutrients, we must not only think about vegan sources iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients, but actively work to end the injustices that are causing the children of Gaza to suffer. May the following fatayar recipe inspire us all to work to end the Israeli siege on Gaza and bring about a just peace in Palestine and Israel.
Fatayar (Palestinian Spinach Pies)
For the dough:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil, plus2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to coat the fatayar and the pans
Proof the yeast by dissolving it in ¼ cup warm water with the sugar and letting it activate for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixer bowl or medium bowl. Create a well in the center and add the oil and proofed yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment or by hand, slowly work the wet ingredients into the dry, adding the 1 cup of water slowly. Hold back 1/8 cup and add only as necessary to create a sticky dough.
Knead by hand or with the dough hook in the mixer until the dough is very soft, smooth, and tacky/sticky to the touch (but it should not leave dough on your fingers when touched). The kneading by hand can be awkward at first because it’s such a wet mess, but as you knead, the dough will firm up a bit and absorb all of the water.
In a clean bowl at least twice the size of the dough, lightly coat the dough and the sides of the bowl with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 90 minutes.
For the spinach filling:
8 cups of fresh spinach, chopped or 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry)
1 ½ cups yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon sumac
If using fresh spinach, sprinkle with the salt in a medium bowl. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes, then squeeze the spinach of as much juice as possible. Discard juice. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much juice as possible, and discard juice.
Combine the spinach and onion. Just before filling the pastry, add sumac and lemon juice. If using frozen spinach, add salt (fresh has already been salted to remove the juice). Taste and adjust seasoning.
To fill and bake the fatayar:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush two heavy baking sheets with canola oil.
Roll half of the dough out on a dry work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Gently lift the dough from the edges to allow for contraction. Cut dough into 4-inch rounds. Cover with plastic wrap. Knead together the scraps, cover with plastic, and set aside.
Fill the rounds of dough by placing a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough where it will be gathered together and closed. A good way to keep the filling in the center is to lower the spoon with the filling over the center of the dough (parallel to it) and use your fingers to slide the filling off the spoon and into the center of the dough circle.
Bring three sides of the dough together in the center over the filling and pinch into a triangle. Close the dough firmly.
Place the fatayar on the baking sheets and generously brush or spray the dough with olive oil. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set the oven on convection bake for the last 5 minutes of baking to encourage browning.
Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, then with the scraps that have been kneaded together and left to rest for a few minutes before rolling out.
Fatayar freezes well in a ziplock freezer bag and can be reheated from frozen, or simply thaw to room temperature and eat.
Serve fatayar warm or room temperature as an appetizer, or for a meal with a salad.
By Ariel Gold
Being Progressive except #Palestine is like being #vegan except bacon
It is September 10th, and the VeganMofo prompt is: something blue. I chose to cook for this prompt, because it sounded like a good reason to buy blue potatoes and purple sticky rice. The recipe I used is adapted from Secrets of Palestine by Duha Bereh, and Anne-Claire Yaeesh. Muhamar batata translates to golden potatoes, although in this case I used blue ones. The dish is typically meat based, with white rice and potatoes. I used Tofurky slow roasted Chick’n for my meal. Full disclosure, I’m not usually a fan of things that taste too much like chicken, but I think Tofurky did a good job creating this product.
So here goes the recipe:
1 package Tofurky Chick’n or the vegan friendly product you like
1 cups rice
2 cups water
2 lbs potato
1/2 tsp. crushed cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 turmeric (turned my blue potatoes greenish yellow, but still delicious)
2 cups vegetable broth
4 tbls. olive oil
For the potatoes:
Peel and dice the potatoes, and slice the onion. Fry the onion in a 2 tablespoons of oil, along with spices, until they begin to soften. Add the potatoes and fry for a few more minutes. Once everything begins to brown, add the vegetable broth and cover. Cook until potatoes are soft, check frequently to make sure there is enough liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
For the vegan chick’n:
Bake at 300 degrees F., for 15 minutes. Or until they turn golden.
For the rice:
Soak the rice for 15 mins in hot water, and drain. Toast the rice 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a saucepan, for about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
To serve pour rice into a serving dish and place roasted vegan chick’n on top. Serve the cooked potatoes separately. If desired add fried sliced almonds or peanuts to the meal.
Israel’s expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, villages, and lands in 1948 did not stop with the Jewish militias and the removal of arab names from maps. It also included the the cultural appropriation of books, dress, and food, including the falafel, which Israeli propaganda has named “Israel’s national snack”. Far from a benign appreciation and enjoyment of food, Israel’s colonization of Palestinian food and culture – falafel and hummus, knaffe, hookah, arabic salad – acts as a propaganda tool to whitewash the systematic denial of Palestinian human rights and erase Palestinian identity and historical narrative. As journalist Ben White (2015) points out, the zionist appropriation of Palestinian food and culture serves to deny the existence of Palestine while simultaneously appropriating its land and heritage. “It is both an act of theft itself, and a way of justifying that theft.”
