As fellow Kwanzaa Culinarians, we raise our forks in agreement that there’s more to food than meets the stomach. Good food solidifies bonds, starts businesses and builds community.
When we launched Majani Catering in November, Ujamaa was embraced as a collective consciousness we wanted our company to become synonymous with. During the holiday season families will gather to share stories that reference the past, present, and future. The title of ours is Cooperative Economics. What began as a leisurely walk in his neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago led to the development of a soulful vegetarian catering company that promotes sustainable green practices and promotes a community of sharing. Placing social responsibility, economic development, and civic engagement at the center of our practice may be unique for a vegetarian catering company, but we see it as a natural function of food service.
Since walking past that abandoned lot on Calumet and 51st Street, our Executive Chef Tsadakeeyah Emmanuel has been instrumental in transforming it into the Bronzeville Community Garden. In addition to physically transitioning the space into an intergenerational meeting place, Chef T, as he is affectionately called, hosted a series of cooking demonstrations. One of our most memorable ones was at our first farmer’s market of the season. In honor of having a variety of local produce at our disposal from the community’s backyard, Chef prepared his famous gumbo. Using squash, green and red okra, corn, and a variety of spices picked from the garden, he offered practical information on the benefits of a plant-based diet on the body and the environment. Many patrons hadn’t experienced Chef Tsadakeeyah’s cuisine before, and while his advice was on point and the food smelled great, the ultimate testament to the words he preached and talents he shared were in the feedback: nearly a year later, attendees still stop him to share how the cooking demonstration encouraged them to use fresh ingredients in their food, make cooking a family activity, and take ownership of their neighborhoods.
Saying the gumbo was amazing is an understatement! Chef T graciously provided the recipe for all in attendance that day, and we pass it along to you as well. Be informed, encouraged, empowered, and in touch.
4 bunches broccoli, trimmed to florets and blanched
1 head cauliflower, trimmed blanched
2 zucchini, cubed & roasted
2 yellow squash, cubed & roasted
2 red pepper, cubed & roasted
1 lb. baby okra
2 lbs. firm tofu, cubed and pan-fried
1-cup fresh basil chopped
1/4-cup fresh garlic chopped
1 onion chopped
1-cup ww flour
1/2-cup tomato paste
2 tbsp. sea salt
6 tbsp. gumbo file
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
1-cup extra virgin olive oil
Approximately 3 cups water
1. Sauté chopped onion with oil until golden brown. Add garlic and herbs to the onions. Cook for one minute.
2. Add flour and cook for three minutes.
3. Add tomato paste and stir vigorously for 2 minutes.
4. Add tofu and salt and 2 cups water. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add the remaining veggies, except okra. Stir till tender.
6. Add okra and gumbo file. Simmer a few more minutes until okra is tender.
7. Serve hot with rice or grilled polenta.