My Vegan Cooking Class While on Vacation in Guatemala
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My husband and I just returned from a vacation in Antigua Guatemala. One of the things we did was a vegan cooking class. This was one of the most fun things we did. The class was the El Frijol Feliz Cooking School (http://www.frijolfeliz.com/).
The owner’s name was Luis and our chef’s name was Leivi. Luis runs a Thai restaurant out front and the cooking school in the back. Leivi didn’t speak much English but we got along fine with the occasional translation from Luis. We made traditional Guatemalan fares like Chiles Rellenos (We used Bell Pepper instead of Chiles), Ensalada Vegetales (Vegetable Salad), Arroz Chapin (Guatemalan Spanish Rice ), Mole with Plantains (Chocolate Sauce) and Tortillas. The first thing we noticed was that these dishes were very similar to typical Mexican food. However, nothing was spicy hot. So the flavors were so much more enhanced.
We started by doing a LOT of mincing. Most everything was minced. And we did it the old fashion way, with a knife. But we had a great time. Cooking can be fun. Americans are typically in a rush but if you just slow down and enjoy good conversation and some good wine, cooking ends up not seeming like work.
We would ask Leivi along the way what some of the vegetables were since not everything was something we’ve seen before in the US. It turned out that we were the only people in the class at this time so it was a private session for us. The best part was at the end when we got to sit down to a fantastic dinner.
I’ve included all the recipes to what we made. If anyone ever visits Antigua Guatemala, I would highly recommend signing up for the El Frijol Feliz Cooking School. As a Top Contributor on Trip Adviser, I rated this 5 stars for something to do while visiting.
Chiles Rellenos (used Bell Pepper instead of Chiles)
1-2 Very large Bell Pepper
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon of thyme
1 tablespoon of fresh finely diced parsley
2 plumb tomatoes
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
½ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
½ cup of finely diced potato
½ cup of finely diced carrot
½ cup of finely diced green beans
Vegetable oil (enough to fry the peppers)
First begin by roasting the red peppers on all sides. You can roast your red peppers by either grilling or roasting in the oven. Once the peppers are roasted the skins will start to blister. One by one place the roasted peppers in a plastic or paper bag to “sweat” the peppers, which makes them easier to peel. Peppers are easier to peel when they are still hot. Begin by peeling the skin from all of the peppers. Then open the peppers with your finger from the side and remove all of the seeds and veins from the pepper leaving only the skin and the stem intact. Set aside.
Boil the finely diced potatoes, carrots and green beans in a sauce pan with water for approximately 10 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. After the potatoes, carrots, and green beans are cooked drain the excess water. Then mash the mixture in the pan or dice the ingredients until they are fine. Set aside. Dice the onion and 2 tomatoes and place them in large frying pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Saute the onion and tomatoes for two minutes, add the bay leaf, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ tablespoon of pepper.
Add the parsley to the mixture and cook for only one minute.Then add the potato, carrot and green bean mixture to the pan. Cook for one minute extra.
Remove the bay leaf. Set aside.
Rapidly beat the egg replacer with a whisk for 5 minutes until foamy and forms peaks.
Take roasted bell pepper skins and fill them with the mixture until stuffed. Use approximately
one full rounded tablespoon for each pepper. Then close the pepper and place aside. Continue to fill all of the peppers. In a large frying pan place enough oil to fry the peppers. Heat the oil with a medium to low flame. You will be placing the peppers coated with batter in the pan so make sure to not have the oil too hot. Take one pepper and place in the batter. Grab the pepper by hand and place in the frying pan. Spoon extra batter over the pepper to cover any pepper not covered in batter. Repeat with other peppers. Fry the peppers in the pan on each side until light golden brown, approximately 1 ½minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on serving plate. Serve peppers with the salsa de tomate.
Salsa de Tomate
To prepare the sauce, boil in a saucepan halved tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper and ½ cup of water for 10 minutes. Then place the contents in a blender (usually about ¼ a cup of water remains) and blend for two minutes. Place back in the saucepan and boil for 3 minutes. Serve over the fried chilies.
Mole de Plátanos
(Serves 4 people)
2 guaque (guajillo) chilies (dried, de-seeded and de-veined)
2 pasa (poblano/mulato) chilies (dried, de-seeded and de-veined)
2 roma/plumb tomatoes
2 oz. raw pumpkin seeds (pepitoria)
2 oz. sesame seeds (ajonjoli)
2 large black peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
8 oz. of chocolate
Begin by toasting the chilies, tomatoes, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Traditionally this is done on a comal, but it can be done in a pan with no oil. Afterthe ingredients are roasted break up the chilies and place these ingredients into a blender with 3 cups of water. Blend for 5 minutes. Place the liquid in a sauce pan and add the chocolate and stick of cinnamon. Mix and boil mixture on medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Slice the plantains and place in a frying pan with vegetable oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes while flipping sides, until golden brown. When the plantains are done, place them into the boiling mole sauce. Boil the plantains in the mole mixture for 10 minutes. Serve.
Hi, I am a 55-year-old Traditional Naturopath & Nutritionist who is passionate about health. After all, without health what do we have? We all have one life to live and why not live that life to the fullest. We are all going to age and we are all going to die. I am concerned with how we live and how we age. Existing is not an option for me and it should not be for you. I want to thrive. I want to feel vibrant and full of energy every day. There is no reason why we should be limited in the things we do because of our age, if we care for our precious health. When we are plagued by illness or even annoyed my minor symptoms of dis-ease we are not thriving. I know that our bodies can heal themselves. Sometimes they just need a little help from nature.