How to Cook Maleewa (Smoked Bamboo Shoots) video

Maleewa: Ugandan smoked bamboo shoots native to the Bugisu  region in Uganda. A detailed video showing you how to prepare this delicacy as stew.

Maleewa. This lesser known but essential food is a staple in eastern Uganda among the Bugisu region. The bamboo trees that grow around Mountain Elgon are harvested when still tender. They are then smoked and dried for preservation.  Maleewa is believed to aid in longevity and people who eat it live longer because of its nutritious value. Because of this belief, it is served  to every special visitor as a sign of respect and love and on special occasion such as weddings. Maleewa is usually cooked with either groundnut paste or simsim (sesame) paste. Preparing maleewa is not hard although the process is detailed. In order to make it easier to understand the process of preparing maleewa for cooking,  I made this video below.

 

What you will need: 

Maleewa shoots (about 2-3)

Groundnut paste (about half a cup)

1 Tsp. Baking Soda/ Rock salt

Salt

1 Tsp. Curry powder

1/2 Tsp. Black pepper (optional)

Observations

  1. Washing the maleewa till the water is clear removes the extra smokiness that may cause it to become bitter.
  2. Do not discard the hard parts/nodes of the bamboo. Instead use them alongside other vegetables to make vegetable stock. They add a unique smoky flavor.
  3. Depending on the size of the maleewa, one shoot can yield about a cup of chopped maleewa to cook with.
  4. Since groundnut stew is sensitive, it is minimally flavored. I only used curry powder, salt and pepper. You can flavor it however you want.

Method

  1. Add water in a large bowl/ pot. Add the baking soda/ rock salt. submerge your dried smoked maleewa and let it soak for about 3 hours. It can soak over night as well.
  2. After 3 hours, remove the maleewa from the soda water. Wash the maleewa gently until the water is clear. This can take up to 4 washes. Once the water is clear, drain the maleewa.
  3. Cut the soft parts of the maleewa while skipping the hard nodes. Slice the maleewa however you want to and set a side.
  4. Prepare your groundnut paste for cooking. Watch this video to see how it is made.
  5. Once the groundnut stew starts to simmer,  add the maleewa, curry powder, salt and black pepper and stir well. Let the stew simmer until it has reduced down to a thick richness.
  6. Remove from fire and serve with your favorite starch.

Have you ever had maleewa before? If yes, what was your experience.   Leave a comment below.

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Tomato Fish Stew + A Love Poem

Marinated fish in curry powder, black pepper, salt and some lemon, fried to a golden brown crisp and stewed 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.

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?

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Posho (Ugali) Video

It is time for us to talk about posho because as much as we try to deny it, it is a huge part of us as Ugandans. If you have passed through the Ugandan educational system, then you have probably had your fair share of posho (and beans) and then some! But to be honest, I have come to love posho so much that I make it on a weekly basis and I am seriously thinking of many other ways we can celebrate this high energy food. An E-Book perhaps?

I realized that sometimes it hard to put some processes into words so I have made a small video to demonstrate the basic procedure of making posho. While doing my research, I also realized that there are many ways to make posho. For example in Kenya, they prefer it a little bit harder than in Uganda while in Southern Africa (Zambia and Zimbabwe), it is preferred a little softer,  almost like a thick porridge.

Now with the above in mind here are some observations:

  1. For this video, I used yellow maize flour. Id you have white maize flour, the results will be the same. Yellow flour tastes a little different from white. This is not significant and is only noticeable if you have been eating white flour for quite some time.
  2. Make sure the water has reached boiling point before adding the flour. this will quicken the cooking process.
  3. Mingling vigorously and continuously will ensure that you don’t have lumps in your posho
  4. The mingling duration will range from 15-20 minutes. You can occasionally stop in-between mingling and cover the pan to let the steam inside cook the posho then continue.
  5. Once you are sure the posho is ready ( and doesn’t taste raw and “flourly”), you can cover the pan and reduce the fire completely so that it can cook in its own steam

Now that we have broken down the process, here is the video.

How do you make posho or its equivalent? Let me know below. Also what do you like to eat it with? I personally find it better with protein sauces and soups.