While these days, it’s certainly easier than ever to find a vegan meal while you’re dining out — massive chains like T.G.I. Friday’s offer vegan meals and sides, and even more exclusive locations are beginning to come around and offer plant-based menus — some areas of the vegan food landscape are, sadly, lacking.
A restaurant called Veg on the Edge, located in Santa Cruz, California is stepping up to fill several voids in the plant-based foodscape. Not only is the vegan eatery gluten-free and kosher, but it also offers Nigerian cuisine, rendering it one of the most unique restaurants we’ve heard of.
Owner Akindele Bankole grew up in both Nigeria and Germany, and later in life converted to Judaism, which is why earning the kosher certification was so important to him. As Bankole told KQED: I want this to be a place where people with special dietary needs can come … Whether you are kosher or gluten-free or vegan, this is a place where you can easily choose from anything on the menu.”
“There’s a lot of consciousness to what we’re doing,” Bankole said. We don’t merely serve, we have to consciously serve.”
Veg On The Edge/Facebook
Bakole hired local chef Jonathan Miller to help him develop plant-based versions of the recipes he ate during his childhood. You’ll find suya, an African dish comprised of grilled meat on a stick and dusted in a black pepper-centric spice mix, made with Shiitake mushrooms at Veg on the Edge, as well as Shiitake black rice, raw plantain salads, potato balls, a suya burger, and Cremini stew.
You can visit Veg on the Edge at 725 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.
Cook Your Own Nigerian Food at Home
Finding vegan Nigerian food can be extremely difficult, so if you don’t live in Santa Cruz, don’t give up — try making some recipes yourself! Here are a few of our favorites from the Food Monster App to get you started.
These Beju: Nigerian Coconut Cookies by Mike Benayoun also seem to be common in the northeast of Brazil under the name bijus or tapioquinhas. Over there, these cookies include various fillings such as dulce de leche, jam, compote or butter. In Nigeria, these cookies are made with only three ingredients: cassava root, coconut, and sugar.This is a dessert that will even appeal to gluten and grain intolerant people, as it contains no wheat flour.
These Akara: Nigerian Fried Bean Balls, also by Mike Benayoun, are deep-fried bean fritters, popular in West African countries and Brazil. Black-eyed peas are the most common choice of bean for this crispy snack, but other beans, each with their own flavor or texture, can be experimented with until you find your favorite. Akara can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer with a side of savory sauce for dipping and they’re best served while still fresh and crispy.
Yam and Egg is a staple in most Nigerian households. Tomi Makanjuola’s dish is easy to make and is one that we would love to eat for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. Anything really is possible in the world of vegan cooking and with a touch of adventure and experimentation in the kitchen, there’s no reason to miss out on anything.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Veg On The Edge/Facebook