Fire Roasted Maize with Kachumbari
Maize is a staple in the Kenyan diet and is enjoyed across the country in various forms. Walking through the streets of almost any Kenyan city or town, you will come across a street vendor selling roasted maize to hungry passersby. Added to Kachumbari (a Kenyan fresh tomato and onion salad), the sweetness of the maize, acidity of the onion and tang of the tomato make a vibrant and delicious dish.
Makes 3 servings
3 ears of fresh green maize or sweet corn, husks removed
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup red onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 small green chilies, deseeded and finely chopped, optional
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Submerge the green maize or sweet corn cobs in a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Drain water and allow cobs to cool until they can be handled.
Season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the maize over a cooker’s open flame and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes on all sides or until the kernels are charred to your liking.
Remove and cool. Cut the kernels off the cob. Combine the corn, tomatoes, onions, coriander, lemon juice and chilies (if using). Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Stewed Beef and Matoke Gnocchi
Matoke (plantains) are green cooking bananas popular in the South Western and Eastern regions of Kenya. Transformed into pasta, it can be enjoyed with a hearty beef stew.
Makes 4 servings
500g white potatoes, peeled and cubed
500g matoke, peeled, cubed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
200g plain flour
450g beef, cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 beef stock cube
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 small carrots, sliced
2 small courgettes, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 or 2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornflour
Boil matoke and potatoes separately then in a large bowl, combine equal amounts of both and mash well. Add eggs, salt, pepper and mix well, then add flour and knead until smooth and elastic. Coat the dough lightly with flour then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Dust a clean surface with flour, unwrap dough and shape into a long wide rectangle then cut into 8 – 10 pieces of about 4 inches long. Roll each piece by gently pushing with fingers. Using a non-serrated knife, cut dough ropes into 1-inch pieces. To prevent sticking, keep pieces separate and place gnocchi on a flat surface in a cool area. Toss them with extra flour while waiting to be cooked.
In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add meat and cook until evenly browned, then remove and set aside. In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil then sauté onions and garlic for 2 minutes on low-medium heat. Add salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, allspice, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock cube, tomato puree and bay leaves. Mix well and simmer for 2 minutes. Add browned meat and water. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Add carrots and courgettes. Cover and cook for 20 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 tablespoons of hot liquid and in a separate bowl, combine with ⅓ cup water and cornflour, mix until smooth then return mixture to pot. Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until bubbly. Cover and turn off heat.
Place the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water in 3 batches. As soon as a batch starts to rise to the surface, take it out. Once all 3 batches are cooked, add fresh coriander to the stewed beef and serve on a bed of matoke gnocchi.
Saffron and Cashew Nut Kashata
Much like a Bounty bar without the chocolate, Kashata is a popular sweet from the Kenyan coast. Falling somewhere between cookie and candy, this dessert is usually made with desiccated coconut or peanut, or both. With no oven required, Kashata is quick and easy to make. This Swahili dish is traditionally served with strong black coffee.
Makes 12 – 15 balls
250g fine desiccated coconut
100g fine desiccated coconut, for coating
395g can of sweet condensed milk
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cashew nut
A few strands of saffron
Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of whole milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes to infuse.
In a large pot, mix the desiccated coconut, saffron infused milk, sweet condensed milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon or cardamom and cashew nut. Cook over low heat while stirring every half a minute for about 5 minutes.
Cool, spoon a tablespoon of the sticky mixture into the palm of your hand and shape into small ball. Repeat the process until you have used up all the mixture.
One by one roll the balls in the desiccated coconut to form an even coating.