Month: February 2012

Menu: Malaysia

First of all, I hope you had a fantastic Valentine’s Day. I wish there were a way to capture the sweetness of yesterday. Ava thinks, despite my best efforts to explain otherwise, that Valentine’s Day is a destination, not an event. So, of course, she had to ask me if I was going “to” Valentine’s Day with her and papa. I, of course, said yes. While I’m thinking of it, here’s a Valentine that Ava got from a friend at little school. It’s a crayon! What a great global Valentine’s Day project. As for our Malaysian menu? The ingredients might sound strange and the shapes might be new to you, but this is a menu easy enough for little Miss Ava to make. Maybe not by herself, but pretty close! I think you’ll find the food of Malaysia definitely worth loving. What sounds good to you? Coconut Sticky Rice in banana leaves (lemang)  [Recipe] Glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk and steamed inside banana leaves. The result? Epic, edible towers. P.S. This has 4 ingredients, including …

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Merdeka Day Parade (Independence day), photo by Amrufm

About the food of Malaysia

I’ll be honest with you. I did my research for Malaysia backwards. Well, backwards from what I usually do. What I usually do is crack open the books, absorb as much information as I can, before writing all about the country. This week, I simply popped in on my old college friend MC from Malaysia, via Facebook, and grilled him with 20 questions. What should I make? I asked him. And, then, on cooking day, I popped in with even more questions. He was very gracious and answered my questions for two days straight. Thanks to him, I ended up with a scrumptious menu (which you’ll see tomorrow, as usual). But, only after my head hit the pillow, did I realize that I knew almost nothing about Malaysian food except for what he told me. So let’s start there. Beef Rendang [Recipe] is pretty much the national dish. He told me so, just as others have before him. As with so many other foods, rendang is popular all over the region, not just in Malaysia. The curry, …

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peace garden

Monday Meal Review: Malawi

THE SCENE I look at the cooled, heart-shaped biscuits from Malawi. The electric, sunny color stuns me. But there is no time to dilly dally. I am late. Quickly, I tuck two of the hearts into a ziplock baggie and pour Ava into her oversized winter coat. The fur lining makes her look like a little lion. I roar at her as we jog to the car. She giggles. When I walk into the Global Garden classroom at Rosa Parks Elementary school twenty minutes later, a dozen 3rd and 4th graders look over. They are seated in a circle on the floor, shoes off. One student shows me to my seat – the furthest away from the exits. They’ve done their homework. We are about to sample Japanese “espresso jello drink”  (from back when I cooked Japan), except their version is kid-friendly (a.k.a. caffeine free), made with mocha flavored cocoa. I spend the next hour answering their questions about the blog and my family. I am moved and honored by their interest. The most touching part …

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Malawi Peanut Balls | Mtedza

I adore when this around the world culinary journey takes me by surprise. Here we are, the week of Valentine’s day, and I’m in Malawi – practically the heart of Africa. I had it in my head that I probably wouldn’t find anything particularly appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Turns out I was wrong. While I didn’t dig up any chocolate kisses or champagne mixers, I did find the lovely Sunrise Biscuits and today’s addictive groundnut cookie (that’s what Africans call peanuts). Thank goodness, because Keith prefers a good cookie to nearly any sweet. These cookies are dusted in a snowfall of confectioner’s sugar and, when bitten, give way with a satisfying crumble. The broken bits of peanut pretty much seal the deal – these are wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee. P.S. I’d be wrong not to tell you that, as with any good cookie, Keith made himself sick by eating most of these in one sitting. That’s a pretty good review, if you ask me. Makes 18 cookies Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter, …

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Dipping sauce with Chippies | Tsabola

Today’s fun recipe is a 5 minute African salsa.  You’ll need two accessories to make this snack completely Malawi, however: blue pastic bags and your most favorite potato wedges. Here’s how it works: simply chop up onions, tomatoes, hot peri peri peppers (I used Thai bird chilies). Mix it all around with loads of salt. While I normally go light on the salt, you need to use a heavy hand when making Tsabola … as Brittany (Be-ing Brittany), a Community Health Advisor in Malawi, tells me “Malawians eat a lot of salt to help stay hydrated with little water.” Traditionally Malawians eat Tsabola with Chippies (deep fried potato wedges), but I decided to go healthy and baked my “chippies” (just with a bag of frozen potato wedges). The choice is yours. For extra fun, epic bonus points, be sure to serve the “Chippies” out of blue plastic bags. That’s the tradition, Brittany tells me. A very pretty tradition, if you ask me. Happy Friday! Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Traditionally Malawians …

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Sunrise Biscuits | Mbatata

Valentine’s Day is for lazy mornings. For PJ’s all day. Breakfast in bed with your favorite cup of tea. Sunny smiles. And then there’s real life. Husbands go to work. Your cat uses your favorite chair as a scratching post. And, over the course of 45 seconds, your child has the following conversation with you, in regards to said cat: “I want to sit there” “It’s my turn to play with that toy” “He poked me with his paw” “Wahhhhhhhhh” The main difference between this and having two kids? I can put one of them outside to play. Unsupervised. Life as a mom might not be filled with roses on my bedspread and chocolates under my pillow, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And, if I really am honest with myself, I can conjure up a few sunny smiles on Valentine’s Day… especially if I make these Sunrise Biscuits. This sweet potato biscuit from Malawi looks exactly like the cheery glow of a romantic sunrise. The vivid orange tuber, so popular and easy …

