Month: August 2010

Lake Tanganyika. Photo Courtesy of Andreas

Meals in Burundi (with poll)

While you are reading this, I’m on a plane. Flying to Virginia. On Friday the 13th.  The flight left at 6 am. Yes, I made the reservations. Who knows what I was thinking. All I can hope for is a little relaxation. I bet I could find some at this beach, in Burundi… For today’s FFF,I thought it would be fun to share 4 first hand accounts of meals in Burundi, followed by our weekly poll: Lunch at the Market restaurant A heaping plate of rice and peas in tomato and onion sauce, fried bananas, a piece of beef (having lived a long and toil-filled life before landing on the plate), accompanied by slices of fresh pineapple, by bananas, peanuts, and a soft drink, cost $1.50 each. Move over McDonald’s. Burundian Delicacies …gorging ourselves on a number of Burundian delicacies – many different cooked vegetables, fried plantains, rice, sauce with beef (none of which was all that unusual to our American palates – though we think the cheese in one of the salads may have …

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Pili-Pili hot sauce

Pili-Pili (also called Piripiri) is the kind of hot sauce that puts hair on a man’s chest. And, possibly, even a woman’s. This basic African condiment was introduced by the Portuguese in the 1500’s. To give you an idea of how intense pili-pili is, imagine this true story: Positioned just outside the second room, where we would shake the president’s hand, sat a vast array of spicy delicacies, accompanied by bowls of pili-pili sauce for dipping. For the uninitiated, Pili-pili (pronounced “pee-lee pee-lee”) is a sauce made from a fiery pepper similar but more potent than a jalepeno. Crushed into an eye watering hot sauce, pili-pili is not for the weak and timid. The majority of assembled dignitaries, faint with hunger, attacked the assortment of peppery cocktail treats with gusto. However, immediately before their moment of glory with Mobutu [the president], most had mouths heartily stuffed with spicy finger foods laced with pili-pili – a deadly combination. Television cameras caught diplomat after diplomat walking the red carpet, mouths burning into a smile, and eyes watering. Far from emotional tears …

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Menu: Burundi

If you are looking for something quick and easy, Burundian food is for you. This fresh, healthy meal can easily be sized up for a crowd. Be sure to serve this meal with a big pot of white rice on the side. Fish with Tomatoes and Onion [Recipe] Light and healthy cod fish steamed with tomatoes, onion, a hint of habenero and red palm oil. Traditional recipes use Ndagala or mukéké. Red Kidney Beans with Plantains [Recipe] Spicy chili powder brings red kidney beans to life, while mildly sweet plantains make this dish addictive comfort food. Fried Plantains [Recipe] Lightly pan-fried plantains turn golden and crispy, with a pinch of salt. Hot Sauce (Pili Pili) [Recipe] Pili Pili (or piri piri) is made with fresh citrus juice, either lemon or lime, tons of garlic, and chili peppers. Additional herbs like parsley can be added if desired. Fresh Tropical Fruit Cooked desserts are not common in Burundi. Instead, fresh pineapple or bananas are served at the end of the meal.

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Fishermen on Lake Tanganyika. Photo courtesy of Francesca Ansaloni

About the Food of Burundi

Nestled up to the largest lake in the world, Lake Tanganyika, is the tiny country of Burundi. There, amidst the rolling hills and the lush tropics, live a people surviving on a simple bounty of beans, bananas, plantains, maize (corn), cassava, sweet potato, and peas. Peek under the lid of any Burundian pot, and you’ll likely find red kidney beans. Cooked simply with a little red palm oil, onion, and spicy chili powder, the nutrient rich bean becomes a delight.  To avoid monotony, many Burundi mix things up by stirring in slices of sweet plantain (recipe). This completely stunning comfort food is both rich and savory. The banana and the plantain can be found everywhere, piled high on the back of bicycles, old truck beds, and in baskets on top of women’s heads. These sweet treats are served plain, fried (recipe), and in home-brewed banana beer called Urwarwa.  In fact, there’s little in the way of cooked dessert served in Burundi. Instead, the people enjoy a ripe banana or juicy pineapple slices. Fish, drawn daily …

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Monday Meal Review: Burkina Faso

“The smell is making my eyes water. One bite, and I can’t get the flavor out of my mouth! It’s like I’m still eating it. That counts, right?” Keith looked at me with his best puppy dog eyes. And, since his eyes are hazel, he didn’t look much like a puppy. “Just eat half of it,” I said. “I can’t,” he replied, turning his plate so the Babenda was as far away as possible. I kept eating, thinking about how fishy the Babenda tasted. Maybe he would eat some more of the unusual West African dish if I hadn’t tossed in so many dried anchovies. Or if he hadn’t seen me put them in. Maybe, just maybe, if we had some adventurous friends over, he might succumb to peer pressure and eat just a little more. I took a big bite and  then gave Ava some. “Your loss!” Ignoring me, he picked up another lamb skewer, buried it in a blizzard of Kan Kan Kan and took a bite. “Now these are good!” he grinned. Sigh. This …

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Iced Hibiscus Drink with Fresh Pineapple | Bissap a la Bonne Dame

