East African Sweet Potato Pudding

The sweet potato is indigenous to South America, but is often associated with Africa because it is a staple food over much of the continent.  Today’s recipe is typical of traditional dishes that rely on just a few ingredients & basic cooking techniques.  It’s an amazingly creamy and light dessert to serve with any dish, especially African and South American cuisine.

East African Sweet Potato Pudding Watermarked EAST AFRICAN SWEET POTATO PUDDING

1 kg.  sweet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1 cm cubes

3 C. milk

1 C. heavy cream

½  C. sugar

½  tsp. ground turmeric

½  tsp. cinnamon

A grating of fresh nutmeg

½  tsp. ground cardamom + some for garnish

Boil the cubed sweet potato uncovered in ~ 1 quart (1 L) water for 20 to 30 minutes, until tender.  Drain & return to the pan.  Stir in the

remaining ingredients & simmer, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 1 hour, until the potatoes are reduced to a thick puree.

Because of the remaining fibres of the sweet potato, this next step is highly recommended:  If you have a juicer or blender, pour the mixture in and blend it until smooth; otherwise, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, press the puree through a fine sieve into a serving bowl.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Sprinkle a little ground cardamom on surface just before serving.

MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKEN PIE with MINT & CORIANDER SAUCE

Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie WatermarkedThis typical Middle Eastern pie is crammed with lovely contrasting flavours, and a main dish well worth the effort!  It looks complicated, but it’s really not – put on some good music, and enjoy the experience!  If you want to spread this preparation over two days as I did, then you can dry-roast the spices, toss the meat mixture together raw, and keep chilled in the fridge until you’re ready to put it all together; then, cook the meat mix, wilt the spinach and toss into the meat mixture, along with the roasted spices.  When you’re ready to bake it, follow the assembly directions as below.

MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKEN PIE

 

1) Dry-Roasted Spices

2  tsp. coriander seeds

2  tsp. cumin seeds

1  tsp. paprika, plus extra for dusting

½  tsp. ground cinnamon

140  gr. whole blanched almonds

140  gr. pistachios, shelled

In a pan, dry-roast the spices and nuts together, stirring regularly.  It only take a couple minutes – be careful not to allow them to burn.  This process brings out the flavours.  Set them aside to cool.

2) Wilted Spinach

A dash of olive (or coconut) oil to sauté

225  gr. fresh spinach

A dash of salt and pepper

Sauté the fresh spinach leaves with a bit of oil and salt and pepper; pour into a bowl and set aside for now.

3) Meat Mixture

2-3  shallots, quartered

4  cm gingerroot, finely chopped

1  tsp. ground cumin

2  whole garlic cloves

A dash of olive (or coconut) oil to sauté

900  gr. chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks

75  gr. dried cranberries

6  Tbs. clear honey

400  gr. canned chickpeas, drained & rinsed (either as-is, or blend into a paste)

3  Tbs. lemon juice

4  Tbs. fresh coriander, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).  Sauté the shallots, ginger, garlic and cumin together with the chicken; when the meat is nearly done, add the remaining ingredients and heat through, adding the roasted spices and the wilted spinach, tossing well to mix.  Set all aside while you prepare the pastry.

4) Pastry

100  gr. butter or coconut oil

2 flaky rectangular pastry doughs

A bit of cream to brush

Grease a rectangular casserole dish and line with one of the rectangular pastry doughs.  Poke with a fork a few times.  Pour in the filling mixture, and top with the second dough; pinch the edges together and trim off any excess dough.  Brush the top of the dough with a bit of cream, and then pierce several places with a fork.

Bake at 200°C /400°F for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown.  Serve with the Mint & Coriander Sauce.

MINT & CORIANDER SAUCE

Moroccan Mint & Coriander Yogurt Sauce Watermarked

100  gr. low – fat Greek yoghurt

50 gr. Plain yoghurt

1-2 mint tea bags – contents only, or 2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves very finely chopped

3 sprigs fresh coriander, finely chopped

¼ C. Red bell pepper, finely diced

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prepare the ingredients and toss all together, stirring thoroughly to blend.  Serve as a side sauce, chilled.

Tea Bag Tatziki Sauce

Tzatziki SauceThis past week I made Chicken Masala (I won’t put a recipe here as I used a pre-made sauce; if I make it again from scratch, you’ll be the first to know!), and as a great side dish, a cool, refreshing bowl of Tatziki Sauce.  The secret to this sauce is a no-brainer:  1 bag of peppermint tea.  Just the contents, no water, no bag.  Most people don’t always have fresh mint on hand, though they might have mint tea bags; they are made of straight-up, dried mint leaves, they store well compared to the fresh product, and are the perfect spice for this dish, already crumbled as finely as any spice in your cabinet.  If you have fresh mint, adjust the amount to taste.  So without further ado:

 

Tatziki Sauce

1/4 cucumber, finely diced

2 C. plain yogurt (any kind will do; use Greek yogurt for a thicker sauce, or add a bit of stiff sour cream)

1 lemon’s juice

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 bag of mint tea – rip open and pour in the contents

a dash of two of dried dill, or 1/2 bunch of fresh dill, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced

For garnish:  Finely chopped greens from a spring onion

 

Prepare the ingredients as above, and mix all together except the garnish.  Chill until ready to serve, sprinkling the garnish atop the sauce.  This goes great with any spicy Indian or Middle Eastern dish.

Tip:

If your meal is a spicy one, have a few boiled eggs on hand for your guests; they’ll take the sting out !