Delicious Vegan Jollof rice

9th June 2014 by

Farhana joined our Branch Out group at Made in Hackney, where they’ve been learning to cook delicious, vegan, locally sourced, organic food – inspired by food from around the world. Last time they were cooking Vegan Jollof rice – check out the recipe below!


225 grams of long grain brown rice

2 Onions

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 red peppers

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 tablespoons tomato puree

1 pinch pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable stock

1 tin tomatoes

1 cup water



The very first step is to wash the rice thoroughly in a sieve with cold water. Then chop the onions into small cubes, chop the peppers into thin slices. Heat the oil in a medium pan and heat over a medium heat. After that add the onions, pepper, pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin, paprika, black pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add in the vegetable stock and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree and ketchup, then add the tinned tomatoes. Fill the empty tomato can with water and add to pan. Bring to a simmer (gentle cook) and stir to get the spices up from the bottom, fold in the rice and bring to a simmer again. Cover pan with tin foil and lid and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the liquid has absorbed and the rice cooked. Do not stir. Leave to stand for 2 minutes with the lid on. To add something to the side of Jellof rice you can cook plantains or stew, and a mango salad dressing.

Lastly stir and serve

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Re-invent your leftovers! February’s Challenge….

11th February 2013 by

This month we’ve been getting all creative with our leftovers.  If you’ve ever popped in to share lunch with us you’ll know we like nothing more than seeing what delicious meal we can create out of random mixes of leftovers, rescued vegetables, those strange things at the back of the cupboard and of course, fresh local produce.


We’re food lovers, so to hear that almost half of the world’s food is thrown away totally zapped our warm fuzzy vegetable rescue feelings. After a season of festive feasting (and, no doubt, swollen bin-liners), the start of 2013 greeted us with the shocking news that a whopping 2 billion tonnes of food gets chucked away each year.

So we challenge you to try buying your food in smaller quantities, but more frequently. This should help eliminate fruit and veggies getting past their best by the end of the week, and also might lead to more careful planning of your meals. Think of ingenious ways to reinvent all your left-overs – and don’t forget that most cooked foods can be frozen and stored for later in the week when you’re not up for cooking. Plenty of other ideas can be found here. Let us know your most delicious creations!

Food, glorious food sovereignty

6th October 2011 by

My cycle ride to work takes me through Greenwich Park, and at this time of year, even just after dawn, you can hardly move for (mostly older) people scanning the ground intently and filling bulging bags of sweet chestnuts.

Extremely local food: Greenwich Park chestnuts

I’m a sucker for foraging, too, and have to resist the urge to leap off my bike and join in, because if I started I’d lose track of time and never make it in to the Otesha office that day. But to me these foragers make a beautiful sight, and I’ve been pondering why.

It’s not just the setting of Greenwich Park, with its ancient trees, autumn colour and long shadows, though of course that helps. It’s something beautiful that foraging shares with ‘growing your own’ and with truly locally produced and sold food: knowing your food from field (or tree, or hedgerow) to plate, having control and influence over how what you eat is grown or gathered, transported, prepared and cooked.

That idea of local control over food production is at the heart of the ‘food sovereignty’ movement, which is taking an important place in the debate about how food, social justice and the environment are interconnected.

The concept arose out of the landless peasants’ movements of South America, particularly La Via Campesina, and focuses on the need to return control over and access to land, seeds, water and finance to local, independent producers. That’s a big challenge in the face of a food system dominated and controlled by agribusiness and mega-retailers, but many see it as crucial to building a truly sustainable food system.

A few of us from Otesha went to a fantastic night of films and talks on food sovereignty recently, organised by 6 Billion Ways – you can still watch the films online here.

Much of the debate about food sovereignty focuses on so-called ‘developing world’, and deals with poorer countries’ struggle against unfair trade rules imposed by the rich countries. But could the concept take off here, too?

Is there a need for a UK food sovereignty movement?

Why not? Agribusiness and the supermarkets dominate here just as they do elsewhere. Small farmers are going bust and being swallowed up into corporate-owned megafarms at alarming rates. Young people who want to make a go of working the land find it is priced way out of their reach. A new survey says 9 out of 10 Europeans see buying local as a good thing, but half say it’s too hard to figure out what’s local and what is not.

So why is ‘food sovereignty’ not on the agenda in a big way here? Well, perhaps it will be before long. Later this month we’ll be at the Houses of Parliament (they do let tree-huggers like us in sometimes) for ‘Food Sovereignty Day’, hearing how to “build the food sovereignty movement in the UK” and learning about what is already going on in this country to “challenge the dominant, corporate agribusiness model”.

Will anything come of it? I hope so. How we produce, distribute and eat food, and who controls those actions, is crucial to our environment, health and the bottom line, so the food sovereignty movement is looking like a really important development in the wider debate about sustainability and justice.

Drunken Damsons

31st August 2011 by

My garden is home to just a few fruit trees.  One makes apples of a slightly-less-than-delicious variety (still great for Apfelmus though!).  There’s a mini Golden Russet tree, which makes much more delicious apples, just never quite enough of them!  A pear tree hangs over from a neighbour’s garden, and there’s the occasional windfall from an apple tree slightly further afield.  This apple tree I watch longingly, as each year hundreds of apples fall to their fate: slug food! I’ve many times considered the climb over a couple of fences and onto a shed.  There must be many more back gardens across the UK harbouring unloved fruit.  At a time of year when most shops have apples flown in from New Zealand, this is something we should be challenging.

The final fruit tree in our garden is a Damson tree.  Damsons are delicious, but there are just so many of them!  And although delicious, I don’t find them the most satisfying fruit.  They are pretty small, which makes them very time-consuming to chop and turn into delicious crumble, pie, jam, or anything else that could use large quantities at once.  Time is passing though, and I don’t want these damsons to meet a similar fate as the neighbour’s apples, so this weekend I went in search of something to do with them.  The result: damson gin!  I found this recipe for wild damson gin which lured me in with talk of an ‘irresistible liqueur’. You do have to acquire some gin, but the only other ingredients are sugar and damsons.   Aaah, simplicity.  Oh wait, I forgot, one final, most crucial ingredient: patience.  I’m not allowed to touch it for at least three months.  Already it’s a beautiful deep red colour, I keep thinking to myself  ‘Surely, surely it’ll taste divine already with a colour like that!’.  But I’m holding out, the sugar has almost all dissolved, and then I will hide it away in a dark place (from the light, and myself!).

There are still a mighty fine number of damsons on that tree though, anyone got any ideas?

Sally forth with seasonal feasts

1st August 2011 by

This month, whilst the freshest, crunchiest, fruitiest, deliciousest, localest produce is in abundance, we challenge you to hold a seasonal feast.

Find a friend with an allotment or a neighbour growing in their garden and beg some excess off them (we can almost guarantee that they’ll have more courgettes than they know what to do with). Visit the market and buy up as much British produce as you can carry home. Scramble in the brambles for some blackberries. Take all your bundles home and invite your people over for a feast of plenty.

Seasonal recipes here

Find out what’s in season here

Why we forgot how to grow food

We are heading towards The End of Days, and you’d better get yourself an allotment
an unexpected piece of wisdom from that great environmentalist Jeremy Clarkson.

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