Coconut Pineapple Pancakes.

These cocopine pancakes are insanely delicious, decadent and made with so much love, each bite is just heaven on your tongue. Don’t believe me? Try them and see.

There is something about coconut and pineapple that reminds one of slow lazy days, sunshine, clear skies and love. Make these for yourself or your loved ones and treat yourselves.

The basic pancake batter is an adaption for a fluffy pancake recipe shared by @nyaranyango on Instagram. I changed it up a bit and made the pancakes Kenyan style, more like thickish crepes than fluffy American style. Then filled them with a simple pineapple and coconut compote that is wickedly delicious.

Ingredients:-

  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour.
  • 1 heaped tablespoon custard powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice.

For the compote;

  • 1/2 a medium sized ripe pineapple, diced. (Ugandan pineapples are the sweetest and go in so well in this recipe).
  • 1 big lemon, juiced.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A small pinch of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.
  • 2 tablespoons Ugandan honey
  • 1 heaped tablespoon coconut flakes, dessicated coconut will work too.
  • A small splash of vanilla.
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water.

Begin with the pancake batter. In a large bowl, add the coconut milk and sugar and whisk together, then add the coconut oil.

Next all the rest of the wet ingredients, the yoghurt, vanilla, egg and whisk well.

Follow this with the custard powder and flour and mix to a smooth thickish batter. The juice and cinnamon go in last. Set aside for a while.

For the compote, aka the pineapple sauce. Keep the heat low as you make it, to avoid burning.

Heat your small sauce pan and add the coconut flakes. Toast them till they start browning a bit, remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add the butter and as it melts, add the honey, lemon juice, and mix well. When it starts simmering, add the diced pineapple and the ground spices, mix well and cover. Let it cook for 15 minutes on low. The pineapples will remove their juice, soften and absorb the spices and lemon and honey slowly.

Once 15 minutes are up, if the compote is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch and mix well, finish off with the toasted flakes and vanilla and switch off heat.

Let us now get back to our pancakes. I use a non stick pan and do not add oil as I already added it in the batter.

Heat your pan on medium flame, wipe with a kitchen towel and ladle some batter, then swirl it round. When it gets bubbles on the surface, flip and let cook on the other side. I like mine this golden brown colour. Remove from heat with a spatula and keep on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Repeat the same process until all the batter is done.

Now assemble and serve. I usually put the compote in the middle and fold the pancakes into a triangle shape as seen below.

The pancakes are perfect with a cup of ginger tea. Yum!

If you love coconuts and pineapple, these cocopine pancakes are definitely worth a try.

Terere in Peanut Sauce.

Terere is what we call amaranth leaves in my mothertongue. So this dish is amaranth leaves in peanut sauce.

This dish makes me nostalgic of my uni days when I’d scour through cookbooks filled with recipes, copy some and try them out at home over the weekend. Clearly I didn’t have an active social life back then. 😆

The first recipe I ever saw that called for peanut sauce in greens was from Southern Africa, using pumpkin leaves, which I just had to try out. Thankfully pumpkin leaves were available in our garden and I’ve never forgotten the creamy deliciousness I enjoyed when I attempted the dish.

I like making this as a side dish for ugali. But it can work with other mains as well.

I like amaranth as it’s one of those plants you can consume the grains and the leaves, the grains are ground into flour to make porridge, or puffed to make breakfast cereal, or pressed with honey into cereal bars that make a great snack for kids and adults too. It is easily available and affordable, there is no excuse to not include it in your diet.

Amaranth is not hard to grow and back home grows wild in the farm. They come in green and red varieties.

Terere aka “dodo” as it is known here in Kampala is a nutrient powerhouse, despite being viewed as a lowly vegetable by many. It is high in fiber and iron, rich in vitamin A, protein, calcium, lysine (which enables the body to absorb calcium among other benefits), as well as rich in various vitamins and minerals.

In this recipe, I used two bunches of green amaranth leaves and one bunch of Swiss chard. One onion, three cloves garlic minced, one sliced tomato, and 1and a half heaped tbsp peanut sauce mixed with a bit of water to make a paste, salt and pepper to taste. Spices used were a pinch of paprika but this is optional.

Clean your greens, remove the thick stalks and chop them roughly. Set aside in a colander.

Mix the peanut butter and half a cup of water in a bowl. Till it’s like a smooth porridge.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan. Fry the onion and garlic till soft.

Add the tomatoes and spice and mix well with a pinch of salt.

Once tomatoes are soft, add the greens and mix well.

Once wilted, add the sauce.

Simmer for about 10 minutes. The vegetables will release their water and mix with the peanut sauce into a thick sauce and be tender.

Note: The younger the veggies, the shorter the cooking time as you do not want to overcook them. I like them with some bit of bite left.

