Tasty Chicken and Peanut Stew.

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes. It comes a close second after my chicken in lemon and garlic that I have already posted here on the blog. Check it out too.

I love cooking this chicken in peanut butter for my loved ones. It is hearty, delicious and easy to make.

Let’s get started right away:-

Our ingredients are 1 kg of skinned chicken cut into pieces, one large chopped onion, 1 large chopped tomato, some tomato paste, 1 tbsp ginger garlic and turmeric paste, Freshly ground black pepper and salt, 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter, 2 cups water, a small pinch of sugar. 1tbsp of cooking oil.

Method:-

Clean and chop your chicken into pieces. Sprinkle salt and some freshly ground black pepper on it and mix well.
Add the peanut butter to a bowl and add one cup of water and mix well till the butter is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat your wide heavy based sauce pan and add the cooking oil. Once hot, add the chicken pieces and sear till brown but don’t let it cook yet. Once brown set aside.

Add your onion to the same pot and cook till soft. Add the ginger garlic and turmeric mixture and let cook for a while.

Next add the tomatoes and paste. Let cook down into a paste / sauce. Once the tomatoes are soft and cooked through, add the chicken pieces. Mix well.

Add the peanut butter you had dissolved with the remaining water. Mix, lower heat. Cover the pan and let simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes until chicken is cooked though. Boneless chicken will obviously take a shorter time to cook.

The sauce will thicken so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. If it’s too thick you can add some water as it simmers.

Once ready check seasoning then serve. It goes well with rice and vegetables.

Very flavorful.

I usually determine how much seasoning to use depending on the peanut butter, so it is important to use a good quality. If it’s too salty or sugary it will affect the taste of the sauce, that’s why I prefer checking the seasoning at the end.

Rice, chicken peanut stew and steamed vegetables.

Try it and enjoy!

My Pantry Essentials.

This post is a continuation of my “House Matters” series. My previous post in this category was on my kitchen essentials which you can find here.

A pantry could be a room or a cupboard where one stores all their essential food and household items. Not all homes have a room in the kitchen that qualifies as a pantry, also called the kitchen store in some places. In smaller houses or apartments, you have to be creative, so you could either have a pullout pantry or use your cupboards, counter tops, shelves or bins to store your food items.

A simple but elegant pantry space.
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Growing up, my parents used to prefer doing monthly shopping. They would have their list and buy supplies to last us a month or two. Having space to garden also helped save a lot on groceries. We had cows and chickens, so no buying milk and eggs. We grew our own onions, tomatoes, potatoes, maize, beans, leafy greens, some herbs and had banana, avocado, mango, passion fruit and loquat trees. There was minimal food waste as leftovers could be used to feed the pigs, vegetable scraps would make compost and food scraps for the chickens. I miss those days!

We may not garden as much and keep livestock at the moment, but we have kept up with some of the habits I learnt when younger. We have retained the monthly shopping habit over the years for one; I find things last longer that way, we get to save on discounts such as if you buy more than one set of an item, and take advantage of what’s on sale. I also don’t like frequent supermarket runs, so shopping at a go is great for me. Weekly grocery runs are to stock up on perishables such as milk, fruits and vegetables.

This is not a conclusive list, it is just how I do it. Being well stocked makes it easier to plan meals in advance, including kids snacks, lunches and main meals. And there is nothing wrong with being organised, right?

In no particular order, here we go:-

  1. OilsРI mainly cook with sunflower oil and coconut oil. I also keep a bottle of extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings and a small bottle of sesame oil for marinades or simple saut̩s.
Olive oil Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2. Butters– I use unsalted butter as it is easier to use in a variety of dishes.

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

3. Ghee– I sometimes use ghee to make my chapatis, for making a rich curry, for rice or dessert.

4. Cheese – I’ve already done posts on the cheese we prefer here. Goat cheese has an intense flavour that works well in pizzas and salads. Cheddar is handy for scrambled eggs, in a savoury loaf, and mozzarella for pizza. But my personal favourites are the goat cheese varieties from Kyaninga dairy and gouda cheese. I however prefer stocking one type at a time.

