Rich and Spicy Dodo (Green Amaranth) Shakshuka

Rich tomato base shakshuka with nutrient packed Dodo  (amaranth/callaloo) and a bit of heat from scotch bonnets. Perfect for a low-carb meal. This shakshuka uses dodo, a vegetable that is readily available in most Ugandan backyards.
As a person who lives in Jamaica, one recurring question is:  Is the food the same in ‘Africa’. And in response I have to teach a crash course on how Africa is a massive continent and how we East Africans do not know much about West African food and vice versa. To be honest I have learned more about Nigerian and Ghanaian food while here, which makes sense since West Africa shares the Atlantic Ocean with Jamaica  and we all know what happened during the transatlantic slave trade.  Being here has also put into perspective how massive and diverse our continent is and it’s mind boggling to think that each and every ethnicity has its own way of life.
I normally  shy away from foods of other ethnicities because I do not want to do then an injustice  which is why it took me so long to get on the shakshuka bandwagon. Morocco  is a world of its own that I know nothing about aside from the basic geographic location. And it’s not Morocco but each and every African country. With that said, making shakshuka is my attempt to peek inside this vibrant and colorful nation and it’s uniqueness in flavor and texture.
In this dish, I use dodo ( amaranth) because it is a a super vegetable (it inspired the writing of this Vegetarian e-Book ) with its availability, versatility and ability to withstand harsh conditions. So if you have some dodo growing in the backyard, pluck those leave and make this shakshuka. It will change the way you view dodo.
What you will need:
4 Handfuls of Dodo, chopped and washed
6 Medium Tomatoes
1 C. Water
1 Large onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 Large green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 Scotch bonnet (or any hot spice you prefer)
1 Tsp. Cumin, ground
1 Tbsp. Curry powder
1/2 Tsp. Smoked paprika
1/2 Tsp. Black pepper
3 eggs
Salt
2 Tbsp. Oil
Observations
  • Let the pureed tomatoes cook till all the water has reduced and it has a rich and thick consistency.
  • I prefer my eggs fully cooked so I let the shakshuka simmer a little longer.
Method
  1. Roughly dice the tomatoes and place them in the blender along with the scotch bonnet/ spice of choice. Add the 1 cup of water and blend till pureed.  Set aside.
  2. In a clean pot, add the cumin, curry powder, paprika and black pepper. Place pot on high heat for about 5 seconds. Add oil.
  3. Reduce the heat and add the garlic and onions. Le them cook till they are translucent. Next add the green pepper and and salt and stir well.
  4. Add the blended tomatoes and let them cook till they have reduced and thickened.
  5. Add the dodo into the tomato mix. Let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Using a ladle, create three wells in the  shakshuka. Crack each of the eggs in each well.
  7. Cover the pan and let the skakshuka simmer on low fire until the eggs have cooked to your preference.
  8. Remove from fire. Serve hot.

This particular one was served with chapati. You can also eat it on its own, with bread, fried plantain, yam, cassava or any carbohydrate of choice.

Have you made shakshuka before?

Share your creations using the #AkitchenInUg on social media.

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.
Share you creations using #AkitchenInUg

Pumpkin Amaranth Stew + My Thoughts on Dieting

I have been listening to the podcast Eat Capture Share lately and I have learnt a lot from it. I found out about Kimberly (the creative behind the podcast and The Little Plantation) during the Saveur Magazine Blogger Nominations a few months ago. I have learnt a lot of food photography and life tips  from her.  About two weeks ago I listened to the Eat Capture Share Episode 7 and it made me think about a lot of issues in the food space especially as a Ugandan food blogger. The episode is about dieting and intuitive eating. I have seen diet culture all over the social media and even in movies. But as Christy talked about dieting, and how niche food bloggers can consciously or subconsciously push it and its psychological effect on readers and followers, I was intrigued. Intrigued that from my background, it is quite the opposite. Please correct me if I am wrong.  In Uganda, the concept of food blogging is still relatively new let alone niche food blogs. Dieting too is unknown to the regular Ugandan. I was greatly surprised when in the podcast they mentioned that it is poor people who eat “badly”. In Uganda and possibly most sub-Saharan countries, poor people eat “better” than the rich people because they have a limited access to all the finer things in life like supermarkets, packaged and processed foods and sweetened foods. This made me think about the food that I talk about here. I know that as a blogger I have a responsibility to you to be honest and ethical about the food I share. I always emphasize that all the food posted on this blog and my social media accounts is food I eat and make for my family.  My hope and aim with this blog is to inspire you to look at food in a different way and discover the endless possibilities of local Ugandan cuisine. Which is why often times I will not write about mainstream restaurant food because I know that kind of food is uncommon to a regular Ugandan (myself included) and is usually a once in a a while treat. Contrary to what Christy says in the episode, you will find processed foods and meats expensive (unless you rear your own animals) and vegetables cheaper. If anything shopping in supermarkets is associated with wealth and a higher social status in Uganda.

Surprisingly I was making this exact soup while listening to the podcast and it was  just the right timing. This soup is completely vegetarian, vegan even (depending on who is reading this). And I didn’t set out to make it vegetarian by intention. It is food like this that you will find me eating and making for my family because it is relatively easier and “cheaper” to access than let’s say a steak, a pizza, take out etc.

This stew is rich, savory aromatic and hearty with a spicy kick from the chili oil. It is ideal for these rainy moody last days of the year. I think I have made it four times in a row in the past few weeks.  You wont even realize that it is loaded with a lot of dodo/ callaloo!

 

What you will need:

4 C. Pumpkin, cut in chunks

2 C. Amaranth greens/ Dodo/ Callaloo. coarsely chopped

1/2 C. Coconut milk

1 Large Onion, chopped

3 Garlic cloves, minced

1 Tsp. Ginger, minced

2 Tbsp. Soy sauce

Salt

Black pepper

chili oil (Optional)

1 Tbsp.  Oil

2 C. Water

 

Observation.

  1. If you cannot access coconut milk, substitute it with groundnut paste or peanut butter. The taste will be a little different though but still very flavorful and rich.
  2. The two cups of water will be used to make the soup. You can substitute the water with vegetable or chicken stock.
  3. Depending on the consistency you desire, you may need more or less water/stock. Keep in mind that as the stew simmers, the pumpkin will continue to disintegrate causing the stew to thicken.

 

Method

  1. Place the pan on high heat. Add the oil.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and fry till an aroma is released. Add the onion and cook till translucent.
  3. Next add the pumpkin chunks and mix till they are well coated with the aromatic garlic, ginger and onion.
  4. Add a quarter cup of water and cover the pan. Let the pumpkin cook for about 10 minutes or until slightly cooked through.
  5. Once the 10 minutes are over, remove the cover from the pan and add the amaranth greens/dodo/callaloo, chili oil, soy sauce, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
  6. Add the coconut milk and mix well. Finally add the rest of the water.
  7. Reduce the fire and let the stew simmer on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove from fire once a thick bubbling stew is formed.
  9. Serve hot with your favorite carbohydrates (posho, rice, yams, potato etc)

Please if you have time go listen to the episode and come back  so we can have a conversation. What do you think about dieting in Uganda or Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole?