Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is the week that the lord has made....

So unfortunately, I didn't get to cook while writing my dissertation as writing a dissertation is hard work and the little time you have is spent sleeping instead of cooking. I know I didn't complete this whole experience of cooking especially learning about cuisines from parts of central or east Africa, but I am glad I made the effort to move out of my comfort zones to try cuisines in other parts of Africa particularly with cuisines from North and South Africa. My future is soooooo bright and on thursday the 27th of January, my life is about to change as this journey that I began since 2 years old will come to an end on that faithful day. I will always remain a lover of knowledge, whether is knowledge of cooking or research or even fashion (can't wait to share some good news soon). I have been truly blessed and I am totally grateful for all the support and encouragement I have received throughout my life. This one if for my papa who didn't see the end of this journey. I hope he is proud of his daughter where ever he maybe. Thanks (signing off for now)......

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Murghi Kalya: Southern Africa Chicken Curry

Even though this blog is about cooking my way through writing my dissertation, the truth is that the dissertation comes first and so I have been absent from the blog world attending to some pressing dissertation matters. In celebration of the good and not so good news that I have been receiving this week alone, I decided to cook a dish that would make me eat to my heart's content.

This Southern African Chicken Curry dish (shown in a soup version above) is truly one of a kind. Imagine making a curry dish without actually using curry, but instead using coconut, ginger, garlic, and even yogurt if you prefer. That's exactly what this Southern Africa recipe entails. It is a blend of Malay and Indian influences and I chose to master the art of making this dish because of my new found love for anything that uses coconut as an ingredient.

What's unique about this region of Africa (and this is an observation from the cookbooks that I am using) is that coconut is infused in different types of food ranging from deserts and cocktails with coconuts to dishes such as coconut shrimp as showcased in the previous blog. It is interesting to note that coconut is not only reserved for Thai food, but also dishes from Southern Africa. My version of Murghi Kalya was adapted from The African News Cookbook and the ingredients I used are:
I packet of purdue chicken breast tenderlions cut into tiny pieces
2 hot chili peppers finely sliced
4 roma tomatoes chopped into tiny pieces
4 Tbs of coconut milk
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp tumeric
2 tsp garlic, diced into tiny pieces
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
1 small red onion finely sliced
1/4 cup of oil
Wash the chicken and drain in a colander. Combine the 1 tsp of cayenne pepper, cumin. tumeric, ginger, salt and pour mixture over the chicken, turning the pieces until they are well coated. Set aside for 10 minutes. Pour oil in a frying pan, gently add 1/2 of the the onions and 1 tsp of garlic and saute until gloden brown. Add the chicken and stir constantly until it's well cooked. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Using the same pan, add the remaining onions, as well as garlic, tomatoes, hot chili peppers, and the remaining spices, cayenne pepper, cumin, tumeric, ground ginger, and salt. Stir the mixture ocassionally for about 5 minutes, then set aside. In a large stew pot, add the chicken as well as the sauteed mixture and 4 Tbs of coconut milk. Reduce heat, add about 1/2 cup of water, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Camarao de Coco- With love from Mozambique

Last night, I made one of the most unforgettable meal that makes the heart smile simply because it was delicious and easy to make. I made the Mozambique Camarao de Coco (Coconut shrimp over jasmine rice). The idea of mixing coconut milk with shrimps was something that I thought was reserved only for Thai meals. Hence, I was truly surprised that it's a common recipe among people in Mozambique, a southeastern African country once colonized by the Portuguese. The recipe was adapted from The African Cookbook and I used the following ingredients:

2-3 lbs shrimp
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves cut into tiny pieces
1 chili pepper cut into tiny pieces
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 large tomato chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2-3 sprigs of parsley
1 bunch of green onion (optional).