Recipe: Palestinian falafel with saffron tahini sauce
2 cups dried chick peas, soaked overnight
1 cup chopped, parsley
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
oil for frying
1 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
pinch saffron powder or few saffron threads
1 tsp salt
Blend the ingredients for the tahini sauce and pour into a dipping bowl.
Chop the onions, and garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Drain and dry the chick peas. Add them to the food processor (depending on the size of your food processor you might need to do this in batches) and process until the mixture is almost smooth, but not mushy. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Form into balls and deep fry at 350 degrees for 4- minute each, depending on the size of the balls.
The prompt for today, September 7th, is make a meal inspired by a book or film. Last fall I went to a book discussion group and read Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. The book is about the life of four generations of a Palestinian family from 1948 until 2003. It offers a good basic overview of historical events that took place starting from the formation of Israel.
I could not find the exact place this meal of Mahashi Kousa is mentioned. However, I did find it in the glossary on page 329, where it is described as zucchini, usually stuffed.
This recipe is adapted from The Cuisine of my Sister In-Law: Secrets of Palestine, by Duha Bezreh, Anne-Claire Yaeesh. I purchased it during our stop at the Human Supporters Association in Nablus.
4 ounces of shredded seitan (I used Upton’s Naturals ground seitan.)
1 cup of rice
½ cup sunflower oil
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. ground pepper
½ tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
Soak rice in hot water for 15 minutes and drain. Mix in the remaining ingredients, and set aside.
2 Tbls. tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 liter water
2 lbs zucchini
Wash, and remove the heads from the zucchini. Cut off a small amount of the bottom if necessary, so they will fit into the pot. Next carefully core out the insides of the zucchini, and wash. Fill each zucchini three quarters with stuffing. Add sauce ingredients into a large pot, and place the filled zucchinis inside and cover. Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes.
Check regularly, and add water if necessary. Be careful not to stir the zucchinis while cooking. I cooked any remaining stuffing in a separate pot. Arrange the zucchinis on a serving dish and serve with the sauce.
It went well with a salad filled with ingredients from my CSA pick-up. For the dressing I made a vinaigrette with fig infused balsamic vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup.
My son and I made this find dining Palestine Solidarity meal in celebration of renowned hip hop artist, Talib Kweli calling out “Free Palestine” during his Ithaca concert (see pictures, video, and more below)
Sheikh el Mahshi (Stuffed Eggplants)
Recipe adapted from the Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey
Eggplant is eaten in so many different dishes and preparations throughout Palestine and the rest of the Middle East. The Gaza Kitchen cookbook describes a properly prepared eggplant as the “queen of vegetables”.
8-10 baby eggplants
1 lb. Beyond Meat “beef” or other vegan ground “meat”
1 large onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. coriander
5 ripe tomatoes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the eggplants in alternating strips and soak them in a bath of salty water for 20 minutes. Sauté the onion, “meat”, salt cumin and coriander.
Liquefy the tomatoes in a blender with ½ tsp. salt.
Dry the eggplants and fry them on high heat until they are browned on all sider. Once they are cool enough to handle, make a slit in them and stuff them with 1/2 -1 tsp. of the “meat”
Arrange the stuffed eggplant in a baking tray and cover them with the liquefied tomatoes.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the eggplants are soft throughout. If they appear to be drying out, add water and /or cover them with foil.
Zahra Bi Tahineh (Cauliflower with Tahini)
recipe adapted from the Kitchen of Palestine website www.kitchenofpalestine.com
“Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce is popular particularly in Palestine, and generally in Levant”
1 cauliflower head
2 cloves cloves garlic, largely chopped
2 teaspoon salt
½ cup tablespoon tahini paste
juice of two lemons
6 Tbs. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the core and leaves off of the cauliflower head, then cut it into bite-size florets. Remove black spots that are located on the surface of florets using a small knife. Wash cauliflower florets thoroughly and dry them completely.
Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet. Add the cauliflower florets and cover the pan. Leave the florets to cook over low heat for about 15 minutes or until they become golden. Turn them to cook on the other side for another 15 minutes or until florets are cooked and golden from both sides.
Blend the tahini lemon jounce, salt garlic, and water until smooth.
Place the cauliflower in a medium size ovenproof dish. Cover it with the tahini sauce and bake 40 minutes minutes or until sauce is mostly absorbed.
