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?

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Pumpkin and Egg Fried Rice

December is upon us! I feel like I say this every time a new month approaches. It is only because time is really flying by so fast and I cannot keep up! Can you believe that in less than 30 days we will be in 2019. I cannot believe it yet! The festivities are officially in full swing. Even I can feel it. I ended up making steamed cinnamon rolls(I don’t have an oven) in the middle of last week in my InstaStories. Follow me on Instagram (@akitcheninuganda) to see more of the behind the scenes and random musings. Anyhow in the spirit of the holidays, I present you with this pumpkin and egg fried rice. This fried rice is ideal for a quick meal fix or for brunch because it is honestly easy to put together. If you have some pumpkin in your kitchen, you have to try this.

 

What you will need:

2 C. Pumpkin, cubed

4 C. Cooked rice

2 Large Eggs

1 Large Green pepper, diced

1 Large onion, diced,

1 Tsp. Garlic, minced

1 Tsp. Ginger, minced

1 Tbsp. Soy sauce

1 Spring of thyme

Salt

Black pepper

1 Tbsp. Oil

 

Observations:

  1. I used a young pumpkin with a tender cover. If your pumpkin has a hard cover, you will have to remove it.
  2. This is how I made my rice. If you have a variety of vegetables, you can add them for more texture and flavor.
  3. Aside from thyme, garlic, ginger and black pepper, I didn’t add any more spices. The rice is colored yellow from the pumpkin.

 

Method

  1. Place pan on medium heat. Add Oil.
  2. Next add the cubed pumpkin and the sprig of thyme. Let the pumpkin shallow fry.
  3. While pumpkin is cooking, crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk them.
  4. Once the pumpkin has cooked through (this may take 5 – 7 minutes) remove it from the pan and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan and flavored oil, make scrambled eggs.
  6. Return the pumpkin to the pan with the scrambled eggs.
  7. Next add the onion, garlic, ginger and green pepper. Mix till an aroma is released. Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper and mix well.
  8. Next add the rice and mill till well incorporated.
  9. Serve hot.

What are your plans this December?

Use the #AkitchenInUg to share your creations.

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?