Wait, ANOTHER cheap vegan cyclist recipe?? Well, no. In fact it is essentially the same haha
SOME NEWS, ALSO A RANT ABOUT CITIES
I’m in Cagliari, Sardinia! I’ve just got off the boat from Palermo, and I’ve had a nice week in Sicily! Though it was very hot, I had some “technical issues” again argz, and really, cycling in and out of big cities (in this case Messina, Catania and Palermo) is really AWFUL. Fuck. But it is a good thing to comprehend the huge environmental and human violence that city centres (the small pleasant part of cities) wreak in enormous areas around them, in the form of sprawling, squalid, dirty, noisy, unpleasant suburbs, commercial areas, industrial areas, sheer open air garbage dumps, and then in a mockery of countryside, endless naked-earth monocultures, all radiating out of that tiny, exquisite “centre” with its historic monuments, its cafés, theatres, its freedom, its awesome concentration of creativity, intelligence and wealth. This is true of about every city I’ve been through (in the sense of, urban area of more than 100,000 inhabitants maybe). Question: is it worth it? Question: can those people in the centre, with their agency and money, do something about this? Or are their lifestyles, by construction, standing in the way of progress?
ON WITH THE RECIPE ALREADY
I’ve done this one three times in a row with almost no alteration, as a consequence of buying 3x250g boxes of chickpeas. They wouldn’t have me buy just one. The 3 were al packed together you see. As a traveller you do find yourself in the weird position of trying to buy things in the smallest quantities possible, which is usually a bit more expensive in addition to irking salespeople (buying a single onion usually gets eyes a-rolling, in supermarkets it is usually impossible, with onions sold in 1-kilo nets).
AN ASIDE ON COCONUT
As for the coconut, it’s just one of those sudden inspirations. In fact, not so much an inspiration as a compulsion. It was about 5pm, I was peacefully cycling down a fairly busy coastal road in Calabria (I remember the exact spot, there was a short tunnel up ahead, thornbushes on my right, no traffic) and the idea, well, the urge, suddenly hit: coconut!
I had been getting by so far without coconut, I had stocked other nuts at various times, chiefly almonds and cashews, but coconut had been far from my mind and tastebuds for a few weeks as far as I could tell. But just then, whether it was some faint smell (and I was feeling hungry) or some train of thought, the idea of having grated coconut just seemed an overwhelmingly good one, even great; and I delighted in imagining how wildly my breakfast, already a pretty elaborate affair based on some approximation of porridge (Italians know not of oatmeal), would be enhanced by the addition of a dash of coconut. I stopped in the next village, and did find, wonder of wonders, coconut. Aye, grated coconut is a delicacy indeed!
ANYWAY WHAT ABOUT THAT RECIPE
so, you need:
- olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1/2 a pepperoncino
- and/or: 1 tomato
- chickpeas, pre-cooked, 250g
Oh yes, I must interrupt this for a minute, chickpea tins and jars simply don’t exist in the Balkans. When you’re a chickpea freak you just have to buy the dry stuff, soak them for a night or two, and boil them for over two hours. One point for Italy!
- rice, 100g (1/2 cup)
- twice volume of water (1 cup)
- cumin seed
I just found cuminseed in Palermo! I had been all out for, phew, two weeks?? And here I am cycling through this great crazy east-meets-west-meets-south metropolis and I see a Bengali shop!! “Whole Jeera”, of the renowned “CMS” brand, the one with the woman in a sari sorting seeds on the pack! <3
- curry, chili, salt… whatever
- grated coconut
So, um… now… it’s not really complicated to be honest…
- pour 1 tbsp olive oil in pot, heat to frizzle
- throw in spices (not coconut just yet), let that frizzle for a few seconds
- throw in the onion (oh, and garlic if you must, I suppose)
- throw in the pepperoncino either simultaneously or once you’ve chopped it, which you’ve normally forgotten to do earlier, more frizzle
- get your tomato chopped-up so you’re ready for that one
- when onion has softened a bit, launch rice
- diddle rice and veggies around with spoon
- when rice starts to burn (oil was all drunk), throw in your tomato, that will buy you a few seconds
- add grated coconut, you decide how much (hint: if you think there’s enough, you’re wrong), diddle it all around, wait for it to start sticking to the bottom
- put a bit of water, diddle, diddle, diddle, OK enough diddling just throw in all the water already. Hopefully this should not reach the side of the pot, you still have the chickpeas to fit in
- get water to a boil, lower fire, cover etc
- add chickpeas towards the end, if they don’t all fit in no worries, you’ll start eating and add the rest when you’ve made a hole in the food.
- when water is all gone, or when you’re really really hungry and stop caring, it’s ready!!