Weekend Cuisine: Beetroot Chapati and Pigeon Pea Stew.

One of the things I love about Kampala is access to fresh produce in all its glorious colours; and beetroot is in the top ten for a fan of colourful food like me. Beetroot is one of my favourites for its colour, taste, versatility and nutritional benefits. You can have it baked, fried, steamed, raw; so many ways!

Beetroot is good for you. It is full of antioxidants, helps in absorption of iron in the body, has vitamin C, potassium, manganese, fibre, just to name a few. It is such an underrated vegetable.

I always have some in the fridge or freezer for juicing, in a smoothie, salad, baking, even in DIY beauty regimes. 
So, if you are a fan of colourful and nutritious food, let’s get started!

I do not have exact measurements as I usually eyeball my ingredients but here is an awesome and simple  Kenyan Chapati Recipe. 

The thing about Chapati is we all have our different ways of making it. Some add sugar and spices, carrot, pumpkin, coconut milk, all kinds of flours, it really is up to you. I like mixing up the above flours but remember, nothing is cast in stone, it is up to you.

Knead your flour and the beetroot to a smooth ball, cover and let it rest for about an hour, then roll out, apply ghee or oil, then fold into the balls as shown in the video I’ve linked above.

Looks like bubble gum right?

Cook on a hot chapati pan, it will not look like ordinary chapati though, more like this…

Set them aside in a hot pot so they do not cool before you serve. 

For the pigeon pea stew, our ingredients are:-

  1. 2 cups boiled pigeon peas
  2. 1 tablespoon curry powder
  3. I chopped onion
  4. I chopped clove of garlic
  5. I chopped green pepper 
  6. 1 cup chopped butternut 
  7. I cup coconut milk
  8. 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish


Heat oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and saute for a while.

Add the green pepper and the curry powder and mix well. You can add a splash of water so the spice does not burn.

Add your chopped butternut, then add the pigeon peas and mix well.

Let them cook for a while but ensure they do not burn, then add the coconut milk.

Mix well and simmer on low heat till ready to your liking.

Add the coriander to garnish when ready and do not forget to season as you cook.

You are now ready to serve this complete, healthy, delicious and colourful meal. Bon Apetit!

This is a meal worth trying don’t you think?

Roasted Grapes, Cucumber and Goat cheese salad.

The best things about salads is not only are they so easy to put together, but they also give you the chance to load more vegetables in your little ones’ tummies and give different flavour and texture to the same old way of having your vegetables or fruits.

Grapes are quite tasty on their own, but roasting them introduces a whole other flavour profile and you can use them for dessert, to top cakes or salads or even as a snack on their own when chilled.

They are quite easy to roast too. Preheat your oven to 200° C, clean your seedless grapes, About a punnet and a half, toss them in a little bit of olive oil, pinch of salt and thyme (optional). Roast them in a baking pan lined with grease proof paper for 20-30 minutes till they shrivel a bit and the skin is blistering. Keep checking on them and turning them as they roast. Let them cool for a while. Once cooled completely, refrigerate in an airtight container and snack on them or use them in your different dishes.

Let’s get started on the salad:-

Half a red onion, sliced thinly, I garlic clove, minced, 2 small cucumbers, peeled and deseeded, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup of goat cheee, crumbled, 1 tsp dried oregano, salt and black pepper, 1 cup of roasted grapes, half an avocado sliced (optional) and not in picture.
Mix the vinaigrette and set aside (the oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, minced garlic and oregano)
Slice the cucumbers into half moons and arrange in your salad bowl, add I cup of the roasted grapes. Add the onions.
if using avocado, you an add it here.
Add the goat cheese and pour the vinaigrette all around the salad.
Mix gently and serve immediately.
It went pretty well with this greek lemon roasted chicken and potato dish.

This salad is so good you can have it on its own as a snack or light lunch, but it also works well with roast chicken and roast potatoes.

The roasted grapes have a ‘soft’ sweetness that blends well with the creamy goat cheese. The cheese I used here is not sharp and had some hints of rosemary that went well with the other herbs in the dish and the salad dressing. As usual cucumber was the chiller adding the refreshing layer to the salad.

This salad is really tasty, try it and let me know what you think.

Githeri ya Minji.