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Menu: Malawi

When I looked at the calendar and realized Malawi week at the Global Table led right up to Valentine’s Day, I thought how ironic. Surely Malawi’s only exposure, if any, to Valentine’s Day comes from tourists and international volunteers. I’ll never be able to find any food to fit this romantic season we’re in. Boy, was I wrong.  A quick peek online showed me that, in fact, many Malawians do know and think about Valentine’s Day. This video exploring the topic made me smile. So get ready for an African/Malawian Valentine’s Day menu… cobbled together by yours truly. All the recipes come together very quickly, so you can spend more time loving the one you’re with. What sounds good to you? Sunrise Biscuits (Mbatata) [Recipe] Spend a quiet morning eating these sweet potato biscuits seasoned with the slightest hint of ginger. If you dare to be super cutesy (do it!), use cookie cutters to shape the biscuits into puffy hearts. Dipping sauce for Chippies (Tsabola) [Recipe] A simple concoction for dipping potato wedges, very similar to salsa. The main …

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Lake Malawi. Photo by Steve Evans.

About the food of Malawi

Malawi undulates and ambles along eastern Africa – a collection of soft rolling hills and glistening lake waters, dotted with thatched villages, dusty courtyards, and a healthy array of vivid, green trees. The land is striking and, yet, completely new to me. When it comes to mealtime, I was immediately intrigued by the street food. First, there’s grilled mice, boiled goat liver, banana fritters (zitumbuwa) and chippies. The first two I witnessed in travel videos. I read about chippies on Be-ing Brittany. Brittany is a Community Health Advisor in Malawi. We emailed back and forth, during which time I learned that chippies are simply crisp, deep-fried potoato wedges, served with tsabola [Recipe], a firey dipping sauce (most street food is served with tsabola). Here is a typical chippies stand in action: While (select) street food is enough to make me board the first plane to Malawi, most people eat a simple diet of boiled maize called Nsima or Ufa (not unlike the papa we made for Lesotho), sometimes with peanuts added, beans, or fish from the giant lake. The …

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Monday Meal Review: Madagascar

THE SCENE I click through my email, waiting for the smoke. The burning. Before long, I’m elbows deep in an email from a woman who just started reading our blog. She asks “Do you ever not like the food of a particular country? Do you ever get tired of cooking food from other places?” I sit back, thinking… not because I don’t know the answer, but to mull over – to savor – the hundreds of dishes we’ve eaten over the last two years (I started this blog in February 2010). So many wonderful meals. So much goodness in the world. So much I could have never imagined until I began eating my way around the world. My tummy growls and I glance at the clock. Oops! I say to Malky, the cat, and pop up to give the rice a stir. A nutty, toasted smell fills the kitchen. Looking good. A moment later I am back at my computer. “Nope.” I write the woman, “Every week is like a gift, waiting to be unwrapped. Even …

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Madagascar Chicken | Akoho sy Sakamalao

There are times when I need a little bit of sunshine. A smattering of happy. A bouquet of deliciousness. Today I found exactly what I was looking for in this Malagasy chicken. One of the most unusual things about the food of Madagascar is how much it pulls from different traditions. In today’s chicken dish, we see traces of mainland Africa, Asia and Polynesia. The coconut oil gives the chicken just a hint of Polynesian tradition, while the garlic, and ginger play into Asian flavors. Finally, the lemon rind gives a fresh, yet slightly bitter flavor, reminiscent of north African cooking. Serves 4 Ingredients: 4 whole chicken legs (thighs included) 3 cloves garlic, crushed 1 inch ginger, grated 1 lemon, zested 1 pepper, sliced 1 onion, sliced 1/3 cup coconut oil Method: Next time you’re looking for a blast of sunshine, like the Lemurs in Madagascar… … simply zest a sunny lemon, grate the ginger and crush the garlic… Rub all over the chicken legs, cover, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 2 hours, …

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Vanilla Bean n’ Tropical Fruit

Vanilla beans might as well be jewels. The insides are full of teeny, tiny black caviar – the likes of which I can’t help but want all over my ice cream and baked goods… I even like to dab vanilla extract on my wrists when baking. Suffice it to say, I’m a fan. Now, imagine yourself in a country like Madagascar, where there are enough vanilla beans to pave the streets. There, thanks to such quantity, the people use vanilla bean caviar much more whimsically than I can ($8 per bean, anyone?). Even just this little bit easily perfumes my entire home… Can you imagine how intoxicating the air must smell in Madagascar, where clumps of vanilla beans hang heavy in the humid air? So what about today’s fun recipe? Well, we’re following the Malagasy style, and using the bean used in it’s most pure form, tossed with fresh, tropical fruit. The juices become infused with the most amazing, haunting vanilla flavor. While I thought I was going to make a mixed fruit salad (hello, did …

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Burnt Rice Tea | Ranovola

I can’t believe I’m going to do this, but here we are: I’m going to show you how to burn rice. It’s for a perfectly good cause: a cool, refreshing glass of ranovola, or burnt rice tea. This toasty-tasting drink is popular in Madagascar, where the bottom of the rice pot is reserved to flavor the local river water. It’s super easy to do, as long as you don’t burn the rice too fast. You have to do it just right. Ahem. Start with a cup of cooked rice spread on the bottom of a saucepan. Heat over medium until it begins to smell toasty. Continue scraping and turning the rice… Until the whole mess rattles and clacks as you move it, like a cup of popcorn kernels. Lower the heat as you go, being sure not to send plumes of smoke throughout your house. (To be honest, it’s really more toasted than burned) And here you have it: perfectly “burned” rice: Add on plenty of hot water and let steep until cooled. Meanwhile, go lounge in the …

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