Soul Cocina

Eco Chef Roger Feely

Drought friendly cooking

We set up the Soul Cocina kitchen at the UCI Festival of Discovery this Saturday for a day of drought friendly cooking demonstrations.  We prepared dishes implementing water conservation cooking techniques using ingredients that do not require excess irrigation like potatoes, onions and tomatoes.  We shared techniques like steaming vegetables over pasta water and saving vegetable blanching water to use for soups and sauces. These water saving practices certainly help our situation, however the majority of the water we need to bring food to our table is used in the production of our food.

Guests were amazed to discover that it takes over 1800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.  When we consider the bun, cheese and other ingredients it takes to make a cheeseburger along with the meat, we see that it can cost a few thousand gallons of water for a simple lunch.  To avoid such excess water use, we considered other protein sources for our demonstration.  A plant based diet has numerous environmental advantages over non vegetarian diets.  Water conservation is definitely one advantage of choosing a plant based diet.  We used proteins such as lentils, pumpkin seeds, and avocado in our demonstration, as well as grasshoppers.  When the United Nations estimates that one fifth of the world's population lives in areas of physical water scarcity and many people around the globe have limited access to clean water, I think it is time we rethink how we eat.  Ironically, the EPA reports that agriculture is the leading cause of pollution in the streams, rivers and lakes of the United States.  When considering water use in the production of the food we eat, there are many factors and variables to consider.  The equation is not as simple as looking at how much water it takes to produce a peanut.  We should consider the serving size and the nutritional content of the food, as well as where it is produced and the methods of irrigation.  It is not a simple equation.  This article does a great job of rethinking and demystifying the social media rumors and information fads regarding water used to produce our favorite ingredients.  Once we can shift our lens to look at all of the factors related to the production of our food, then we can make informed decisions.  One of the dishes we prepared at the festival was bhel puri, a popular street snack from India based on puffed rice that utilizes drought friendly ingredients like potatoes and tomatoes.  If you can find dry farmed potatoes and tomatoes at your farmers market, don't pass them up.  Great eco chefs go out of their way to source dry farmed tomatoes and potatoes, not only to preserve water, but because the coveted ingredients are packed with flavor and nutritional density since they are not watered down by regular irrigation.  We decided to use a rice based dish to highlight the idea of water use as a circular, symbiotic process rather than a linear act.  When rice is grown, at least half of the water applied to produce the rice is returned to the land as it flows through the rice cultivation process.  This is another example of the intricate circle of life where the ebb and flow of water cannot be easily measured.  Peanuts or cashews, both great vegetarian protein sources, are used in bhel puri.  Since nuts are notorious for the high use of water in commercial production, we decided to use an alternative protein source to add the signature nutty crunch.  We chose to use roasted chick peas.  Through deep research, we found that, depending on how they are grown, chick peas can use as much, or even more water than peanuts!  We had an opportunity to use our Rock the Bike Fender Blender to make our mint chutney and tamarind-date chutney for the bhel puri.  In place of the traditional green mango, we used under-ripe plums and peaches for a more local, seasonal approach without sacrificing the integrity of the dish.  As stone fruit season is quickly coming to an end, we see persimmons coming into season, which make for a very festive bhel puri.  As usual, we upcycled some expired Indian newspaper we found at the market to serve our bhel puri, just like on the streets of Mumbai.

California Bhel Puri


Puffed rice (available at South Asian Grocers or make your own)        4 cups

Dry farmed potato, diced and boiled with turmeric powder and salt    1 each

Dry farmed tomato, diced                                                                     1 each

Diced stone fruit or persimmon                                                            1 each

Tamarind chutney (recipe below)                                                         1/4 cup

Mint chutney (recipe below)                                                                 1/4 cup

Crispy fried lentils                                                                                1/8 cup

Roasted garbanzos                                                                              1/8 cup

Chopped cilantro                                                                                 2 T

Diced onion                                                                                         1/8 cup

Lime juice                                                                                            1 T

optional additions:

Minced green chile                                                                             1 T

Chaat masala (available at South Asian grocery)                                1/2 t

Sev                                                                                                      2 T

Pomegranate seeds                                                                            2 T


combine all ingredients and serve immediately.  Serves 4

Mint Chutney

Garden mint                                                                                  1 bunch

Cilantro                                                                                         1/2 bunch

Ginger                                                                                           1/2"

Garlic                                                                                             1 clove

Lime juice                                                                                      1 lime

Green chiles                                                                                  to taste

optional dollop of yogurt

~blend all ingredients with a few drops of cold water in bicycle blender until smooth

Tamarind Date Chutney

Tamarind pulp                                                                               1 cup

Medjool dates                                                                               4 ea

Jaggery (Indian unrefined cane sugar)                                          1/2 cup

Water                                                                                             2 cups

Ground cumin                                                                                1/2 t

~blend all ingredients in bicycle blender, simmer in sauce pan until reduced by half


Our next dish was the taco de chapulines con aguacate de molcajete. Entomophagy has been practiced around the world for centuries.  Marco Antonio who takes care of the SERES land in Guatemala makes a wonderful larvae kombucha and says that people around Esquintla have been making the refreshment for generations.

In 2013 the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published a report that declares the answer to global food security may be edible insects.

Chapulines are grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers contain up to 75% protein.  100% of the body is edible as compared to beef which has 40% edible meat.  Compared to the over 1800 gallons of water it takes to produce a pound of beef, grasshoppers need only one gallon to produce a pound, making chapulines the least water intensive source of protein I have come across.  However, until grasshoppers are accepted as food by mainstream western diners, and until we learn to raise grasshoppers for consumption, the economic cost of chapulines will remain just as high as beef (not considering the hidden costs) and we will be left importing chapulines from dubious sources (as suggested in this article) for adventurous foodies.  To enjoy grasshoppers at home, you certainly can catch them yourself.  Foraging for grasshoppers is heaps of fun for the entire family and a great form of pest control for your garden.  Foraging grasshoppers in Mexico is a great alternative to spraying pesticides in fields of alfalfa and other crops that the bugs love. Not only does it eliminate the environmental and health hazards of spraying chemicals, but foraging chapulines also gives local communities a sustainable source of protein and income. 


We made our own tortillas for the tacos, using corn that had gone through the nixtamalization process.  We cook and soak the corn in limestone, calcium hydroxide (simply known as cal in Latino markets), before grinding the corn to make tortillas.  The nixtamalization process has quite a few benefits for the corn.  First off, the alkalinity of the cal makes the corn more "glutinous" by breaking down the sticky component of the corn's cell walls which allows the corn to form a dough (masa) which will stay together when creating tortillas.  Ground corn that has not been treated with lime would fall apart and not form tortillas.  Also, the corn develops a specific texture, aroma and taste through nixtamalization.  And very importantly, the process increases the nutritional value of the corn.  The high ph level of cal helps to free the bound niacin present in corn to allow the body to absorb the niacin.  There are also much higher levels of minerals like calcium, iron and zinc available in corn processed with cal.  Nixtamalized corn eaten in combination with beans and other proteins provides an amino acid balance that works together to provide a complete protein source.  So combining grasshoppers with nixtamalized corn in the form of a fresh hand made tortilla is one of the least water intensive ways I could think of to nourish the body with protein.  We served the tacos the traditional way with a guacamole prepared in a lava stone mortar and pestle (molcajete).  Avocados are not super water intensive trees, however due to their shallow root system, they are not able to retain much water between periods of rainfall.  So commercially, avocados are irrigated rather aggressively during a drought.  We have avocado trees at the SERES center near Antigua, Guatemala and after a few years of drought without ever watering the trees, they produce glorious dry farmed fruit.  The avocados are not as big and plentiful as they would be if they were watered, but they are dense with flavor and nutrition.  We garnished the tacos with epazote, toasted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate.  The pomegranate adds color and sweet tartness.  Pomegranate is water intensive commercially, but the tree I used to eat from in front of where I lived in Triana across the bridge from Sevilla, Spain was never watered and bore hundreds of luscious pomegranate fruit.  We only use a few gems of pomegranate per taco, so no matter how much water is used to produce a pound, we only use a fraction of an ounce per taco.  The epazote is very drought friendly, most herbs are, and it packs a powerful flavor in small quantities that compliments the earthy chapulines quite well.  Lastly, the pumpkin seeds (pepitas).  Pepitas are high in protein, like many seeds, are often simply discarded after using the pumpkin or squash and they are drought friendly. 

