Archive | December, 2010

STUDENT SPECIAL: Stir-fried morning glory over rice

14 Dec

This is a great recipe for students. For those of you living in NYC, you easily can buy this everywhere in chinatown. From the supermarket as well from the street stands. Not only is it one of my favourite dishes (I have got it from the restaurant Lao Wai) – It only takes about five minutes to make, it is cheap, super-healthy and tasty! So, enjoy!

2 servings

You need

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of water mixed with 3 tbsp maizena

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 red chili

1 bunch of morning glory (water spinache) , the leaves cut into aprox 5 cm big pieces

Oil for frying – preferably sesame oil

1. Heat up oil in a pan on the highest heat

2. Add the morning glory, stir properly

3. After two minutes, add chili and garlic

4. When the morning glory is soft and almost done, add the salt and the water

5. Let it cook for 1,5 minute

6. Serve over rice


New Comment!

9 Dec

On the one hand Vayu is a dreamer and on the other a miracle worker. An average Joe or Joanna looks into Vayu’s refrigerator and sees hardly any ingredient with which to make pasta, let alone whip up a delectable, diverse, and nutritious meal and dessert, sometimes in less than 30 minutes. The flavors on Vayu’s plates are so compelling that one tends to eat just the right amount, since he creates the kind of food that is so good that one feels satisfied upon its consumption, and, besides, not all that eager to continue eating elsewhere.

However, cooking is just one aspect of Vayu’s project.  He is equally preoccupied with communicating his passion to others through writing and teaching.  This blog is proof of how much Vayu seeks communion through revealing his most intimate experiences around food.  He is a young adult with a remarkable skill for “striking a match” to incite in those around him a desire to eat, to get to know food the way he does, and, of course, to create it themselves.

I would highly recommend Vayu as a cookery workshop leader, but I’d also recommend as a leader of all kinds of groups whose aims are to encourage young people to pursue their passions. Vayu is an exemplary model.


Jacqueline Loss, Professor

STUDENT SPECIAL:Tamari/thaicurry-caramelized tofu in veggie sauce over rice

9 Dec

Very easy to make. Fast, cheap, yummy. An ideal student recipe!

You need

1 package tofu – make the tamari/caramellized-tofu out of it. You find the recipe HERE

1/3 bunch collard greens, sliced into 2 cm pieces

1/2 cup water

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup sliced green cabbage

1/2 small zucchini, cut into half moons

1 tablespoon whole cumin

1 teaspoon hot soy bean paste

1 tablespoon hoi sin sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon blackbean garlic sauce

Sesame oil for frying

1. Add sesame oil into the pan. High heat.

2. Add the cumin and roast it for a few minutes

3. Add the garlic, zuchini, collard greens and green cabbage

4. Wok on high heat for four minutes.

5. Add the water, the tofu and the sauces. Lower the heat and cook for four minutes.

6. Drizzle some fresh cilantro over it and serve with rice.


8 Dec

HOLY MACKEREL! is not only the most common expletive among Norwegians and people from the west coast of Sweden, it is a wonderful dish I invented last summer while I was at the family farm in Norway. Since the mackerel season in Norway is in middle/late summer, this is a very summery recipe – and you get the best taste from a charcoal grill. But if you do not have that, an oven works fine. Serve with a fresh summer salat and potato

4 servings
4 fine filets of mackerel with skinside
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt/filet
1 teaspoon black pepper/filet
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped/filet
1 teaspoon chiliflakes/filet
1 tablespoon olive oil/filet
2 tablespoons water/filet

1. Put all the things above on the filets and marinate them for 2 hours. If you do not have the time, do it for at least 30 minutes.
2. Put them in a hotel pan,skinside down, and grill in the middle of the oven.
3. Take out after aprox 15-20 minutes.
4. Serve, enjoy.

WEEKEND BRUNCH SPECIAL: Homemade olive hummus!