5. Vinegars– I love balsamic vinegar and add it to roasted vegetables or make a tasty drizzle with it that goes well with many dishes. Apple cider vinegar is handy to have for a tonic and other uses around the home, not just the kitchen. White vinegar is used for baking, cleaning fruits, vegetables and other non food uses, and red wine vinegar is great on salads.

Various types of vinegar.

6. Flours– This includes all purpose flour and self raising flour for baking and pancakes or mandazi. I like using atta (whole wheat flour) in chapatis mixed with besan flour.

One of my favorite flours.

Chick pea (besan) flour is also great in savoury pancakes like I made here, and as batter for packed potatoes here, or crispy matoke wedges or a gluten free apple cake. Rice flour is also present in my pantry. It is great in porridge, pancakes and for battered vegetables too. Kenyan maize meal flour is a must for making ugali, and can make pancakes too, like in this recipe.

For porridge flours, I stock pumpkin flour and millet flour as they are readily available here. I am yet to get sweet potato flour here which I liked mixing in my chapati back home but when I do, I will add it to my list. I also have cassava flour which I have only used so far used to make ugali and roti. Cornstarch also features in this category, although I do not use it much, it is handy to have for thickening sauces or in other dishes.

7. Canned goods- Tomato paste, baked beans in tomato sauce, coconut cream and milk, canned tuna are must haves in my pantry.

8. Condiments– Ketchup, mustard, Mayonnaise. With kids ketchup runs out pretty fast. Akabanga is a hot chilli (really hot) sauce from Rwanda that is in this category too.

9. Flavourings– Vanilla and almond extracts are my usual “go tos” when baking. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce are in this category too.

10. Rice and Pasta– As I have mentioned here before, I am a fan of long grained basmati rice as a little goes a very long way. Do not compromise on good quality rice if you make it a lot. For pasta I mix long and short varieties. The short cut pasta is great for salads and pasta bakes. Spaghetti is a kids’ favourite here so I always have a couple of packs on hand. In this category a box of couscous and pearl barley also come in handy.

Different kinds of pasta.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

11. Spices – To avoid having too many spices losing flavour, these days I prefer buying whole spices then grind them up depending on the blend I want, whether for pilau, spicy tea, biriani or a curry.

My must have whole spices are cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, ginger and turmeric. I like doing this as I am able to experiment with the flavours and learn how the spices work well together. For store bought blends and ground spices, I buy paprika, Kenyan curry powder, garam masala, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes.

An array of various spices.
Photo by Shantanu Pal on Pexels.com

Dried herbs– These come in handy when one cannot access fresh herbs, but be careful so the flavour doesn’t get too overpowering in your meal. In this category I stock dried fenugreek leaves, bay leaves, oregano, basil, sage, parsley and mint.

Beverages– Tea leaves, Kenyan of course, have to feature here. Drinking chocolate for the kids, cocoa for baking, coffee and chamomile tea are constants. Ugandan coffee is really good, I am not a heavy coffee drinker but really like it.

Spreads– Our main spreads are peanut butter, honey and jam which could be of any flavours. Nutella too as a treat.

Snacks– Potato crisps and plantain crisps feature here as well as popcorn. I like buying it raw and popping it the old fashioned way with the kids.

Sweeteners- Honey, sugar and icing sugar. I also keep blackstrap molasses for a tonic.

Salts- Just the usual table salt will do. I also like having some sea salt, Himalayan rock salt and black salt when available. The black salt lasts ages. I like it in roasted meats and vegetables.

Breakfast cereals- We love oats so they are always present in the cupboards. Stovetop or overnight, they are a weekday breakfast fixture here. I also keep Weetabix and Weetos for the kids.

Cereals/ legumes- I like having a variety of dried legumes, and keep changing them up. Chickpeas, brown lentils, kidney beans, pigeon peas, chana dal and butter beans are my mains in this category.

Different kinds of beans.
Photo by Min An from Pexels

Dried fruits, seeds and nuts– Chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, sultanas, desiccated coconut, groundnuts and cashew nuts feature here.

