Christmas Meals: Aruban Ayacas (Vegan)

By Claude

Festive food is something most people look forward to when the Christmas season in nearing. It’s been quite fascinating for myself to figure out just how many meals and varieties of those meals are prepared around the world. Popular examples include Kūčios (Lithuania), Latkes (Israel), Christmas Goose (Germany), Panettone (Italy) and Tamales (Costa Rica).

As some of you may know I’m from Aruba and because of proximity with the Latin America, the Americanisation of out country because of tourism, and our place in the Dutch Kingdom our local cuisine tends to take the best of all worlds.

That being said Aruban Ayacas are traditionally made with animal flesh… but it’s Christmas time, it’s the end of the decade, so I thought I’d share with you my personal, self-made, cruelty-free version of some kick-ass, flavor-popping, plant-based Ayacas.

INGREDIENTS

Stuffing:
400grs. of Textured Soy protein
Bottle of capers
Tomato paste
Oregano Seasoning
1 tabelspoon of cumin
3 tabelspoons of sugar
Garlic powder
Picalilli
Onions (rings)
Garlic (minced)
Green pepper (julienne)
Celery
Margarine (meke sure it’s plant-based)
Prunes
Cashews
Green Olives
Fruit based hot sauce (e.g. Papaya or Mango hot sauce, optional)
Salt and pepper

Dough:
1kg of white corn flour (Buy Harina P.A.N.)
1.5 cup of water
1 teaspoon of salt
Vegetable stock
Margarine
1/2 cup of all sesoning

Wrapping:
Banana leaves

Stuffing:

PREPERATION

Stuffing:
Put the dehydrated soy in water and leave for 15 minutes and then drain water, squeeze out excess water out of the soy.
Put on a pan on medium-high heat and add soy granules.
Add margarine, chopped garlic, sugar and the celery.
Add a little vegetable oil if necessary, when chicken seems to be cooked, add tomato paste and sugar and let it cook a little bit more. Can add some water if needed.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
When done, remove from heat and let the stuffing cool down.

Prepare Banana Leaves:
Wash the banana leaves thoroughly with water. Rub the leaves well with a wet towel and hten dry them using a paper or dry towel.
Cut the banana leaves in pieces of about 30 x 30 cm.
With a scissor remove the hard center of the leave and cut out the sizes of the leaves. Boil them for about 2 minutes to loose the up a little so they can fold without breaking.

Dough:
Put a pot on medium heat and add the margarine and the all seasoning. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
In a large pot, add the corn meal or flour and slowly add the vegetable stock on medium/high heat.
When the content starts to cook, slowly add the margarine with the all seasoning from the other pot into the larger pot.
Let the content cook for a little bit, keep adding vegetable stock if the content becomes to solid. Stir the content with a wooden spoon.
When the content is fully cooked and has a consistency of a bread dough, remove from heat and let it cool down.
Make even sized balls with the dough and lit it sit. the dough balls need to be big enough to form a 25cm circle that will be 0.5cm thick when you flat it out.

Put together :
make sure the banana leaves are dry. Apply oil on the inner side of the larger banana leave and put the dough ball in the middle and flat it down to a circle about 1/4inch thick.
Now add 1.5 cooking spoon of the cooked soy and sauce. Add two onion rings, 1 strip of green pepper, 2 capers, 2 green olives, 1 teaspoon of picallili, 1 prune, 2 cashews and hot sauce if desired.

Fold Banana Leaves :
Take the two sides and do like you are folding a paper in half. So meet the two sides in the middle causing the stuffing to be closed inside of the dough. Make sure all the stuffing and contents are inside the dough.
Fold the two borders together like you are wrapping a gift, then flod the other two sides on top.
Grab another banana leave, and put the folder ayaca on the edge. Then roll the ayaca into the outer leave like rolling up a carpet.
Cut a cooking twine about 120com and tight the leaves together leaving tic tac toe patterns on the ayaca.

Cooking :
In a large cooking pot, add enough water to cook them all and let the water boil.
When boiling, lower it to medium heat and put the ayacas in the boiling water. Let it boal for 1 hour, then let them cool down and enjoy your meal!! You can freeze them if you don’t want to eat them, to reheat boil them for about 20 minutes and then serve.

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