Use good quality peanut butter preferably with no added sugar. I like using a local brand that mixes in sesame seeds to them that makes it darker in colour but also adds more flavour.

Serve your vegetables hot with your main of choice. I like having them with ugali and avocado slices on the side. Yum!

Plantain Bread.

Plantain is a very versatile fruit, though we treat it like a vegetable. You can have it grilled, baked, fried, roasted, mashed, stewed or just boiled, and it is good for you. Just make sure you cook it, do not eat it raw.

It is rich in fibre, iron, Potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, C and B6 and tasty too.

If you have some left over, and ripening from yellow to black, fret not, you can still use them in pancakes, porridge (I have an awesome plantain porridge recipe coming soon), and quick bread/ Cake.

I like making simple loaves for the kids’ school snacks or tea time treat. It comes together fast and you can add raisins, coconut, nuts, whatever you fancy.

For a simple plantain loaf, you will need:-

2 overripe plantains, 1 1/2cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp of tea masala spice (you can swipe with cinnamon), 2 eggs, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/ 4 tsp baking soda, 1/3 cup melted butter, 2 tbsp natural yoghurt, some chia seeds and coconut flakes.

Add the thick batter to a well greased loaf pan and bake at 160 degrees Celsius for about an hour. Start checking at around the 50 minutes mark, as it also depends on your oven and other variables.

It is not so level, but it’s never that serious is it?
The loaf is well baked and slides off the pan so easily, look at that bottom!
The loaf smells amazing and is moist and tasty. Definitely worth a try!

It is a fave in our house.

It tastes even better the next day, and if you want you can make a bigger one in a ring pan and even ice it a bit.

I think every kid likes this part. Other than eating of course. LOL!

For a bigger plantain bread/cake you can double the quantities and bake for 75 minutes.

Note: The riper the plantain the sweeter it is and the sweeter the plantain, the better. Also I do not use a lot of sugar, as we do not like our cakes too sweet.

I like adding coconut in it, finding the flavours blending together pretty well. You can also use coconut oil in place of the butter.

How do you like your plantain?

Out and About: Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park, is one of Uganda’s largest and beautiful game parks. It was established in 1952 and gets its name from the majestic Murchison Falls found within the park.

The park is located in North West Uganda, it covers over 3,800 square km of abundant wildlife, grassland, forests, water features and birdlife to name just a few. This place is not short of attractions to amaze any one who visits.

Located on the Albert Nile, you experience Africa’s largest and longest river, get to hear and see the thundering roar of the World’s most powerful waterfall, and let it drench you. See hundreds of palm nut trees, brought via elephant dung years ago when the elephants began migrating back to the area. Spot giraffes in the savanna grassland, buffalos grazing, elephants headed to the water, lions basking after a successful hunt and feed, come across hyenas in the thickets, spot leopards in the trees, and little oribi antelopes grazing. Visit chimpanzees and enjoy a swim in a lodge as the baboons and warthogs watch on. Enjoy beautiful sunrise and sunset views as you listen to birdsong from the many birds in the area. To name just a few. It is an amazing place that is definitely worth a visit when one is in the Pearl of Africa.

These palms are all over the park, thanks to the elephants’ movement and love for the tasty fruit.

The park is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and their rangers are the best guides when one visits. Murchison Falls N.P is not a one day visit, with so much to see, you can take at least a minimum of three days to be able to enjoy most of its attractions.

Once you head out of Kampala, the first attraction is the Karuma Falls on the Kampala Gulu highway that is on one of the park’s extreme ends. Because it is on a busy stretch of road with some hairpin turns, and due to security reasons, one may not stop on the side of the road, but you will see and hear the water roar, it is a sight to behold. Because of the rock formations and the direction /speed of the water flow, there is so much foam, crashing waves and huge roaring sound that will just amaze you and trust me, I am unable to describe what an incredible sight it is to behold. You will spot some baboons on the road side and various bird species as you head off the bridge over the Nile.

This is the “calm” side of the Karuma Falls.

There are several lodges and camping sights located around the park outskirts, as well as a rhino sanctuary, which is closed to visitors at the moment due to Covid pandemic. There are also a few lodges located right inside the park if you want the full bush experience. This entails baboons, warthogs and waterbucks grazing outside your room door, or hearing hyenas at night as they scavenge after a big cat’s kill. If your lodge overlooks the Albert Nile, you have an amazing view of the water, and hippos and crocs chilling as the other animals head for a drink of water. And if you are in a lodge near the Murchison Falls, you get to hear the water roaring down the whole time.

The must dos are an early morning game drive, you get to see the sun rise over the savanna, as the animals are still grazing and roaming around.

The other must dos are the trip to see the Falls. The top of the falls is just a boat and car trip away, and the bottom of the falls is a 2 hour boat trip, see why you need at least three days? You will only have time at the lodge to eat, sleep and maybe squeeze in a dip in the pool.

