Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chipsi Ndizi (Banana Fries)

While in Tanzania, I had "Roast Banana" in every home I visited for dinner. To be honest, I didn't really care for them. They were always dry. I always put lots of pilipili sauce on them.

A few weeks ago, I bought a bunch of dark maroon bananas at the store. They were hard as rocks and probably were imported from half a world away. Well, they never did quite ripen! So I wondered if they might be delicious as oven fries. I had a little more control with temperature in my first world oven.  Maybe a lower temperature would make them crisp on the outside and moist on the inside?
Well, they turned out just delicious! I greased my cast iron baking sheet with lots, lots! of coconut oil. I sprinkled them with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and smoked paprika. I mixed some habanero hot sauce with ketchup to recreate a spicy ketchup I had in the Dar es Salam airport.They were delicious!

Chipsi Ndizi

Serves 1 as a meal or 2-3 as a side dish

2 bananas (I used the dark red variety) unripe but not completely rock hard
coconut oil
sea salt
smoked paprika
fresh ground pepper

Slice the bananas in half width wise and then length wise. So, you have four spears. Heavily grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Roll the bananas in the coconut oil. Sprinkle the banana pieces with the salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about a half hour or more. Check for light browning and soft inside.

Meanwhile, make your ketchup and hotsauce.  When the fries are ready, enjoy!

 The banana type I used and the hotsauce

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ostrich Meatballs

A couple of weeks ago, I happened upon some frozen ostrich meat in Vitamin Cottage.  The meat was from a farm in Nebraska.  I remember my husband raving about ostrich meat when he was working in Zimbabwe.  So, I bought it. Turns out, its a very healthy red meat.  I find it curious that ostrich is red meat! By the way, I found out that I shouldn't be putting two spaces between sentences. I'll stop now. 

Ostrich Meatballs

1 lb. ground ostrich meat
1/2 cup crushed crackers (I used the leftover crumbs of these carrot and sweet potato chips/crisps)
1 egg
2 Tbsp. oil (I used red palm)
salt and pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder or a couple of cloves minced
A little beef broth to get desired consistency
1 Tbsp. coconut oil to grease pan
Baked in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes

After the meatballs were done cooking, I made a sauce out of this meat masala mix I had bought in South Florida.  We were visiting with a friend from India and he took us to this little Indian grocery story.  He told me this was his favorite masala mix so I bought it.  

I sauteed some tomatoes and onion and added some but not all of the seasoning.  I added some water to this mix to make a nice sauce.  Right before the sauce was finished I added some half and half cream and it was delicious.

I paired it with some ugali. My husband went nuts over it (he's easy to please).  It was very unique in flavor and I credit that to the seasoning packet.  My husband said it was the closest I had gotten to recreating food he'd had in the bush.  I really loved the flavor of the ostrich meat.  I'll definitely be buying it more often and substituting it for all sorts of ground meat.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pharaoh Beef

Pharaoh Beef
Or, as Justice Kamanga calls it in his "Tastes of Africa" cookbook, Spiced Beef Skillet.  I think my name sounds more special and this dish is oh so special.  I am a BIG fan of Justice Kamanga and his "Tastes of Africa" cookbook. I may be his biggest fan, but I'm guessing the people who work at the Italian Embassy in S. Africa are bigger fans, because that is where he is chef!  Lucky ducks.

When I first made this, my husband and I were blown away.  It was just so perfect.  We made it in a 400 degree oven and let all the beef juice and fat cook into the roasted vegetables. So delicious.  I named it "Pharaoh Beef" because Mr. Kamanga writes that in ancient Egypt, this dish was reserved for Pharaohs.

Spiced Beef Skillet a.k.a Pharaoh Beef

1 Tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
1Tbsp mustard seeds (I subbed mustard powder)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 lb. (500 g.) beef steak
3 Tbsp butter

1/4 c. tahini
1 c. plain yogurt (I like full fat Fage Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. (200 degrees C.) I know its not the same but...sorry.

Mix together the peppercorns, mustard and coriander seeds, then coat the fillet with the mixture.  Heat the butter in a frying pan, sear the meat on all sides, then transfer to a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes.  We already had carrots, onions and baby potatoes roasting for about 20 or so minutes and then added the beef to this.

Let the meat rest for 10 min. before slicing.  Make the sauce during this time. Gently mix all ingredients until smooth.

Slice the meat thinly and arrange on a platter with the roasted vegetables and some sort of a fresh vegetable or leafy green salad.  We served ours with the recommended Cucumber and Baby Marrow (zucchini) Salad. Serve beef and vegetables with the sauce.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Supu ya Kuku na Karanga

Chicken Peanut Soup

3 Tbs. Sunflower Oil
2 red onions roughly chopped
1 Tbs. Tomato Paste
28 oz. canned tomatoes
4 chicken thighs chopped
4 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro for garnish
cooked rice (optional)

Heat the oil in a soup pot and saute the onions until soft. Then, add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Saute a few more minutes.  Then add the chicken stock and peanut butter.  Use a hand held emersion blender to blend the ingredients-not too smooth!  Bring the soup to a low boil and add the chicken. Cook the chicken in the broth for about 5 min. then turn the heat down, put a lid on it and let it cook on low 30 min- a couple of hours.  Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cilantro.

