Food Stories is a new column in which Best of Vegan community members share recipes from their cultures and personal stories connected to those dishes. Today, Jason Tjon Affo of Indigo Kitchen shares an exclusive recipe for Vegan Pom from his new cookbook, Vegan Soul Food. Click here to find out where you can purchase a Dutch copy of the book.
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Pom is a Creole-Jewish oven dish that’s often filled with chicken. During colonialism, the Jewish community brought this dish to Suriname. They originally used potatoes as a base but since these weren’t readily available in Suriname, the base ingredient eventually became pomtayer. This change came with its challenges as you have to cook it properly to make sure you won’t itch because of the oxalic acid, cooking it properly takes care of this. For this reason, people used to add a big iron nail to the pom to neutralize this. This was later debunked, but some people still use this technique. It can quickly sound intimidating but it’s quite simple when following the instructions.
When I first went vegan 7 years ago I really wanted to make a vegan version as it’s one of my favorite things to eat. It comes with a dose of nostalgia and comfort. We traditionally serve Pom during holidays, birthdays, or special occasions and I’m always looking for a reason to make it and share with the people I love. For me Pom is the ultimate comfort food, smelling it brings me back to my childhood. I’ll never forget the birthdays where my cousins would guard the kitchen while making the food. The thing I love about Surinamese food is that it’s made to share, this is why I fell in love with cooking.
Many of the foods my father shared with us are the same dishes that helped our family survive and became building blocks in our community.
During slavery people often had to make do with the leftovers, turning them into meals to feed the community. Many of the foods my father shared with us are the same dishes that helped our family survive and became building blocks in our community. Surinamese food and especially Creole cuisine represent so much for me, it has love, strength, and soul. Dishes like vegan pom hold many stories and bring us together to celebrate, heal, and live. I’m forever grateful for the nourishment my family has shared with us over the past generations and will do my best to share it with the generations to come. I’m extremely proud of our cuisine.
- 1 kg pomtayer, grated (also called malanga)
- 15 g celery leaves, chopped
- 3 tbsp sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 orange
- 3 tbsp piccalilli
- ¾ tsp 5 spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp vegan butter, room temp (for on top)
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 pack vegan chicken
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp allspice powder
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 cube vegetable bouillon
- ½ tsp 5 spice
- 1 madame jeanette pepper, chopped (sub for scotch bonnet)
- 300 ml water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Warm a pan over medium/high heat. Add a tbsp of oil and saute the onion for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes
- Add the vegan chicken pieces and cook them for a minute before adding the remaining ingredients (apart from the butter). Let it simmer for 25 minutes. Set aside
- Preheat an oven to 350 fahrenheit or 175 celsius. Add all the ingredients for the pom to a large bowl and mix well.
- Grease an oven dish (approx 8,2 to 13,3 inches) and add half of the pom mixture. Cover with the chicken pieces (safe some of the sauce) and top with the rest of the pom mixture. Top off with the leftover sauce from the “chicken” and vegan pieces of butter.
- Bake for 80 to 90 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with rice or on bread. It’s best enjoyed the day after.
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Reprinted with permission from Vegan Soul Food by Jason Tjon Affo © 2020 Uitgeverij, Becht Haarlem. Photo credit: Jason Tjon Affo.
Click here or on the photo above to get your Dutch copy.
About the Author
Jason Tjon Affo currently works as a recipe developer and food photographer. When he first went vegan 7 years ago, he felt the need to create dishes that he could share with his family and friends. This led to him starting an Instagram page and blog where he published some of his recipes. Throughout the years he’s used these media as a space to not only share recipes but also share more about other topics that interest him. He looks at food as something that can bring people together and set the scene for deeper conversations.
About the Book
Vegan Soul Food is a book filled with colorful and comforting recipes. After years of sharing recipes online, Jason felt the need to create a bundle of recipes that best describe his cooking style and recipes that he grew up with. This is a mixture of some of his favorite Surinamese meals, which are the base of his cooking, and other dishes he loves to share with his loved ones. It’s his take on soul food: colorful, bold, and made to share.
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