Lemon, herb salad dressing with Canaan Fair Trade Palestinian olive oil,
Palestinian farmers in the West Bank face many obstacles: Inequitable and distribution of water, illegal confiscation of farm land, restriction on freedom of movement, uprooting the uprooting and burning of ancient olive trees, and violent attacks by settlers and the Israeli military. One way to support Palestinian farmers is by purchasing Canaan Fair Trade olive oil. Buying your olive oil through Canaan Fair Trade not only supports Palestinian farmers, but is among the highest qualities of olive oil sin the world. You can buy Canaan Fair Trade olive oil and other Palestinian products through http://www.canaanfirtrade.com It is also available through Amazon.com
6 Tbs Canaan Fair Trade, or other Palestinian, olive oil,
6 Tbs. Lemon juice
½ tsp. white miso
½ tsp salt
Chopped thyme, chives, and basil
Blend and pour over local greens
We had extra tomato puree from our stuffed eggplants and so decided to cook our rice in it. The result was delicious.
2 cups jasmine rice
1 ½ cups tomatoes puree, blended with 2 cloves garlic
½ cups water
1 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs olive oil
Heat the oil, Add the rice and stir until hot. Add the tomato puree water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
By Ariel Gold
Talib Kweli concert, September 3, 2015
2015 Palestinian Solidarity, signed by Talib Kweli
The past year has been one of high-profile growth for Black-Palestinian solidarity. Out of the terror directed against us—from numerous attacks on Black life to Israel’s brutal war on Gaza and chokehold on the West Bank—strengthened resilience and joint-struggle have emerged between our movements. Palestinians on Twitter were among the first to provide international support for protesters in Ferguson, where St. Louis-based Palestinians gave support on the ground. Last November, a delegation of Palestinian students visited Black organizers in St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit and more, just months before the Dream Defenders took representatives of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, and other racial justice groups to Palestine. Throughout the year, Palestinians sent multiple letters of solidarity to us throughout protests in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore. We offer this statement to continue the conversation between our movements:
On the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza massacre, in the 48th year of Israeli occupation, the 67th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba (the Arabic word for Israel’s ethnic cleansing)–and in the fourth century of Black oppression in the present-day United States–we, the undersigned Black activists, artists, scholars, writers, and political prisoners offer this letter of reaffirmed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.
Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the 7 million Palestinian refugees exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.
Palestinian liberation represents an inherent threat to Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, an apparatus built and sustained on ethnic cleansing, land theft, and the denial of Palestinian humanity and sovereignty. While we acknowledge that the apartheid configuration in Israel/Palestine is unique from the United States (and South Africa), we continue to see connections between the situation of Palestinians and Black people.
US and Israeli officials and media criminalize our existence, portray violence against us as “isolated incidents,” and call our resistance “illegitimate” or “terrorism.” These narratives ignore decades and centuries of anti-Palestinian and anti-Black violence that have always been at the core of Israel and the US. We recognize the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is also directed against others in the region, including intolerance, police brutality, and violence against Israel’s African population. Israeli officials call asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea “infiltrators” and detain them in the desert, while the state has sterilized Ethiopian Israelis without their knowledge or consent. These issues call for unified action against anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and Zionism.
We know Israel’s violence toward Palestinians would be impossible without the US defending Israel on the world stage and funding its violence with over $3 billion annually. We call on the US government to end economic and diplomatic aid to Israel. We wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and call on Black and US institutions and organizations to do the same. We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time.
We offer this statement first and foremost to Palestinians, whose suffering does not go unnoticed and whose resistance and resilience under racism and colonialism inspires us. It is to Palestinians, as well as the Israeli and US governments, that we declare our commitment to working through cultural, economic, and political means to ensure Palestinian liberation at the same time as we work towards our own. We encourage activists to use this statement to advance solidarity with Palestine and we also pressure our own Black political figures to finally take action on this issue. As we continue these transnational conversations and interactions, we aim to sharpen our practice of joint struggle against capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and the various racisms embedded in and around our societies.
While we toured Israel/Palestine with Interfaith Peace-Builders, we woke up to the news on the morning of July 31, 2015 that settlers committed an arson attack on two houses in the village of Duma in the West Bank, burning 18 month old Ali Dawabshe alive. His parents Riham and Sa’ad suffered burns over 80% of their body and his 4 year old brother Ahmed was also hospitalized in serious condition. Photo by Oren Siv
Things were tense on the ground that day. We witnessed Israeli border police tear gassing children who were throwing rocks over a wall in protest as well as amplified military and police security all around Old City in Jerusalem in preparation for demonstrations set to happen after the mosques let out. On the news, a small picture of Ali’s face stayed in the corner of the screen as a reminder of the shock and sadness over the loss of an innocent child. The death of Ali Dawabshe launched the hashtag #Hewasburnedalive. When I asked a Palestinian family I was staying with at the time if showing martyrs’ faces continuously during broadcasts was normal, they said no, this was just because it was a baby and everyone was upset by this. *Note, Palestinians use the term “martyr” to denote anyone killed by the state, military, or settlers, not necessarily as the West portrays it as “suicide bombers.”
