Last time I was left contemplating what area of Africa I was going to choose a recipe from. So instead for going for the north or for one of the Congos, I went for somewhere bang in the middle. I figured that this made for an interesting crossroads of Africa since it is right on the border of the Northern and Western regions – meaning that the food will take on the elements of the neighbouring regions whilst also bringing Central African things into the mix.
Preparing this week marks the first time since South Korea that I specially ordered something over the internet to make a recipe. With Africa this might happen more and more often as they are more likely to use different flours than you would expect in a mainstream supermarket. It was a bit touch and go as my millet flour didn’t arrive until a day or two before I was going to start cooking, but it worked out in the end.
This marks the fourth country in a row that I have made a main dish that doesn’t contain any meat (not counting the prawns in Palau). This also marks the second time that I have made a variation on the peanut stew for an African country (the other being from the Gambia). The thing is, when searching for Chadian recipes online, daraba is what seems to be the most popular.
Of all the many recipes I ended up making this one from Dining for Women as it was the best one that didn’t just say bung everything into a pot and boil. I added a bit more peanut butter and some Maggi seasoning to boost the flavour (and some cornflour when eaten as leftovers to add some thickness). Honestly, I didn’t feel the need to include meat as there was enough variety with the okra, aubergine, sweet potato, tomato and spinach.
I’ll try and not make peanut soup again for a while, but I think for smaller countries in West Africa I might have my hands tied. I guess I may just need to dig deeper for the likes of Togo and Benin.
And here we have the reason for my ordering a bag of millet flour (that I now need to find other uses for) – some biscuit-type snacks that really remind me of shortbread. Well, a deep-fried shortbread that contains oil instead of butter. Still I followed the recipe from 196 Flavors and I ended up with a Tupperware tub full of these flaky treats.
Having never worked with non-wheat flour it was interesting to see how different it was to handle. The main thing was the lack of gluten, which made it sandier and flakier to work with. I might have added a bit too much water in the end as I wasn’t too sure about how the finished dough should look – but it tasted food when they came out of the hot oil and that’s all that matters to me.
So, when I did Uruguay I gave a bit of the delicious cake to my next door neighbour – after all, she’s been great and why not give cake when cake is available. Well, a week later we got a knock on the door and it was our neighbours daughter with bag of special maize flour for when I did Venezuela. A few weeks later she came by again with a recipe scanned from a magazine for something I could make with this flour. I guess that’s a long way of saying that, next time, I will be cooking something from Venezuela – now to find something sweet to go with it.