Lloyd’s Saag, Dal & Fesenjan
This is Lloyd.
Lloyd is a one of a kind. The first time we met, he walked into my living room, took a look at one of my plants and then – he saved it. Is this the modern version of heroism? I think so. On top of that, Lloyd is a very international citizen-of-the-world type of hero. Why? Let me walk you through it: he was born in Norway, then moved to Scotland, next up was Colombia, then back to Scotland, followed by Alaska, back to Scotland (again), and eventually Canada, where he then stayed throughout highschool and university. Phew, they must have really loved Scotland!
When entering Lloyd’s apartment, the first thing you will notice are the jars filled with soaking mungbeans, ginger bugs and sourdough starters. He’s sort of a ginger-bearded-ginger-beer-loving kitchen wizard (pretty accurate description, I must admit. Chapeau to myself). That man loves to ferment and pickle things! (Both his partner and housemate assure me that whenever Lloyd comes home, he goes ‘look, this is the plant I bought today and that over there is what I fermented.’) Also, he made his own rum-infused butter that was chilling in the fridge. If he wouldn’t have told me what’s hiding inside all of these unlabelled jars, I sure as hell would never find out and forever be wondering ‘what the effing heck is this and what the freaking fudge is that’?!
First up, we went to the market around the corner where Lloyd bought a mountain of fresh vegetables that would – not much later – find their way into his curries, dals and Persian stews. At the market, we found many Berliners strolling around, sampling hangover dishes, sipping artsy coffees, nibbling on freshly purchased snacks and buying good quality ingredients for their (I assume) dinner parties. Next, we quickly stepped into a Turkish supermarket to grab pomegranate molasses (one essential ingredient to Lloyd’s epic Fesenjan dish) and a selection of walnuts and almonds. We returned back home, Lloyd got ready to chop and I got ready to take notes and catch up with everything he told me up until then (such as owning seven huskies and one golden retriever. Wait, what?).
After university, Lloyd didn’t exactly know what to do and where to go, so he started working in a bakery and ended up staying for one year. Baking what? A shit ton of cookies and doughnuts! Wait, no, let me correct that: gourmet doughnuts, they were. Lloyd emphasized that so it seems important (does that mean they had bacon and maple syrup on them? most likely yes. Canada, the maple-motherland!). His recipes involved as much as 36 eggs and buckets worth of butter yielding 10kg batches of cookies. Any extra flavors? Sure, add 10 cups of chocolate chips, caramel, blueberries or coffee to mix up that dough! (he might have gained a few pounds during that period but I didn’t dare ask about it – everyone has sensitive topics, maybe cookie dough is his?)
When Lloyd was still studying, he was widely known for his breads and BBQs until he started dating a celiac vegan – what an unforeseeable plot twist. She rocked his culinary world with lots of curries and new spices, so bye-bye wheat and farewell spicy ribs. From then on, his muse was Indian cuisine rather than marinated chicken wings. I think that we can call this progress.
Lloyd’s passion for traveling was re-ignited when baking and cooking his way around Australia, where he couch surfed after taking off his cookie-dough-stained apron. To give thanks to his ever-changing hosts, he made food for them and started to become better and better and even better at cooking. From then on, Lloyds interest in food only kept on expanding, he experimented with different dishes, ingredients, spices and as it turns out: he absolutely loves to cook for other people – which I was lucky enough to experience myself on this glorious day!
Back to the present: Lloyd is now in Berlin, learning German, saving thirsty plants, fermenting whatever he can get his hands on and cooking up a storm. When asking Lloyd what he would cook for us today, I carefully listened but quickly had to ask again and let him spell-check my writing. Expect exotic dishes, my fellow foodies!
Lloyd’s People Who Cook menu
Pumpkin & Spinach Saag
Garam Masala Potatoes
Safron Garlic Rice
Yes. This is what he made and I told him that from now on, everyone joining the project will be intimidated by that menu list. (Guys, cooking spaghetti bolognese is fine, if that is what you love.) Anyhow, his extravagant, indulgent, elaborate selection of dishes was not only colourful and creative, but also mindblowingly delicious!
To watch Lloyd in the kitchen is a pleasure. Not only does he feel super comfortable with cooking 5 dishes (!) but also is he confident with using many spices (at some point we had to open the window because fresh chili was smoking up the room with its heat). He chops onion after onion after onion while sharing his knowledge about food. DID YOU KNOW: garlic should be crushed before cooking it (which I thought was needed in order to peel it more easily), but in fact it causes a chemical reaction once the garlic is exposed to air. Wait, what? Lloyd lets the crushed garlic sit for 15 minutes to release its antibacterial properties – this is when garlic truly becomes medicine. He also told me that usually, when soaking beans and legumes, he adds a little bit of sauerkraut juice (as we all have in our kitchens, right?!) to enable some predigesting mechanisms.*
*Lloyd loves to share knowledge and facts though always advises me to double check again. But you know what, I trust him, he has a long ginger beard that I kind of associate with wisdom (as well as bonfires in the forest but that’s a whole different story).Google, I don’t need your help today, Lloyd explained how this world keeps spinning (and fermenting), and I’m buying it!
The vegetarian Fesenjan seemed to be everyone’s favourite dish so that’s the one I asked Lloyd to share with us. Are you hungry? Let’s get cooking!
Lloyd’s Vegetarian Fesenjan
Prep Time: 20 min
Cooking Time: 45 min
Total Time: 1 hr 5 min
For this recipe you will need:
2 cups walnuts
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 large eggplant
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup pomegranate syrup
honey (to taste)
- Toast walnuts in the oven until golden and fragrant. Let them cool, then crush up into a coarse meal.
- Dice the onion and add to a large pot with oil, fry until golden.
- Add spices, stir them in for a minute until fragrant and a fondant forms at the base of the pot.
- Deglaze with the vegetable stock and add the crushed walnuts and pomegranate syrup. Taste and adjust the sweetness with honey (pomegranate molasses is quite sour in taste).
- Simmer on medium for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. While waiting, chop your vegetables.
- Add bite sized carrot pieces and after 15 minutes the cubed eggplant.
- Once the vegetables are soft, remove 1/3 to a blender or stick blend until smooth, then add back to pot.
- Allow to cook down until thick and dark in colour. Adjust flavour with more pomegranate syrup, honey or salt.
- Serve with rice and garnish with parsley and pomegranate seeds.
- Enjoy with your friends and close your eyes as you taste this – it’s that good! (And if you’re being polite, also close your mouth!)
We invited a bunch of friends to join the feast (Lloyd made enough food to feed the neighbourhood). So we gathered and we feasted! Yep, that’s what we did. Chat, laugh and try each of his delicious homemade dishes. And what can I say other than: all of them were divine. All kinds of different flavors, textures, ingredients complimenting each other on our plates and in our mouths. Fusion food at its best!
A little wisdom that he gave me for my way home:
Don’t live in your comfort zone cause you’ll never change.
Don’t live outside your comfort zone cause you’ll constantly be exhausted.
Live at the edge of your comfort zone and lean into the unknown.
Very wise words, Lloyd, very wise words. Does that mean I should start pickling? Cause that is what ‘leaning into the unknown’ means to me.
Lloyd, you are insane. In the most positive, life-affirming, foodie kind of way!
To future sourdough sessions and lots of fermentation processes!