Gītheri is a central Kenyan traditional meal of maize and beans, mixed and boiled together; similar to what is known as ‘succotash’. It can be had plain with some salt, you add some potatoes to make a mash which we call ‘mūkimo, or fry and have other spices and vegetables or even meat added to it, or add some groundnuts, the varieties are endless.

This time round I made mine with fresh green peas, which we call ‘minji’, and had it with some cabbage to make a delicious vegetarian meal.

Let’s get started:-

  1. I cup blanched peas
  2. I cup boiled green maize; you can use sweet corn too.
  3. 1 large potato, chopped
  4. 1large chopped onion
  5. 1 chopped courgette
  6. 1 tbsp tomato paste
  7. 1/4 tsp ground turmeric.
  8. 1 tsp dhana jeera
  9. 1/4 tsp black pepper
  10. coriander leaves for garnish
Heat oil in a pan, fry your onions till soft.
Add the ground spices, mix well then add the tomatoes and some salt, cover and let cook a bit.
Add your courgette and potatoes and let cook over medium heat, you can add a little water so they do not burn.
Then add the peas and maize and mix well
If you want your gather dry, just cover and cook on low till potatoes are cooked through. If you want it to have a thickish sauce, add enough water (about a cup) to just cover the mix, then cover and let cook through till it reduces to your liking and the potatoes are cooked through.
Once ready to your liking, check the seasoning and add the coriander leaves and a tbsp of lemon juice to garnish. You can have it on it’s own like this, or with rice or other vegetables.

For the vegetable side dish, our ingredients are:-

Half a head of white cabbage, 1 carrot, sliced bell peppers, onion, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds and 1 tsp curry powder.
Heat your pan, add the oil and mustard seeds and let them release their aroma and start popping..
Add your onion, I mixed red and spring onion.
Add your curry powder, some salt and add the green pepper and carrots. Mix all well on high heat.
Add your cabbage, mix well, then add the other bell peppers, and cook your vegetables to your liking.
I like them cooked just in the middle, a bit soft, a bit crunchy. One of my grandmothers would NEVER eat cabbage I had cooked as she would always complain it’s undercooked. LOL. So I would serve mine then let the rest cook to her liking.
This is such a beautiful dish, the colours are so inviting you just want to dig in.
An avocado if available adds more oomph to the popping colours and flavours! And in Uganda and Kenya, how can a meal be complete without avocado on the side?

The best thing about gītheri is there are no iron clad rules. As always, it is up to you to use what you have and flavour it your way. This makes a perfect meatless Monday or quick midweek meal as it is easy to whip up and one of the easiest way to load up on some veggies.

Give it a try!

Quick Grocery Shopping Tips.

Has the way you shop changed in recent times? While some have moved to ordering online or via phone for groceries and having them delivered. For many others, you still have to go out to shop. So, how do we plan around it? How do we keep safe?

Have you noticed your food budget going up? We are all home right now, so we are eating more; you just can’t skip lunch with the kids home. We have to be keen on our shopping lists too to save more as we do not know what the future holds.

Most supermarkets here have sanitizers at the entrance and you cannot get in the store without a mask, which is commendable in reducing the spread of Coronavirus, and the shelves are still well stocked despite slowdown in supply delivery. So what more can we do to keep safe as we shop?

Obviously, make your list in advance. You want to spend as less time as possible in the store. It works even better if you meal plan ahead so you know exactly what to get for the next two weeks or so. Have your budget and try as much as you can to stick to it. Remember we have to save at this time too.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

For fresh produce, plan your meals and shop for what is in season in terms of fruits and vegetables. It is cheaper and you get great value too. Also check for what is on offer and discounts offered. If those ‘buy 3 for 1’ cereals are on offer, buy but check the expiry date too. Only pick what you are sure you will be done with before it gets spoilt in your cupboards.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you have to go out, shop in a familiar supermarket. Why? You already know the layout so you will be able to pick things faster. Remember the less time you spend there the better. Also shop in less busier times, either early morning or mid afternoon, there will be less people in the store; so easier to maintain social distance and physical interaction. Remember to keep 6 feet away when queuing too and do not remove your mask at any one time when in there. Also avoid touching what you’re not picking. Except the eggs. My motto when buying eggs is always ‘lift and check’ not just for spoilt or cracked ones, but in case you come across such unpleasant surprises:-

Yes, these are egg trays in one of the supermarkets here with some missing eggs. Lift and check people, lift and check!

