Agatogo (Rwanda) There’s an old Rwandan saying “The most extensive land is the human belly.” I like to think there’s mountains and streams in there, glorious sunsets and easy, glimmering sunrises. Is that somehow unsavory? I don’t know. I do know I want this land to be vast, and include as much variety as possible. Plantains have been an issue for my family from the beginning.
It’s time for us to love the plantain, after all they are the starchy cousin to the banana, but more savory and filling. Plantains fruit all year round, which makes the crop a reliable all-season staple food, particularly in developing countries with inadequate food storage, preservation and transportation technologies. The best way to eat plantains in Rwanda is Agatogo. Children on a farm in Rwanda. Serves 4 Ingredients: Method: First, let’s figure out how to peel a green plantain. Next, fry the onion some vegetable oil until soft, then add in the garlic and continue cooking until the onions are just beginning to color. Xo Units: Boeuf au chou à l'éthiopienne. Un classique de la cuisine éthiopienne que ce 'Gomen besiga'. 'Gomen' c'est le chou éthiopien, sans réel équivalent chez nous: un chou vert non pommé, à assez grandes feuilles, plates, assez proche des 'collard greens' américains. Chez nous, je l'ai remplacé par du chou frisé 'kale' du commerce et du chou vivace de Daubentaon de mon jardin (à feuilles plates).
Le kale étant un peu plus coriace que le gomen, ça demande d'augmenter un peu le temps de cuisson, mais au niveau goût, ça fonctionne bien. Pour que la texture du chou soit assez agréable, il vaut mieux cuire un peu trop ce plat que pas assez, et prendre soin de retirer les côtes de feuilles de chou.Pour le goût, les épices utilisée (ajwain, nigelle, piment, origan) imitent le mélange traditionnel éthiopien 'mitmita' et l'ajout en fin de cuisson de nittir kibbeh (beurre clarifié éthiopien épicé) assurent un voyage direct vers l'Ethiopie: c'est très parfumé, un peu piquant, délicieux! Ingrédients: Préparation: Bon appétit! Boeuf Suqaar (Somalie) Sometimes we need a meal that can fill every corner of our heart, one that can bump out those rough and tumble emotions that bog us down… the ones that keep us from being happy. Carefree. Enter Suqaar, from Somalia. Suqaar (pronounced sooh-car) is one of Somalia’s most beloved dishes and can be made with any meat, from lamb, to chicken, to beef.
Generally the meat is cut into very small pieces, about 1/2″ cube or smaller. There are no complex spices. There are no convoluted cooking techniques. Just good food, hot and happy. While some like to add cumin, most recipes omit any spice but salt. The flavors are simple and reflect the Italian influence on Somali food (hello, garlic and onion!). Suqaar can be scooped up with flatbreads, but it is most commonly served with rice. And, speaking of rice, have you heard this beautiful Somali proverb?
Little by little, we heal. May it be so. Serves 4 (with rice) Ingredients: handful cilantro, chopped or torn Method: Find a lovely corner of Somalia to cook in. Chapati kenyan. I firmly believe flatbread has magical qualities. It can revive dull dinner conversation during that gaping time when the food seems like it’ll never be ready. And, when the meal finally arrives, flatbread is there to happily house any number of visitors, including stews, sandwich fillings, spreads, dips, and cheeses. It can even make a grouchy baby happy again. I’m into it.
Are you with me? Here’s the short of it: I go to my happy place when presented with a steaming stack of warm, buttery flatbread. Today we’re celebrating Chapati – a thin, wheaty flatbread much adored in Kenya (with roots in Indian cuisine). Those who make chapati daily – and there are plenty of such people in Kenya, not to mention India – they can zip out dozens of dinnerplate-sized specimens in mere minutes, rolling one while another cooks. Makes 6 small chapati or 2 large Ingredients: Method: Gede Ruins, Kenya. When you arrive, find a comfy spot to cook. Mix together the flours and salt in a medium bowl. PS. Ingredients. Chou à la kényane. Serves 2-4 When I look at this photo, my tummy literally rumbles. My mouth opens a little in expectation. I actually find it as appealing as my Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream that I made for Ireland. Weird, but true. What can I say? Mom taught me to eat my veggies. I’ve been trying to convince Mr. Still, I’m here to tell you what every Kenyan knows – the simple truth – green food does a body good.