Powdered Foods : I use these as toppings for our breakfast cereals, smoothies or snacks. This include black seed powder, baobab powder and hibiscus powder. I recently bought some groundnut powder for matoke groundnut sauce. I am yet to try it on anything else though.

Miscellaneous– Baking soda, baking powder and yeast are in this category, as well as breadcrumbs, glucose, and custard powder. I also include coffee filters, vitamin and collagen supplements here as well as food colour and rose water which I use for biriani, baking and beauty purposes.

Packaging– This category features rubber bands, wax paper, greaseproof paper, Foil, cling film and ziplock bags, kitchen paper towels and serviettes.

Most of these items last us well over three months. The all purpose flours and cooking oil, snacks and breakfast cereals are what we usually stock up on monthly. For food items such as ginger, mint and turmeric, I stock up on both fresh and dried depending on use.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Food pantry essentials depend on how often one cooks, how many people you cook for on average and also the kind of food you make. I make all our meals, including the children’s school lunches which determines how much of each item we need in a given period of time.

I also like cooking with different spices hence the long list of what I stock. It all depends on what you like, but my hope is to help somebody get organised on the basics.

What are your pantry essentials?

What influences your parenting?

There was a thread on Twitter some months ago on “What your parents did that was important for your development”. It had very interesting and eye opening responses. You can find it here on this link.

It was very enlightening and made me think about how my husband and I were raised, and how it has affected the way we are raising our children. There is no perfect manual on doing this. Sure, numerous resources are available, but when it comes to the real nitty gritty, all those tips may not be that handy when you put them into practice.

When we had our first born, I had downloaded all the baby apps with high ratings, bought all the best books and baby stuff we could afford. She was the quintessential ‘perfect’ baby; didn’t fuss or cry much, fed well, napped two hours as per the app, met her milestones as per the apps and books perfectly. When the second baby came, my assumption that he would be like his sister was thrown out the window! The boy cried, was restless, fussy…. everything his sister was not. I needed grace. A lot of it…And at that time I could not understand what was wrong with him. My husband has always been very supportive and handled it very well. I did not. When I look back, I see how mistaken I was in assuming they could be the same. They are not. They are two different human beings, with two different personalities. Sure, they have the same parents but that does not in any way mean they are the same. There was nothing wrong with my son. He was absolutely fine.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

A lot of us were brought up by authoritarian parents, where their word was law, and kids were basically to be seen and not heard. With time, education, and various social and technological advancements, we have come to understand human behaviour better- we have come to learn of different parenting styles, our personality traits, how to face our childhood trauma, stress, both mental and relationship based etc… and how they all affect children’s development.

Nevertheless, the fact that we are now better informed than those before us does not mean we have become better parents. Being a good parent has to be intentional and it is tough for us. It is upon us to keep in mind how our actions and words affect our children. This is not easy.

We are raising our children in a world that is bombarded with all kinds of information ALL the time. We have to filter what gets through to them and teach them how to navigate this world, as we balance our careers, educational advancements, demands of our relationships, friendships and societal expectations.

Traditionally, the village set up where relatives were close by and the community brought up the children together helped a lot in raising kids, hence the term, “It takes a village.” Presently the nuclear family is the common unit for raising children, and even this has changed definition as not all children are being raised by both parents in the same household. We now have same sex parents, single parent households, grandparents raising grandchildren, etc. Times have truly changed, but the basics of wanting to bring our children up the right way have not changed.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

We have different personalities, and so do our children. This is important to understand as it affects how we communicate with them and impart our values in a way that they can understand. How are our temparaments? Children mimic a lot what they see us do, even when we say the opposite. How they watch and observe us do different things and treat others is how they will behave most, if not all the time.

We should never assume that children cannot sense when we are stressed. They do, even if they may not understand it, they can sense our agitation and tension. And they will react to it.

Parenting is not just paying the bills, providing for your children and expecting them to “pay back” in good grades and exemplary behaviour. Parenting means wholly supporting their mental, emotional, physical, social, intellectual and spiritual development from the time we hold them in our arms as newborns till they time they reach adulthood.

