TAMARIND FRUIT

Have you seen this fruit anywhere….?

My grandmother would bring it for us when she came to visit and i had no idea it was rated as an exotic fruit.

Tamarind Fruit

The tamarind fruit is rated ultra exotic because it is so rare and very few people know about it.

It is a  fruit that grows in  tropical climates in Africa and Latin America.

It i is an effective laxative.

Aids in digestion,relieves discomfort caused by too much gas and was used in Southern America to fight scurvy as it has a very high vitamin C content.

The tamarind tree produces bean like pods that are green in color,with maturity the pod’s color changes to brown and becomes stiff while the paste inside turns to brown and its seeds harden.

The pulp is what is eaten,it is very rich in vitamin C ,calcium,phospohorus,thiamine,,niaicn and riboflavin.

The fruit has a sharp sweet and  sour taste which is quite distinct.

You break the hard shell to get to the pulp which is sometimes stringy, and get rid of the seeds after sucking on its exotic goodness.

The fruit in Kenya can be found in many markets ,even some supermarkets have it.

Try it!

BOILED GREEN MAIZE/CORN

One of my best memories as a child was going to my grandmothers during the April holidays.

Reason being that there was a lot of fresh milk for me to drink and the young cobs of maize on her farm were just putting out their hairs and if you were lucky you got her to roast some for you or have them boiled

Oh what wonderful bliss for my taste buds!

Now its April again,farmers are tilling their land for the next season but we have green maize being sold at the market from places that had their rains much earlier than we did.

So I am making these childhood delicacy for my kids and they love it!

I use the freshest cobs of maize I can get,you know you have the right kind when the seeds appear full and still milky when pressed slightly.

Ingredients

3 maize cobs

lots of water

a large enough saucepan

salt

Method

1.Start by removing the outer husks and leave a layer or two of the husks still on the cob.It lends more flavour to the corn,trust me

2.Remove all the silk hairs

3.In a saucepan add water,bring to a boil add salt(just like you do with pasta) then add your green corn.

4.Let it boil for 8-10 minutes.

5.Serve warm.

Left over can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container and eaten cold or dunk them in some hot water and enjoyed.Remove the remaining husks when serving.

 

 

FREEZER RULES

Freezing food is among the many ways by which foods can be preserved and stored for later use.

Using your freezer to preserve food can be a cheap,economic and if done well safe method of ensuring your favourite foods are just an arm length away.

Here are a few rules to freeze by, make more use of what is now a permanent fixture in most homes, the refrigerator.

1.Live by the F.I.F.O rule.First in First out is what you have to remember when freezing foods,label you frozen food packets if you have to.

2.Frequently empty and defrost the fridge to prevent odours.

3.Use the appropriate freeze bags/containers to ensure your food is safe to eat.Foods frozen in inappropriate containers or wrapped with paper that is to thin develop freeze burn.

4.Ensure the freezer compartment of your fridge is always at the right temperature,if you are not too sure,consult the manual you bought it with.

5.If you have to take anything out of your fridge to thaw,use the refrigerator section to thaw it out and do not leave it out in the open.

6.Freeze meat products separately from the frozen vegetables to prevent cross contamination

7.Never ever put hot food into your freezer section as it alters the below 18 degree Celsius temperature ideal for frozen food to keep their quality and may lead to spoilage.

8.Stack your frozen food in such a way that there is space left between each food to allow air to circulate.

Read more about how to reheat foods,what to do with left over and ideal conditions for freezing here.

MATOKE STEW WITH GREEN PEAS

Anything that had green bananas i ate.

That is what my mum tells me when she regals us with our favourite foods when we were chidren.

Green bananas are cheap and in Kenya are available all season.

This is food that is low in carbohydrates and has the B2 vitamin  necessary for cell growth and engery production.

To prevent the sticky gum green bananas are famous for from sticking to your hands,apply some olive oil on both your hands and the knife you will use to peel them

Ingredients

5 green bananas,peeled and cut into halves widhtwise

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium sized onion sliced thinly

1 clove garlic,minced

1 ripe tomato chopped

2 medium sized carrots,grated medium size)

1 cup green peas(parboiled)

salt and pepper to taste

water/stock

Method

1.Fry the onions in a saucepan till the become soft and are almost turning brown,then add i clove minced garlic.Fry for 30 seconds.

2.Add the chopped tomato tomato and grated carrots and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a dash of black pepper.

3.Add enough water/vegetable stock to cover bananas and cook over low heat for 10 minutes then add the parbolied peas.

4.Let cook for a further

5 minutes or till when a fork is passed through the bananas it goes through.

Great with roast chicken,meatballs and you favourite salad

SOCIAL EXPERIMENT:TV WATCHING IS BAD FOR YOU HEALTH

The virtual and digital worlds are playing havoc with our lives.

We spend so much time in front of  “screens” we have  forgotten what  fresh food tastes like.

We would rather catch up on the life of Kim Kardashian than spend an hour in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal.

