Tomato Fish Stew + A Love Poem

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

Salt

Juice of 1 lemon

Oil for frying

1 cup corn flour/maize flour

Observations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Mix well till all the pieces of fish are covered with the pieces.  Set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. In a separate pan, add enough cooking oil to immerse the fish. Place the pan on high fire and let the oil heat up.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Serve hot!

What is love to you?

Share your creations using the #AkitchenInUg on social media

Caramelized Carrot Swirl Bread

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:

Bread Dough

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

Carrot Filling

3 C. Carrots, grated

2 C. Water

1 Lemon

1 C. Sugar

1 Tsp. Allspice

1 Tsp. Lemon zest

1 Tbsp. Margarine

1/2 Tsp Vanilla extract

 

Observations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  This recipe is vegan friendly since you can substitute dairy milk for either coconut milk or any plant-based milk.
  4. It is advisable to make the carrot filling the day before.
  5. 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.

Method

Bread dough

  1. 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.
  2. Slowly pour the milk oil mixture in the bowl of dry ingredients while mixing gradually.
  3. Mix till a dough is formed. Cover the dough with a damp towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour

Carrot Filling

  1. 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.
  2. Add the grated carrot, juice of the other lemon half, lemon zest, allspice, vanilla and margarine and stir well
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Swirl Bread

  1. When the dough has risen, punch it down and gently knead it till it is smooth and non sticky.
  2. 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.
  3. Get the cooled caramelized carrot filling and add spread it on the dough evenly.
  4. Roll the dough into a large log making sure the filling does not spill out.
  5. Slightly flatten the log with your hands and then cut it in half lengthwise.
  6. 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.
  7. While the bread is rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  8. Bake your bread (after 15 minutes of rising) for 45 minutes
  9. Remove the bread from the oven and serve hot with a cup of tea/ milk/ coffee

Share your creations using the #AkitchenInUg on social media!

Homemade Hibiscus Juice Video

Guys! Is anyone experiencing the heat wave? It’s sweltering that the thought on having hot lunches doesn’t sound appealing anymore! The showers are cold, blankets are packed (tossed to the side really!) and sandals and toes are out! This weekend I had to make a big bowl of fusili pasta, carrot and cucumber salad with a chilled jug of orange juice for lunch just to help us cool down. Any chance I get to pour cold water on my face I take it gleefully! One of the few ways I have been cooling down is by making large batches of this refreshing fragrant sorrel (hibiscus) juice. It is a life saver, a good base for cocktails and mocktails  and all the frozen treats you can think of.

 Isn’t it  amazing that the simple process of drying flowers can yield so much flavor and color?! I had so much fun experimenting with  and making this juice. The great part about this drink is that it is versatile. When cold,  you can freeze it up and have it as a sorbet, granita,  ice candy etc.  When hot it makes really great tea which is perfect for the rainy weather  when it comes!
Find the video for making this simple but very satisfying juice below.

Have you tried making your own hibiscus/ sorrel drink? How are you coping with the heat?