Sometimes love is not always, albeit great, chocolates, sweets and wine. Sometimes love is a warm bowl of your favorite soup, a plate of your favorite snack or the wafting aroma of the all too familiar foods you have come to develop an affection for.
Sometimes love is not a pristine bed of white sheets with crimson rose petals. Sometimes love is hurdling together in the familiar but worn couch that has seen your growth over the years and watching that film a millionth time.
Sometimes love is not eating out at that penthouse restaurant with its tres chic ambiance and view of the skyline. Sometimes love is seating on your balcony and having that warm bowl of your favorite soup, a plate of your favorite snack or the wafting aroma of the all too familiar foods you have come to develop an affection for.
Sometimes love is letting go of all socially imposed etiquette of how certain food should and shouldn’t be eaten and diving, hands bare into the most satisfying bowl of stewed fish with obundu/ akaalo/ posho [insert your favorite staple carbohydrates]
The poem above is an attempt at depicting what I felt while going through the motions of making and eventually devouring this fish stew because it hit all the right spots and brought about childhood nostalgia. Isn’t it amazing that food has the power to humble us, make us see the world differently and evoke certain emotions?! I find it intriguing. And so in this season of expressing our love to both ourselves and the people who mater to us, here is a stew that I trust will help in achieving that because it has home, comfort and warmth written all over it. Here is the process: First we marinate the fish in curry powder, black pepper, salt and some lemon juice then proceed to fry the fish to a golden brown crisp. After that we stew it in perfectly tender tomatoes with a hint of hotness by scotch bonnets (you can use either birds eye chili or akabanga) and served with your ideal mingled meal.
What you will need:
1 Large fish (tilapia, snapper), scaled, cut and thoroughly washed
8 Large tomatoes
1 Large onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 Tsp. Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Scotch bonnet
2 Tbsp. Turmeric powder
2 Tbsp. Cumin powder
2 Tsp. Coriander powder
2 Tsp. Ground bay leaves
1/2 Tsp. Ground cloves
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tsp.Ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
Oil for frying
1 cup corn flour/maize flour
- Since tomatoes are naturally sour, adding sugar neutralizes the sourness. You may need more than 1 table spoon of sugar to achieve your desired taste.
- Maize flour helps absorb the excess liquid released by the fish as it marinates and keeps the fish from sticking to the pan when frying. If you don’t have maize flour, you can use breadcrumbs instead
- Place the clean pieces of fish in a clean bowl. Add half of the turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, ground bay leaves, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground black pepper, a pinch of salt and juice of 1 lemon into the bowl with the fish.
- Mix well till all the pieces of fish are covered with the pieces. Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a separate pan, add enough cooking oil to immerse the fish. Place the pan on high fire and let the oil heat up.
- Place the maize flour on a flat plate and roll each individual piece of fish in it till well coated. Once the oil is hot, gently place the fish pieces into the oil and let them fry till golden brown and crispy.
- While the fish is frying, finely chop half of your tomatoes and set aside. Cut the other half of the tomatoes into chunks and along with the scotch bonnet and place them in a blender. Blend till pureed. If you don’t have a blender, you can make your tomato sauce a head of time using this method
- Once all the fish has been fried, set it a side. Add about a table spoon of oil in a separate pan and place the pan on medium fire.
- Add the garlic, onions, ginger and celery into the oil and let them cook till translucent. Make sure they don’t burn. Next add the finely chopped tomatoes and let them cook till tender.
- Pour your pureed tomatoes in the frying tomatoes and let them cook till they have reduced down to a thick paste and the oil has separated from it.
- Next add the remaining half of your spices (turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, ground bay leaves, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground black pepper and salt) and mix well. Add 2-3 cups of water and sugar and stir the stew well.
- Add the pieces of fried fish to the tomato stew and cover the pan. Let the stew boil for about 15 minutes. Reduce the fire and let the stew simmer till it has reduced, become thick and has oil floating on top.
- Serve hot!
What is love to you?
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November and December had me in a bread making frenzy mostly because I wanted to try out my new oven so that I can get used to having my bread baked instead of steamed. You can read more about my bread steaming adventures here here and here. I tried almost every filling that I could get my hands on. Be prepared to see more posts like this in the coming weeks. I have been trying to dry carrots so that I can get a carrot version of coconut flakes. I am far from a real breakthrough but while at it I stumbled upon this accident of where caramelized grated carrots make a delicious filling for bread, sandwiches, cookies and even cake! And not to mention the vibrant color it gives off! This swirl bread will be a crowd pleaser! Trust me.