Foodscapes El Salvador July 2015 : Cheese Making in Celina Ramos

Back in July we embarked upon a learning journey to Suchitoto, El Salvador.  


The first week was a hands on experiential permaculture workshop in the ecologically diverse community of Papaturro.  I was the chef for this segment of our journey.  We made everything from scratch by hand, using molcajetes, comales, metates and wood burning stoves using local ingredients sourced from neighbors and our hosts.  Many of the participants were from the village of Papaturro and the guests all stayed in local homes with families in Papaturro.  Papaturro was settled 14 years ago by refugees who had left El Salvador during the violent civil war.  The regrouped and formed this farming community.  Many Papaturro youth have looked to the north to earn money in the US and to live the American Dream.  Many of the youth of Papaturro are part of the SERES network and are working to create regenerative systems in Central America to support thriving communities there.   


The second week of the program, Foodscapes, was focused on following the route of ingredients as they pass through these unique communities that hosted us in Suchitoto.  We milked cows, visited farms, learned from bee keepers, exchanged stories in fishing villages, harvested tropical fruit, processed local corn using the the Mayan technique of nixtamalization then ground the corn in the communal mill and dove deep into the food world of the region.


I would like to highlight the diverse group of participants on this learning journey.  We were: 


• Four UC Irvine students focused on sustainability

• Fernando, the program manager of the Global Sustainability Resource Center at UCI

• Two educators from IMAP (Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura) and SERES  

• A few SERES youth from Guatemala, including Maria the chef 

• A group of SERES El Salvador youth, including some very local Suchitoto folks and some from other Salvadorean regions

• and lastly, one eco chef, me, Rogelio


SERES is pretty special for a number of reasons.  SERES is a youth led network of social change makers dedicated to environmental action planning and creating resilient communities in Central America.  


IMAP is a very cool organization and permaculture demonstration center, based on Mayan traditions and permaculture practices. We were fortunate to have one of the founder members join us on this learning journey as an educational facilitator.  Ramiro Tzunun (Tzunun means hummingbird) honors traditional Kachikel Mayan wisdom that has been passed down to him through generations and implements these sensibilities into his work.  Please take a moment to learn about the story of our learning partner, Rony Lec, founder and coordinator of IMAP in this interesting article


The GSRC is bringing together some very inspiring young people on campus at UC Irvine who are implementing sustainable practices into their work and studies.  We are also creating some interesting programming via our Campus as a Living Lab Pathway (Fall and Winter programming to be announced next week) and Communiversity Pathway



One of our foodscapes participants Daniel Mejia took us to his home where his family makes homemade cheese to sell and trade in his community of Celinas Ramos near Lake Suchitlán.




Fresh, raw cows milk is coagulated to separate the curd and whey.



The curd is pressed to release all excess curd and moisture.



The curd is kneaded to create a distinct texture.  Then the curd is molded by hand into torpedo shapes to be sold and traded in the community.  We brought a few pounds back to our base in Papaturro to serve with hand made corn tamales.