Communication with children is so underrated despite its importance to their development. We can support them in talking to them, discussing with them and listening to them.

Do we ask them what they want? Do we bless them with our words? Do we listen to them? Do we answer their questions or dismiss them? Do we believe they have something valuable to say? Do we make them feel welcome in the family? Simple things like having a meal together with the tv off and no phones on the table is one of the ways your children will have a discussion with you on various things in a relaxed manner.

Relaxing in the garden, on a picnic, the drive to and from school, chatting on a long road trip or when running errands are some other opportune moments to catch up with them. I love listening to their conversations even when just talking to each other, as I get to catch a glimpse of their school life and how they relate to their friends.

Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on Pexels.com

Family meetings are another way to help in this. Yes, family meetings. Set aside 20 or so minutes where all the family members sit and discuss different issues that may have arisen in the family. Every one is equal in the meeting, free to express themselves and give feedback and everyone gets a chance to speak freely.

It is an interesting but effective way to improve on our communication skills as family members. It has taught us how to compromise, boosted the children’s self confidence and self esteem and made them feel seen, heard and valued as a family member. (Let me tell you, it stings when your kids call you out on not matching your talk, but it is worth it). Keep it respectable and non- judgemental too.

As we all know, kids learn more by actions than words. How do we instil our values in them? How do we get them to have a sense of morality? How do we teach them the difference between right and wrong? Do we teach them our cultural values too?

Do we tell them not to lie, then go ahead and lie to their faces? Do we tell them not to litter, then go ahead and throw trash out of the window with them in the car? Do we take them to nice private schools (for the discipline, or so we claim), breaking traffic rules as we speed there as they watch on? Do we give traffic police officers bribes in their presence? Do we trash talks others in our children’s presence? Do we bad mouth our relatives, their teachers and other adults as they listen? Do we mistreat our house helps and workers as they look on? Are we rude to waiters and security guards, insulting them and talking down to them as our children watch, listen and learn? Even now with the pandemic, how and why do we expect our older children to keep their masks on, sanitize and maintain social distance when we are doing the exact opposite?

We have to strive to be good role models to our children.

Our social economic status also influences our parenting. This includes what we expose our children to and what material things we are able to buy them, their healthcare, education and even social interactions. It is every parent’s wish to be able to provide the best for their children but that is not always possible. How do we communicate to them when we are unable to provide some of these things? Do we make them feel like they are a burden to us? Do we make them feel privileged to have what we have provided for them?

This is a tricky one but the reality is the social economic status of parents does affect how they parent. Some studies have found that the higher the socio economic status, the parenting will lean towards the permissive style and vice versa. Key to note though, is we all want the best for our children, despite our circumstances.

How we set boundaries for our children is also determined by our style of parenting. How and why should we discipline our children? Are you an advocate of “spare the rod and spoil the child?” or do you believe in talking things through? Do you adopt the “time out” method or do you withdraw privileges for a certain amount of time? Discipline is important as children need to learn the difference between right and wrong, and choose the right. They need to know that actions have consequences too, learn integrity, honesty and know that one cannot always have their way.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

No matter which way you choose, children do need a firm hand and direction otherwise they will have no self control, no respect for authority, be prone to abuse others (bullying), and no social skills. Both parents, if present, also need to be on the same page when it comes to discipline, otherwise the children will sense and can take advantage of one parent’s “apparent” weakness on the same.

We also need to be flexible in how we discipline our children. What works for one child doesn’t mean it will work for the other, and it also depends on the wrong that has been done.

A disciplined child is a responsible child, self assured, is good company to be around and is accountable for their actions. Once again, this is easier said and done, but we as the parents have to do the work, if we want to raise self assured, responsible members of society.

There is a lot more we can do as parents. What is important for me as a mother is to ensure I am a good role model for my children. Nobody is perfect, and they need to know that, but key for me is for them to learn that in spite of our imperfections as humans; we can be kind, humane, considerate and responsible. My goal for them is to have a strong sense of morality but be open minded too. The world we live in is very different from the one I was raised in, and so will the world they will live in as adults.

