African Food

Sweet and Spicy Seitan Suya and Coconut Rice {Cameroon}

Sweet and Spicy Seitan Suya.  How’s that for alliteration?

Aside from the Cocoa San Rival, this is my favorite and it takes 10 times less time.  You’re going to love it.  I challenge you to feed it to a meat-eater and see if they can figure out that they are actually eating wheat.  If anyone does this, please let me know how it goes!

When researching Cameroon recipes, I just kept coming back to suya–strips of flank steak grilled on a skewer, covered in a sweet and spicy peanut mixture.

Seitan Suya (Vegan), Enough for 6 skewers

Ingredients:

  • One 8 oz box strips or chunks of seitan
  • 1 tsp cane sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ground peanuts
  • oil for brushing (I used peanut oil)

Directions:

  1. Mix sugar, spices, salt, and peanuts together.
  2. Rub onto seitan strips.
  3. Place strips/chunks onto bamboo or metal skewers.
  4. Cover and let marinate for as much time as you can stand it.
  5. Preheat grill or oven.  We have NO outdoor space here, so I grilled on the rack in the oven at 425*
  6. Rub oil on skewers to prevent them from sticking to the rack/grill.
  7. Grill for approximately 4 minutes on each side.

Love cooking with seitan; you don’t have to worry if your meat’s rare in the middle.  It just has to be warmed through.

We ate our skewers with a coconut rice, made with carrots, yellow bell peppers, and thyme.  The topping is a bit of the leftover peanuts mixed with the spice mixture.  It added a desirable crunch to the rice.

These skewers and empanadas are definitely on my make-after-the-project list!

Tomorrow, the African recipes come to a halt, albeit a very one.  Mezze platter coming your way!

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Categories: African Food, East African Food, Food, Rice, Vegan, Vegetarian | 3 Comments

Muamba de Galinha (Seitan) and Funge {Angola}

You may have noticed the African kick I’m on.  Chad, South Africa, Tunisia, and São Tomé and Príncipe.  I’m sticking with it.  Today’s post is Angola, and tomorrow’s is Cameroon.  If you’re worried I’ll exhaust all of the African countries too quickly, put your mind at ease.  There are 54 countries on the continent.

Muamba de Galinha is actually chicken stew.  I’ve really been enjoying seitan as a protein replacement lately, and think it works best in the place of stewed meats.  Thus, Muamba de Seitan.

Stews typically don’t thrill me, to be honest.  So I was surprised by how much I liked this one.

It comes full of garlic, chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, squash, and okra.  There’s also a bit of lemon juice, palm oil, and and chili powder.  Typically, this would be made with a palm soup base, but I wasn’t able to get my hands on any in time.  Maybe it would have added more to the dish, but since I’ve never had it before, I didn’t notice it missing.

Curious about the cloud of cornmeal floating in the soup?  That’s my lazy version of funge (it usually has a much better shape than mine).  Funge is the Angolan version of the thick porridge African staple.  Depending upon the country, this porridge might be made of millet, cornmeal, or manioc.  Remember the baton de manioc I made?  That’s another version of the staple porridge.  You’ll see more versions in the upcoming months.  Often, the porridge is used as a scoop for a stew or dish, but as you can see, I’m a creature of habit and have spoons handy.

I preferred the taste of the funge to the baton de manioc, but I have a hunch that I’ll prefer the yam-based fufu even better.

Happy Monday to you.  Meet the work week head on.

Categories: African Food, Food, Soups, Southern Africa, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Sweet Potato Omelettes {São Tomé and Príncipe}

Saturday mornings (yeah, I pre-posted again–I realize it’s actually Sunday when this goes up) are the time to up the ante for breakfast.

I want to visit São Tomé and Príncipe.  I love Wikipedia and its public domain photos (yep, more nerdy copyright talk for you).  Check out the country’s highest peak:

Who wouldn’t want to visit this volcanic peak?  (Don’t speak up if you do not…it’s rhetorical.  I swear I welcome all other comments, though).

São Tomé and Príncipe is a small African island country, and you might have guessed correctly from the “São”, used to be a Portuguese colony.  When sugar became all the rage (read Sugar Changed the World), the Portuguese saw these islands as an opportunity.  There were no inhabitants of the islands originally, and sugar production needed workers, so the Portuguese captured slaves on the mainland to work on the islands.  The culture of this nation, thus, is a fusion of Portuguese and African cultures.

As food is concerned, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas are major staples.  Coconut water is abundant.  Sweet potato souffles (I will attempt sometime) and sweet potato omelettes are common.  These are the other reasons I want to visit.

As I understand it, sweet potato omelettes are not really a breakfast food there.  But I couldn’t help myself this morning.

Add grated sweet potato and garlic to your egg mix.  (I’ve been a stickler for omega-3 eggs lately).

The sweet potato looks like grated cheddar cheese.  Which made me think I should add a little cheese.  I added some local white sharp cheddar from Sweetwater Valley Farm in Philadelphia, Tennessee.  Excellent cheese, by the way, and is available at Just Ripe on Union Ave.

