Almost six years ago, I was involved briefly with a grassroots anti-nuclear affinity group we called the Spy Club, which went to Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment in Easter 2008 to take direct action, which resulted in two arrests. I wasn't part of the group which went over the fence into the nuclear base, but I was involved with the support on the day and prior to the action, and I wrote a bit about it in a reflection which was published in the Christian Anarchist publication A Pinch of Salt, despite considering myself to be neither a Christian nor an anarchist!
However, one part of the time we spent together preparing for the action really sticks out in my memory and yet has nothing to do with nuclear weapons or taking direct action: the food we ate together, and particularly one meal, a Jamaican dish called ackee and callaloo. I noted down the recipe we used, and have made it a few times for really special occasions, and I thought I would share it here. Whilst it does have a long list of ingredients, it's actually a deceptively simple dish to make! Plus, it clearly has activist-energising and inspiring (inspyring?) powers.
I don't have any photos of the dish available to me just now, but when I find one I'll add it in here.
- Oil for frying
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli, seeds removed and chopped
- 450g tofu, drained to pat dry and cut into chunks (my personal preference is for braised tofu)
- 450g canned ackee, drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 100g vegan margarine
- 400g callaloo (fresh spinach leaves make a good substitution if you can't find callaloo)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, for drizzling (If you can, use Jamaican hot sauce)
- 3 tomatoes, chopped, for garnish
Heat some oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the chopped onion and pepper. Fry for 4-5 minutes until softened.
Add the chilli and stir well. Add the tofu to the pan and stir in.
Add the drained ackee to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes, until the tofu and ackee are both cooked through.
Add the fresh thyme leaves and a little freshly ground black pepper to taste, and stir.
To cook the callaloo, melt the vegan margarine in a separate large pan over a medium heat. Add the callaloo leaves (or fresh spinach if using and cook until the leaves have wilted down. Add the freshly grated nutmeg and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, place the tofu and ackee mixture in the centre of a large serving dish and place the callaloo around it, then drizzle with some hot sauce to taste and garnish with 3 chopped tomatoes.