5 Dec

This recipe is a lovely spread that lasts long and always delivers. I learned it from a man in Kairo the summer of 2002.
you need

1 can chickpeas
juice of 1,5 lemons
1 tablespoon tahini paste
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 cup marinated green olives
1 4*4 cm piece good feta cheese

1. Add everything but the olives and mix in a mixer
2. When it is smooth and looks like you want, add the olives and mix. Be careful you do not mix to much, you still want the texture of the olive pieces.
3. Serve as dip, spread or compliment to fish dishes and other meditarreanean food. This hummus fits like the fish in the water on a meze plate.

About Vayu…

4 Dec

A great idea is nothing if it isn’t realized. That’s where Vayu is different. There’s billions of dreamers out threre but Vayu makes it happen. That’s what youngNYChefs is all about, realizing a great idea to learn young people to cook and experience the joy of good healthy food. Growing up on simple basic food I have become a food freak and a Michelin Star Collector. But Vayu keeps on surprising me with his innovative new dishes, mixing European haute cuisine with traditional Indian, Asian and American recipes. As the true artist Vayu knows that the most important thing is working with top quality ingrediences, creating lighter dishes with a modern and more modest presentations, Vayu simplifies a complex cuisine and makes it fun and accessible to all. Vayu inspires people to create and learn more about the fantastic world of great food. Hat’s off.

Erik Eger,

Director and writer that last year ate six guide michelin stars in ten hours.

Want to get to know Vayu better? Read his story:

3 Dec

My name is Vayu Maini Rekdal. Here is my story.

Stockholm 2000

Remembering my first dish

A late evening I December.

This was the first day I was going to make dinner by myself. I refused to. Why should I cook, I thought. At the time I did not know much about the art of cooking by myself and it was so convenient to have a mom that delivered nice food day after day.

My mom was just so reliable when it came to food. Other than eating her food, I had sometimes been assisting her in the kitchen. Also, from an early age, I had organized dinner parties – inviting guests and making very detailed menus and interesting setups. But today I had reached a completely new level of cooking – cooking all by myself. After some complaining my mom finally agreed to be my assistant and therefore take on the role I had felt so confident in some times before.

I did not really know what to cook that day, but finally I decided to fry some capsicum(yellow, red and green – I loved the colors) and serve it with pasta. First of all, I poured tons of olive oil in the pan. Then I put the pasta in the boiling water and the poorly cut capsicum in the oil-covered pan. When I considered the capsicum done, It was time to add salt – something I knew that you should always have in food, no matter what. The salt poured and poured until I had emptied half or the jar. Now the dinner was ready to serve, I thought.

No.. Of course, oh, the pasta!

I poured the pasta in the colander. Even though it looked more like porridge than pasta I was sure it was done in the right way.

Time to eat!

I can still remember the taste of oily disgusting and insanely salty capsicum served with the overcooked pasta, everything together becoming a mishmash of the colors of yellow, red, green and the taste of salt, porridge and oil. It makes me feel sick when I think of it.

Naturally I was sad after that dinner. I felt I was a worthless chef and embarrassed by offering such a disgusting meal to such a brilliant chef as my mother.

But all she said after that meal was: “Wooooow Vayu, this is soooo lovely.”

Yeah right!

Today that is probably the best thing someone has said to me.

From failure comes success

Despite my failure, I started to cook more often. My mom was never doing the work for me, in stead she was always by my side, assisting, inspiring and encouraging me in the kitchen. I made progress, even though just adding less oil and not overcooking the pasta would be considered progress compared to my first dish.

Growing up with a single mom from when I was seven, really colored me. I admire her for raising me in that particular way. Not only did she teach me about the food itself, a big emphasis was on the table as a social gathering point. The dinner table has always been the place for discussions, debates and love. The best thing someone ever has given me is the knowledge within in food. No doubts about that.

Eventually I became very good for my age and started to join my mom in her hobby cooking. I assisted her during cookery workshops (one of the clients were the modern museum of art in Stockholm) and was in magazines – among others – ELLE ala carte.

My brave mom took me and my sister on trips to different parts of the world. From this, I got inspired and came in touch with different kinds of food (although the food at home was very exotic). These trips all around the world and my Cuban-Kenyan-Norwegian-Indian heritage made me encounter all strange kinds of food: From illegally fished Cuban style fish in La Habana and Malaysian farmers and fishers cooking for their children in the Malaysian countryside, to Swedish surstromming and tasteless Norwegian fish balls.

But the biggest knowledge, I think I maybe have gotten from spending every summer at our organic family farm Hoel in Norway, where I learned a lot about the importance of the close relationship between nature and cooking. When everybody refused to, my uncles and aunts where the ones that always took me on adventures and my curiosity slowly got bigger just as my knowledge. Going into the forest looking for chanterelles, harvesting vegetables and strawberries, fishing and cooking traditional food at the mountain farm Grudalen, gave me immense knowledge of how to cook in line with nature, the passion farmers put into the food and also an excellent eye for distinguishing good ingredients.

Cooking becomes a part of my life

Finally I started to cook several times a week, not allowing mom to cook. I cooked different kinds of food, but specialized in “crossover food”, where the Asian influences are the most obvious ones. My kitchen was the place where I constantly was reinventing and blending flavors and cuisines. For example, adding coconut to the traditional Norwegian pancakes and cilantro, chili and garlic to the usually tasteless Norwegian fish balls. As a kid without a TV, cooking was what I spent time with. When my friends invited me over for video-games and movies, I invited them over for dinner parties and cooking. When other kids wanted to have birthday parties at Mc.Donalds, everything I wanted was Mom’s tasty Indian lentil soup Dahl or her chickpea stew Chole. When my friends played with Barbie, I was reading Marcus Samuelsson’s book “Street food” looking for inspiration.

Time passed so quickly and suddenly cooking was a natural part of my everyday life – A part of my life for which I am very grateful. Today cooking a way for me to relax and get away from whatever kind of stress is bothering me. It is also a way for me to deliver feelings and creativity.

In the spirit of my mother

The idea of holding cookery workshops for young people arose in early August 2009. After I had been holding some workshops for grownups with my mom, I realized I really liked it. At the same time, I was surprised that hardly anyone of my friends and people I knew of, knew how to cook. The biggest lack of knowledge I found among students and children. Naturally, in a society as ours, people do not have time to teach their children how to cook. Since not many parents have the time, I wanted to teach kids how to cook, just in the same way as my mom once taught me. Then, they can pass it on to the next generation and so on. If we start with the younger generation, the next generation will follow and we will change society.

One day in the summer of 2009, I was contacted by a mom who had been looking around for cookery workshops for her 14 year old son and his seven friends. The only thing she found was what they learned in school. I was shocked, but she was right. Her needs and my experience fitted like the duck in the water.

Together with my unbelievably competent classmates Joanna Ederyd, Veronica Fredriksson and Bim Palmquist we held 15 cooking classes. It was a complete success! The parents and the children were so thankful. I got to hear things such as “this is the best thing I have ever let my son do” and “This is the highlight of my week”.

Fresh off the boat from Stockholm…I came to this city and got more inspired then ever. Whether it is the crowded streets and markets of Chinatown, the delicacies of little Italy or the Indian areas in Queens, I realized this city has something to offer for everybody.

What it all comes down to is that I have learned so much just by being curious. When my mom first opened the door to the exciting world of cooking, realizing I made progress at the same time as I kept up my curiosity, did everything for me. All that actually is required is an interest in food and an open attitude towards new tastes. But most of all someone who assists encourages and inspires you. That I know for sure.

That first dish – the disgusting mix – in combination with my passion, took me all the way to New York. It gave me a job as a cook at Marcus Samuelsson’s (my biggest inspiration) new flagship restaurant Red Rooster Harlem. It gave me the job as a cooking tutor for a kid. But most of all it gave me the possibility to pursue my passion and do the thing I like best in life: educating young people in cooking.

Vayu Maini Rekdal


Report from a workshop – creating a new generation take-out killers

2 Dec

The theme of this workshop was “Globalized – dinner with friends”

In the true youngNYChefs spirit the purpose of this very workshop was to show how easy and cheap it actually is to make really healthy food. It was an introduction, the first workshop out of several for the same group, to a world of new tastes and dishes. To open a new door to a world of food. Since the participants were people my age, a big part of this workshop was health, where I as the leader spoke much about why I chose those certain ingredients and how they are important to you. For example, the healthy coconut-milk in the soup, the iron-rich spinach and c-vitamin bomb white cabbage of the salad and how the drink is a healthy vitamin-rich energy boost, always a good substitute to coffe or soft drinks.

When the workshop started, the participants were divided into groups just as usual. One group focusing on the starter, another on the main course and the last one on the dessert. By the dining table, we all spoke about what we had cooked, how and why.

In order for the participants to be aware of all the different tastes pleasing our taste buds, a small amount of each spice and sauces, circulated around the table for observation and smelling. When smelling or tasting, it is much easier to distinguish all the fragrant flavours in the food – it is easier to tell which is which and what taste you really like or not.

In addition, much emphasis was on the look of the food – how to make it look more pretty and exclusive than it actually is. We spoke about colours, “accesories” and smells. It is important to know how to make food look pretty – both so other people appreciate it more, but also because you realize not much is required for homecooked food to look as good as at a fancy restaurant.

While eating, I told small stories about every dish – including why, how and when I created it. For instance, how the creamyness of the coconut soup once made my lactose intollerant godfather cry because it so much reminded him of cream,butter and milk he had been able to enjoy in childhood. I told about how the drink always was what my mom gave me in stead of soft drinks and she promised it was exactly the same thing. To sum it up, I already in the beginning nurture the idea of how closely food and feelings are related. Once again, food is so much more than the physical part in your mouth, it is stories, feelings, passion – it is simply life.

The conclusion from this workshop – just as many times before, I notice how it is the small details people have extra faith in after the workshops; such as how orange is an excellent substitute for lime in dressings and sauces, the magic of the fish sauce and simple things as how to chop an onion or garlic in the most effective way.

I think these discoveries are possible only because I during the workshops unite the processes of learning basic techniques and the creating, in stead of separating them as often is the case- telling people “the techniques come first and then we can start to talk about creating”.

Everything turned out way better than expected, except from the Key Lime pie where a language mistake changed the outcome a little. But all together, the food in combination with the company made this a almost mesmerizing experience I will never forget.

This was a wonderful workshop and I am really looking forward to continue the work with this group of aspiring young homecooks and take-out killers. And the cost? 6 $ each for this exclusive meal!!

You see pictures below.


Lightly cured cumin-marinated sesame-fried salmon over Asian salad with apple dressing.


Coconut/orange/saffron shrimp vegetable soup.

United States/Malaysia/India

Aunt Mabel’s key lime with exotic mango juice-infused fruit salad


Summer-fresh apple, lime, cinnamon and ginger drink

Yesterday’s workshop

1 Dec

Yesterday Vayu held a workshop for six people in NYC.

It was a complete success. The food was lovely, so was the company.

One of the participants, my Swedish model friend Sara said: “This was the highlight of my day”.

Me myself, my personal favourite this day was the apple-dressing, a tangy fragrant taste-explosion that marked my taste buds forever.

Keep you eyes open for more news about workshops!

I will be holding more workshops, contact me if you are interested!

On the menu:


Lightly cured cumin-marinated sesame-fried salmon over Asian salat with apple-dressing


Spain/Malaysia fusion coconut/orange/saffron prawn soup


Aunt Mabel’s key lime pie with superfast raspberry ice cream or exotic fruit salat in Mango juice


Water with apple, lime, cinnamon and ginger

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