Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Suya" Meatballs

I tried another recipe from "Taste of Africa" the other day.  I was invited to a "tapas" party and decided these would be great to bring along with the "Harissa Chili Paste" as the recipe suggested. Although it seems like more of a sauce than a paste. The Harissa is also found in this cookbook. In many ways these meatballs are similar to most meatballs one is used to.  One major difference is though is the use of ground peanuts and there is no liquid involved. I had to use %93 percent lean ground beef because I could not find 80/20.  As a result they were a little on the dry side but still quite good. The recipe stated that these are typically cooked on the grill kabob style.  I chose to bake them in the oven at 400 degrees until browned.

Suya: popular in West Africa. Suya originated in northern Nigeria and Niger.
Courtesy: Justice Kamanga "Tastes of Africa"
1kg (2.2 lbs) minced (gr.) beef
1/2 c. roasted peauts, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 onion grated
salt and pepper
If grilling: 6 bamboo skewers
Preheat grill. In a bowl, combine the beef and other ingredients and shape into approximately 24 meatballs. Thread the meatballs onto the bamboo skewers.  Grill for about 10 min, then brush with the olive oil. Serve with Harissa Hot Chili Paste
If baking: Preheat oven to 400 and follow all other instructions except place meatballs on a cookie sheet and bake until browned.

Harissa Hot Chili Paste: popular in North Africa
Courtesy: Justice Kamanga "Tastes of Africa"

150 g. fresh red or green chilis, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green pepper, grilled, skinned and chopped
1 red pepper, grilled, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1Tbsp gr. cumin
sea salt
Combine all ingredients and leave to stand for at least 30 min. before using, for the flavors to develop.

I made a few tweaks to this recipe some on purpose, and some not.  I used red jalapenos and green. I did not grill the bell peppers or take the skin off.  Instead I just used them raw.  To make that step of grilling easier I suppose that you could buy the jarred roasted peppers.  I'm sure my result was a different flavor but it was still very good.  I blended everything in the food processor.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Zimbabwean Chicken

I usually go in phases as to what I like to cook.  Lately it has been African food.  I hadn't been able to find any good cookbooks on African Food, until now.  I recently purchased "Tastes of Africa" by Justice Kamanga. I really like this cookbook because it is a great mix of "fusion" and "authentic".  The first recipe I tried was "Chicken Thighs and Spinach in Peanut Sauce" this is a Zimbabwean dish called "Dovi".  I served it with "Sadza" which is a finely ground corn flour mixture mixed with water and cooked until absorbed into a very thick paste.  It sort of reminds me a really thick grits. I could only find medium ground yellow corn flour.  This worked ok but next time I definitely need a finely ground white corn flour.

Here is the recipe for Dovi
courtesy: "Tastes of Africa" by Justice Kamanga

6 chicken thighs
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 baby marrows (zucchini), sliced 1cm thick
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
500 g shredded fresh spinach

Cut an "X" into the skin of each chicken thigh. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken until well browned. Transfer the thighs to a pot and pour off most of the oil from the frying pan, leaving about 3Tbs. 
In the same pan, saute the onions over a low heat until soft, then add the tomatoes and stir until soft. Stir the chicken and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the baby marrows and peanut butter and stir until the peanut butter has dissolved.  Add the cayenne pepper and spinach, and simmer for approximately 5 minutes until the spinach has wilted. Add salt to taste. Serve with Sadza. Serves 4-6.

This makes a huge amount as you can see from the picture. I would definitely cut it in half next time.  I also added salt and pepper to the chicken before I fried it.  

Welcome to African Cooking Is Fun!

African cooking is fun!  It is also very healthy.  African food is traditionally high in fiber and low in saturated fats.  It is often gluten free and dairy free!  Just as important to many, it is budget friendly.  African cooking is exotic without having to use obscure ingredients you will never use again.  Once you invest in some good spices, the other ingredients can easily be found at most grocery stores.  I hope you will be inspired to enjoy African cooking in your home!