All posts filed under: Africa

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Mealie Bread with Blackened Chilies

If you ask my husband, there’s always room for cornbread. And he’ll eat twice as much cornbread if green chilies dot through the crumb. But what would he think if the cornbread came from half a world away? If it came from Zambia? As a former “Mr Picky” he says: Mealie Bread is a good way to bridge the gap for picky eaters to try something from another culture.” The cornbread in Zambia is much like the cornbread in the USA – except it is made with fresh corn kernels instead of cornmeal. This makes the flavor come alive. Zambians call it mealie bread (mealie is just another name for corn; mealie bread is popular all over southern Africa). The result is moist (bordering on juicy), naturally sweet, and great on the side of any autumn stew (such as Zambia’s Spiced Tilapian Stew). If  you’re lucky enough to slice into the mealie bread while it’s still hot? Well… forget about having leftovers. So why stud the mealie bread with chilies? Because Zambians love chili peppers.  Chilies are available in the …

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Zambia’s Spiced Tilapia Stew

  “Leading a race does not mean that you will win it.” Zambian Proverb It’s a chilly, wintery, blustery sort of day. Even the trees shudder, their leaves falling down in chatterings. Thankfully, Zambia makes quick work of dissipating the cold, with this Spiced Tilapia Stew.  Each bite pops with fresh lime juice, tomatoes, and Napa cabbage. A dusting of cumin, mustard seeds, fresh ginger and garlic give the broth depth. But it’s the Thai Bird chilies that’ll clear your sinuses.  Even just one in the pot promises a mellow tingle in every spoonful.   This is another kind of DIY soup, because of the garnishes. Children will especially enjoy squeezing lime juice on their soup and sprinkling their bowl with parsley.  Adults will enjoy seeing how many Thai Bird chili peppers they can handle. My husband added an entire sliced chili to his bowl; though he was sniffling and coughing from the heat, he then proceeded to add more. A note on the Tilapia: traditional Zambian stews often use dried tilapia. We’ve used fresh because …

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Fish market stall on Great East Road at the Luangwa Bridge, Zambia by Hans Hillewaert

Menu: Zambia

  “Talk to a person who can understand and cook for a person who can be satisfied.” Zambian Proverb I’m in the final phases of writing my memoir. By the end of November, the manuscript will be sent off to National Geographic to do their magic. At that point, they’ll work on final edits, layout, and publicity. And then, boom, next year there will be a book. My book. It’s the story of my search for food, family, and home – and I can’t wait to share it with you. But right now, I’m in crunch time and the Zambian proverb above really spoke to me because, with my book, I’ll be talking to you and cooking for you. I’ll be telling you the story of my life, and the recipes that carried me through troubling times.  Hopefully, as the proverb reads, you’ll understand and be satisfied! These recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Spiced Tilapia Stew [Recipe] Typically made with dried tilapia, our version uses more readily available fresh fish, …

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South Luangwa National Park, Zambia by Joachim Huber

About the food of Zambia

While you’ll find caterpillars and grasshoppers on the menu on the tropical plateaus of Zambia, maize (a.k.a. sweet corn) is far more common. This southern African nation will enjoy maize as a stiff porridge called nshima, in a beer called chibuku, and in sweet loafs (similar to our cornbread, but made with fresh corn [Recipe]). Like many African countries, the groundnut (a.k.a. peanut) is beloved, especially when stirred into stewed greens. Peanut oil is also preferred by many Zambian families, as for when they fry up a batch of sliced plantains. There’s also the peanut sausage. According to the World Cookbook for Students: A vegetarian “sausage” named after the wild orchid tubers called chinaka or chikanda (depending on the ethic group) used to gel them. Amazing. Fishing has a big influence on the diet of Zambians who live near the many lakes, and it is often salted and dried for preservation or travel over long distances. The salted fish is later used in stews and soups, perhaps with a few onions and tomatoes [Recipe]. Much of the population …

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Monday Meal Review: Uganda

“It is better that trials come to you in the beginning and you find peace afterwards than that they come to you at the end.” Proverb from Uganda I spent our Ugandan meal talking about one thing, and one thing alone: our Global Table Experience event on October 12th. We’re attempting to put a dish from as many countries as possible on a stretch of tables at Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The goal? 196. Gulp. I’m officially one of those people – so obsessed and focused on this amazing feat, that I can literally think of nothing else. My poor neighbor was focused on figuring out the lemon, rosemary, peanut oil, and harissa on his kebab, but I kept blabbing about the event. I sleep, eat, and dream about how on earth we are going to achieve our goal of putting a dish from every country in the world on a single stretch of tables. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Even if we get halfway there, what a feat! Especially considered all this food will be offered to the public – that’s you – for …

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Peanut Brittle with Coconut & Cardamom | Kashata

On the simmering streets of Uganda, you can walk up to a street vendor and satisfy your sweet tooth with a big bite of Kashata. Loosely speaking, Kashata is East African brittle.  It’s most popular in Uganda and Tanzania. It’s hard, sweet, and all kinds of delicious. I’ve seen Kashata shaped as cubes, balls, and diamonds. Some are flat, some are thick. Just like people, the shape doesn’t matter; it’s all about what’s on the inside. The most glorious Kashata are a blend of peanuts, shredded coconut, and either cinnamon or cardamom. You can also find Kashata made from all coconut or all peanuts. Moreover, sometimes you simply dump in whatever nuts you have on hand. Easy. Makes enough to share. 1-2 dozen (depending on how thin you spread the mixture) Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 1 1/2 – 2 cups peanuts 1 1/2 – 2 cups dried coconut (unsweet) 3/4 tsp ground cardamom (or cinnamon) pinch salt oil, for greasing Method: Let’s go to Uganda, where electricity is optional… because, truth be told, this entire …

