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African Vegan Juneteenth Dinner

by Curtis Ross

One of my sisters requested that I make a special African or Bahamian inspired Juneteenth dinner, that included no meat! Being the great guy that I am, saying no was obviously not an answer. “Sure sis, no problem. I’ll get right on it!” Keep in mind this would be my first attempt at making a Vegan dish in my entire life. So with my culinary and researching know how – I dove in head first to create a meal she, her husband, kids, and you too will love.

In all honesty, the scale of the task for which I accepted became abundantly clear right away. Much of my Friday night was spent reviewing dozens of recipes, while enjoying a few ice cold glasses of Jack and Coke. My idea for my sister’s mouthwatering, African inspired vegan meal quickly evolved into a BBQ theme – perfect, I’ll make a vegan brisket, or so I thought. The main ingredients to make Seitan Brisket include gluten and chickpea flour, which surprisingly was not as readily available as I initially thought. Perhaps, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, everyone decided to purchase all of the flour like they did the toilet paper and paper towels. – Joke!

Sometimes plans can go horribly awry – but the whirlwind journey I have experienced throughout this process was extraordinarily rewarding. After the realization many of the items needed had to be ordered online and would not arrive until Friday – Seitan Brisket was 86’ed off of the menu. An additional hour or two was spent finding other options for the main course. Ultimately, I decided to make a Harrisa Vegan Meatloaf. I quickly threw on some clothes with my grocery list in hand and drove to Sprouts (a specialty grocery store similar to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s) here in Arizona.

I absolutely love shopping at Sprouts, as the staff is always very attentive and willing to help. One employee kept gazing with intrigue, as I ran running up and down the isles grabbing all essential ingredients. There were a few items left on my list, so I asked the gentlemen for some assistance. He said, ” I don’t know what you’re making, but I know it’s going to be good!” Obviously, he saw me placing several different seasonings from the self-serving rack into my cart. We discussed the menu for a bit – after which I continued to the checkout line.

To my great astonishment the entire bill was less than $50 for everything. I was beyond elated that the $100 budget was reduced in half. Point-in-case going into the grocery store with a list will save you some money – or at least in this scenario it did!

LE MENU

Harissa Vegan Meatloaf

Overall I can honestly say, this is one of the absolute best meals I have every prepared. The Harrisa Bobotie Vegan Meatloaf took me on a whirlwind of heat, spices, and the right amount of sweetness. Impressively enough, Ives Round Ground – a vegan meat – has all of texture and fullness of actual meat. I foresee more incredible dishes using this delightfully flavorful meat substitute.

Chakalaka

Chakalaka is a side dish that can actually steal the show as the main course – just add your favorite protein and you too will sing Boom Chakalaka, Chakalaka, Boom! All of the flavors mesh together – oh so well – taking your taste buds on an endless journey.

Baked Coconut Turmeric Chickpea Rice

OMG! Baked Coconut Turmeric Chickpea Rice has officially made my list of Top 20 recipes EVER!!! The aroma, spices, savory flavor, vibrant colors make me want to jump up and down for joy. While recording Live on Facebook yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking and stating how “freaking delicious” this was going to be – and OH BOY, how correct I was.

Thank you for reading!

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