When the delegation ended, we spent a few days in Bil’in and Aqqaba with some Palestinian friends. When our friends from Aqqaba picked us up from Bil’in on August 9th, they offered to take us to the Dawabshe family’s burned house in Duma. We thought we were just driving by but when we got to the village, there was a memorial service going on as Sa’ad Dawabshe, Ali’s father had just died from his injuries the day before. Our friend Samer offered to translate if we wanted to speak with anyone at the service regarding what had happened. He found Nasser Dawabshe, Ali’s uncle, who agreed to be interviewed, describing what happened on the terrible evening of the attack. He also told us that this was not the first time settlers had harassed the people of Duma. Previously they have burned their olive trees and cars, but this was the first time they attacked homes. Sadly, he also described the horror when Riham, Ali’s mother, brought something out of the burning home thinking it was her young son, but once she looked down and saw it wasn’t Ali, she knew he had died in the house.
After we spoke with Nasser Dawabshe, we were offered a tour of the burned home. We saw the bedroom where the Ali, his parents, and his brother slept when they were attacked. A Quran that was burned intentionally, was pointed out to us. Inside the kitchen, a stroller sat with a baby doll wrapped up in a kuffiyeh and Palestinian flag with a white ribbon wrapped around it with the words in Arabic, “He was burned alive” written on it. The family wants to keep the house as it is so people can see what happened here. When we walked outside of the house, we saw “Revenge” spray painted in Hebrew with the Star of David on the side of the home. The house right next to the Dawabshes was also burned. We met with the owner who reported that luckily he and his 6 other family members were out of town that night and decided not to come home for some reason. This act potentially saved their lives. At the time of this writing on September 5, 2015, I learned from my friends in the West Bank that Ali’s mother Riham just died from her terrible injuries. I cannot imagine the pain the Dawabshe family must be feeling right now or how 4 year old Ahmed lost his parents and baby brother all at once. It’s simply unfathomable. It was heartbreaking to see where a family was murdered, a village in mourning, and a first hand account from a relative. As of now, while some extremists believed to be responsible for the attack were detained, some were released, and to my knowledge, no charges have been filed.
It is day five of vegan MOFO, and the prompt is best sandwich ever! Of course I stuck with the Palestinian theme and decided to create a vegan version Shawarma. If you don’t already know, Shawarma is a meat based sandwich, with vegetables, pickles and yogurt sauce all stuffed into a pita. It is a very filling sandwich all on its own. You easily find many different vegan versions when searching on the internet. I found recipes using soy curls, tofu, tvp, and seitan. For my creation I used the ingredients I already had in my kitchen. I also used locally made Susie’s Seitan, Lemon Teriyaki flavor.
Before I started putting my sandwich together I made the Persian 7-Spice Blend (Baharat) on page 43 ofVegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero. If you don’t have this book, and love international foods like me, you need to run out and buy it today!
vegan yogurt (I used the Tempt plain yogurt. The consistency wasn’t very good, but it made a nice sauce.)
pickles/or sweet relish
hummus (I used my leftover Foul, because why not?)
French fries (If you have some)
First I cut the seitan log in half and thinly sliced it longways. I greased a casserole dish, and laid in the seitan. Next I sprinkled some of the spice blend on each slice, and broiled them for 4 minutes. I flipped them over added more spice blend, and broiled them again for 4 minutes. Meanwhile I prepared all the other fillings. I sauteed the chopped onions, because I don’t care for raw onions. For the yogurt sauce I just mixed in the juice from one lemon and a tablespoon of tahini. I also toasted the pita bread a little just to warm it up.
Once all my sandwich fillings where ready, I spread some foul medames inside the pita, and layered all the ingredients in.
Today’s theme was about a “weird food combo that you love.” I’m not sure if it’s weird, but it may be unexpected. I like hummus on pizza. I’ve had it before at restaurants and have even had them substitute it for cheese at a local pizza joint. It’s pretty amazing and combines my love of pizza and Palestinian food. Hummus, tomato, basil pizza on a cornmeal crust was born!
The prompt for September 3rd is, quick, easy and delicious. I’m not sure it gets any easier then with mashed beans! Foul Medames is a popular Middle Eastern staple, made with fava beans. We ate a lot of this wonderfully delicious dish during our trip. It frequently came along with hummus, falafel, pickles and olives. I used canned beans to make this dish, but if you have the time I highly recommend cooking them ahead from dried beans.
canned fava beans
1 small onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
3 garlic cloves
1 small tomato
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Mince the onion and garlic, brown in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan. Drain the beans and add to the onions, add a little water if necessary. Once the beans have warmed remove pan from heat. Using a mortar or fork mash the beans with the onions and garlic. I found that a mortar worked very well to puree’ the beans, especially any that where not very soft.
Next add the diced tomato. Pour lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and red pepper flakes.
Arrange on a plate, and drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil.