I’ve heard many things about Canada before I moved there. A lot of them were clichés. Those things people say just to say anything. Some I found to be (somewhat) true, some not at all. A thing that really stuck to my brain from the beginning on was comparing Canada to a salad bowl. A metaphor referring to the American melting pot, that I immediately fell for. It’s not just, that I totally dig all that green stuff – I also think that the idea of claiming a country a colourful salad is very beautiful. I want to think of this metaphorical salad as some kind of perfect mess, where the ingredients are not just peacefully coexisting but enhancing each others flavour, varying in texture, colours and taste. A tasty mix, full of new combinations, fuelled by the power of it’s contrasts. A real healthy dinner for all of us. Enjoyed together. This imaginary bowl – a country – holds the chance to embrace our diversity and perceive it as a chance to go for the unknown, rather than just being scared.

Why would you wanna eat the same stuff all over again if there’s a whole world of flavours to discover?

(Toronto, “the salad bowl”)

My next thought obviously went to a literal salad bowl, that’s just how I roll! So why not take this conversation into the kitchen and get cooking to create your very own multi cultural salad bowl?

Berlin, where I live now is home to 189 (!!!) nations from all over the world, who bring their own ideas, cultural backgrounds, dreams, ingredients and recipes with them. And of course living together and “sharing a bowl” is not always easy – differences can lead to tensions and misunderstandings, the unknown often scares people. But who said that cooking was easy? It’s an art of itself. A process about constantly learning new things, about planting and harvesting, about trying out new ingredients, staying open, sometimes about failure and then trying it again. In the end, when you sit down at the dinner table and you share your stories and your food and the appreciation for it it’s all okay somehow. And you forget, that you might have just cut your finger a bit, trying to nicely slice this carrot… So here it is: your salad bowl recipe with pumpkin falafel, a spicy prune plum chutney and my new favourite: the six-country seed mix – feel free to cook it however the f you want to. Or stick to my instructions:

(I wish I could have included all the nations, but that just wasn’t possible. No offence.)

PS: The measurements feed 2 hungry people. Adjust according to how big your intercultural dinner party is supposed to be!

PUMPKIN FALAFEL

1/2 of a medium hokkaido pumpkin (it should be around 1 1/2 cup when cooked and mashed)
a handful of parsley leafs
a handful of mint leafs
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic

3 tbsp of sesame seeds

6 tbsp of buckwheat flour

1 tsp of cumin powder (plus more according to taste)
1 tsp of coriander powder

A dash of cinnamon

A good squeeze of lime juice

Chilli according to taste

Some coconut oil for greasing
Some olive oil to drizzle on top after baking salt according to taste

Falafel kind of became a huge staple of many Berliners diet – cheap, tasty, veggie and omnipresent, almost like the “Döner”, that in some countries even is believed to be from Berlin. Well… it’s not. As well as “falafel” is not, but thanks to all our Lebanese decent friends it is very accessible and familiar to most of us. My version includes the traditional spices, like sesame seeds, parsley, mint, garlic and cumin but is actually made out of hokkaido pumpkin, combined with buckwheat – a main ingredient of the polish cuisine, that happens to be gluten-free and full of good stuff.
To make the falafel cut your pumpkin and place it on a baking tray, greased with coconut oil. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with some more coconut oil and roast until golden and tender. Let it cool down an bit, then mash with a fork or a hand-held blender. Mince the herbs and the onion, crush the garlic clove and mix it with the pumpkin mash. Pour in the buckwheat- flour, the sesame seeds, the salt, the spices and the lime juice and mash until a soft dough has formed that is not too sticky, but also not too dry and crumbly. Eventually pour in some water or more flour to reach the desired consistency. Then wetten your hands, form little falafel balls and put onto another greased baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven (200 degree celsius) until golden, which should take around 15 minutes. When they are done drizzle with some high- quality olive-oil. I used a really nice Italian one, that I just brought from Sardinia. Those Italians know their olives!


SPICY PLUM CHUTNEY

Around 10 prune plums

1 medium-sized onion 

1 tbsp of Ras el hanout

Chilli, according to taste
Salt, according to taste
A dash of lime-juice

A dash of agave nectar
1 tbsp of coconut oil

Prune plums (Zwetschgen) are a beloved part of the German cuisine in summertime, so it’s great to make a good use of it. In this recipe I wanted to try out something else, than the traditional German “Zwetschgenkuchen” (prune plum cake) that is a typical thing to eat in late summer. Instead I made a very spicy chutney out of them, that perfectly accompanies the falafel. A main ingredient of this recipe is the wonderful ras el hanout spice mix, that is one of the main spice mixes in North Africa. It normally includes a huge variety of spices, like cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger, chilli peppers, coriander seed, fenugreek, and dry turmeric. You get it at most of the turkish markets and this new kid in your spice rack is a real keeper. If prune plums aren’t in season where you live or not available peaches or even oranges will also do a good job!

To make the chutney mince the onion and glaze in a sauce-pan with the coconut-oil until lightly caramelized. Then add the plums, cut into small pieces and cook for about 15 minutes – you really want a lot of water to vanish, to enhance the intense plum taste. Add the ras el hanout, salt, lime juice, agave nectar and some chilli. Let cool down for a bit and lightly blend with a hand-held blender (you want it to still be a bit chunky, not too much like a sauce)


SIX COUNTRY SEED MIX

3 tbsp of buckwheat groats

1 tbsp of coriander seeds 

3 tbsp of unhulled hemp seeds
3 tbsp of pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp of sesame seeds 

1 tsp. of sumach

1 tsp of agave nectar

Some salt 
some
Chilli if you like it hot!

This seed mix adds a really nice crunch and some extra flavour to your salad bowl. You can prepare more of it and store for future creations. It also makes a nice little present to bring to a dinner. An ingredient, that might be new to you here is sumac, a powder made out of the fruits of flowery small trees, that grows in Africa and Asia. It has a very distinct, tangy taste and is an important ingredient of the turkish and middle eastern cuisine. Hemp used to be one of the most important agricultural crops in Germany since it can handle our weather conditions pretty well and is able to feed and robe a lot of people. It’s unhulled seeds get very crunchy and nutty when roasted and are extremely versatile.

To prepare it mix all the seeds and roast in a preheated pan until fragrant and golden (really take care not to burn them, most of the time 2 minutes are enough – constantly stir!), season with salt and slightly caramelize it with the agave syrup. Let the mix cool down a bit, then add the sumach. Store in a glass jar or munch right away.

SESAME SAUCE

6 tbsp of tahini

1/2 cup of water

juice of 1/2 a lime
A dash of agave

Salt according to taste
1 garlic clove, mashed

Mix all the ingredients until a creamy not too runny sauce has formed. This is a no-brainer that you can pour over almost everything to make it very very amazing!

SALAD BOWL BASE

For the base of the salad I mixed some local wild herbs with spinach, thinly sliced cabbage, parsley, carrot and cucumber sticks, because this was what was available to me at the local farmers market at this time of the year. Feel free to throw in whatever works for you or challenge yourself and try to top it up with even more nations. I imagine something pickled like a good old “Spreewaldgurke”  or the Korean version kimchi to be an amazing add-on.

Assemble all the ingredients in your favourite bowl, drizzle with the sesame sauce and serve with the chutney aside. Eat it with a few slices of real good bread or just as it is.

Have fun playing around and always stay hungry for more!

All images Tabea Mathern