The next day, I had the leftovers with some rice.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Apricot Lamb Tagine
I got this recipe off of Pinterest.  Tagine's are popular in Morocco and other parts of North Africa.  The name comes from the type of clay pot that is used, called a "tagine". I don't have a tagine and you don't have to either to make this.  It is beyond delicious!

 Recipe: Courtesy closetcooking.com via Pinterest

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon lemon (zest)
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound lamb (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon garlic (grated)
1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used chopped sun dried tomatoes)
1-2 cups beef stock
3/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons harissa  
1/4 cup pistachios (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped, optional)
1/4 cup parsley (chopped, optional)
1 cup Greek style yogurt (optional)

1. Mix the paprika, turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cayenne pepper, saffron, lemon zest and oil in a ziplock bag.
2. Add the lamb, mix well and marinate the fridge for a few hours to overnight.
3. Heat the oil in a large pan.
4. Add the lamb, brown well on all sides and set aside.
5. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute.
7. Add the lamb and tomato paste and cover with beef stock.
8. Bring to a boil, reduce the meat and simmer covered until the lamb is fall apart tender, about 2-3 hours.
9. Add the apricots, raisins and more beef stock to cover.
10. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
11. Add the honey and harissa.
12. Serve on couscous and garnished with pistachios, cilantro, parsley and Greek yogurt.

My Riffs and Review:

 Excellent. Sweet and tangy. Don't worry about the Harissa (North African hot chili paste) You can use Sriracha or a similar product). Perfect contrast to the simple and light couscous. I probably used half as much lamb. I chopped the apricots. They were good, but sometimes over-powerful. Probably because I didn't add a full pound of lamb. You may want to reduce amount just a bit. The parsley or green onions on top are a must for balance.  I paired it with a simple spinach salad with a dressing of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, 1tsp. dijon, salt and pepper. My husband went nuts for it!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I had this at the Tamambo Restaurant in Nairobi.  It was very good and had the clever name of "Kachos" (Kenyan Nachos).  The chips (crisps) were arrow root and potato.  These were topped with a pico de gallo type salsa, melted cheese, chilis and a very good and interested whipped type sour cream spiked with lime.  This would be very easy to make at home.  I would try cassava root chips or sweet potato chips too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saladi ya Parachichi (Avocado Salad)

Saladi ya Parachichi: Picture taken on a table overlooking the Rift Valley, Tanzania

This dish is so simple yet would be very impressive to serve guests.  Find the largest avocados possible that are perfectly ripe.  Finely dice ripe tomato and red onion.  I would do a 4 tomato to 1 onion ratio. Toss with a little red wine, extra virgin olive oil, course sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Spoon into the avocado holes.  If your avocado holes are quite small, you could carve out a bigger hole and save the extra avocado for later.  

This recipe is so versatile.  You could obviously make this a Mexican avocado salad by adding some lime juice, cilantro and jalapeno to the tomato mixture. My husband had a similar dish in Zimbabwe, but the avocados were filled with a finely diced fresh garlic and hot pepper mixture.  Sounds awesome, doesn't it? This salad would be tasty alongside any grilled meat or fish or a hearty bean and rice stew.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dungu Curried Vegetables and Rice

This dish comes again from one of my favorite African/Afro-Fusion Cookbooks: Taste of Africa by Justice Kamanga

The name of the dish comes from the province of Dungu in The Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dungu Curried Vegetables and Rice
Courtesy: Taste of Africa by Justice Kamanga

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp medium curry powder
1 tsp gr. cumin
1 tsp gr coriander
1 fresh green chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large red pepper, cubed
1 large green pepper, cubed
1 large yellow pepper, cubed
3 carrots, pelled and sliced
200 g fresh green beans, halved
400 g tomatoes, sliced and fried
150 g frozen peas
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a casserole dish and fry the onion until soft.  Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, chilli, and garlic and fry for 3 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice.  Serves 4-6

Now, I rarely let my ingredient stock detour me from making I recipe I want to.  I like to improvise, and if I don't care for an ingredient, I don't use it.  I didn't want all those bell peppers in it so I only used my favorite, red.  I also didn't want to use peas and I didn't have any green beans.  I did have a can of chick peas on hand so I used that for a little protein.  

I really enjoyed this dish. Simple, healthy and satisfying. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pilipili Kali

Above: Roasted Peppers for Pilipili Nairobi-Kali Sana!

Above: Pilipili Nairobi bottled and ready to enjoy...with caution

I really love making Pilipili Kali or African Hot Sauce.  I am going to keep the recipes I have to myself, but, one I call Pilipili Rift Valley and the other, Pilipili Nairobi.  The Rift Valley recipe is from some friends who live near the Rift Valley.  The other recipe, I designed after an amazingly hot pilipili I had at a restaurant in Nairobi.  Both are full of various hot peppers with a little oil, salt and vinegar for preservation and flavor.