Junk food and tv have become mealtime companions and tv time has stolen into the time we would have used to make a fresh salad or used to put more thought on what lands onto our plates.

I did an experiment with my family,for a week.

I   switched off the TV during meal times.

Surprise!

We talked more,the children did not fuss over their food and we enjoyed it more.

When was the last time you had a meal without the TV noise in the background?every  now and then you had to look up,stop chewing your food or swallowed it in a gulp because something interesting had come up on-screen.

How many times have you grabbed coffee/tea and cookies in order to rush back to your computer screen.

When a sandwich would have been much healthier.

TV watching can be useful but not when it takes over our lives and we give up control over how and what we eat in order to catch up with some “stars” lives.

Remember this, people are getting paid to be seen on your screens and next time you are sweating it out on a treadmill because you gained a few kilos/pounds ,you will be the farthest thing from the TV star’s  mind.

Get off the couch,make friends with your kitchen ,saucepans ,dust your plates and go shopping for some fresh food.

Spend less time in front of the tv or computer screen and hit the gym.

Let your children be children,let them go fly kites,play ball,do cartwheels if you have a grassy lawn .

Let them be active.

Show them that self-love also means feeding your body well,let them help you out in the kitchen and let them learn why vegetables,fruits and balanced meals are more essential in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Love yourself,lose some weight ,get off the couch and prepare something healthy,nutritious and delicious.

JAZZED UP GITHERI

For a total of 8 years of ,4 each in  upper primary and high school ,i spent every evening eating githeri.

Githeri is a  central Kenyan delicacy of boiled maize and beans, fried in onions, tomatoes with some potatoes put in for good measure.

Murram  as we called it in school then, was a staple and you did not have to be a rocket scientist to know what food our faithful cook Kariuki would put out to be served by whoever’s duty it was to act as  “server of food” for that week to a table of 12 hungry teenagers.

The only deviation to this routine was on visiting days and any other day  when parents trooped to school to see their young geniuses take a break from all the hard work.

Then they would bring us chapatis,pilau,chicken ,soda and anything else we were starved off in school.

Only for them to leave us with Eno to keep of indigestion that inevitably came with eating too much.

One of my first posts on this blog was turning githeri on its head and making a salad out of it in  deconstructed githeri.

Now this is another way to have this Kenyan classic ,which nutritionally speaking, by combining maize and beans it results in  a perfect protein much like rice and beans has been made famously healthy by the Mexicans.

My 5-year-old loves it and your family will love it too.

Its githeri jazzed up with some spice and lots of vegetables off different colours that make it so appealing visually.

I digress…this was meant to be a recipe.

Ingredients

2 cups dry/fresh beans parboiled

1.5  cup green corn/maize parboiled

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium-sized red onion,chopped finely

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

1 teaspoon garam masala

4 medium-sized potatoes peeled and halved

2 tomatoes cubed

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 small green capsicum,chopped

2 medium-sized carrots

salt and pepper to taste

stock/water

Method

1.Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat and pour the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.

2.Add the red onion,saute it till it turns soft then add the garlic and fresh ginger root minced,fry for 30 seconds taking care not to brown it too much.

3.Add the garam masala and the black pepper,let cook for 15 -30 seconds taking care not to burn it, then add the potatoes and  the vegetables plus the salt and tomato paste.Let it cook covered for 2-3  minutes ,stirring often till it turns into a thick sauce .

4.Add the beans and maize and enough stock to cover and let simmer for 30 minutes till the potatoes are soft and a fork passed through them goes through and the stock has reduced to just below the level of the beans and githeri.

Serve with some creamy coleslaw or kale or you favourite salad.

CARROTS AND MORE……..

One of my sisters ,who shall remain unnamed decided she wanted to run away.

And the only thing she carried was a carrot and her favourite dress.

A carrot! I still wonder how she thought she would survive on a carrot for who knows how long, till she got hungry and came back home.

Luckily we found her just as she turned the corner after our house.

Like most children she loved carrots and this root vegetables is a go to snack anytime.

If you store them in a plastic bag unwashed,and keep in the coolest part of of your fridge,this way   they can keep fresh for weeks.

Remember to wash them  before use.

They are  a rich source of beta carotene which gives them their yellow color,beta carotene once it gets  into  the body is turned into Vitamin A.

Carrots are rich in Vitamins C,B,D,E and K.They also contain minerals like potassium,manganese,calcium,phosphorus and sodium.

So how can you make more use of carrots.

1.Grated or cubed,make sure carrots are a staple in all your meat and vegetable dishes,Whether they be stews or salads.

Start off with this carrot cake inspired salad

2. Make carrot juice and blend it with other fruit drinks like fresh apples/beetroot and orange juice.

3.Use grated or julienned carrots to garnish dishes in which you have used carrots.

4.Carrots also add a wonderful accent to things like soup,include them when making items like this ox tail soup

5.Blend carrot juice with some thick yoghurt and some pieces of pineapple/beetroot or any fruit of your liking and you have a drink that is a powerhouse of nutrients.

