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'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  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!