What you will need:
3 C. Flour
4 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Yeast
2 C. Milk, warm
1/4 C. Oil
A handful of raisins
3 C. Carrots, grated
2 C. Water
1 C. Sugar
1 Tsp. Allspice
1 Tsp. Lemon zest
1 Tbsp. Margarine
1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract
- Because the margarine I used is salted, you do not need to add a pinch of salt to your carrot filling. If you are using unsalted margarine, add a pinch of salt to your carrot filling.
- Carrots when let out in the open tend to change color (oxidize). Cut the lemon in half and use one half to sprinkle them as you grate.
- This recipe is vegan friendly since you can substitute dairy milk for either coconut milk or any plant-based milk.
- It is advisable to make the carrot filling the day before.
- Remember you will not need to use all the two cups of milk so pour it in the flour gradually to avoid the dough from becoming too soggy.
- Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast raisins) in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, add the milk and oil and mix well.
- Slowly pour the milk oil mixture in the bowl of dry ingredients while mixing gradually.
- Mix till a dough is formed. Cover the dough with a damp towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour
- While the dough is rising, place a clean pan on high fire. Add the 2 cups of water and sugar into the pan. Stir well until all the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the grated carrot, juice of the other lemon half, lemon zest, allspice, vanilla and margarine and stir well
- Let the carrot mixture come to a boil. After it boils for about 5 minutes, reduce the fire to low. Cover the pan and let the carrot simmer over low heat until all the water has reduced.
- When the carrot is translucent and the water has reduced down to a syrup (this may take up to an hour), remove from fire and set aside to cool.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down and gently knead it till it is smooth and non sticky.
- Sprinkle enough flour on a flat surface and spread the dough out. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough till it is about half an inch in thickness.
- Get the cooled caramelized carrot filling and add spread it on the dough evenly.
- Roll the dough into a large log making sure the filling does not spill out.
- Slightly flatten the log with your hands and then cut it in half lengthwise.
- Grease your baking sheet/paper. Gently roll one half of the dough into a swirl going outwards. Add the other half of the dough and continue rolling until you have a large swirl bread. Let the bread rise for another 15 minutes.
- While the bread is rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
- Bake your bread (after 15 minutes of rising) for 45 minutes
- Remove the bread from the oven and serve hot with a cup of tea/ milk/ coffee
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Happy New Year Family!
Its been a minute. A long one at that! But I am Back! To think we are in 2020 is so unbelievable! Back in 2010, this year seamed so far away, so unattainable almost otherworldly but here we are and now I don’t know how to feel! How are you taking in the new year so far?
We are staring the year right with the most flavorful chips mayai. There is something about street food that despite the sanitary conditions feels like home. You are not afraid of people judgement as you bite into that rolex, as you slurp that cow leg soup, tag away at the juicy meat skewer. Because unlike high-end restaurants, street establishments are so forgiving. Very forgiving that the person next to you doesn’t matter because you paid your money and should be allowed to experience the bliss and get value for it. Yes street food is so forgiving! Which is why it is so fitting that we start this new decade with something that is reminiscent of home: Chips Mayai. Whoever invented it thought chips (fries) alone were not enough (even though chips alone have worn the world over) and decided to add almost everyone’s reason for not being completely vegan….the fried egg! Because you can never go wrong with a fried egg. And because I thought the combination of two of the worlds most delicious fried foods was not enough, yet, I decided to add mushrooms perfectly confited in sugar, salt and soy sauce because why not. This savory monstrosity is finished off with a touch of sour ketchup to balance out all that goodness. Just imagine all the right spots this chips mayai will hit! You are welcome!
What you will need:
- 4 Large Potatoes, washed and cut into chips
- 3 large eggs, whisked
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- Black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. Sugar
- 1/2 C. Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
- Oil for frying
- Place pan on medium heat. Add the frying oil and let it heat up.
- Fry the potato chips till slightly brown and cooked through. Set the potato chips aside to cool down.
- Reduce the oil to about a tablespoon. Reduce the heat to low. Add the sliced mushrooms into the oil.
- Add salt, sugar and soy sauce and mix well. Let the mushrooms slowly fry in the oil till they reduce in size and turn a deep brown (they shouldn’t burn). It should take about 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms from the oil and set aside.
- Add two more tablespoons of oil into the pan and let it heat up. Add the diced onions, half of the chopped green onions and black pepper and salt in the oil. Let them fry till browned a little. Add the fried chips. Stir well.
- Next pour in the whisked eggs. Cover the pan and let the eggs slowly cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan. Once the sides of the chips mayai has set, Use a spatula, forks/knife to carefully flip it. Let the other side cook for another 2 minutes. Flip the chips mayayi once again.
- Sprinkle the fried mushrooms on top, the remaining green onions and drizzle with ketchup.
Serve hot with a cup of tea, porridge or coffee. But if you are like me you can eat it all right of the pan and then later question your manners!
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