Loaded Bean and Dodo (Amaranth) Salad

Starting this blog, I was young and naive. All I knew is that I wanted to cook exciting, interesting and delicious food. Years later,  I now understand the value of food, using local produce,  using fresh produce and being creative.  This salad was conceived after binge watching the amazing Fat Salt Acid Heat docu-series. I was blown away by the beauty of how the most basic of ingredients yield some of the best flavors.  When you think of beans and dodo and potatoes individually, a salad rarely comes to your mind.  But when the same ingredients are transformed through different techniques, what you get is a beautiful vibrant salad that is so satisfying and complex in flavors.  This is one of the main reasons I keep slaving away in the kitchen like a mad woman because the ecstasy of discovering something else a common produce can be is unmatched! I had a hard time naming this salad because it has dodo,  masala potatoes, sweet and charred carrots,  beans, green onions for a spicy kick, pumpkin seeds for a crunch and a sprinkle of cheese to marry all the flavors together. This would have made a really long title. Ha!
What you will need: 
1 C. Beans, boiled and drained
1C. Potatoes, cut into wedges
1 C. Carrots, julienned
A handful of dodo(amaranth greens), steamed
1/4 C. Green onions, chopped
1/4 C. Nuts
1/4 C. Cheese, grated (optional)
Juice from half an orange
1 Tsp. Soy sauce
1 Tsp. Ground cumin
1 Tsp. curry powder
1/2 Tsp. chili flakes
Black pepper
Salt
Observations: 
  1. Using cheese is optional.
  2. Use salt carefully keeping in mind that all the individual salted components will be combined. With that said, I salted only the potatoes. Then sprinkled salt on the finished salad.
  3. You can use any type of beans. I used red beans.
  4. You can use any nuts available to you.
  5. I recommend a non-stick pan to avoid burning
Method:
  1. Place a pan on fire, Wait for it to get hot. Add about a teaspoon of oil.
  2. Add the potato wedges. Shallow fry the wedges till half way cooked. Make sure you keep stirring to avoid burning.
  3. After they reach the half-way cooked point, add the salt, cumin, curry powder and black pepper and mix well. Let them cook till tender.
  4. Remove the potatoes from fire and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan, add a half teaspoon of oil.
  6. Add the carrots to the oil. Add the juice of half an orange.
  7. Let the carrots  shallow fry till the orange juice has reduced to a thick sauce and the carrots start to slightly char.
  8. Remove the carrots from the pan and set aside.
  9. Using the same pan still, add half a teaspoon of oil and saute the green onions.
  10. Add the soy sauce, and chili flakes to the frying onions.
  11. Fry the onions till they turn a bright green but still have a crunch.
  12. Remove the onions from fire
To assemble the salad
Layer the salad by starting with the boiled beans. Next add the potatoes. Next add the steamed dodo. Add the caramelized carrots on top. Next add the onions. Sprinkle your nuts/seeds on top. Finish off with grated cheese.
Serve with a glass of wine or iced tea.
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5 Star Dining at Chapter Two – Skyz Hotel 

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When you think of 5 Star Dining, it is very rare that Uganda will come to your mind. But with economic growth and technological advancements, Kampala is gradually changing the definition of luxury dining and accommodation. One of the major key players is Skyz Hotel. A hotel that’s relatively new on the scene but one  that has amassed great reviews already. Last week I was keen on finding out what was so amazing about this new place and honestly I was blown away.

Follow this link to read more in depth about the hotel and it’s offerings.

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Skyz Hotel lives up to its name by situating itself on the highest hill in Kampala. It also boasts of having one of the few 5 Star Restaurants in Kampala called Chapter Two, which provides quite the dining experience. Chapter Two has a bright airy and luxurious feel to it.  Because pictures do not do it any justice, you should go see the exquisite restaurant yourself.

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At Chapter Two,  they have a vibrant and colorful menu that made it hard for me to select what I wanted to eat (I wanted to sample everything!). You can order from a range of their perfectly crafted salads for a light but fulfilling meal or you can go all in for a full three course meal.

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For starters, I ordered Thai sweet chilli soy chicken. It came with a very colorful mango salad. The chicken was tender and juicy and was perfectly seasoned. The sweet chili sauce helped bring all the flavors together really well. The salad was the perfect  cool and sweetness with a hint of tang which complimented the chicken well.  For the main meal,  I ordered goat stew. It came with chapati and steaming hot rice.  The goat meat was tender and flavorful. All this was washed down with a refreshing fruit juice cocktail.

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I had the chance to sit down with the restaurant’s  Sous Chef, Patrick. He explained that the menu is specifically crafted to cater to the hotel’s international client base. Most of the dishes on the menu are fusion which makes it interesting and definitely worth a try. Patrick, who was really fun to talk to, was generous enough to give us an exclusive kitchen tour.