See more photos from this session on the Soul Cocina fb page

Yuca Frita with Salsa Soul Cocina

sun dry chilies

dig up yuca

peel yuca
boil yuca until soft then fry in coconut oil or vegetable oil

 pick tomatoes
 char tomatoes with chilies, garlic, tomatillos, sesame seeds
 blend tomatoes and chile with some lime juice and cilantro and serve with avocado and yuca


Lo siento mucho Pachamama.  I am sorry Mother earth.  I was exploring the central market of Antigua, looking for new ingredients that I had never cooked with before.

Like pacaya which I saw growing in the potential future home of the SERES center and finca.

At the same finca I also discovered an hoja santa plant.  I didn't realise what it was until Gregorio, one of our friends from IMAP called it to my attention.

I use hoja santa in my mole pipian (a recipe I got from a friend from Puebla, Mexico) along with radish leaf, pumpkin seeds and green chiles.  All of these ingredients are readily available in Guatemala.

So I found picaya at the market.

And used it in a beet and orange salad.

Another new ingredient, for me, that I found at the market is the Caimito.  I tried this once in Maui where it is called star apple fruit.  In Vietnam it is called "mother's milk"

It is too late in the season for loroco, but I did get to make pupusas with loroco last time I was in Guatemala.

 As I was leaving the market in Antigua, I came across a woman cutting up a cooked armadillo.  This was definitely a new ingredient for me.  I had never eaten or cooked armadillo.

 I prepared the armadillo in a red chile - pumpkin seed sauce.  I fried the armadillo meat in it's own fat and added plenty of lime, onion and chile.  Like sisig, then I simmered it in the sauce.

 There was talk at the meal I prepared that armadillos may be endangered.  After some research, I discovered that although most armadillos are not officially endangered, many species are considered threatened.

The pink fairy armadillo is endangered.  It lives in central Argentina and is the smallest of all armadillo species.

The giant armadillo is a threatened species.

Although I am not sure what species of armadillo I bought, I am pretty sure it was not the giant armadillo or the pink fairy, based on it's size and the fact that giant armadillos habitat regions South of Guatemala and fairy armadillos are only in Argentina.

Pumas and Jaguars also eat armadillos in Guatemala, and apparently so do Catholics in Nicaragua during lent.

But even if the species of Armadillo that I bought is not endangered, some of it's predators are endangered, like the Jaguar.  So by eating the armadillo we may be competing with the Jaguar.

I am sorry Pachamama.  My ignorance does not make it ok.  I will be more conscience of the effects that my eating and cooking habits have on you from now on.

I may follow the route of the armadillo in one of my foodscapes projects.  Or maybe the Iguana.

I absolutely love this song and the Armadillo Project

Chocolate Odyssey

Foodscapes and SERES invite you to experience

JANUARY 29 6:30pm

The Posner Center
1031 33rd Street 
DenverCo 80205

For the first time ever, SERES and Foodscapes come together to bring you this unique dining experience that aims to inspire action, discussion and thought.
Come and join us for a sensory journey of cacao that will inspire discussion, action and thought on the issues of food and culture.  
Chef Roger Feely of Soul Cocina will create a multi-course meal using chocolate as the ingredient in focus.  This event at the Posner Center is the launch of the new Soul Cocina project called Foodscapes.

Crispy Cumin Cacao Garbanzo Beans
Red Beet Fritters • Oaxacan Mole • Confetti Squash • Radish Leaf Rice
Dark Chocolate Almond Pot De Creme • Persimmon • Pommegranate
Hand Made Little Take Home Chocolates

About the hosts and their passions...
Foodscapes is a project that explores the journey of ingredients from seed to table. The journey is documented in live space through creative expression at events and within workshops using culinary arts, storytelling, dance, music and theatre. The journey will also be documented in virtual space through creative expression on-line via a web-series using video, photography, poetry, sound and more. We also record snippets of the sounds created on the journey (tractors, train rides, sizzle of oil on the grill, slapping of tortillas against palms...) to use as the sound samples to build the musical score/audio collage.
SERES mission is to create a new generation of future makers, supporting the emergence of local leaders by educating and empowering young people to launch and lead environmentally sound programs. SERES work seeks to create impact by empowering vulnerable communities to address our most critical issues starting with the least likely source: the youth. As the voices of the future who will be left with a legacy of unresolved environmental, social and economic problems, SERES recognizes that engaging with and involving this generation is essential in the development of smart solutions that lead us towards healthy, thriving and sustainable societies.
SERES current focus is on youth and young adults in Guatemala and El Salvador, where there are 15 million people – more than 60% of the population – aged under 30 years of age. Our goal is to harvest this untapped potential and use it to create positive change for good.
Have questions about A Chocolate Odyssey? Contact Soul Cocina

