Africa, Tanzania

Tazanian peanut soup

I’ve said before that African food is my heart food. My travels to Tanzania began my love of East African cuisine. It was exciting and flavorful and familiar all at the same time. Most recipes use things that someone in a small town could find at the grocery store. Many dishes are naturally gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. This soup is dairy free and gluten free. It uses plenty of veggies and gets its smooth and creamy flavor from peanut butter and coconut milk. Tanzanian peanut soup can be ready in as little as a half hour. You could serve it with fruit and bread if you like, but I promise you, it’s filling all on its own!

Tanzanian peanut soup

serves 4-6

ingredients:

1 tablespoon organic red palm oil

1 onion chopped

3 tomatoes cut into quarters

2 cloves garlic chopped

1 average eggplant, peeled, sliced about an inch thick, each slice cut again into 4 quarters

1/4 cup smooth, unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter (I use Justin’s)

1 can coconut milk

1 quart chicken broth

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon base (I like Better than Bouillon)

a couple dashes of Maggi (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Penzy’s Spices “sweet curry“)

salt and pepper

*red pepper flakes I went a little off course and used Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) because I have so much and I used a full teaspoon. It was excellent in this dish. You can Aleppo use pepper or cayenne pepper. The authentic pepper flake would be crushed African birdseye pepper. A good starting point would be 1/4 teaspoon and increase as you wish.

optional add-ins and ons:

2 cups greens such as spinach, chard, or collard

avocado slices

chopped cilantro

sliced hot pepper

1.Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for about another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, Maggi (if using), bouillon, curry powder, hot pepper flakes or powder, turmeric, and a little more salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.

2.Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Stir and heat to a simmer. Add the eggplant and bring it back to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggplant is really tender.

3.Now get out that immersion blender and blend it all up! You want it to be silky smooth.  If you’re using greens, you can add them now and simmer for maybe around 5 minutes.  Don’t make my mistake and add long ribbons of chard.  While tasty, it conflicted with the texture of the soup. Chop those greens up real good before you add them. Top with the avocado, hot pepper, cilantro too if you please.  Usually I’m all about the soup toppings but honestly, this soup is absolutely delicious without.

 

Africa

The best eggplant salad. Ever. It’s so good!

I did my first ever cooking pilot last year and featured this recipe.  This silly video shows what a natural I was in front of the camera.  I swear I warmed up! And that is my kitchen and the bearded man is my husband.

I bought my first African cookbook, Tastes of Africa, at our local bookstore, The Tattered Cover.  I was so excited to go home and read it from cover to cover as any obsessed foodie would.  Starting out, I made some of the more traditional stews and they were delicious and wonderful.  After tackling the somewhat familiar, I branched out to trying some of the salads.  And there it was “Aubergine” salad.  What was an aubergine?  I had a feeling it was eggplant (it is).  Growing up in Iowa in the 80’s and 90’s, we never had eggplant.  My mom cooked with plenty of vegetables and my grandmother had a large garden, but somehow, no eggplant.  As an adult cook, I would dabble a bit with eggplant but it always seemed like a flavorless sponge.  Well, it’s kind of true! It is a bit flavorless and it is a sponge. But! there was a secret I learned from the cookbook’s author, Justice Kamanga.  You have to dehydrate the eggplant with salt and soak up all the bitter juice and then RE-hydrate the eggplant with olive oil.  I later acted really cool about this technique, bragging about it wherever I went.  It turns out, many “in the know” cooks already knew about this technique.  I was just behind on my eggplant game. Okay, let’s get to it!  If you’re like me you often scroll through all these words to get to the RECIPE! One more thing.  Tastes of Africa, by Justice Kamanga remain my favorite multi-country African cookbook.  It really started my enthusiasm for the cuisine that remains today.

eggplant salad

serves up to 8 people as a side dish

  • 4 large eggplants
  • 4Tbsp. sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • ciabatta bread for serving (optional)
  • Greek yogurt for serving (optional)
  • cayenne pepper
  • dressing:
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • a pinch of sugar
  • (good)salt and pepper

 

  1. Slice the eggplant into about 1/2 inch rounds.
  2. Sprinkle each slice with sea salt and then leave to stand for 30-60 min.  
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Take a clean dish cloth and press onto each of the eggplant slices getting up all the brown liquid.
  5.  Transfer them to a roasting pan and drizzle with a little olive oil then toss. Let the olive oil really be absorbed by the spongy eggplant.  
  6. Ensure that they’re lying in a single layer then place them in the 400 degree oven until soft, but still firm. You want them to be golden brown, still soft, not crispy!
  7. After they are cool enough to handle, slice the eggplant into bite-sized pieces.  
  8. Transfer the eggplant pieces to a bowl and add the tomatoes, onion, and capers.  
  9. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the eggplant salad.  Toss gently.  
  10. Serve on thick slices of toasted ciabatta bread topped with 1 Tbsp. of yogurt each.  
  11. Sprinkle with the cayenne pepper and serve immediately.  Serves 4-6.
The director, Chris, getting way too excited about eating eggplant salad. Although, it really is that good!