Friday, April 22, 2016

Plant Based Filipino Tinola

Chicken Tinola is one of the most popular comfort food in the Philippines.  Filipinos love the pungent taste imparted by the ginger in this stew.  It is the heart of the dish.  Chicken is the protein of choice and as far as the vegetables are concerned potatoes, cabbage and chayote or sayote are the popular options.  

Chayote or sayote (see picture below) is a green vegetable which belongs to the squash family.  It is hardier than a zucchini and has to be boiled as long as the potatoes.  It has a large seed in the middle which is removed while the skin is left intact during the cooking process. It tastes like the zucchini but has a sturdier texture which makes it ideal for stews.  

Chayote or sayote

I found chayote or sayote in the Patel Indian Store in Monroeville and happily used it when I felt a craving for Tinola.  Being plant based I skipped the chicken and just relied on sauteed ginger, garlic and onions to enhance the flavor imparted by the familiar vegetables used in tinola, cabbage, potatoes, and the chayote.  I wanted more green and nutrition to the dish and added spinach.  In the Philippines, they would have added dahon ng sile or leaves of small chilis.  Instead of this one could add for that spicy kick, if desired, one whole banana pepper.  For seasoning, fish sauce or patis is traditionally added to the stew while cooking as well as a side condiment to dip the chicken in while eating.  Again being plant based I just added salt and some pepper and skipped the fish sauce.  

This plant based version really satisfied my cravings for Tinola.  I got the ginger flavor from the soup and heartily savored the vegetables including the chayote with brown rice.  Life was really good while I savored this Filipino comfort food sans the chicken.  

Plant Based Filipino Tinola

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger, cut into small strips
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cabbage, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 potatoes, cut into large cubes
  • 1 chayote or sayote, cut into large cubes (available in Asian Stores)
  • 4 loosely packed cups spinach
  • 1 whole banana pepper (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tsp oil or 1 tbsp water in a pot in medium heat and add to it the onion garlic and ginger.  Saute till the onion is translucent.  Add the vegetable broth, cabbage, potatoes, chayote and whole banana pepper if using into the pot.  Allow to boil till the potatoes and chayote are tender but not mushy.  Then add the spinach at the last 5 minutes of cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy with rice.  

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