Behind the scenes of a Soul Cocina pop up

Dia De Los Muertos Vegan Feast This Saturday

It has been a while since we have cooked a meal at La Victoria, our San Francisco home base.

It brings us great pleasure to announce that we will be cooking a very special vegan meal for our annual Dia de Los Muertos feast!

With just two days away, I recommend that you reserve your seats online.  There will only be one seating and space is very limited.

Saturday Nov 2nd
7pm - 9:30
(seating begins at 6:50 and no tables will be seated after 7:45)

La Victoria Mexican Bakery
2937 24th st, San Francisco, CA 94110

$50 night of at the door

The menu is filled with handmade creations that we have been practicing to perfect over the years.  You will recognize a few Soul Cocina classics, as well as some new and exciting items.

Expect to taste a variety of hand made moles, huaraches filled with local pumpkin and a vegan version of chiles en nogada!

View the full menu below

As usual, the meal will have a musical element.  This time our friend from the neighborhood The Genie will perform a rare acoustic set. You may know this wizard of the scratch guitar for his eclectic and mystical electric sets.  On Saturday, The Genie will go raw and unplugged to share the soul of his musical inspirations.  The Genie will be right at home at his local panaderia.

Our next dinner will be a series of meals in New Orleans in Spring 2014.

To get Soul Cocina prepared meals delivered to your doorstep, visit

Comal Charred Padron Peppers • Crispy Cumin Garbanzos • Grilled Delicota Squash • Cactus Pear Mole Manchamantel 

Organic Blue Corn Pumpkin Huarache • Mushroom • Yellow Mole

Cactus Sopes • Roasted market veggies • Radish Leaf & Pumpkin Seed Mole Verde

Roasted Poblano Pepper • Cauliflower Walnut Sauce • Pomegranate 

Mole Negro • Beet Fritters • Confetti Squash • Hoja Santa Rice

Milk Chocolate Almond Custard • Fortune Churros • Persimmon 

Tickets available at:

I leave you with music from Boogat


A Multicultural Activist’s Kind of Party
Feast for Immigrant Rights!

Back Alley Burmese

A special Burmese four course street food tasting menu fundraiser for InSolidarity's delegation to Haiti to support BAJI's organizing

Friday June 21 6:30pm - 9pm

Magic Curry Kart, InSolidarity, BAJI and Soul Cocina present:

at a clandestine outdoor location somewhere between Sutro Tower and the Bay Bridge in San Francisco

menu items include luscious bowls of Khoa Suey, Parsels of Burmese Tea Leaf Salad and Spicy Samosas

Vegan, vegetarian and omnivore options

with music by Micropixie and The Genie 

In support of the international and cross-cultural organizing of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and InSolidarity.

InSolidarity is an international education project designed to build global citizenship in low-income youth of color.  With a passion for food, that began in high school Mr. Anthony of Soul Cocina has combined his passion for good food and food justice by studying food, culture and the use of whole food and traditional cooking methods from across the world.  Together, Soul Cocina and InSolidarity share a passion for the connection between cuisine, culture and change and will host workshops and events to share this connections with the Bay Area!

For more information feel free to contact InSolidarity at


CumbiaSazo is back


Our beloved CumbiaSazo party is back from deep hibernation and ready to bring amazing cumbias & tropical bass to the dancefloor! Come thru for the first edition of 2013. Get down and support labor/immigrant justice organizations in Chicago.