What other carrot uses can you come up with?

MY KITCHEN DISASTERS

Experiential.

That is the kind of foodie I am.

Glossing over recipes is what I do,get the basic technique then fit them to my tastes/budget or what i have available.

Most of the time my food turns out great but at times  times…not so great.

Like the time I bought Okra and overcooked it,i had o throw all of it out,i never did have the courage to feed it to my family,it tasted awful.

Or the time the electricity went out when I had two cakes baking for friends in the oven,they were just halfway through when the electricity went out and came back the next morning…i wanted to jump off the first floor of house that was on the first floor.

And how can I forget the many times I have had milk spillage when I left it unattended on the cooker,burned my sautéed kale or overcooked rice.

Or when I added corned beef to peas…never again will I trust meat that comes out of a can.

Every chef has a list of kitchen disasters they would rather forget.

What kitchen disasters would you rather forget…?

Dont be embarrassed about your kitchen disasters,they are the learning points from which we become better food artistes.

 

NOT-SO-ORDINARY TRIPE STEW (MATUMBO)

Kosewe’s in Nairobi CBD has the best goat tripe(matumbo).

After having it there a couple of years ago,I had to go and try it in my kitchen,previously I had eaten only cow tripe,but goat tripe is the real thing,packed with flavour and really tender.Sorry cows…….

Anyway tripe is eaten in many countries all over the world,in Italy it is even a street food much like we have mutura or stuffed tripe here in Kenya.And many parts of Italy have their own way of cooking tripe that is region specific.

In parts of France it is even considered a gourmet food,so you may want  to give this food another try …

It is also cheaper than beef so one more reason to enjoy this delicacy .

Now the thing with cooking tripe is that you have to clean it well and to cook in on low heat till its tender.

First you have to parboil it for about an hour or two till the meat becomes tender,then you fry it and simmer  the stew on low heat till the tripe becomes tender.

Seeing that the Christmas period is fast approaching and a lot of goats will be facing the butchers knife over the holiday season,try this recipe and delights your taste buds.

Like all animal products,tripe is nutritional benefits include it being a source of  protein ,calcium,potassium  and phosphorus well as containing small amounts of iron.

However it should not be an everyday food for anyone watching their cholesterol levels.

The pest thing for cooking this in would be an clay pot but a good saucepan would be just as good.

Ingredients.

1 kilo of tripe par boiled

2 medium-sized onions chopped finely

2 large tomatoes chopped finely

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons chopped spring onions

salt and  black pepper to taste

Method

1.Once you have parboiled the tripe and all the water has evaporated use the same pot to cook the tripe in and just add the tomatoes,onions,tomato paste,salt and black pepper and just a tablespoon of olive/vegetable  oil if necessary and lower heat to low and let the tripe cook for about 15 minutes.

2.After the vegetables have softened and released their juices uncover the saucepan and stir ,add some stock/water to cover the tripe and let simmer for a further 30-45 minutes.

3.Taste the tripe and if tender then add the chopped spring onions and turn off heat.Let the steam from the stew cook the parsley for 5 minutes then serve.

If it’s not tender enough just let simmer for a further 10 minutes then proceed as above.

Tripe can be served with anything from steamed rice to chapatis to ugali.

Enjoy!

RED “HOT” MANGO FRUIT SMOOTHIE

Nothing screams December is here, better than mangos…in Kenya atleast.

Mangoes are everywhere you turn,in fruit stalls, in wheel barrows being pushed by street vendors,you see them in all shapes and sizes and colors everywhere you look.

And they come cheap.

They remind me of the lond December holidays i had as a kid and we would go back to Nairobi with a sack ful of mangoes for our neighbours.

And no fruit vendor worth his salt would sell mangoes without some chilli powder mixed in with salt to accompany these delicous fruit.

Mangoes are a great source of Vitamin C,dietary fibre ,folate and Vitamin B6.

Mangoes are some of the most commonlly cultivated fruits in the tropics and they originated from India then spread to the rest of the world.

In addition to being eaten on their own as a fruit,they can be turned into smoothies,eaten in salads,chutneys and as garnishing on ice cream.

There are even dried mango strips sold in some specialty stores and thye are delicious and great for kids to snack on,definetely better than potato crisps.

Ingredients

2 ripe mangoes

1 glass of  drinking water

Juice from a fresh lime/lemon,fresh

1/2  a medium sized beetroot sliced into quarters.

1-2 pinches red chilli powder.

Ice cubes

Method

1.Peel mangoes and slice off the flesh aound the seed then cut it into cubes .

2Put these in ablender,then add the quartered beetroot,juice from the lemon(it prevents the beetroot from turning color).

3.Add some honey or syrup for taste,2 pinches of red chilli powder  and water  to make it easier to blend the mixture and pulse for 3-5 minutes .

Add more water till you get the desired consistency.

4.Get 2 tall drinking glass,put some ice cubes and pour the drink.