   Below: Pilipili Rift Valley being pushed through a funnel, using a chopstick.  Pilipili is more oil based and mild than the Nairobi.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chips Mayai

Chips Mayai, or hashbrown omelet was a new discovery when I last visited Tanzania.  I'm not sure how authentic this is, but I loved it!  I love all things potato, and especially hashbrowns!  I was so lucky to get my fill of many varieties of potatoes on my visit (and avocado).  The first time I had this dish, I was at a friend's house.  The second time, it was at a university in Tanzania.  I also saw this dish advertised at local restaurants, but never at a Western Style resort or restaurant. I also saw it advertised as an "egg crack".  I shred my potato into hash browns, when I had it in TZ, they didn't have a shredder, so they cut it like thin french fries or "chips".  Oh, and "mayai" means "eggs" in Swahili, so there you go. Below, is the chips I had at the university.  I had this for lunch and they garnished it with ketchup and a little coleslaw.

Chips Mayai

Serves 1-2 people

1 russet potato, shredded
2 eggs, beaten with a little milk or water
oil or oil spray
salt and pepper
pili pili or hotsauce

Heat a little oil in a small omelet pan over medium high heat.  Once hot, place the shredded potato in the pan until it evenly covers the pan.  Fry on one side, don't stir! Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  After you make a little peak to the down side and it's brown, flip the potatoes over like a pancake to fry on the other side. After about 5 minutes, pour the egg mixture over the hash browns. Turn the heat to medium low. Let cook about 2 minutes on one side, then flip over again to cook the other side for about a minute, depending on how "done" you like your eggs. Transfer to a plate.  Serve with pili pili sauce (East African hot sauce) or any hot sauce and ketchup.  A good compliment to this hearty dish would be some orange and avocado slices.  Orange and avocado slices were served with nearly every dish I had in the Meru Village in Tanzania.  You could also add anything to this dish as you would an omelet.  Make it healthy with some sauteed spinach and tomatoes, or make it naughty by adding some cheese and bacon.  Whatever you want...it's your Chips Mayai!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chickpea and Lentil Salad

The other night, we had our friends over for My favorite chicken stew and Ugali.  I typically pair ugali and stew with a tropical fruit platter and a platter of tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocados.  The avocados in the store were rock hard, so I decided to pair the stew and ugali with Chickpea and Lentil Salad.  This recipe is from my "Tastes of Africa" cookbook.  I improvised with this recipe just a bit though:  I added 1/2 an English Cucumber and a whole, large tomato.  Also, the cooking time on the recipe for the lentils was not nearly long enough so I had to increase that by 100%.

Chickpea and Lentil Salad

2Tbs. olive oil
1Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 onion, chopped (green onion is a good substitute)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1tsp. ground cumin
1 fresh green chili, finely chopped
1/2 cup lentils
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Cook Lentils according to package and add about a 1/2 tsp salt. Drain off any extra water. Pour into a mixing bowl.  Add the canned chickpeas (garbanzo). Then add the remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste and parsley to garnish.

I just love how simple and cost friendly most African recipes are.  It is exotic without using ingredients you will never use again.

Update:  I recently followed this recipe exactly, except I doubled it.  I had a lot left over so I decided to put it in the food processor and turn it into hummus.  I just added tahini, a little more olive oil and some lemon juice.  It was really delicious hummus!

Easy Samosa Inspired Snack

Samosa's are an Indian treat but are very popular in the cities of Tanzania and other areas of East Africa, I'm sure.  I first had Samosas at the Dar es Salaam Airport. They were the BEST! Of course, I had never had them before, but they will always be the BEST! One of the condiments on the table was Heinz Spicy Ketchup and it was the perfect paring.  A while back, I tried to make Samosa's the traditional way, using deep frying, but it was difficult and they fell apaprt.  I have also tried to bake them using puff pastry but they were a little dry.

Above: Deep Frying Samosas.  Don't get me wrong, these were very tasty...they just fell apart.

 I discovered that I still had some Samosa seasoned ground beef left in the freezer, left over from the deep frying attempt.  I also remembered that I had egg roll wrappers in the freezer.  I did not feel like deep frying so I tried to think of another way to make Samosa's.  Quite a few years ago, I made a healthier version of Crab Rangoons (cheese wantons)from a recipe on weightwatchers.com.  I decided to use this technique to make very easy and delicious (and creamy) Samosa style snacks.

egg roll skins (find them near the tofu usually)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 carrot- minced
1/2 med. onion- minced
1 container garden veggie- or regular- cream cheese
2 tsp. curry
1 tsp. tumeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 Tbs. Siracha Hot Sauce
1/2 c. Ketchup
1/4 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
1/4 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce

Brown the ground beef in a non-stick pan that is large enough to encourage good browning. Use medium-high heat. I have really learned the importance of good browning.  Don't stir the meat too much, or chop it up while its browning.  Browning=flavor. After the meat is browned add the minced veggies and seasonings. Let those briefly sauté.  Turn off the heat and add the cream cheese.

 Lightly spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray. Place one wonton wrapper in each muffin hole. Fill each wrapper with approximately 1-2 Tbsp. of the filling. Bake in the oven at 375 until edges are a light, golden brown.  About 15 minutes? Meanwhile, mix the sauce. Enjoy!