Music by DJs:





// SLOMO //



Very special guest Chef:


$5 Donation at the door (no one turned away). Cash Bar and Other Items for Sale. 18+, 21+ to drink. Free buttons & hugs as always!

((Facebook Event))

We will be fundraising for three organizations:

Celebrating their borndays with us are: Eric Rodriguez, Martin Macias and Isaac Silver.

THE RIBCAGE Loft Space - 3036 N. Lincoln Ave #3B
Regrettably, this space is not accessible.

Plenty of street parking on Lincoln. Walking distance from Brown and Red Lines. 

here is a little Cumbia mix to warm you up for Friday night!

And here is another DJ Rajah cumbia mix from the Cumbia Clandestina Series of 2008
Tune: Cumbia Soul: Cumbia Clandestina pt III

Look forward to shrimp tostadas, little empanadas with Soul Cocina dipping sauces and more!

Georgian Grub

Satellite Republic at The Punchdown in Oakland this weekend

Chachapuri or Xachapuri looks a little similar to Turkish Pide with an egg cracked onto the center top filling partially through the baking process. Хачапури по-аджарски = Kcachapuri with egg? I wish I knew what these guys were saying, cause they seem to be having fun making Хачапури по-аджарски.
SATELLITE REPUBLIC from 12FPS on Vimeo Sergei Parajanov has an interesting life story to go along with his amazing filmography. Sergei Parajanov was born in Tblisi, Georgia

The trio LeMo consists of Hub Rosene of the United States Anna Houter of Germany and Saba Iordanishvili of the Republic of Georgia.

Groundhog Day Vegan Feast

Soul Cocina returns to La Victoria for a special night of vegan cuisine on the wonderful day that the groundhog appears to see her shadow.

two seatings
6:30pm and 9pm
La Victoria Mexican Bakery
2937 24th St, San Francisco, CA

Smoked Potato and Gallegan Kale Soup 

Roasted Beets • Cara Cara • Parsnip chip • Epazote Walnuts • Cactus Pear Vinaigrette 

Guacamole de Molcajete • Fried Plantains

Winter Vegetable Soup • Chile Morita • Sweet Potato Scallion Fritters

Cactus Sopes • Cumin Roasted Purple Potatoes • Mole Amarillo • Pickled Vegetables 

Fortune Churros • Chocolate Almond Custard • Satsuma Orange 

Please arrive at 6:30pm if you purchase 6:30pm slot
Please arrive at 9pm if you purchase 9pm slot


And since the groundhog will determine our wait for spring, let's revisit the DJ Rajah Spring Cleaning Mixtape

Esse Marido É Meu by Miss Zav feat Miss Diddy
Mundo Libre by World Hood
Odio Acumulao by Original Fat
Del Mondongo (ft. Boogat, Heavy Soundz, Paranoize) by Alquimia Verbal
Wailering in the Moonshine by Mad Zach
El Reino De Bomba by DJ Tzinas
Gracias by Munchi
Dale Mas Claps (new MSTR) by Sabo & Melo
Estilo Acapulco by El Remolon & Boogat
Take Dat! By SaBBo & Yuvi Gerstein
La Guial De La Foto by Tarik
K Le Pase by Dj Dus
Mas Fuego by T.O.K.
Shotta (Steryotype RMX) by Munchi feat Mr Lex
Lola (Ging Danga) by Maluca & PartySquad
Pyar Baile by DJ Rekha feat Zuzuka Poderosa
Obuu Mo by EL
Dinheiro (Maga Bo RMX) by MC Cidinho
Wan Polisa by KiT (Kuenta i Tambú)
Decolator by Chief Boima
El Critica by Maga Bo
Soy La Cumbia (Thornato Remix) by Pedro Ramaya Beltran
Dance Bad (Rude Bwoy Version) by Stagga
Colony Collapse (Beats Antique remix) (feat. Nova) by Filastine