Yesterday Cambria shared a family recipe for African peanut stew, a celebratory dish made with beef, spices, and rich peanut butter. The classic side dish for this meal — and indeed, nearly any meal throughout much of eastern Africa — is sukuma wiki, braised greens with a very apt meaning to their name! Do you know what sukuma wiki means?
It may look like a simple cheese panini, but braaibroodjie is more than meets the eye both culturally and taste-wise. Traditionally served at the end of a South African barbecue — braai in Afrikaans — these sandwiches are usually cooked over open coals and include and unusual combination of flavors: sharp cheddar cheese, tomato, onion and a layer of fruit chutney. My twist swaps out the raw onion for smoky grilled scallions and can be made on a grill pan or outdoor grill. Crunchy and gooey with a unique savory-sweet balance, they make a great lunch or crowd-pleasing late-night snack.
I'm currently on the road, where nutritious, veggie-packed meals are few and far between, and wishing I had a few of these unusual samosas from Sarah of The Yellow House. Inspired by her travels in East Africa, they are baked instead of fried, made with whole wheat flour and lots of vegetables, and taste good hot or cold. It's an American twist on the African version of an Indian snack — intrigued?
Q: I had fasolia (string beans, carrots, caramelized onions) at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was so delicious and I want to make it at home. Does anybody have tips or a recipe to make this healthy, naturally vegan dish?
Maggi is an umami-intense all-purpose seasoning, and according to Jack Carneal in his recent article in Lucky Peach, it has come to "define the taste of Malian cuisine." Maggi is used in everything from traditional tige dege na to spaghetti sauce, and at this point, Carneal says few people remember how Malian food tastes without this mass-produced seasoning. Good or bad, it sounds like Maggi is here to stay.
The first time I had African peanut stew, I was 14 years old and staying with my aunt and uncle. They were currently living stateside, although for the last six years they'd made their home in the country formerly known as Zaire (it's now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). It was the start of what would be known for years after as "African dinner" at Auntie Dee and Uncle Terry's house. The menu was always the same: a spicy, hearty, and very fragrant peanut stew served with sukuma wiki (a traditional African kale or chard side dish), rice, and homemade chapati. It was so delicious, and it pretty much blew my adolescent mind—and palate.
Rooibos has been touted as the "miracle tea," and regardless of whether you believe such claims, it's worth getting to know this South African herb. In addition to its use as a fruity, red tisane, rooibos can even be incorporated into sweet and savory dishes.
There is only one problem with niter kibbeh: I can't stop eating it, whether I'm melting a spoonful into a pot of lentils or sneaking a dollop straight from the jar. This spiced clarified butter is the "secret ingredient" to many Ethiopian dishes, as well as anything else you can imagine using it on, from meat to eggs to vegetables. (Psst... try it on popcorn!)
It isn't always easy to find premade versions of common African spice blends like Ras el Hanout at the local supermarket, but the truth is, if you have a well-stocked spice rack, you likely have almost all the components to make these mixtures on your own. With a spice grinder and the recipes below, you can easily bring the flavors of Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt and Tunisia into your kitchen.