Volunteer Powered Vegie Pots

Unlike the temperamental nature of Canberra weather, Australian politics, or your feelings about being at work or Uni on any given day, the Food Co-op Shop & Café continues to be a consistent source of good music, good people, delicious food and a supportive community. This recipe series aims to give you an insight into the incredible meals prepared by volunteers for the rush and bustle of rugged up Uni students, office workers, and miscellaneous hungry individuals. All of the meals at ‘The Co-op’ are vegan, organic, cheap, healthy and hearty, based around seasonal fresh, local produce, spices and whole foods (all stocked in the shop). If your taste buds are firing just reading this column then come in and join us for lunch 12-2pm weekdays, or volunteer in the mornings with the inviting and friendly kitchen gang to learn some skills and earn a 10% discount when you buy your own ingredients for cooking your $5 meal at home!


When I escaped a cold, wet Canberra winters day, into the warmth of the co-op kitchen and the smell of sautéing onions and spices, I knew the volunteer chefs were off to a cracking start in the lunchtime preparations. It’s incredible the power of fresh spices to jazz up even the most basic of meals. Spices are considerably healthier and cheaper than many pre-made sauces that often have copious amounts of added sugar and salt. Ginger and garlic in particular, have been used for centuries as natural preservatives because of their antibacterial properties and their ability to help fight off winter lurgies (which is perfect for this time of year). The number of spices in this recipe may appear a little daunting, but they are great basics to stock up your cupboard with.

The following recipe makes 4 large or 6 small generous serves, depending on the appetite of the people you are feeding. It’s also a great meal to make in bulk to be frozen for future meals. If you purchase your ingredients for this recipe at ‘The Co-op’ it will cost you ~$20.00 in total for the amounts listed here. That is approx. $5 per serve for 4 people. (Please note that prices for individual ingredients are subject to change due to seasonality and suppliers.)

After personally taste testing this volunteer powered vegie pot last week, I believe the added paprika, pickled chili and crusty bread completely enhanced the wholesome and comforting feeling of this warming meal.


Equal amounts of the following spices (You will need 2 tablespoons in total but you may want to make bulk of the mix) – Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Clove, Fennel Seed, Mustard Seed, Powdered Chilli, Fenugreek Seed, Ginger Powder, Garlic, Turmeric Powder, Galangal Powder
6 TBsp Oil
2 cups Brown Rice
2 medium Potatoes, skin on
¼ Pumpkin
½ Sweet Potato, peeled
¼ Cabbage
8 Dates
1 Red Onion
1 cup Red/Yellow Lentils
1 Powdered Veg Stock Cube (or two tsp powdered)
8 cups Water
Small handful sage leaves
Paprika and pickled Chilli’s to serve (optional)

Utensils & Appliances List
Wooden spoon or alternative stirrer
Chopping board
Sharp knife
Baking tray
Stove top
Rice-cooker (optional)


Pre-heat oven to 180C
Roughly chop the pumpkin, sweet potatoes and white potatoes
Throw the pumpkin and potatoes onto a baking tray (or two, depending on the size of your tray) with a drizzle of oil and shove in the oven
Mix spices in a bowl or jar (a jar is handy if you want to make bulk of the spice mix and save for future use)
Chop the dates and add them, the rice, 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon of spice mix to a pot or rice cooker to prepare. Don’t begin cooking quite yet.
Once the pumpkin and potato are starting to soften (approx. 15-20mins) turn the stove top onto medium and heat 1 tablespoon of oil, then add the chopped onion and spice mix, stirring occasionally to avoid burning
Once the pumpkin and potatoes are soft and browned add them to the pot on your stove-top, along with lentils. Mix these ingredients before adding 4 cups water
Let this simmer on medium heat while you start cooking your rice. Add 4 cups water to your rice cooker or pot and switch on to the cook setting or onto a medium heat
Add half a cube (or 1 tsp of powdered veg. stock) into the rice and veggie pots
Leave both to cook and simmer for about 15 – 20 mins checking and stirring occasionally
Chop cabbage and sage and add this to your stew pot after about 10 mins simmering
Take a taste test and once the lentils and rice are cooked – serve and enjoy!

The nutrient analysis * below is for a small serve:

Calories: 649
Protein: 20.3g
Fat: 15.6g
Saturated Fat: 2.4g
Carbohydrate: 100g
Sodium: 49mg

*Please note that the analysis is only an estimate and does not represent a full list of the vitamins and minerals contained in this meal

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.