Wednesday, September 23, 2009

September 2009 - Sri Lanka

This month's challenge is the island country of Sri Lanka, home to around twenty million people. The food of Sri Lanka is hot and spicy. The base food of the inhabitants of the island is rice which they consume with curry which is both vegetable and fish based. The cuisine of Sri Lanka draws influence from that of India, as well as colonists and foreign traders. As with many of the countries in the area, Sri Lankans traditionally eat with their right hands.

Our menu for the Sri Lankan evening is:
  • Sri Lankan Rolls
  • Home made Rootis
  • Beef Curry and Rice
  • Sri Lankan Love cake

This was probably one the most successful evening yet. Sri Lanka rolls are a curried vegetable (potato and carrot) filled spring roll, which is dipped in a batter and bread crumbs before frying. We ate these with some chili sauce on the side and they were crispy and very filling. They would make for great 'hand arounds' at a dinner party. Very impressive rotis were made from scratch with the addition of coconut making the roti more typical of the Sri Lankan type. The coconut definitely gave the roti an extra nice flavour. The accompaniment was a fairly traditional beef curry and rice which was very tasty and mild. Dessert was a Sri Lankan love cake. Love cake is a spicy cake which tastes a bit like a cross between a Christmas cake and a spice cake. It was sweet and very interesting as all the individual spices each added a bit of zing to the cake in different ways. We had fun trying to taste each component with every bite. Among the ingredients are lemon zest, almond essence, nutmeg and semolina. Strangely there is no oil or butter in this recipe and all the moisture comes from the addition of the stiffly beaten egg whites.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August 2009 - Zambia

Our food theme for this month is Zambian and it sure has been interesting
trying to find some authentic Zambian recipes which don't involve the use of mice, moths or caterpillars. The staple food of Zambia is a thick maize meal and water 'porridge' called Nshima (South African pap or Zimbabwean sadza) which is served with lunch and dinner. The nshima is traditionally accompanied by a meat stew of whatever animal is available. Peanuts and peanut butter are a common ingredient in Zambian cooking. When you are a guest in a Zambian’s house, refusing to eat completely is considered rude. Even if you are full, you always have to eat everything the host puts in your plate. If you do not, you are considered impolite. So with this in mind, here is the menu for the Zambian evening...

  • Mielie (Corn) Soup
  • Fresh meat stew (not pictured) with Nshima balls

  • Golabjamoun (sweet potato cakes)

  • Milk Tart (with Western style 'snakes')

The meal started off on a very high note as the corn soup was absolutely delicious! Chock full of corn and very thick, it was a meal on its own especially with a hunk of crispy bread. The main course was definitely for a more traditional palate. The beef stew was made according to Zambian tradition with very little by way of herbs and spices, so it was quite bland. It was served with nshima which is a mixture of maize meal and water. Nshima, or pap, as it is known in South Africa is a very filling starch accompaniment with very little flavour, but it serves its purpose as a cheap way to feed a very poor community. The golabjamoun was a welcome addition to the meal, as it was quite yum. Golabjamoun is mashed sweet potato with flour, sugar and cinamon, rolled into balls (didn't quite get that part right) and then fried until the outside is crispy. This was a tasty addition to the otherwise bland stew and nshima.
Dessert was milk tart which is eaten throughout Africa. It is a custard topping on a biscuit type base, sprinkled with cinamon. For authenticity and because insects are not readily available at any supermarket in the Western world, we threw on some jelly snakes.
All in all, Zambia is not a country that one would go out of one's way to, in order to taste their food, but there definitely are a few hidden delights in the Zambian repertoire.