Night game drives are also possible, but we opted to do the morning ones. It took us 4 hours and we did not get to cover as much as the park as we wanted to, it is that vast.

We were however lucky to spot patas monkeys, giraffes, hyenas, buffalos, a lone leopard, warthogs, oribi antelopes, Jacksons’ hartebeests, lions, Abyssinian hornbills, elephants, side striped jackal, water bucks, bush bucks, guinea fowl, Ugandan Kob, harrier hawks, Abdim’s storks, grasshopper’s buzzard, palm nut vultures, lilac breasted roller, lapwings, sandpiper, monitor lizards, to name just a few.

How many oribi antelopes can you spot? They are small antelopes that are swift, gazelle like with small horns and a black tail, and apparently a delectable leopard treat.

Our early morning game drive began by a visit to some old ruins of the old Pakuba lodge, that is a known leopard lair, we did not spot any unfortunately but found some antelopes and waterbucks grazing in the vicinity. You will need a 4 wheel drive to manoeuvre some of the road trails due to the heavy rains, some trails and even bridges have been washed away. It was fun seeing who should spot what first. From a lone elephant grazing in the distance, a shy bush buck in a thicket, water bucks in the swampy areas to the birds, all with the sun rising beautifully in the distance.

We came across Abyssinian Hornbills, also known as “pedestrian birds” as they prefer staying on ground rather than the air, Jacksons’s Hartebeest, which I had never seen before, and our ranger guide informed us is quite the forgetful animal.

It is a large antelope with a beautiful golden brown hide and grey horns. They are many dotting the park. We spotted the Patas monkey that is a ground dwelling monkey native to the savanna and woodlands, and the fastest primate when running, going up to speeds of 55km per hour.

The Patas monkey.

Spot the leopard?

We also came across a leopard chilling out in a tree, coming up slowly till it sensed us and climbed down to the long grass and disappeared. Also came across a pride of lions with several cute cubs that were frolicking in the Savannah grassland, such a sight to behold. The ranger informed us they had been born during the lockdown so were not used to the vehicles yet, or human presence. Buffalos spot the landscape, as well Rothschild giraffes.

This calf was not more than three days old. Such a beautiful sight.

Unfortunately, this calf did not survive the day, thanks to a pack of hyenas hiding in a nearby thicket.

They were so well hidden, calculating and waiting for the perfect moment to strike and capture the giraffe calf.
It may look away now, but this hyena was part of the pack that descended on the poor giraffe calf.

As we drove on, we came to another thicket that had tracks leading to it, indicating a carcass had been drawn inside. We drove around the thicket and found this lioness resting after the heavy meal.

The lioness seemed quite unbothered by our presence, guess a heavy meal does take a toll and all she wanted to do was nap in the shade in peace.

Other animals spotted were warthogs grazing peacefully, different birds, buffalos and elephants.

There are earmarked places one can stop to use the restroom and view the Nile up close. This is where we got to see various bird such as African jacana, common sandpiper, lilac breasted roller, lapwings, storks, among others. A Nile monitor lizard and a school of hippos in the water.

Water bucks minding their own business.

The park’s main attraction however are the majestic Murchison Falls. Must do is a boat ride to the bottom of the falls. This takes about 2-3 hours on the calm waters. You will see African fish eagles, Nile crocodiles, many hippos various birdlife and animals headed to the water for a drink.

Such a beautiful sight.
These rock walls are covered by numerous tiny holes that are the kingfisher and bee eater birds’ tunnel nests.

The kingfisher and bee eaters’ tunnel nests are a sight to behold.

An African Fish Eagle.

Apparently years ago, one could get off the boat as you neared the bottom and hike to the top, but this is no longer possible. Heavy rains in recent years have seen water levels rise and the currents get stronger. There are many parts of the park that were accessible a few years ago but now under water.

You know you are nearing the falls when you see the water begin to get foamy and will even feel the boat rock with the heavy currents. Because of rising water levels, we could not get too close.

The visit to the top of the falls was my best experience. Seeing the water, rushing deep and roaring wild, it does something to you. To say the falls are amazing, magnificent and amazing to behold are an understatement to be honest. It is something you just have to experience, and soak in. We were lucky to be the only ones there with our guide and sitting there in silence just watching the water and listening to the thundering roar, is a magical experience.

There are steps you can climb to view the falls from the top and enjoy the water spray as well as a lovely full rainbow that is always there.

I did not want to leave!

The only thing we didn’t do is go to see the chimpanzees but that’s the perfect excuse for a return visit.

If you are in Uganda, and have not visited Murchison Falls, what are you waiting for?

If you are planning a visit to the region, spare a day or two, to experience the beautiful Murchison Falls National Park. It is worth it!