Cooking with Soul

Background

It was 2009, on one of my ritual jaunts to Heidi Swanson’s beautiful blog when I was [digitally] introduced to Bryant Terry. On that particular day I was immediately intrigued by the idea of making vegan Jamaican patties, and Terry’s recipe did not disappoint. Softly spiced veggies bubbling out of a golden buttery pastry anyone?

Bryant Terry’s cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen made me reimagine the way I had been brought up to think about “soul food,” challenging the notion that it required mounds of fatty & sugary ingredients. What a revelation! Terry educated me on the cooking habits and flavour combinations of the African diaspora while simultaneously inspiring me to be a conscious cook.

On a personal note, a unique element of this cookbook is the fact that Terry includes a musical selection for every recipe. And why not? There are countless soundtracks that go into the curation of a good meal. If you’ve seen any of the recipes on this site you’ll notice that I’ve happily borrowed this habit from Terry, and include “What I’m Listening To” with each recipe.

Soul Food in 2014

Fast forward 5 years, this past September I was thrilled to see Bryant Terry in action for the first time at the annual Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival. In the afternoon he delivered a compelling talk on food justice as well as the work he has done to introduce youth to sustainable food systems. As an author, chef, and food activist, it’s clear that Terry is equal parts culinary connoisseur and community leader.

Vegan Chef & Food Activist Bryant Terry speaks at the 2014 Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival
Vegan Chef & Food Activist Bryant Terry speaks at the 2014 Toronto Vegetarian Food Festival

In the evening I was delighted to catch a food demonstration & book signing with the renowned chef. As he prepared his Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens from his newest cookbook Afro Vegan, he simultaneously introduced the audience to some of his food philosophies.

The next day I recreated the dish, improvising with ingredients I had on hand (chard instead of mustard greens; smooth peanut butter; dry coriander). I completely forgot to take a picture of the stew, as my judgment was clouded by the aromas that were wafting out of my dutch oven.

I already have a favourite from this cookbook that I look forward to telling you about soon! Until then, I challenge you to make this soup, and not sneak spoonfuls of it as it cooks; it’s tough! This curry has so many dimensions of flavour that each bite offers something new.

Hosting vegetarians or vegans for dinner and don’t know what to make? This recipe is gold. If you’re trying to make a dish that will impress the masses, Terry’s Tofu Curry is a clear winner with its endless layers of taste.

Try it, bookmark it, enjoy it!

Afro Vegan2

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