I cleaned and removed the shells from the shrimp. I added some garlic, salt, cumin, and pepper to the shrimp and let it stand for about 10 minutes. In a large skillet, I added a little bit of oil and onion so as to cook the shrimp. Once the shrimp had a rich golden pink color, I removed them from the pan. In the same pan, I sauteed the remaining garlic, as well as onions, parsley, tomatoes, green onions, salt, cayenne pepper, stirring constantly to avoid burning. I reduced the heat to low and then added the shrimp to the pan as well as the coconut milk. I let the meal simmer for about 5 minutes. My version of Camarao de Coco was served over jasmine rice.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

South Africa's Samoosas

I tried to make the recipe for samoosas the other day and I failed miserably. That was truly a tough day as I had received some sad news with my research work and so my mind wasn't even on anything. I also thought that if I tried to cook, I would feel better, but instead, my attempt at making samoosa's was a failure.

Anyways, today I have redeemed myself by making this recipe once again. The original recipe for the South African samoosas was adapted from the cookbook entitled The African News Cookbook: African cooking for Western Kitchen. The ingredients I used are:
For the meat filling:
2tsp ginger
2 small garlic cloves
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion thinly sliced
1 tsp coriander, curry powder, and cumin
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a skillet and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently until ground beef is well browned. Set aside and begin the vegetable fillings. The ingredients I used are:
1 russet potato
1/2 of baby carrots
1/2 green pea
small onion thinly sliced
1tsp ginger, coriander, garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Peel potatoes and boil with carrots until both are soft but firm. Cut into small cubes. In a separate pot, cook the green peas until tender. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, add onions, ginger, garlic, coriander and pepper. Saute for 2-3 minutes and them add the cooked vegetables, gently adding the peas last. Saute thoroughly and then set aside.

For the pastry, I used puff pastry instead of making my own and your can buy them from your local grocery store in the frozen food section.
Making the samoosas (I still need to practice folding some more so as to get the perfect triangle, but in the meantime here are the instructions). Cut a sheet of the pastry piece into four long strips. At the top of the lower corner, put a spoonful of filing. Fold top half down over the filling diagonally, so that the top of the strip is now a triangle. Then fold the triangle over the next section of the strip so that you have a square. Finally fold once again along the diagonal so that you end with a multi-layered triangle. Seal the edges and bake the samoosas for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Southern Africa and the deciding never to give up despite failure

"If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself up and try again", Aaliyah's words truly resonate well with me today....I know this blog is about mastering the art of African Cuisine, but writing a dissertation is no easy feat, and I am not sure if publishing while writing might be a great decision as rejection letters can cause one to falter. But in the words of Aaliyah, I have made up my mind never to quit, and instead, "dust myself up and try again." With that said, I am off to Southern Africa. From Angola to Zimbabwe, samosas to red bush tea, I will be exploring all that I can in the next three weeks. Even though this journey seems daunting as the end is almost in the horizon, I have decided never give up, even on days like today where I failed miserably with making vegetable samosas from South Africa. I am not sure if it was my flour mixture or whether I simply failed to follow directions, all I know is that I almost burnt my apt and so I stopped. It could be that I was a bit distracted with the sad news I received earlier, nonetheless, i will try again tomorrow to see if I can master the art of making samosas while revising my rejected paper.....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Main course from North African Feast Day

I have simply become fascinated with food and it's truly amazing how making up my mind to cook has introduced me to cuisines I never would I have even considered to make. Yes I am probably one of the few people in the world loving this journey of writing my dissertation and honestly it's all thanks to researching (something i learnt from grad school) and recipe testing to create zesty, electrifying, and delicious cuisines that make people come back for seconds all because they love what you have made. My guests were truly amazing and I am glad that my labor of love put smiles on people's faces this past weekend. This journey (here is a picture is of my work station on the feast day) has become a fulfilling experience and I look forward to more feast days...

So I served four dishes as the main course meals and they include: Djedj b'l-qasbour (Algerian coriander chicken), Moroccan Fish Tagine, Moroccan Vermicelli with chicken and green beans and Moroccan Prawns. Both Moroccan Fish Tagine and the Moroccan Prawns have been featured in older blog posts. But here are the recipes for the Algerian coriander chicken and the Moroccan Vermicelli with chicken and green beans.