Before you stock up on the snacks, check on what you can make at home. There is no point in buying popcorn when you can make it yourself. Crisps, bake them instead for the kids. It wouldn’t hurt to practice heathier snacking habits at this time. So kids craving something sweet, apple slices spread with peanut butter will sort that. Salty craving, sweet potato crisps and plantain chips and homemade popcorn will sort that. Let’s get creative guys!

I know some have tried gardening during this time, which is pretty cool if you have the space. You not only save some money but you are sure of your food source; not worrying bout pesticides and handling. Try planting spring onions, herbs, tomatoes, greens that don’t need a lot of space. So maybe those ‘blossom’ and ‘5 minute gardening hacks’ videos on how to grow from your vegetable waste are onto something after all. It doesn’t hurt to try.

Bulk shopping if you can is the way to go. No, I do not mean picking all the toilet paper rolls, yeast and bleach in the supermarket. Just don’t. Please. Don’t. Pick what you need.

You can stock up on tomato paste, canned tuna, baked beans, long life milk, you know, dry foods that will help you rustle up something in a flash. And of course soap and the usual stuff we buy. Also ask yourself what you really need, canned soups or broths are not hard to make when you have the time, and you can control the salt you put in. Healthy choices people, healthy choices.

By stocking up, you limit going out a lot. Remember limited contact and movement is key in defeating the spread of this deadly virus. If possible have only one person go out instead of going out with the kids to the store.

If you have nobody to leave the kids with, or can’t have deliveries brought to you. You can liaise with your groceries guy to have your stuff ready and all you can do is pick from him or her. You do not have to leave the car. Much safer then entering the store with your little one, right?

Let us do our best to keep ourselves and others safe. Wear a mask properly when out, limit going out, maintain social distance, wash hands, sanitise, keep safe. All this virus needs is one person to be the spark and it spreads like a bushfire.

How have your grocery shopping habits changed in this pandemic?

Meatless Monday: Easy Vegetable Pilau.

Pilau is a very common dish in East Africa, and once again like biriani, everyone has their own way of doing it. In Kenya pilau is darker in colour and has meat, but once you move to the coast, it is lighter in colour and has no meat, maybe potatoes but that is it.

Whatever way you make it, it is sure to be delicious. Vegetable pilau is my go to for the kids’ school lunch or a meatless Monday meal. It is an easy one pot meal full of incredible flavour. Let’s get started shall we?

Ingredients: ground pilau masala, ginger garlic paste, chopped onions, whole pilau masala (bayleaf, cumin seeds, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom), chopped tomato, rice and my vegetables of choice. I used potatoes, green beans, green pepper, carrot and beetroot. All chopped in small pieces.

Rinse and soak your basmati rice for about 30 minutes. You can use the whole pilau spices as is, or grind them, which I did as we do not like biting into cloves or cardamoms when eating.

Very fragrant freshly ground pilau masala, it has a very strong aroma.
Heat oil in a large saucepan, add a tablespoon of cumin seeds and the bay leaf, cook for a while and add the onion. Let the onion brown a bit but do not let it burn. Remember, the darker the onions cook, the darker the pilau. Then add one tablespoon of ground ginger garlic paste and mix well.
Add your freshly ground pilau masala and mix well, do not let it burn. If using tomatoes, add them at this time and let them cook down completely, then add the store brand already ground pilau masala if you didn’t have the whole one.
Add your vegetables and some salt and pepper. Let the veggies cook a bit, the potatoes can be about halfway done.
Add the drained rice and mix well to let it be coated with the spices.
Add your veggie broth or water and bring to the boil. I use two cups of liquid for one cup of rice.
once the rice starts boiling, cover and reduce the heat to let it simmer slowly until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. I added fried onions, raisins and roasted cashew nuts but it is not a must.

Your vegetable pilau is now ready to serve. You can serve with it a nice kachumbari salad, some raita or even have it on it’s own.

Looks delicious right?

This is an easy meal to make and a great way to use what you have on hand to make a delicious meal for your family. Give it a try!