Makes 1.75 liters (plus the pineapple) Chilled hibiscus tea is light and refreshing. The natural floral tang is a wonderful counterpart to sweet pineapple chunks. Kids will love fishing out the fruit in this totally and wonderfully decaffeinated iced tea. VARIATION: Some recipes call for equal parts lemonade to hibiscus tea. We tried this “pink lemonade” and loved it! Ingredients: small handful hibiscus flowers (or 4 teabags) 6 cups boiling water 4 cups ice 1 pineapple, cubed Method: 1. Pour boiling water over hibiscus flowers or teabags. Let steep about 30 minutes. Hibiscus puts on a wonderful show as the purplish dried leaves turn the water vivid red. Strain into ice to speed up cooling. Trust me, you won’t want to wait any longer than you have to! Serve chilled with chunks of pineapple. I made my chunks large. I couldn’t help it. This was the sweetest pineapple I’ve had in a long time. Yum! Cheers! I hope you the last bit of your summer is splendid! Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! …

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Spiced Lamb Kabobs | Brochettes

Serves 4 Borasheht (or brochettes/kabobs) can be any sort of skewered meat. In our recipe, tender pieces of lamb are marinated in a spicy sauce. As you bite into the lamb,  your mouth fills with a hint of cinnamon and garlic, mild tang from the vinegar, and a steady, creeping burn from the cayenne (about mild, on my scale). NOTE: If you would like some extra heat on the side, try our Kan Kan Kan spice blend, popular in Burkina Faso. Ingredients: 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp cayenne 3 cloves garlic, crushed salt, to taste 2 Tbsp vinegar 1 1/2 lbs lamb meat, cubed for skewers Method: 1. In a small bowl, mix together paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, garlic, salt, and vinegar. Have I told you recently how much I adore garlic? Salt not only adds flavor, but tenderizes the meat as well. Give everything a quick stir. No power equipment needed here! 2. Rub marinade all over the lamb pieces. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 3 hours. Keith snuck this photo …

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Spiced Peanut Powder | Kan Kan Kan

Makes about 1/2 cup This is my own version of the jarred Kan Kan Kan spice blend popular in Burkina Faso. The raw peanut powder offers a slight grassy flavor, dominated by heat from the chili powder and saltiness from the bouillon. Try with our Grilled Lamb Brochettes. While the jarred stuff alleges to be an aphrodisiac, I happened upon the description of this spice blend on an expat blog which – unfortunately -I can no longer track down. I mixed it together to taste. If you want the aphrodisiac, you’ll want to add a lot more ingredients, like ginger, mustard seed, and cinnamon. NOTE: Peanut powder and Maggi cubes can be found at African markets. I went to Tulsa’s local Tropical market. Ingredients: 1/2 cup peanut powder 1 tsp chili powder 1/4 tsp allspice 2 Maggi bouillon cubes or 2 tsp powdered bouillon Method: Take all ingredients and mix together in a small bowl. If you use maggi cubes, crush them with the back of the spoon. If, like me, you accidentally buy SHRIMP flavored …

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Popular Foods in Burkina Faso (with poll)

Happy Friday! I’m craving a giant slice of chocolate cake. But enough about me, let’s talk about Burkina Faso! Most meals in the villages are shared out of a single pot (true family style) and the right hand is used to scoop up the food. The cities eat European style – fork, knife, spoon, plate. Frog and toad meat is eaten “dried or fried” in Burkina Faso, with hundreds of frogs laid out to dry in the hot African sun (Photographs are available to view on National Geographic,  Fried or dried, frogs are popular food in African Markets) Part of the country was colonized by France, therefore many French foods and techniques have made their way into Burkinabe tradition, such as the ubiquitous green bean. Bissap, Roselle, sorrel, and Hibiscus are all names for the plant leaves that flavor Bissap Tea, high in vitamin C and believed to help reduce cholesterol

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If you enjoy the flavor of funky blue cheese, dried or smoked fish, and bitter greens, then Babenda is for you! I know. I’m asking a lot. Although we might be a select group of people with such accommodating palates, this one pot meal is a common staple in Burkina Faso. Babenda is like a jazz orchestra in the mouth, making wild taste sensations and pungent high notes meander whimsically through mouth and home. Ingredient Overview: The Greens: Any bitter greens can be used for Babenda, including spinach, kale, swiss chard, or mustard greens. Of these, swiss chard is the mildest. If you use a more intensely bitter green (like kale), Burkinabe traditionally add a dash of potash (or baking soda) to mellow the flavor out. Soumbala: Soumbala (also called dawadawa) is fermented locust bean. I found it frozen at a Tropical market in Tulsa. The dark brown bean smells like a sharp blue cheese and, just like blue cheese, will make your mouth tingle. Dried Fish: Dried fish are readily available in Burkina Faso, including sardines …

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Menu: Burkina Faso

One day of 100+ degree weather is bad enough. My thermostat showed 105 twice in the last three days. Heck, it was 100F before noon yesterday! This is a summer heat blizzard of epic proportions. The worst part? You can’t shovel it away. In light of our heat wave, I put together a Burkinabe menu that can be made without much indoor heat. The kabobs are perfect for the grill, the Kan Kan Kan requires no cooking (hurrah), and the hibiscus tea is steeped in a bit of boiling water and then chilled with ice. The only exception is Babenda, which gets cooked on the stovetop, but this dish was simply too interesting to pass up. Come to think of it, if you have a burner on your grill, you can probably make the Babenda outside, too. Wonderful! Spiced Lamb Kabobs (Broasheht) [Recipe] Lamb marinated in a tangy spice rub made with cinnamon, paprika, cayenne pepper, and vinegar. Spiced Peanut Powder (Kan Kan Kan) [Recipe] Sprinkle this alleged aphrodisiac over any grilled meat. Made with …

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