Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tasty Tourism Series: Flavors of Africa, Part I

One of the good things about having worked with people from different parts of the world is that I get to try many types of world cuisine without having to leave home. I remember a friend of mine from Egypt used to have us over for dinner parties. Not only would she serve us dishes from her home country (half of which I couldn't pronounce), she would come up with new ways to make 'American' foods. It was a good way to give her kids a sense of identity with their heritage while still embracing the customs of this country.

I'd love to go to Egypt and other parts of Africa but, even if I never do, I can still enjoy the food. There's really no way I can contain the number of delicious recipes I've found from a continent as massive and diverse as Africa in one post, so I hope you'll indulge me. Since some countries I mention are kind of remote, here's an interactive map-http://www.africaguide.com/afmap.htm

Here is a recipe for an Egyptian dish that has been compared to chili. This might be a good recipe to make with a friend or teenager, since there are a lot of things going on at the same time. It takes roughly 1 hour to complete.

4 cups water
1 cup pasta (elbow macaroni or small shells work best), uncooked
¾ cup long grain rice, uncooked
¾ cup brown lentils
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes
¼ tsp (or to taste) red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste

Put the lentils and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes over medium heat. Add the rice and continue to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. While the lentils and rice are cooking, cook the pasta in a separate pan with a bit of salt added to the water. Drain.

Using medium heat, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion, and cook until the onion is slightly browned. Then, add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-20 minutes. If the sauce is too chunky for your taste, you can use a blender or food processor. For a twist, add some cilantro and cumin.

Once everything is finished, put into a large serving dish and stir until evenly mixed. Serves 4.

And now, for something completely drool-worthy-

Chocolate Fondue L'Afrique
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup whipping cream
½ Amarula liqueur
a dash vanilla extract

Amarula is a fruit cream liqueur from South Africa. If you can't find this in your local package store, kahlua, Irish Cream or similar liqueurs can be used. I've also seen non-alcoholic versions of these liqueurs in the dairy section of the grocery store.

Using a fondue pot, combine the liqueur and whipping cream. Stirring, warm over medium-low heat until boiling. Then, add the chocolate chips. Lower the heat and stir until the chocolate blends in evenly. Add the vanilla and serve.

Like any sort of chocolate fondue, you want to use the lowest heat setting so that it doesn't overheat.

For more recipes from Africa, see Part II.

No comments:

Post a Comment