Kala Chana Pilau.

I am a big fan of pilau as there are so many ways you can mix it up and always end up with a tasty and filling dish. It provides one with so many ways to spice up one pot rice, works well for weekday dinner and leftovers are perfect for the kids’ school lunch boxes.

In this specific pilau I used some brown chickpeas also known as ‘kala Chana’ , some cashew nuts and a little chicken too and the result was an aromatic and palate pleasing dish.

Let’s get started.

Our ingredients are a cup of basmati rice, two sliced onions, half a cup of already boiled brown chickpeas, a tbsp of ginger garlic paste, 1 tbsp of ground pilau masala, salt to taste, 1 tbsp butter, and some whole pilau masala spices (1 bay leaf, a small stick of cinnamon, a few black peppercorns, cloves and cardamoms and a tsp of cumin seeds). I also added in about 300 g of chicken breast and a few raw cashew nuts.
Heat your sauce pan and add the butter and a small drop of oil so the butter doesn’t burn. Add the whole spices and let them release their aroma for a few seconds.
Add the sliced onions and let them cook till caramelized.

Add the ginger garlic paste and mix well. Then add the pilau masala and mix well. Then add a few raw cashews. Mix and ensure the spices do not burn.

Add your chicken if using. let cook till browned and coated well with the spicy mixture.
Add in the kala chana. Mix and let it also get coated and absorb the masala mix. Do not forget your salt and pepper. The aroma at this time is amazing!
Add your rice, then 2 cups of water. Cover and let simmer till the water is absorbed and the rice is ready.
The rice is now ready to serve. You can have it with some raita on the side, a curry accompaniment or a simple green salad.

It is a very tasty and filling meal. The chickpeas provide nutrients, colour and an earthy flavour that is complemented well by the pilau spices, the tender chicken and the sweetness of the cashew nuts and caramelized onions.

We had it with a simple vegetable salad and some jeera potatoes. Filling, tasty, easy to make and colourful; all my favorites for a meal I love.

Give it a try and let me know what you think of this dish.

Yummy Minced Beef And Eggplant.

If you know me, you know my love for this purple vegetable also known as aubergine. I like it’s color, flavor, texture and its versatility in different dishes. It also doesn’t hurt to know it’s good for you, being chock full of antioxidants, as well as other nutrients.

A major challenge for many people is how to get their family to eat it. Roasting it is great and also as a curry. In this simple weekday meal, I roasted then mashed it and added to a spicy beef mince curry simmering and it was a hit with the kids! Try it with your fussy eaters and let me know how it turns out.

Our ingredients are:-

500g beef mince, two ripe tomatoes, two medium eggplants, garlic ginger paste, crushed coriander seeds, and Kenyan curry powder.

So this curry powder has been in the Kenyan Market for as long as I can remember and it’s found in almost every Kenyan kitchen. I don’t think it’s ever rebranded. It’s always found with that distinctive green and yellow and red can that makes it easy to pick out anywhere. And the flavoring and aroma it lends to food is amazing. (Watch out for counterfeit ones though).

Back to the recipe. Clean, slice and sprinkle egg pant with salt and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add some coconut oil and cumin seeds, once they splutter add roughly chopped onion and let cook for a while.

Once the onions are softened, add the mince and let it cook till brown and dry, before adding the ginger garlic paste and spices.
Once the spices are cooked, add your grated tomato, cover and let the sauce cook.

Meanwhile, roast the eggplant at 180°C for about 20 minutes till soft. Let cool a bit then mash into a paste.

Add the pureed eggplant and blanched peas to the beef mince mixture. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat. Check your seasoning, Squeeze juice of half a lemon , garnish and serve.
Final plate garnished with coriander leaves.

You can have this with rice, any bread of choice, pasta or even mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Arrowroot and Eggplant Curry.

Let me just appreciate my SIL Pesh first, who took the time to bring my instant pot to me in Kampala, it is a life saver and I am on a roll learning to cook all sorts of meals with it. I have no idea why I was not using it as much back home.

Today’s meal is an interesting mix and do not worry, it can be made on the stove top too. Arrow root is a favourite from back home and eggplants too, so why not make them into a delicious curry? Yummy and filling enough for a meatless Monday recipe. Let’s get started.

Ingredients: I large arrowroot, chopped into medium cubes, two chopped eggplants, one chopped onion, I bunch coriander stalks and leaves, 2 grated tomatoes, and 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste. Spices used: I tsp of cumin seeds, 1/4 tp turmeric,1 tsp dhania jeera powder, 1 tbsp Curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Also a dollop of natural yoghurt to garnish.
With your instant pot on sauté setting, add your tbsp of oil and cumin seeds.
Add your onion and garlic ginger, let it cook a bit then add the coriander stalks (nothing goes to waste), tomatoes, tomato puree and spices. Mix well.
Then add your eggplant and arrow root.
Mix well and add water, not more than a cup and a half; just enough to cover the vegetables. Cancel the sauté function. Cover and cook on pressure cook setting for 3 min on high pressure. Yes, 3 minutes only
Let the instant pot release pressure naturally for 5 minutes then do a quick pressure release. Uncover once the pressure is down, add a squeeze of lemon juice and garnish with the coriander leaves. Serve immediately while still hot.
Serve with a dollop of fresh natural yoghurt which also helps temper the spice for the kids.
You can serve the curry on it’s own, with steamed rice or a simple flatbread which is best to scoop the sauce with right?

As I always say, this dish tastes as good as it looks, and if you do not believe me you will just have to try it to prove me wrong, right?

Ugali

Auto correct kept changing ‘ugali’ to ‘ugly’. WTH?

Ugali is one of the region’s staple meals. It is easy to cook, uses only two ingredients (maize flour and water) and goes with just about anything. Ugali is more commonly known as posho here in Uganda. It is a hearty meal that can be made by just about anyone. Well, almost everyone.

I have a love hate relationship with ugali to be honest. I love eating it, cooking it, not so much. If I had to compete in ugali making I would fail miserably in the first round. I’d be like those guys whose ridiculous audition clips provide much needed humour in the final rounds of a competition.

Nevertheless, I make ugali at least once a week. If I had my way, we would have it more often but oh well. Let’s not push it. So Ugali, boil your water, add the flour bit by bit until it’s a stiff mash and mix well with a wooden spoon till it stiffens and ‘smells’ cooked, takes about 15 minutes, right? I am open to suggestions of how long ugali should be cooked btw *insert shrug*

I usually cover it and let it steam in between turning it well. How to tell its ready though? I do a taste test. Some people recommend taking a small piece and fling it to the wall to test for readiness. Like the old spaghetti test. I do not know if it works though. LOL.

The most common way to serve ugali is with greens (spinach, kale, traditional greens) and a nice protein option; beef, fish, chicken, eggs, goat meat etc.

See this? I can’t even get my ugali to have a nice smooth top and rounded well. SMH

This is still a work in progress for me. But I don’t let it stop me from enjoying eating it!

At least I can make nice yummy greens to cover up my weakness 🙂
And a nice salad on the side to cover up for my ugali transgressions comes in handy.
Add in some spicy bacon to the cabbage, some chunky guac, and everyone will forget how bad my ugali looks.

What are your tips for making your ugali stand out?