Sunday, January 10, 2010

Get some grub up ya

Late 2009 sparked a bit of a culinary experimentation mode for the Love Den inhabitants, thanks to a birthday present of one of the most amazing cookbooks I've owned - SBS' Food Safari. The show is pretty cool, but the book is a great romp through the ethnic colours and flavours that Australia's multicultural base has granted us. I almost immediately got hooked on the wholesome and exotic sounds which the melting pot of African cuisine presented, and so kick off the journey with a homely meal of Mahindi Ya Naz (corn in coconut sauce), which, the book explains, is typical on the Swahili Coast. It suggested combining this with suqaar, a Somalian meat and tomato stir-fry and mahamri (or Swahili buns) - sweetened, deep fried breads.

First up, I whacked all the ingredients for the buns into a bowl and set aside to raise for a bit. The main flavour here is the sweet cardamom, which tempers the slightly sticky and doughy bread. When ready, the dough is shaped and

lightly deep fried to achieve a very slight crust and golden texture. (The Tiger gave the remains of the mahamri-dough a Japanese flavour by
inserting small balls of red bean paste before deep frying - which was

The corn was next on the chopping block, simmered gently for 10-15 minutes in tomato puree mix with coconut milk powder (which is surprisingly hard to source).
To be honest, I found the mix rather wasteful, as 90% of the flavoursome elements remained behind in the saucepan come eating time, but whatever. It was an interesting way to prepare a rather bland and unimaginative veg.

The suqaar was a fairly straight-forward and no-nonsense stir fry of red meat (we chose lamb) with some capsicum and finished with tomato puree. When served up you could tell this was not haute cuisine, but neither did it even pretend to be. You could see thousands of African mums whipping out this old gold standard as quickly as any Moonee Ponds mum would reach for the safety blanket of rissoles and mash on a tired Tuesday eve.

The experimentation has continued since then, with The Tiger admittedly taking over the culinary goddess duties. We'll blog the highlights from time to time.


'Angelprovocateur' said...

Well done! Sounds and looks good!! The bread looks like the highlight. Did any of the recipes make it to your daily repertoire?

Dr Yobbo said...

Nice. Kinda reassuring to see comfort food is still comfort food no matter what end of the world you hail from!

Albion Love Den said...

TBH, they were all a little too fiddly to make it into the weekly routine. Fiddly is good, but without the flavour or excitement rewards, it's a little disappointing.

I'd probably go the bread again, but it is rather tacky and oily.

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