It’s also a fantastic way to stretch resources throughout the entire week – something built into the Kenyan name “Sukuma Wiki,” which literally means “stretch the week.” I’m into it. Simple, affordable, and delicious. What’s not to love? Ingredients: vegetable oil 1 large onion 1 very large tomato (or 2 small) 1 bunch kale (about a dozen stalks) 1 cup broth salt Method: Let’s get started. First, fly to Kenya and pick up some produce at the local market. Shopping at Kenyan markets. Next, take a moment to admire how beautiful they are. Then, get to business. Mine cooked about 30 minutes. Chou-fleur au gingembre - Abeba gomen (Éthiopie) Ecrasé de pomme de terre aux légumes (Tanzanie) I’m a little like mashed potatoes; I’m stable and sure, but I avoid wearing colorful makeup. The last time I wore blue eye liner was the nineties, and it was already a decade too late. I’m destined to recede behind more vibrant individuals – individuals of style.
But imagine what good things could come from a splash of color? The jury is out with me, but consider the mashed potato. Must she remain the unadorned, pale wallflower in a buffet of color? Tanzania teaches that this doesn’t have to be so… Enter the rainbow known as Irio, a Kikuyu dish found in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Depending on how Irio is mixed, the mash might be sunset orange, or new leaf green. I got the idea to add a sweet potato to my Irio from Marcus Samuelsson’s book “Discovery Of A Continent – Foods, Flavors, And Inspirations From Africa,” a brilliant, beautiful cookbook my friend Alexandra recently gave me. A panorama of the Mikumi National Park in Tanzania.
Serves 4+ Ingredients: Method: Ingredients Servings: Units: Epinards mijotés au boeuf sauce cacahuète (Soudan) Combo. It’s one of South Sudan’s most popular dishes – a thick, wet combination of spinach, peanut butter, tomatoes, and (sometimes) meat. Peanut butter is a common meal component throughout Africa (like Ghana’s Groundnut Soup, Sierra Leone’s Gluten-free Peanut Bites, Senegal’s Cinq Centimes Cookies, and Malawi’s Peanut Balls), but Combo stands out as one of the more rustic dishes I’ve come across. Even still, South Sudanese no longer living in South Sudan make Combo to bring themselves back. That’s how they taste home again.
Combo first came to my attention thanks to Brian Schwartz who kindly phoned the South Sudanese embassy to ask about popular dishes. Thanks Brian! You can have it with or without beef (or perhaps goat is more to your fancy?). No matter what you do, just be sure to include the essentials: spinach and peanut butter. Adapted from the South Sudanese Cookbook. Ingredients: Method: Find a pretty little spot to make your stew. Azande people. Once you settle in, let’s get cooking. Fossolia : Haricots verts aux tomates (Éthiopie) Frites au pilau (Kenya) Frites de patate douce blanche (Rwanda) Sweet potatoes are up there with a good hair cut, purring cats, and sunlight through fiery autumn leaves. The simple sweetness is all I need on a chilly evening. But it’s not all about the coppery hued variety, which litter my counter tops like fallen leaves. There’s such a thing as white sweet potatoes, too. Rwandans love sweet potatoes, especially white sweet potatoes which they boil, mash, and even fry.
I first saw this in action on the a Peace Corps blog En Route Rwanda: With help from some of our house mates and dinner guests, we peeled and sliced several kilos of knobby white sweet potatoes, which Zilpa then spent hours double-frying on the second charcoal stove. Double frying white sweet potato fries. According to the Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute: Sweet potato is a major staple food in Rwanda and one of the second largest produces in terms of tons after bananas.
Let’s do it, Rwanda-style. Ingredients: White sweet potatoes Oil to go halfway up the sides of medium pot Salt. Gomen : Chou vert épicé à l'éthiopienne. Haricots rouges du Burundi aux plantains. Serves 4 If you can make this African bean dish a day ahead, please do. The sauce will thicken and coat every millimeter of the beans with chili and onion goodness. Great side dish for a party! Ingredients: 3 cups prepared red kidney beans (2 cans) 2 Tbsp red palm oil 1 onion, sliced 1 plantain, sliced salt 1 tsp chili powder 2 cups water Method: 1. 2. 3. I chose a plantain with blackened skin. Always rinse canned beans. This photo flashes me back to spoonfuls of cod liver oil as a child. Heat up the oil with the onion. And once they cook down, add the rest. If you prefer a mild dish, add less chili powder – maybe half. Water allows the flavors to meld. Everything breaks down into a wonderful mess. This is one of my favorites 🙂 Serve with rice and fish. Red Kidney Beans with Plantains If you can make this African bean dish a day ahead, please do.
Ingredients 2 Tbspred palm oil1onion , sliced30 ouncescanned red kidney beans , rinsed and drained1plantain , slicedsalt1 tspchili powder2 cupswater. Haricots rouges pimentés aux oignons (Burundi) Hembesha : pain aux épices (Ethiopie) This year Ava and I brought a loaf of Eritrean Hembesha bread to the annual Martin Luther King parade. It’s a random sort of thing to bring to a parade, but I’d just pulled batch #3 out of the oven and couldn’t stand the thought of the bread cooling down without being able to enjoy a still-steaming, soft wedge. There are few things better than a steaming-hot piece of homemade bread. Hembesha is no exception: the east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch).
That being said, hembesha is traditionally served in the afternoon with tea and a drizzle of honey and/or tesmi (tesemi is spiced ghee made with ginger, garlic, onions, and berbere) While original recipes decorate the flat loaves with nails, I’ve used a ravioli wheel (the idea came from the blog Yesterdish). NOTE: Want something sweet from Eritrea instead? Xxoo. Injera : Crêpe à la farine de teff (Erythrée) Kebabs ougandais. Summer still catwalks through the August air, unabashed and sizzling. There’s still time to grill, still time to sit out under the stars without a coat, or even a hoodie. There’s time to wear out those flipflops and kick back in sunglasses. And there’s still time to try Uganda’s kebabs, adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s beautiful cookbook Discovery Of A Continent – Foods, Flavors, And Inspirations From Africa.
The flavors are intense. Bright lemon juice starts of the explosion. Then there’s a needling burn from the Harissa, a traditional spice often found in North African cooking. How much heat is there? Tip: You find Harissa mix at Whole Foods in the spice aisle (to be combined with water, olive oil, and crushed garlic), or you can buy a canned paste at a Middle Eastern market.
In the background, rosemary and peanut oil do a dance. All in all, these kebabs are totally unusual; they’ll wake up your grill rotation. Serves 3-4 Ingredients: For the marinade: Method: Cube the meat, peppers, and onion. Kik Alicha - Ragoût éthiopien de pois cassés au curcuma. Kisamvu : Mijoté d'épinards au lait de coco et cacahuètes (Tanzanie) Kisra : Crêpes au sorgho soudanaises. I never thought I’d need a cow’s brain and a credit card for this lil’ ol’ Global Table Adventure of ours. The thing is, if I were to make Kisra in the most authentic way – the South Sudanese way – that’s exactly what I’d need. Locals would use the cow’s brain, which is naturally quite fatty, to grease the pan. I got the tip on good authority; from this amazing South Sudanese food post on Green Shakes in Sudan. There you’ll find photos of local women rubbing brain renderings on their flat griddle-like pan. According to The World Cookbook for Students, unroasted sesame oil works fine as well… and gives the wholesome crepe a clean sort of flavor and makes them entirely vegan.
I know what I chose…. what would you choose? Now, let’s talk credit cards. I read several passages that indicate locals spread out the kisra batter with credit cards. Hi, Brian! Tip #1: The South Sudanese collect any “mistakes” to ferment into a boozy drink. Here’s some locals showing how it’s done: Ingredients: Method: P.S. Kuku Paka. Luwombo de boeuf (Ouganda) Maïs au lait de coco et curcuma (Somalie) Maïs grillé à la kényane. Mesir wat : Mijoté éthiopien de lentilles corail aux patates douces. Misir sambusa. Nyama : ragoût de boeuf (Kenya) Oeufs brouillés à l'éthiopienne. Plantains frites à l'huile de palme rouge (Burundi) Poisson aux tomates et huile de palme (Burundi) Poulet à la rwandaise. Ragoût éthiopien d'agneau aux oignons. Rolex (Ouganda) Riz aux épices et à l'agneau (Somalie) Salade de boulgour aux raisins (Éthiopie)
Salade de pomme de terre au citron vert (Ethiopie) Salade de tomates au beurre de cacahuètes (Soudan) Salade soudanaise d'aubergine au yaourt. Sauce Pili-Pili. Shiro Wot : Bouillie éthiopienne très relevée. Skoudehkaris : Riz à l'agneau de Djibouti. Soupe de pomme de terre au lait de coco (Tanzanie) Tibs éthiopien. Wat de lentilles au berberé. Zigni : ragoût érythréen au berberé (épicé !) Caramels au sésame - Sim sim balls (Ouganda) Che'che'bsa : petit déjeuner éthiopien épicé.
Friands ougandais de cacahuètes, noix de coco et cardamome. Gâteau aux dattes et à la banane (Burundi) Malawah (crêpe sucrée somalienne) Mandazi : beignets au lait de coco et aux épices de Tanzanie. Salade de fruits rwandaise. Spris de fruits (Éthiopie)