All posts filed under: Africa

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Monday Meal Review: North Sudan

If you could taste life, it would be salt of the earth, spice of the heavens. It would leave you thirsty, and yet it would quench you. When I see people sweat through complicated recipes to impress each other, rather that for fun, I wonder if they taste life… if they really drink it in. Because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen her. That girl who’s crying before a dinner party because she’s taken on a recipe that’s much too complicated. Or because she’s just splattered oil on her favorite blouse. Or she answers the door with flour on her face and doesn’t realize it until a glass of wine and two hours later. While her friends fill the walls of her home with effervescent laughter, her insides are writhe with stress, fear, insecurity. She’s wondering if everyone’s doing okay, without taking a moment to breathe for herself. To live. To take it all in. To taste life. I know, because I’ve been that girl. I recently read a cookbook review that claimed the author wasn’t sharing true “recipes” …

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Sudanese Flatbread | Gorraasa

Gorraasa is a soft, doughy bread enjoyed in the Sudan that tastes like a really thick tortilla. The texture is a bit more spongy, however, and when I pulled mine into pieces, I was delighted to find the slight elasticity at once addicting and good for picking up food. Which is exactly how the Sudanese use Gorraasa. They place a round of Gorraasa under stewed meats or other entrees, then tear off bits of the bread to pick up the food instead of using utensils. It can also be enjoyed on its own… as Ava demonstrates here: I first learned about Gorraasa from Mark Tanner who spent quite a bit of time traveling through Sudan, though I found his recipe needed adjusting to work in my kitchen. Namely, more baking powder was needed to obtain the open holes (and if the batter happened to be too wet, the holes would pop before they set). Also, I found that, though he suggested flipping the Gorraasa while cooking, when I did so, the results no longer matched the photo …

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Cucumber Yogurt Salad | Salatet Zabady bil ajur

A cucumber salad is a thing of beauty. It cools, it refreshes, and it provides important nutrition thanks to a happy scoop of yogurt and tons of fiber from the cucumber (not to mention garlic’s anti-vampire qualities). While cucumber salads span the globe in one form or another, this version is popular through the Middle East, western Asia, and even parts of Europe (with minor variations). In Sudan, this salad can be enjoyed on it’s own, as a dip* or on the side of spiced meats, like grilled kofta [recipe]. All you need is a love for yogurt and garlic, and you’ll be on your way. Serves 4 Ingredients: 2 cucumbers, peeled & cubed 1 1/2 cups yogurt 2 cloves garlic, crushed salt & pepper Method: Mix cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and seasonings. Plenty of salt and pepper really make this salad shine. *In Sudan cucumber salads are traditionally served as a dip with lettuce leaves and even sliced vegetables (like peppers). If you go this route, consider dicing the cucumber smaller, to make it easier …

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Sudanese Cinnamon Tea

Under the pulsing noonday sun, Tea Ladies line the streets of Sudan. They soak up what little shade they can find. Water simmers over charcoal stoves. They swirl a mishmash of ingredients through the steam, into the pot. You can pick your combination. Will it be mint? Or what about ginger? The most popular option for many patrons is cinnamon tea, a blend of black tea steeped with cinnamon sticks. Many patrons like to hold a sugar cube between the teeth while drinking to sweeten the brew. When business is good, men sit and talk at the edge of their Tea Lady’s makeshift stall. They sip her healing brews on metal chairs, a wooden box, or on their haunches. They don’t rush. They soak in the warmth. The might nibble some Zalabya, a.k.a. sugar dumplings, to go with it. Others rush by and drink on the run. When their too busy at home to make tea, this is their version of Starbucks or perhaps Dunkin Donuts. Makes 3 cups Ingredients: 3 cinnamon sticks 3 cups …

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Menu: North Sudan

“Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fatted ox where there is hatred.” Sudanese Proverb I’m taking this proverb to heart. This week happens to be a simple week. We’re breathing easy with vegetables, grain, and tea. We’re making room for love in a busy, busy time.  The end result? This is a quick menu, something that can be made on a weeknight… without stress or strain. Thankfully, North Sudan accommodated us easily (and I felt guilt-free about going so simple since we’ve made so many of her other favorite recipes during other Global Tables (for a list of them see our post from yesterday… you can click through to the recipes and try them whenever you like). All recipes and the meal review will be available throughout the week. Cucumber Salad | Salatet Zabady bil Ajur [Recipe] An easy, refreshing blend of cucumber, yogurt, and crushed garlic. Goraasa [Recipe] Soft, doughy flatbread leaved with baking powder.  (vegan) Cinnamon Tea [Recipe] Find out why the Tea Ladies of Sudan call this their best-seller. P.S. I’m curious.. Do …

Market in Darfur courtesy of COSV.