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Skyz Hotel has a fully functional kitchen with industrial grade equipment. The kitchen is divided into a hot kitchen; where all the hot food is prepared, a cold kitchen; where all cold food like salads are prepared and a pastry kitchen; where all the divine cakes and heavenly pastries are made. The kitchen has multiple cold rooms which are neatly sectioned to store meat, dairy, vegetables, fruits, and cooked food separately. All these the Sous Chef walked us through while explaining every big and small detail. The kitchen layout is functional enough to allow easy movement in and out. In addition to Patrick, all the  kitchen staff were really nice and warm which was a fantastic way to end the tour.

I had never stepped in a restaurant kitchen before so this was a pleasant dream come true.

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Visit Chapter Two to experience 5 Star dining at its finest.

They have Asian fusion night on Fridays  at 100,000 per person.

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They have brunch on Sundays at 70,000 per person.

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And since today is Valentine’s Day, there is a special offer. It will involve couple’s dinner and music from prominent Ugandan Musicians. It is at 300,000. This would be a great way to pamper your loved ones.

You can also choose to have dinner, music, bedroom and breakfast for $200USD.

Skyzhotel.com

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @SkyzHotel  to book yours.

Sautéed Garlic Wheat Pumpkin Bowl

Hello AKIU Family! It’s been long. A lot has been going on. I moved, sold off my kitchen stuff and now I’m starting off from the ground. In the midst of all the chaos, I have lost valuable things, broke a glass or two, and sold off my plates, cups and the largely talked about toaster! Tupperware has been the order of the day months! One of the crazy things that happened was eating out of a pumpkin. It actually worked for me because for a moment I did not have to worry about washing the plates! But all jokes aside, this meal is the definition of comfort with some spice thrown in there.

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While in Fort portal about three months ago, I was gifted with this locally grown organic wheat. This wheat is so tasty. When we boiled the first batch, half of it was eaten out of the pan plain. It is that good.

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The first thing that came to my mind (after eating the plain one) was a wheat stir-fry or a sauté. And that is what I ended up doing. This power pumpkin bowl is loaded with a lot of flavour, texture and nutrients that are really good for you. I recommend trying cooking and eating out of a pumpkin.

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So here is what is going on in this massive bowl: A steamed/boiled-to-tenderness pumpkin bowl, filled with savoury garlicky sautéed organic wheat, topped with avocado slices and crowned with crunchy fried garlic chips and then sprinkled with roast pumpkin seeds and simsim (you didn’t think I would leave it out, did you?).

What you will need:

1 mature pumpkin

2 C Wheat, soaked overnight, boiled till soft and drained

1 Small Cabbage, diced

1 medium avocado, ripe

1 Large purple onion

1 chicken broth cube

Salt

Black pepper

Oil for frying

Pumpkin seeds

Roast simsim (sesame)

3 Garlic cloves, finely crushed and chopped

4 Garlic cloves for chips

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Observations:

Use a mature pumpkin that has hardened skin. It will not fall apart even after the flesh is cooked.

 

Method:

  1. Cut pumpkin in half. Remove guts and seeds. Don’t throw away the seeds. In a pan larger than the pumpkin, place water and bring to a boil. Wash the pumpkin well and gently place the half you intend to use in the boiling water. Cover the pan and let the pumpkin boil till the flesh is soft when a fork is inserted in. Remove from fore and set aside to cool
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat oil. Add the crushed garlic. And let it brown a little. Add the cabbage and let it wilt a little. Next add the boiled wheat grains and stir till well combined. Add salt, black pepper and crush the broth cube in the pan. Keep some of the water used to boil the wheat and add spoon by spoon to keep the wheat from burning. Keep stirring till the cabbage is almost cooked but still crunchy. Remove from fire.
  3. For the pumpkin seeds, remove them from the guts and then wash they well. Place in a frying pan with about a teaspoon of water, some salt and black pepper. Keep stirring till they are fully dry, golden brown and have puffed up a little. It will take about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Peel the remaining 4 garlic chips without crushing them. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice them crosswise. On medium heat, place pan and add oil. Let the oil get extremely hot. Add the chips to the oil. Let them fry till they release an aroma and turn a golden brown but not fully burnt.

 

To assemble

Get the boiled half of the pumpkin. Make sure it is still warm to the touch. Fill it up with the fried wheat. Thinly slice the avocado and arrange some slices on top of the wheat. Add the roasted pumpkin chips and the garlic chips. Finally sprinkle with roasted simsim (sesame).

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Serve hot, preferably with a group of friends or family on chilly day.

 

 

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I cannot wait for when I get my hands on another good pumpkin and equally great wheat to make this again especially now that the weather is gloomy!

Till next week!

Have you eaten out of a food shelling before?