Saturday, 4 January 2014

Top 10 Recipes For Great African Eats

1. Chicken Piri Piri; Mozambique
The most popular episode yet of bad-boy chef Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations series on the Travel Channel, now in its eighth season, was his visit to Mozambique.  The cuisine of this southeast African republic pops with flavors drawn from Brazil and India, Portugal and the Middle East. We’re talking tiger prawns, clams, crayfish, chicken, rice, tomatoes, avocados, string beans and pineapple. So, what’s for dinner?  How about whipping up the dish that made Bourdain drool – charcoal-grilled Chicken Piri Piri? CLICK FOR RECIPE.

2. Fonio Salad; Senegal

Sénégal’s cuisine is a delectable mélange of French, Portuguese, North African and Wolof (people originally from the Sahara). Fish, lamb, chicken, beef (no pork, as population is mainly Muslim), rice, black-eyed peas, peanuts, lentils, couscous, eggplant and sweet potatoes are all integral to its cooking. Star Sénégalese-born chef and cookbook author (Yolele!) Pierre Thiam (Iron Chef contender and owner of Pierre Thiam Catering) brings us an amazing salad recipe made with a highly-nutritious, gluten-free grain called fonio. Pierre says, “Fonio (Digitaria exilis) has been grown in Africa for centuries. It’s rich in methionine and cysteine, two amino acids that are vital to human health, and that are deficient in today’s major cereals.” CLICK FOR RECIPE.

3. Grilled Chambo Fish; Malawi

Malawian cuisine is based on the starch staple Nsima and its companion dish Ndiwo. Malawi produces fine tea too. And while this southeast African Republic is landlocked, its dominant feature is shimmery Lake Malawi, containing the greatest number of fish species in any fresh water body in the world – some 1300 species, most endemic.  For fish foodies it’s hard to beat the lake catch of the day, fresh-grilled on the shore, particularly the ever-so-popular national favorite, Chambo. We asked magician-like chef Rich of Kaya Mawa, one of Malawi’s renowned resorts, to give us a recipe for this delicacy, and he graciously complied. Cooks can substitute bass or tilapia. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

4. Bunny Chow; South Africa

The story goes, as told by editor Zurie, that during the Great Depression, poor white, Chinese and Indian children in Durban discovered that the cheapest food available was a curry made from sugar beans and sold for a under a penny by a vegetarian Indian caste called (in local slang) Bania. Because plates were too expensive, one inventive kid hollowed out a quarter loaf of bread, stuffed it with the bean curry, and then used the dug-out bread as an eating utensil. The ubiquitous South African street food called Bania Chow (chow was the word the Chinese used for food) was born, a name that later morphed into Bunny Chow. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

5. Grilled Lamb Chops with Rice and Pita Chips; Egypt

Egyptian cuisine features high-quality legumes and vegetables from the fertile Nile valley and delta.  Yet, oddly enough, what became Egypt’s favorite fare, Kushari, originated from the British army more than a century ago. Its ingredients derive from other outside sources – rice from Asia, pasta from Italy, and tomatoes from Latin America. All these goodies were mixed with garlic, chickpeas, lentils, and caramelized onions (and who can resist them?) and voila! A delicious and nutritious luncheon dish was born. But the dish served at all celebrations in Egypt is the rice and meat dish called Fatta. Our recipe comes from the only Egyptian restaurant ever to be reviewed and given a star from the New York Times, 20-year-old Casa La Femme in NYC, where everyone in the kitchen is Egyptian and has known this dish since their grandmothers or mothers cooked it for them. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

6. Mushroom Soup; Kenya

With its Indian Ocean coastline, fertile farmland, as well as its fresh and saltwater lakes, Kenya is a cornucopia of fish, fruits and vegetables; rice and wheat, meats; farmed coffee and tea, and locally-brewed beer. A favorite local dish is Nyama Choma made with open fire-roasted beef or goat, served with a variety of veggies, and a hot or cold beverage – typically Kenya coffee or tea, or crisp Tusker beer. But goats and pits not being so handy, we opted to include a recipe from the legendary Fairmont Norfolk Hotel, the establishment around which Nairobi the town and later Nairobi the city grew up. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

7. Braised Cabbage; Tanzania

The yummy cooking of Tanzania varies widely and has been influenced by the many people who migrated from India to this East African nation. Many might know that Tanzania is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater, tropical beaches and game-rich bush.  But it is also were you’ll find spicy, flavorful Indian-style that is  widespread in the coastal areas of Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Pemba – think curry powder, coconut milk, samosas, and the flatbread known as chapati. Indigenous mainland staples are mealiepap (a porridge made of maize), rice and potatoes, and veggies such as beans, peas, spinach and okra, fish and meat, and fruits like pineapple, mangoes and bananas. Here’s a great side dish to pep up any dinner fare. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

8. Lamb Tagine; Morocco

Morocco is not only the land of America’s favorite movie, Casablanca, of fabled Marrakech, of exotic and ancient Fez, and of the stunning Atlas Mountains, it’s home to a wondrous, refined cuisine that’s a mix of Berber, Arab, French and Spanish influences. Foods most identified with this North African nation are couscous and tagine, a Berber dish named after the pot it’s cooked in, a charming earthenware vessel with a conical top to retain moisture and a shallow round base that goes right on the table. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

9. Roast Pork Sirloin; South Africa

Culinary adventures in South Africa run the gamut from the aforementioned messy-fingered affair called bunny chow to the Cape Malay delicacy bobotie, and such high-falutin’ dishes as springbok carpaccio served with truffle remoulade. And the wines?  Mwah! South Africa is a wine lover’s paradise, largely because the French Huguenots who settled there in the 17th century brought vines from their homeland and the know-how to cultivate them. South Africa is renowned for its plethora of excellent hotels and restaurants (and game reserves) serving first-class food.  One such is the Steenberg Hotel & Winery in Constantia just outside Cape Town, where award-winning executive chef Garth Almazan created this mouth-watering dish. CLICK FOR RECIPE.

10. Salade Méchouia; Tunisia

Oh, Tunisia! Oh, that Mediterranean diet!  It’s healthy and delicious and based on a dairy-less “sun cuisine” – bursting with flavors of olive oil and honey, tomatoes and peppers, fish and seafood; spices, eggs and meat (except pork because of Sharia law). The Tunisian cooking pot is filled with tasty bits from neighboring countries, from those who ruled it – Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French – and from the desert-dwelling Berbers. A mix like this promises originality and a bit of a kick. A favorite first course is a grilled vegetable salad called méchouia. The recipe below is from “A. Cook” via CLICK FOR RECIPE.

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