Autumn Ital Stew

Autumn Ital Stew
Autumn Ital Stew |

People who know me, know that I hold a very special place in my heart for Jamaica. I love the people, the culture, the food, and the language. I head to Jamaica every opportunity I get, and over the last two years, I have explored more of the Ital vegetarian side of the food and lifestyle on the island.

Ital is a Rastafari term meaning vital, where the V is replaced by the capital I. This is done to many words in Iyaric, to signify the unity of the speaker with nature and the Almighty. With a completely Ital diet, you increase your Livity, or life energy. There are many spiritual concepts associated with Ital and Rastafari, but for the purpose of this recipe, Ital means that no processed, chemically-altered foods have been used. All food items found here can be found in nature, and no salt has been used either. This is a great recipe to start applying the concept of Ital, and you’ll want to explore more of the ways Ital food can be prepared once you taste how good this stew is. Ites!

  • 1 cup dried kidney beans
  • 5-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 3-inch piece of kombu
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4-5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground pimento (allspice), or 10-15 whole pimento seeds
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1 thyme bouquet garni
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green onions, bottoms removed (leave whole)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups winter squash (I used kabocha), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 small red yam, peeled and diced
  • 1 small Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup lacinato kale (black kale, tuscan kale), thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Combine the kidney beans, the ginger rounds, and the kombu in a medium saucepan. Cover with enough water to cover the beans by two inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skimming off the foam as needed. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the beans, partially covered, until the beans start to get tender, about 50 minutes. Make sure you add water as needed during the cooking process, so that the beans always stay covered. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the ginger and the kombu.

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, habanero, pimento, cayenne, and thyme bouquet garni, and sauté for about 1 minute (take the time to smell the aromas here!).

Add the green onions, bay leaves, coconut milk, 2 cups bean cooking liquid, 2 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer. Add the squash, parsnip, yams, and potatoes. Cook, at a simmer, for about 18-20 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender, but still hold their shape. Add the reserved beans.

Remove the green onions, bay leaves, and bouquet garni. Add the kale. Taste the seasonings. Adjust if necessary and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the maple syrup, lime juice, cilantro, and white pepper to taste. Serve warm. Bon appétit!

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