I did want to have some coconut water for breakfast, so I could better imagine my island breakfast, but alas, I could not find it this morning.  Some orange juice and a banana did the trick, though.

The added mass of the sweet potato makes a two egg omelette seem enormous, even though the massive plate I have it on in the picture dwarfs the omelette.  I had to hand mine over to Jordan to finish this morning.

This breakfast is no joke.  No April Fools here.

Watch yourself today.  Don’t try picking up change you see on the ground.  It’s most likely glued to the sidewalk and someone will be laughing at you.

Categories: African Food, Breakfast, Food, Vegetarian, West African Food | 1 Comment

A Borrowed Bobotie Recipe {South Africa}

two slices of vegetarian bobotie

Ignore all typos that may follow.  I’m blogging from my favorite Knoxville coffee shop (don’t be alarmed by their stub of a website).  Their lattes are potent.  And I am weak and very susceptible to the side effects of coffee.  I’m jittery, overly excited about everything, and typing faster than I can actually read it.  My thoughts are absolutely everywhere and refusing to coalesce.  And I’m only halfway through the iced soy vanilla latte bliss.  Beware.

Moving on, I am certainly not alone in my plot to try vegetarian recipes from around the world.    For something like 24 hours, I thought the concept of The Pearl Project was my own.  But when researching content, recipes, ideas for my blog, I quickly stumbled upon the many foodies with similar goals that have come before me.  There are oodles of cookbooks, hundreds of bloggers doing a very similar thing.  Some are great; some mediocre; some very, um, lack luster (the best of intentions).  I do not know that anyone else forced the all countries in one year time crunch onto themselves, however…they were smarter than me.

My point is that while I often feel the need to reinvent the wheel (making my own recipes), when I find a really great-looking wheel, I just smooth it out to my own liking.  Enter: One World Vegetarian Cookbook.

(Source)

Usually, I find great recipes from a country and have to figure out how to make them vegetarian. While this book does not have a recipe from every single country, it does cover a good bit of territory.

For today’s post, I found an already vegetarian South African bobotie recipe in this book.  Since the recipe is not my own and I don’t want be a copyright jerk (although, frankly, Disney and the Mickey Mouse copyright extension drive me nuts as a little librarian lady), I will not post it for the world.  But you should check this book out from your local public library!  (If you use the same public library as me, you’re going to have to reserve it to force me to not renew it).

Bobotie is traditionally a meatloaf with curry flavor and other Indian spices.  What a representation of the mixing pot that is South African cuisine.  Hello, combination of English and Indian food cultures.  Troth Wells’ version is a lentil/bean loaf with the same flavors.

My only substitutions for his recipe were swapping milk with almond milk (I eat cheese like crazy, but don’t ever have cow’s milk in the fridge…go figure), and pinto beans for black-eyed peas.  It worked.  Good going on this recipe, Troth Wells.

We had a lot of other things going on in this meal, besides the bobotie.  Plain yogurt, saffron rice with raisins, mango (my first golden mango back there), mango chutney (courtesy of Trader Joe’s–wish Kville had a TJ), and tomatoes, barely-dressed (that’s right, boys, they are the tomatoes you’re parents warned you about when you went to college as an innocent freshman; when tomatoes dress like that, they are just asking to be eaten) with vinegar, salt, and pepper.

This meal snapped me back out of easy meal mode, as it took a bit more effort.  The ingredient list was long; the seasoning more complex than the salt, pepper, and peanuts of the last post.  But it was worth making to experience the combination of cuisines.  And if you’re really dying for this recipe and cannot find a recipe you like online, send me an e-mail–I’ll share with you off-blog to avoid that pesky copyright infringement.

Latte is almost gone.

Categories: African Food, Cookbooks, Food, Recommended Recipe Sources, Rice, Southern Africa, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Squash and Peanut Mash with Millet {Chad}

Let’s stick with the easy recipes theme, yeah?  I’ll ratchet it up with my South Africa post.

If you are still looking for an easy and fast meal and I did not convince you to make Lebleli last night, good.  Skip that.  Make this.  It’s easier.  And better.

In Chad, millet is the absolute staple. (Chad is the world’s 7th largest producer of millet).  I simply made mine like rice: boil water, add grain, simmer until tender and no excess water.  Oh, yeah, and a little pat of Earth Balance.

As for the squash and peanut mash, it’s too easy to even call a recipe.  Your secret weapon: frozen, cubed squash.  Saves you the oven and knife time.

Heat a tablespoon of oil (I used peanut oil) in a pot.  Add in your bag of squash–mine was about 1 lb.  Cook until heated through.  For every pound of squash added, toss in a cup of crushed peanuts (food processor holla!) Add 1/2 tsp sugar and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on top of that simple millet.  If you cannot get millet, rice will do.  Rice is also a mainstay in Chadian cuisine.  I added some slices of green onion for garnish.

This is my new mac ‘n cheese.  Au revoir (French is an official language of Chad, you know), la sauce de fromage artificielle.