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Rosemary & Lemon Harissa Kebabs

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. A long marinade brings out bright sparks from the citrus. Then there’s a needling burn from the Harissa, a traditional spice often found in North African cooking. How much heat is there? As much as you can handle. Or as little as you’d like. 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. Be sure to add this to taste, as some mixes may be spicier than others. IF you use the …

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Menu: Uganda

This week’s menu celebrates Uganda’s street food. With one recipe for the grill, and the other for your cookie jar, we’re bridging the gap between summer and autumn.  Which is about right, since school starts next week in Oklahoma. How.is.that.even.possible?? What about you? Are you already gearing up for the school year, or are your feet still firmly planted in summer, like our furry friend at the bottom of this post? All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Rosemary & Lemon Harissa Kebabs [Recipe] Beef and vegetable kebabs marinated in a lemon, spicy harissa (as hot as you dare), rosemary, and peanut oil marinade. This recipe is packed with a zing that’ll make you fall in love with your grill all over again! This taste of Uganda is adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s kitchen. Peanut Brittle with Cardamom & Coconut | Kashata [Recipe] Take everything you love about Peanut Brittle, and add a dreamy dusting of cardamom and a tropical heaping of shredded coconut. It’s just different enough for a fun housewarming gift …

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Wagagai, the highest peak of Mount Elgon, Uganda. Photo by Kristina Just.

About the food of Uganda

“The person who has not traveled widely thinks his or her mother is the best cook.” Ugandan Proverb Oh boy, what truth this proverb holds. But I’d say the opposite, too: the further I travel from mom’s cooking, the better I remember mom’s food – and the more I crave it. After all, distance makes the heart grow fonder. And I’m sure this is the way with Ugandans as well. If you’d like to float about in one of the world’s largest lakes, you just might take a trip to Uganda, in central/eastern Africa. At the southernmost edge of this beautiful country, you’ll find Lake Victoria. The lake is so large, the last time it dried up completely was 17,300 years ago. Fish reigns supreme in this part of Uganda. Pass through the center of Uganda, and you’re in the middle of marshland. Further to the north, Uganda is drier. A quick scan of typical recipes from Uganda told me one simple fact: the cuisine is a celebration of peanuts. Peanut oil is used in kebab marinades [Recipe]. Peanut sauce drapes over …

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Photo courtesy of World Domination Summit, taken by Armosa Studios.

Monday Meal Review: Tunisia

Crying in front of 3,000 people. Last week, I did that. We ate Tunisia and celebrated Ava’s fourth birthday right before I hopped on a plane to go to the World Domination Summit, hosted by Chris Guillebeau. Keith and I were sticky with the honey almond samsa. Ava ate two pita sandwiches spread with the grilled Tunisian Salad. (She must be growing. Again). Then, I hugged my family goodbye and flew to Portland with a belly full of Tunisian goodness. I’d been invited to speak in front of 3,000 people at the Summit. I’d rehearsed my talk for a month or two, twice a day. I had it down pat. I was going to talk about the spiced life. How this blog helped me achieve it. How it’s kept me from running away from my happy ending. But the night before I was to deliver the talk, I received a phone call. My talk might be cut down. Way down. They’d know more in the morning. Bright and early on the big day, I got confirmation. I …

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Tunisian Grilled Salad with Tuna | Salata Mishwiyya

Usually, the food we grill stays whole. We put it on a bun, or we eat it with our hands. But today’s Tunisian Grilled Salad takes a different approach. The charred vegetables – peppers, onion, tomatoes – are pulsed together into a chunky mixture, then served with flaked tuna, and hard boiled egg. This salad has body. Much of the intensity comes off the grill,  from the raw garlic, hot chili peppers, and the caraway seeds, all of which can be tempered to taste. Please, please, please… let this salad meld for at least an hour before eating. This will give the bite time to mellow.   Because you wouldn’t want to serve your guests a grouchy salad. Mellow is much nicer. Adapted from Clifford A. Wright’s A Mediterranean Feast. Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 3 green bell peppers 3 red chili peppers (like red fresno) 2 tomatoes (or 3 small) 1 onion, peeled and quartered (leave stem on to help hold it together) 3 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp caraway seeds (optional) 1 tsp salt Garnishes: Olive oil (several swirls) Juice …

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Honey Almond Samsa with Orange Blossom Water

Every wedding, every baby shower, every birthday… every party… needs a smile. And by that, I mean, something that is delectable, not just to the spirit, but to the heart. Perhaps it’s an epic DJ known for Bollywood Dancing. Or perhaps it’s something as simple as a platter of Tunisian cigars, filled with crushed almonds, honey, orange blossom water, and cinnamon…Oh, and there’s a fair kiss of melted butter on them, too. These cigars are rather like baklava, but the orange blossom water makes them more floral, in a dreamy sort of way. The sticky, sweet mixture is guaranteed to get you and your guests licking their fingers. There will be murmurs and smiles. “What is that,” they’ll ask. And you know they’ll be talking about the orange blossom water. So fragrant, yet so delicate. Around the world, the word “samsa” is used to describe many, many different filled pastries, from meats to sweets. In Tunisia these are samsa. Every, last, glistening morsel is yours for the taking. Important note: Thaw the filo dough according to package instructions before …

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