All posts filed under: Africa


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. 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. UPDATED 2015: Caraway cut down from 1 Tbsp to 1 teaspoon. 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 tsp caraway …

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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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Menu: Tunisia

“If the full moon loves you, why worry about the stars?” Tunisian Proverb I never thought I’d compare tuna fish to the beautiful moon. But here we are. This week, there were so many beautiful recipes to choose from; I had a hard time choosing what best represented Tunisia. But then I read the proverb posted above, and realized maybe it was more important to showcase what made my stomach crawl. So I scanned the dozens of recipes for two dishes that could make my stomach growl. The first one? A grilled salad topped with tuna. I know funky tuna is not for everyone, but man, oh, man I love it (am I the only one that loves a good bit of tuna?). As for the dessert, I found something just as tantalizing. In short, I found a glittering menu, or moon, so to speak … so I didn’t worry about the stars I couldn’t get to.  All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Tunisian Grilled Salad | Salata Mishwiyya [Recipe] A charred, …

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Fort Djerba, Tunisia. Photo by Cezary P.

About the food of Tunisia

The castles in Tunisia don’t look like they are made of stone. Not European stones, anyway. Those make for grey castles – the kind most of us are familiar with. No, Tunisian castles look like sandcastles. The soft yellow stones look like knobs of buttered polenta. Or couscous.  I know, because this is one of the twelve countries I visited when I was a teen. I went for my senior trip (from Luxembourg, where I was living at the time). While I was there I wanted to eat up those castles. I mean look at this… But before I ever saw the castles, I had to feel Tunisia. I stepped off of the plane, into the heat. The humidity squeezed me like a giant hug. Not only was it hot enough to swim at 8 a.m., it was hot enough to want to. The food was suitably refreshing. I had lots of tomato salads, grilled meats, and even grilled salads [Recipe]. In the morning, chakchouka was common, a quick fix cobbled together with simmered eggplant, peppers, onion, and …

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Sweet Potatoes in Coconut Caramel Sauce

I love necklaces. The bright stones add a splash of color and fun to my generally plain-Jane outfits. Seeing as I don’t general have time to put on makeup, necklaces are the one and only way to brighten up my look. To make it look like I tried. Well, today, we’re getting a taste of how the islanders in Tonga dress up dinner. In short? Sweet potatoes meet coconut caramel sauce – a vivid display of orange, white, and golden brown. Sweet potatoes and coconut grow easily in the Pacific, making this dish ubiquitous in Tonga. In fact, from what I read, this coconut caramel sauce is on everything in Tonga, from dumplings to taro. Instant goodness. The caramel is just sugar and coconut milk (yay, for an accidentally vegan caramel sauce!). The coconut milk gives the caramel a depth of flavor butter can’t touch. It’s just so tropical. So dressed up. TIP: You can substitute boiled taro, or even boiled dumplings, for the sweet potato in this recipe. Ingredients: 2 lbs sweet potatoes (about 2-3) …

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Monday Meal Review: Togo

“How many bites do I have to take?” “Do they have to be big bites?”  “Does this count as a big bite?” The questions kept coming from Miss Emma, one of the most picky eaters to grace our Global Table. She showed us her spoon, topped with Djenkoume (a.k.a. cornmeal cakes). This is what her big bite looked like: Thus far. Emma has spent the majority of her childhood “losing her lunch” when faced with new textures and flavors.  She couldn’t keep mash potatoes down until she was five… hers isn’t your ordinary finickiness. We were on very tenuous ground. I wanted to keep my furniture and rugs clean 😉 It was hard for me to relate to what Emma goes through when faced with new foods. Only rarely have I been physically affected by the thought of trying something new. There’s old Togolese proverb which reads: “It is impossible to go and look into the stomach of another.” How true. Even though I couldn’t put myself in Emma’s shoes, I was able to create …

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Grilled Togo Chicken

  What brings a smile to your face? The sunshine? The taste of the ocean? What about security… that lovely feeling, when you know you can feed your family, without depending on someone else. Mrs. Essowedeou, from Togo, agrees. “I never knew how chickens could bring a smile to our faces,” she says. Mrs. Essowedeou raises chickens as part of the “Plan Togo” program.   These chickens are her smile because they are her (and her family’s) ticket to security. Independence. Food. She sells the chickens and the eggs to raise money for her family. This week, let’s smile with Togo in our hearts. And, in Kpetou’s honor, let’s do it with chicken. Because, sometimes, it’s that simple. Chicken recipes are plentiful in Togo, but Grilled Togo Chicken is probably the simplest, most straight forward way to enjoy the meat. All you need to do is marinate your favorite cut of chicken with ginger, garlic, and onion. Use a dash of cayenne if you’re feeling spicy, and be sure to rub on a hit of …

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Tomato Cornmeal Cakes | Djenkoume

Even grownups need to build sandcastles from time to time. The urge comes from deep within our hearts – some far away love for fantasy, perhaps formed in childhood. Today, we’re listening to our inner child; we’re making edible sandcastles… from Togo. At least, that’s what I’m calling them. If you want to be a serious adult, you can call them cornmeal cakes. In Togo, corn is everything, ever. Sometimes it is served as porridge. And sometimes it’s served as Djenkoume, a.k.a. cornmeal cakes, a.k.a. edible sand castles. Djenkoume is a cornmeal, tomato, and red palm oil corn cake, rather like polenta. But there’s so much more about the dish… there’s onion, garlic, and ginger in the mix.  And a mound of homemade, spiced tomato sauce. Hello. How could that not be wonderful? Friends, sometimes, I wonder if I’m really going to be able to find a dish I like in every country in the world. So far, I’ve had 100% success rate, and it’s not just because I’m fairly open minded.  It’s also because there …

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Menu: Togo

The last three people I’ve told that I’m cooking Togo have asked me what kind of food Togo is, not realizing Togo is a small west African country. So, friends, let’s learn together. Let’s put the Togolese spirit on our tables… along with a bit of their food. We’ll get to the menu we selected in a moment. First, let’s discuss the ‘spirit’ part of the meal. This week, I sought out some inspirational words from Togo. I had no choice. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. For starters, I’ll be speaking in front of 3,000 people at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. No biggie (total biggie!!).  Second, I’m about to turn in the next 1/3 of my memoir (I foresee a few all-nighters to finish the pages up). Third, my daughter is about to turn four (when on earth did that happen?). Fourth, I’m about to celebrate my fifth year of marriage (seriously, where has the time gone?). Fifth, I just spent the weekend visiting with my BFF from high school. It’s been …

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