Ketchup Recipes (Okay, catch up recipes): Tanzania, Syria, Tajikistan

I still exist. And so does my kitchen, I swear it.  I know you couldn’t tell it from the blog, but it is true.  My excuses…first the good camera died, leaving me with lackluster photography that I wasn’t as thrilled to share with you.  (I’m still going to share it–please lie and tell me it’s not that out of focus, etc).  Then, I took a trip to New York City.  It was lovely, and at some point, I”ll blog about my restaurant eats there.  I wish I had the time and money to spend a month there.  Anyway, back to my excuses.  Then, well, I had to catch up on at work since I’d missed for NYC.

Still, I’ve been cooking.  To speed my catching up process, I’ve got a post with a quick recap of three country feasts and my recipe for Black Bean and Plantain Stew.

First–Syria.  I made some mini mezze plates for us, with easy tabbouleh, homemade hummus and toasted pita chips, and some olives to round out the plate.  The hummus was extra delicious this go round…I think a bit of extra tahini may have had something to do with it.

For the entree, I prepared Mujaddara.

Now, lentils are rice isn’t exactly anything crazy, but caramelized onions add the flavor that I needed to enjoy this otherwise simple dish.  I opted for brown lentils and seasoned with cumin and coriander.  Seems like I’ve been using so much coriander as of late…

I’ve also attempted a traditional Tajik meal.  I do not think I had quite the dramatic flare that I was hoping for.  Here was my inspiration photo:

(Source)

Here’s what our table actually looked like:

There are just a couple disparities.  Ah, well.  We had nuts and dried fruit and piti surrounding our plov.  Confused?  Tajik meals are communal, and center around the plov, which is fried rice.  Usually a plov contains mutton, but we stuck to onions, carrots, and yellow turnips.  Our orange soups are the piti.  [Vegetarian] piti is made with chickpeas, tomatoes, and potatoes and cooked while covered in the oven.  I could not actually find an existing recipe, so I worked on my own.  Does anyone have a good piti recipe to share?

Mine was okay.  Healthful, and with some flavor, but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

That’s okay, Tanzania’s meal had it (referring to the “je ne sais quoi”) and then some.  This dish was actually meant to be a beef and plantain stew.  I decided to simply use black beans instead of finding a more processed meat substitute for the meal.

Husband actually voted this into his top three dishes the night we had it!  Since then, I think the Philippines may have nudged it out from Bronze medal standing, but still, it was a winner.

Bean and Plantain Stew (Serves 6) Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 T oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (one if you’re not a garlic lover–why would you not be, though??)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 15 oz can cooked black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 chili pepper (I don’t bother seeding b/c the husband likes heat)
  • 3 small potatoes, cubed
  • 3 plantains, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Directions.

  1. Heat oil in large pot (I used a Dutch oven).
  2. Saute onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and chili pepper. Season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, potatoes, plantains, water, and bouillon cubes.
  5. Simmer until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes for me.
  6. Add coconut milk add stir until heated.  Mash vegetables if desired.

Our stew was served with my first attempt at ugali, which is a dough-like porridge made with cornmeal.  It’s quite common in African cuisine, but usually it’s made with white cornmeal, which I didn’t have on hand that day.  The ugali wasn’t the most delicious thing I’ve eaten, but seemed to go well with the stew nevertheless.

Happy cooking, folks.  Scout’s honor that I’ll be more consistent with the posting in the next couple weeks!

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Categories: African Food, Central Asian Food, East African Food, Food, Middle Eastern Food, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

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