Yay! Daniel is on his way! Midlands residents are always delighted to hear that Daniel Jardim (ex-Buddhist Retreat Centre chef) is about to do one of his cooking demos at the home of Kim and Mike Ward in Hilton.
I have often been invited, but somehow just never got around to going. My very dear, vegetarian activist pal Bridget came along with me – she is a regular.
Over many years, he has built up a loyal following but attracts new people every time too. It is a very friendly affair, I chat to some of the regulars. Shelly Joseph says “I really appreciate that he is not trying to convert anyone. Just saying give it a go, you might enjoy this way of cooking.” Pippa Griffin adds “Daniel brings food alive for me. He is so expressive.” He certainly is charming. He also says Yay! a lot. He tells a latecomer “If you say Yay, you can stay” she says Yay! obviously.
When Daniel decided to be vegetarian at age 13, he soon realised that he could either live on side dishes for the rest of his life, or start exploring. Daniel’s way of cooking is a real celebration – of the seasons, of the produce and of course, family and friends. His mother, Mimi, a well-known cookery teacher in Johannesburg is his greatest inspiration. “I never thought he would be a cook but I am so pleased that he is. I have learnt so much from him and love that he brings his whole philosophy of life into his food.” Daniel laughs “I remember picking herbs from the garden to help my mom and being told that a couple of sprigs were not nearly enough. Now I have become my mother!” An abundance of fresh, flavourful and healing herbs are incorporated into all his dishes now.
Hot off the press, and cause for more celebration, is his inspiring recipe book Retreat – the Joy of Conscious Eating. The first print has actually SOLD OUT already, so sorry, you will have to wait for the reprint. Or ask to borrow my book. Daniel believes that food is a direct tool for being in this moment. “One can learn so much about the environment, about ethics and health from conscious eating.” he says. He also acknowledges that our relationship with food is delicate and confusing.
The book is crammed with interesting vegetarian recipes that focus on what is plentiful in each season. This is the best way to eat, of course, as in-season plants are nutritionally dense and appropriate to nourish our bodies at that particular time of the year -our daily medicine. “It’s like Christmas four times a year” says Daniel enthusiastically, “I can’t wait for the asparagus season or the time when sweet potatoes are just perfect.” So while in general Spring is about renewal and Winter about restoration, he suggests you are guided by the weather each day to play with ingredients and cooking methods. Conscious eating is about connecting with gratitude to the food we eat and is a great tool for being in the moment. Food that embraces all our senses, celebrates the day, our families and the environment too. Naturally this food is seriously delicious.
Shelly enthuses: “The peanut sauce is my absolute favourite recipe, I could eat it all day.” Spinach is at its best in the cooler months, so use the new little leaves to make Daniel’s spring rolls and serve with the delicious Peanut and Ginger Sauce. Combine all these ingredients in a blender until smooth: 1 cup toasted, chopped peanuts; 1tbsp grated ginger; 1/3 cup water; 1/3 cup coconut milk; 45 ml soy sauce; 15ml lime juice; 10ml sesame oil; 2 cloves of garlic; 2 tbsp brown sugar; chopped dhania; cayenne pepper.
Curiously, Daniel’s favourite ingredient in the world is white pepper – it’s so 70’s and really charming. He loves the sharpness, I love the retro. His second favourite is Madame Wong’s Coconut Milk. I have never come across it, but vow to stock up when I do. As we leave, Daniel implores us to go home and cook. “Everything we consume is life” he concludes. That includes the pak choi I am stir frying for supper. Other people may be stir frying beef, but that is their kharma.
Contact Kim Ward to get on the mailing list for future Daniel Jardim workshops. firstname.lastname@example.org