Travel and in-person gatherings are both restricted this year, and that means making a lot of changes for Christmas. It’s important to keep ourselves and others safe during the pandemic, but it is also hard to think of missing out on that big, traditional feast with family and friends. So, how about changing things up this year? With fewer people around the table and less need for a big turkey, and with memories of winter vacations that you took back in the day (circa 2019), why not try a vegan feast inspired by the island of Trinidad?
A what now?
Veganism is on the rise and it’s not hard to see why. With people searching for ways to better their health, many are finding that one or two vegetarian/vegan meals a week helps them feel better while significantly upping their intake of fresh produce. When you add in a travel-inspired menu, you get away from the immediate thoughts of tofu and kale (although done right those are delicious) and go on a culinary journey of taste sensations! With Christmas already upended, it’s the perfect time to set tradition aside for a year and try something new with the family.
Let’s face it, Canadians love their Caribbean holidays! When you can’t travel, food from that country is the closest you can get to being there. Not only is Trinidad a hot vacation destination, but Trinidad cuisine is also easy to prepare, healthy, easy to source ingredients for, and bursting with flavour. So, take your taste buds to the Caribbean this Christmas with this new take on a traditional meal. You won’t be lacking for flavour, and you’ll love the brightness and lightness this meal brings to the table.
What’s on the menu?
The main: curry channa
You can save yourself a lot of time making this main by using canned chickpeas. Spicy and savoury, curry channa is a very filling dish that allows you to adjust the seasonings to taste. Very Well Fit’s version of this Trinidadian dish is quick and easy to prepare.
The sides: steamed spinach with Trinidad green seasoning, plain rice, and raw cucumbers and tomatoes
Since Caribbean food is often spicy and bold, the sides tend to be more supporting players. Plain cooked rice soaks up the liquid from the curry, making each bite an explosion of flavour and texture while tempering the heat. Raw cucumbers and tomatoes add colour to the table while providing a cooling, crunchy element. Steamed spinach is where you find your earthy umami, especially when dressed with Trinidad green seasoning (a staple in Trinidad households. You can use this seasoning on anything!)
The dessert: pamie and coconut ice cream (okay…nice cream if we are politically correct!)
Pamie is a sweet dessert that involves steaming cornmeal, coconut, and warming spices in banana leaves. Trini Cooking With Natasha, a brand that uses YouTube and Facebook to showcase authentic Trinidad and Tobago dishes, walks you through the steps in this video. Can’t find banana leaves? Don’t worry! You can steam them in foil. Top off this dessert with a scoop of dairy-free ice cream, aka nice cream. So Delicious and Coconut Bliss are two nice cream options that you’ll find at The Real Canadian Superstore.
We wish you a Merry Christmas!
All of us here at Family Fun Canada know that Christmas will look and feel very different this year, and many of you are missing your annual beach vacations. We hope this meal brings you joy and gets you and your family trying something new this December. We wish you all a very merry – but most importantly, safe – Christmas.