Red Amaranth Stew

The beginning of the week found me at the market in the wee hours of the morning. If you don’t already know, I love going to the market. It inspires most of the vegetable recipes here. I told my self this week’s recipe will be entirely based on something I found at the market. And luckily I found these red amaranth, called bbuga in Luganda. They just looked so gloriously fresh I had to just get them. Now these vegetables are tricky to prepare because they have a raw earthy smell and a taste that is sometimes repulsive. I went on the socials and asked  you asked how you would prepare them. I got a number of responses which I will be trying out since I plan on making the vegetables a staple in my diet. First off is this hearty stew that I think you will love. It is thickened with groundnut paste, flavored with ginger  and cooked in palm oil. 


What
you will need:

4 handfuls of red amaranth

1 cup diced carrots

1 Tbsp. Groundnut paste

1 green paper, diced

1 large tomato, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 Garlic clove, crushed

1Tsp. Ginger, grated

1Tbsp. Palm oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method
:

Place pan on high heat. Add oil and let it melt. Add garlic and onions and let them cook till translusent. Add the tomatoes and let them cook till soft and tender. Next add the amaranth. Stir well. Toss in the carrots, green pepper, salt and pepper and cover pan. In a bowl, dissolve the groundnut paste till runny. Add the paste in the cooking stew while stirring. Add water or stock (if you have some available). Cover pan and let the stew boil for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, reduce the fire and let the stew simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the water has reduced to half. 

Remove from fire. Serve hot with desired carbs.

Have you ever tried cooking this kind of amaranth?

Easy to make Lemongrass flavoured Uganda Bagiya

Lemongrass Maize Bagiya-2

I have, for the longest time, wondered whether dessert or anything baked/fried can be made from maize flour alone with out adding any other flour like wheat. And my recipes with maize flour on its own have failed because maize flour does not have gluten to bind it when water is added. This little triumphant experiment started out as me wanting to make churros because they seem extremely easy to make and ended up into these sweet bagiya because I have no other name for them really. Also because the sweet aroma of lemon grass is irresistible. I borrowed the churro making method but instead used plain maize flour.  These sweet bagiyas are a fun and useful way to utilize your maize flour and they make a great easy to make snack. I could not stop munching away at these.

What you will need:

1 C. Maize flour

1 C. Water

1 Tbsp. Butter/margarine

1 egg

3 Tbsp. Sugar

A handful of lemon grass leaves

½ Tsp. Vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

Oil for frying

Observation:

  1. If you are using a plastic, like I did, cut a small hole at the corner of the plastic and pipe your batter into the hot oil.
  2. If you are using a piping gun, select a nozzle with the tiniest hole and attach it to the gun.
  3. Wait for the mixture to cool down before adding the egg so that the egg does not cook.
  4. Make sure the heat is medium because maize flour burns easily.
  5. Do not over crowd the pan.

Lemongrass Maize Bagiya-5

Method:

  1. Add water to a saucepan and add the lemon grass.
  2. On high heat, bring the water to a boil.
  3. In a bowl, add maize flour, sugar and salt and mix.
  4. Once the water has boiled and has released a sweet fragrant aroma, remove from fire and sieve the lemongrass leaves.
  5. Pour the hot water immediately into the flour mixture and mix until there is no flour visible.
  6. Add the vanilla and butter and mix well.
  7. Set the mixture aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
  8. After the ‘posho’ has cooled down, add the egg and mix till a clear batter is achieved.
  9. Place your batter in a plastic/Piping gun and pipe into hot oil.
  10. Fry the bagiya till golden brown.
  11. Remove the bagiya from the oil and drain.

Lemongrass Maize Bagiya-4

 

Let them cool then snack away!

Gingered Fresh Bean Pasta with Bitter Berries (katunkuma)

beanpasta-8a

I am a pasta lover and i will eat anything that is called pasta.About a week back, I was strolling through Kampala and passed by women selling fresh beans for 1000 Ugx a cup. I thought to myself, that is a good bargain! So I bought a cup and guess what I made with it? And…you are right! I cooked the beans in the pasta…err…the pasta in the fresh beans. Who doesn’t love the that beautiful savory filling taste of fresh beans. Without adding too much seasoning, I decided to cook the pasta in the bean soup, added in some fresh ginger, a handful of bitter berries (katunkuma/butakala) for a bitter kick, and garnished it with coriander.

Did I mention it is a one-pot meal too? If washing dishes is not your favorite thing to do, this is for you.

What you will need:

1 C. Fresh beans

250gm. Pasta noodles

A handful of bitter berries (katunkuma/butakala)

3 Small red onions, chopped

½ Tbsp. Ginger grated

1 Carrot, grated

A handful of fresh coriander

Salt and pepper to taste

beanpasta-5

Observations:

  1. If you want your dish soupy, add more water
  2. While the beans boil, the water may reduce. Keep adding water to retain the aromatic soup
  3. Adding bitter berries later prevents them from overcooking.

Method

  1. Wash fresh beans and place them in a saucepan.
  2. Add enough water to cover the beans by two inches.
  3. Place pan on high heat. Let the beans boil.
  4. When the beans start turning a grey color, add the ginger, onions, carrot and salt.
  5. Cover pan and let the beans continue cooking.
  6. Once the beans start releasing an inviting aroma (trust me, you will know) and have softened, add the pasta and bitter berries and let the pasta cook.
  7. Keep stirring so the noodles don’t clump together.
  8. When the pasta is cooked, add the black pepper and coriander and remove from fire.
  9. Serve this refreshing, simple, and easy dish hot.

In case you are wondering, I downed two bowls right away!

What do you call the small bitter berries in your language?

beanpasta-7a