About the food of North Sudan

If you wander through the deserts and hot winds of Sudan, you’ll be rewarded with a collection of richly spiced and lemon-laced foods, and even cooling cucumber and yogurt salads [Recipe]. You’ll recognize many dishes traditionally enjoyed by the Sudanese from our previous Global Table meals, such as ful medames (also enjoyed in Egypt), kofta, and basboosa (beloved throughout the Middle East). That basboosa cake? It’s soaked with lemon and rosewater syrup. I could eat that every day for the rest of my life and be a very happy woman. Like Ethiopia, flatbreads are incredibly popular in Sudan. Diners enjoy their meals with a wide range, including injera, sorghum crepes (kisra), and Gorraasa (simple flour and water flatbreads) [Recipe]. When you’re done eating, you might trouble one of the Tea Women for a spot of cinnamon tea [Recipe]. They sell it right on the side of the road… so don’t hesitate! Just be sure to keep an eye out for an impending haboob… otherwise known as a sandstorm of such intensity that it can blot out the sun. Phew. …

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Monday Meal Review: South Africa

 “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl” Zulu Proverb I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a good friend makes for a great companion in the kitchen. Through the crackle and sizzle, conversation and laughter keep love flowing… right on into the meal… So, I was thrilled when my friend Janine said she’d help me figure out the food of South Africa. She’s South African, so I knew I was in good hands. But then things got a little wonky. Because she’s vegan, I offered to make the meal entirely vegan so she could share it with us. I never expected her to decline. But she did. Here’s the deal: she wasn’t just being polite. Janine insisted, with her smooth slightly British-sounding accent, that we could not eat South Africa without trying their true, traditional dishes. She says they “love their meat,” like Bobotie. Even if she couldn’t eat the food, she thought I might as well go all out and experience the real South Africa… after all, “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl,” as the …

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South Africa’s Yellow Rice | Geelrys

During the week, I’m always looking for a way to get beyond ordinary b-b-boring boiled rice. Hello. Cue our friends of South Africa… they have the answer with “Geelrys,” which literally translates to “yellow rice.” Imagine a pot of turmeric and raisin bejeweled rice… a simple side dish as flavorful as it is gorgeous. Geelrys tastes like a sunrise on the most beautiful morning of your life.   Or, like happy a hug from a good friend. Or, maybe it just tastes like really, really good rice. While you can make Geelrys with any kind of rice you like, I prefer it with Basmati, as does my South African friend, Janine. The cooking time for Basmati is longer than standard white rice, but much gentler; the end result is tantalizingly delicate. There’s really nothing to it… Yellow Rice is definitely weeknight friendly.   P.S. This is a great dish for picky eaters – one to help to broaden their horizons without going too crazy with spices. Serves 6 Ingredients: 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed & drained …

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South African Amarula Coffee

There’s nothing like a drunk elephant to get my attention. Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’ s a little early for that kind of talk. Let me back up a moment. Amarula Coffee is a South African favorite – a breezy concoction that includes your favorite coffee, some brown sugar (the sweetener of choice in South Africa), a shot or two of Amarula, and whipped cream. It’s very much like an Irish Coffee. Why? The Amarula. You can find this creamy concoction at most liquor stores in the United States, next to the Bailey’s. The flavors are quite similar, which makes this drink the perfect nod to Saint Patrick’s Day, South Africa-style. Amaurula is made from Marula fruit. Which brings me full circle, back to the drunk elephants. I’m not sure I can do it justice… so watch for yourself what happens when the elephants (and other animals) feast on the fruit of this treat. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. (The hungover orangutan is too funny) Ingredients: 3 parts brewed coffee 1 part Amarula brown sugar, to taste …

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South Africa’s Bobotie

Are you ready for a big bite of everything, ever? South Africa’s Bobotie (ba-boor-tea) reminds me of when I was a little girl, playing in the kitchen next to mom. I’d dump every possible ingredient into my little inventions, hoping they’d come out amazing. While chopped apples and pickles didn’t pan out when I was a kid, bobotie most decidedly does. But don’t worry – there’s no apple or pickle in it. So what is in it? Some people call Bobotie South African Moussaka, but I’m not convinced that gives the dish enough credit. My friend Janine says Bobotie is from the Cape Malay region and belies much more Indian influence. At her most basic, Bobotie is a spiced meat casserole topped with egg custard and a few bay leaves. Inside, you’ll find everything from rich curry power, to garlic, ginger, lemon juice, raisins, and almonds. There’s even a scoop of chutney. While this all sounds incredibly overwhelming, the ingredients mellow as they cook. Still not sure? Trust years of history: there’s a reason South Africans love this …

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Menu: South Africa

There’s an old South African saying which goes: “We begin with the meal before the water is boiling.” – South African Proverb Wow. There is truth to these words. Mighty truth. Sure, preparation goes into everything we do, this South African menu is no exception. But that’s not what this proverb is really about. This simple line draws attention to the work that goes into our meals before we ever set out to cook. Yes, we must go to the market. But even before that, someone had to grow our food and get it to the market. Heck, the Amarula in this week’s menu comes straight from South Africa, but can be found in most any liquor store. So when my hand touches that bottle, my hand touches South Africa. Little things like this bring me the most pleasure. And gratitude. Have you felt gratitude today? All recipes and meal review will be available throughout the week. Bobotie [Recipe] A traditional Cape Malay dish casserole… made with a festival of ingredients. There’s beef, curry, raisins, almonds, …

Landscape scenery in Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo by Nicolas Raymond.

About the food of South Africa

Ah, South Africa. Almost since the beginning of this Adventure I’ve been looking forward to our week in South Africa. I’m not sure why – certainly the fairy tale mountains that tower above the white-capped ocean is one part of it. As is the bustling city centers and even the dry interior.   But another is that my dear friend Janine is from South Africa. Whenever Janine speaks of her homeland, she gets a dreamy, lost sort of look about her face. She only goes back every 5-10 years, so South Africa remains a palatable slice of her childhood… representing her former youth and vigor, all wrapped up in memory… often more dream than reality. Janine tells me the food is heavy on the meats, especially grilled meats. Considering she’s a vegan, I was surprised when she asserted that I couldn’t “visit” South Africa without having tried some form of their meat. She said “they love their meat” and that almost every meal includes some, particularly in the cities. The funny thing is, while they certainly love their kabobs …