My dream for them is to be accommodating of how different we are as humans, be respectful to others and the environment and also have the discernment to make the right decisions in life. To be people of integrity, be self confident but not proud, work hard and smart and be successful in all they seek to do. Is this not what all parents want of their children?

As we strive to do right by our children, let’s not delude ourselves that it will work. We may do the best we can and our children turn out contrary to our expectations. Will it mean we have failed as parents? We have high expectations of ourselves and our children and tend to be hard on ourselves if it doesn’t end well. How prepared are we to cope with that?

Being a parent is involving and requires full commitment. There is no caveat to quit on the job. Because of this, it is important to know we are not alone. Making friends with other parents will help us as we share challenges and solutions on how to best raise our kids. It is ok to seek help, let us not suffer alone and in silence.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

To my dear fellow parents, what influences your parenting? What can we do to ensure we are raising our children the right way?

PS: You can read more on my thoughts on parenting here – https://mykampalanotebook.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/it-takes-a-village/

Instant Pot Kala Chana Curry.

One of the best things about having the instant pot is being able to boil dry cereals and legumes in a short period of time. No more setting aside a day to boil various legumes and pack them in the freezer for weeks or months, and woe unto you if you have no power for a day or so, and have to throw them out.

I have been trying out various recipes in the instant pot and I am happy with it. No instant pot? No worries. This simple chickpea curry can be made on the stovetop too.

Black chickpeas also known as “kala chana” are darker in colour and more meatier than the light coloured chickpeas, which makes them perfect for a filling vegetarian meal. They are rich in fibre, hence make you feel full for longer, and help prevent constipation. They are full of antioxidants, as well as folate and magnesium, low in fat and rich in iron among other benefits.

This simple dish can be had as a side or a main meal with rice or chapati along with a salad and other vegetables. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:-

  1. 1 1/2 cups soaked brown chickpeas
  2. I chopped onion
  3. 1 tbsp cooking oil
  4. 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  5. 1 chopped tomato and some tomato paste
  6. Spices: 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 bay leaf, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp dhana jeera powder and garam masala
  7. Salt and pepper
  8. Chopped coriander leaves and freshly squeezed lemon juice to garnish.

Method.

Switch on your instant pot and select the Sauté function.
Once hot, add a tbsp of cooking oil, followed by the bay leaf and a teaspoon of cumin seeds, then add onion when the seeds begin to sputter.
Let the onion cook then add the ginger garlic paste. Mix well and let cook a bit before adding the ground spices. Mix again and add a splash of water to deglaze the pot.
Add tomato paste and tomatoes. Let cook a while.
Add the drained chickpeas and mix well into the masala.
Check seasoning then add 2 cups of water. The chickpeas do not absorb that much water, so too much water will not do. Cover the pot and cancel sauté function.
Select the bean/ chilli program on the instant pot. I left the keep warm option on too. Let it cook and let the pressure release naturally when done. Do not rush it with a quick pressure release.

Once done, uncover the cooker and add your chopped coriander leaves, squeeze a half lemon over it and an additional little sprinkle of garam masala will not hurt. Let sit a bit then serve.

I had mine with rice and a slice of avocado on the side.
You can also have it with chapati.

This curry is perfect for weeknights when you do not want to spend too much time cooking. It is healthy, tasty and filling and you can serve with a salad or avocado slice for added nutrition and colour.

If making it on the stovetop just soak your chickpeas overnight, rinse, drain and boil them before making the curry.

Definitely worth a try, isn’t it?

World children’s day and tips on how to help each child grow as a happy adult

To all moms and dads out there! Give some words full of unconditional love and greetings to your child or children today as we celebrate the World …

World children’s day and tips on how to help each child grow as a happy adult

This is a repost from https://momsotherside.com/2020/11/20/world-childrens-day-and-tips-on-how-to-help-each-child-grow-as-a-happy-adult/

I know the day has passed but the post has important pointers for parents that are worth sharing. Read on and enjoy.