Categories: African Food, Food, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Fast and Easy Lebleli {Tunisian Chickpea Soup}

Hey, readers.  I’m checking in with a quick and simple Tunisian recipe tonight.  Work’s been a bit busy this week (funny how work can be so tiring and rewarding all in the same day!), so my posts are behind (again!–when will I ever catch up…).  I’ve been steadily making progress this week on the Pearl Project, with the exception of last night.  Think one glass of Sangria, turned into two, turned into sushi, turned into gelato, turned into the latest episode of The New Girl.  It was an absolutely lovely evening of good weather, people watching, and eating out unnecessarily.  You cannot blame me.  Conversation away from the interwebs and television was just too much to pass up.

If you’re work week has been like mine, but you’re not feeling an evening filled with gelato splurges, make Lebeli–because it’s super fast.

Fast and Easy Lebleli, Serves 6, Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 2 15 oz cans cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp of Lazy Bones harissa (1 T olive oil with 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground caraway, 1/2 tsp coriander, 2 crushed red peppers–I’m not that lazy bones, right?); okay, fine, if you want to make a more authentic harissa, you go ahead.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat pot and oil to medium.
  2. Add onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add water, chickpeas, cumin, and Lazy Bones Harissa.  Simmer until chickpeas and water are warmed thoroughly.  (I simmered for only about 15-20 minutes since I had canned chickpeas)
  5. Remove from heat.  Splash with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Garnishes vary greatly with lebleli.  Add hard-boiled eggs, cilantro, croutons, toasted cumin seeds, and on and on and on.  We kept it simple with a bottom layer of croutons which soaked the flavor right up.

If this dish seems too easy for you, then you should have gone running earlier.  Easy dishes like this feel like such edible God-sends during busy weeks.  Okay, fine, you can make mint tea to feel more Tunisian.

And then read about Tunisia’s delegates arriving in Baghdad for the League of Arab Nations’ conference.  Now you’ve made supper, a refreshing beverage, and read up on current events.  You are good, readers.  You are so good.

 

 

 

Categories: African Food, Beverages, Food, North African Food, Soups, Tea, Vegan | Tags: | Leave a comment

Irio {Kenya}

I got home from work late on Tuesday night.  (I almost didn’t make it home in time for New Girl, which I then forgot to watch…)  I was not strong in the Pearl Project spirit, so I was thankful that I had already planned to make a dish that was not too labor intensive.

Meet Irio.

Irio is basically a bean, corn, and potato mash with a splash of greens.  It is a common dish throughout East Africa.  There are oodles of varieties out there.  Mine included, onion, a can of yellow corn, a can of pinto beans, 3 large potatoes (boiled, then cubed), and 1 1/2 cups of finely chopped spinach.  There was some salt, pepper, and paprika involved too.  I know, I should have probably gone the extra step and made ugali (I even bought white corn meal!) with the irio.  But we had leftover rice.  And wasting food is no good.  I also added a dollop of plain yogurt to the top for a bit of extra tangyness.  Simple meal.  Not mind blowing.  But solid.

Categories: African Food, East African Food, Food, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

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!

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

Moroccan Roll {Schlada, Chickpea Couscous, and M’hanncha}

Oops! Due to storage issues, this post has been moved to a new location: http://www.therestoflhistoire.com/2012/02/11/moroccan-roll-schlada-chickpea-couscous-and-mhanncha/

See you there!

Categories: Baking, Desserts, Food, North African Food, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Cabbage and Spinach Kutendela with Mini-Sweet Potato Biscuits {Malawi}

The camera’s back!

Is this stretching anyone’s geographic knowledge?   Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeast Africa.

Though Malawi was a British colony until 1964, there are relatively few outside influences on Malawian cuisine.  Staple, such as potatoes, yucca, and millet are very important.  Beans, tomatoes, cabbage, and green vegetables also play a big role in Malawian cuisine, as do onions and peanuts.  The techniques remain quite simple.

Nsima, a type of cornmeal porridge, is the single most popular dish, I skipped over it when I saw that sweet potato biscuits were popular in the country.  Any chance I get, I will incorporate sweet potatoes into my meal.

Usually, the above pictured Mbatata are served as sweet snacks.  I used mine as bread to serve with the soup, but I can see how some drizzled frosting could be excellent with them.  What soup, you ask?  (Okay, no one asked…)

We ate Cabbage and Spinach Kutendela.

Kutendela is peanut sauce/powder, which is common in Malawi, and many other African cuisines.  The recipe is simple and fast, and eventually I learned to really enjoy the taste.

Cabbage and Spinach Kutendela (Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 T oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 head of medium cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup water+more water for thinning the peanut butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in pan on medium heat.  Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add tomato and cabbage.  Stir and saute for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add one cup of water.  Cover and let cook down under cabbage is tender.
  4. Thin peanut butter with warm water until it reaches gravy-like consistency.  Mix salt and peanut butter mixture into pan.
  5. Add spinach and stir in until wilted.

Not half bad.  But not as addicting as those little Mbatata Sweet Potato biscuits!

Categories: African Food, Breads/Starches, East African Food, Food, Soups, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

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