Djedj b'l-qasbour-Algerian Coriander Chicken. This recipe was adapted from The African News Cookbook which was published and edited in 1985 by Tami Hutman. The recipes in this book are truly for people who have a wider appreciation of African culinary masterpieces. For the Algerian Coriander Chicken, here are the ingredients I used:
One packet of chicken drumsticks (there were 14 pieces in the packet i bought)
4 tbs of ground coriander
4 large garlic cloves chopped fine
2 tbs of turmeric
1 tbs of cumin (optional)
2 tbs of olive oil
1 tbs of cayenne pepper(optional)
1 tbs of salt
sprig of fresh coriander
Wash the chicken as you would normally do and then place them in a large pot. Add the ground coriander, garlic, turmeric, cumin, olive oil, cayenne, pepper, salt and fresh coriander. Although the original Cook for about 20 minutes with a 1/2 of water. Once it is cooked, place in a large foil and bake in the over for 30 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous.

Moroccan Vermicelli with chicken and green beans: So beyond rice and my love for salad, there is a desire to eat pasta, but not with the bland pasta sauce that most people are used too in America, but with different ingredients like chicken breast or even green beans. This dish that I made for the North African Feast Day was by far everyone's favorite. I asked around to see what people liked best and everyone, from the little children that attended to even my friends from out of town and their ethnicity really didn't matter, instead everyone categorically loved this dish. Clifford Wright penned the recipe for this dish in his book entitled "Some like is Hot, " and it includes the following ingredients:
1 1/4 cups of extra olive oil
1 packet of boneless chicken breast
1 bunch green onions chopped (optional-in the recipe he used regular small onions, but I prefer the green onions)
fresh green beans (although in the recipe he used chickpeas, I love green beans and I think it helped to enhance the overall flavor of this recipe, you can use chickpeas if you want).
2 tablespoon tomato paste (optional-I didn't use this in my recipe as I wanted to try something different)
2 large finely chopped garlic cloves
2 tbs of cumin
2 tbs of coriander
2 tbs butter
2 tbs cayenne pepper
3 pieces of sweet red or yello pepers
I packet of verimicelli broken into tiny pieces
Salt to taste
Boil water in a pot mixed with 1 tbs of cumin, coriander, butter, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add a 1tsp of garlic and the vermicelli and bring to a boil. Drain the vermicelli. Cut up the chicken breasts into tiny pieces and add the remainder of the spices. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes. In a very large frying pan, heat a cup of the olive oil. Add the green onions and the sweet peppers. Add the chicken and then stir fry until the chicken is cooked. Once the chicken is cooked, add the vermicelli and the remainder of the oil, stirring gently so as fully mix up the chicken with the pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and serve.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mastering North African Cuisine

My first North African Feast Day was excellent and I thank all the wonderful people that came to taste some of the cuisine I made (special thanks to my wonderful assistants who helped me prep). The menu was simply divine. For starters I served Chladal Felfel which is an Algerian Tomato and green pepper salad. Kebab Koutbane a Moroccan recipe that I made earlier was also on the menu. The main course include recipes such as Djedj b'l-qasbour which is a coriander chicken recipe from Algeria, Moroccan fish tagine, Moroccan vermicelli with chicken and green peas and of course my favorite recipe Moroccan prawns. For dessert I served Mescouta which is a Moroccan date cake and Marrakesh serpent cake which is made with almonds and oranges. Of course there was plenty to drink and judging from the smiles on the faces of my guests and their wonderful compliments, I can now unequivocally state that I have mastered some North African Cuisine. Now we are off to South Africa, but before we head there, here are the instructions for some of the recipes.

Starter: Chladal Felfel-Algerian Tomato and Green Pepper Salad
2 large green peppers
2 large ripe tomatoes cut into tiny cubes
4 tbs of olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic crushed
1tsp salt and pepper.
handful of black and green olives (optional)
Pile the green peppers and tomatoes into a salad bowl. Add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix together well and the refrigerate until time to serve. The salad can also be used as a garnish with pita chips or baguettes.

(please note that since i am not a fan of long posts, the recipes for the other menus at the feast will be included in a new post).