Cooking Club DXB volume 2

A Taste of Tanzania

My family recently traveled to Tanzania and loved every minute of it. One thing we all liked was the cuisine. So when my friend Hope (who is from Arusha) offered to show us how to make Makande and Mtori, I jumped at the chance.

(If you have ever thought about going to Tanzania or to Africa on safari, I cannot recommend Tanzania enough. Take a look at our safari blog post on Kilimanjaro, The Serengeti, The Nagorno Crater, and Tarangire National Park for inspiration.)

Cooking With a View

Looking out onto the Arabian Sea. What a view!

Looking out onto the Arabian Sea. What a view!

Ok I admit it. We are spoiled with sunshine and unbelievable sea views living in the UAE. Our friend Hope is lucky to have this view as hers - every, single, day. I'll insert the "groan" here for everyone (and I was one for many many years) battling the winter far too long into what should be spring. But  "Khalas" this is the UAE."

A beautiful pot of ginger tea was waiting for us

A beautiful pot of ginger tea was waiting for us

 

Making Makande

Makande is a very traditional Tanzanian dish consisting predominantly of maize (dried corn) and kidney beans. It is a hearty dish that clearly falls into the category of "soul food." When we were in Tanzania, our guide encouraged us to try Makande as it was one of his favourites and our three boys could not get enough.

Here's what to do.  First, all the beans and maize need to be sifted in order to discard the ones not worthy of this fabulous dish. Fully rinse them and leave them to soak overnight. We did not soak the beans and instead used a pressure cooker to rapid cook.  Because the pressure cooker is a little scary for many of us (me included), I suggest the soaking method. 

Now onto the painful job of preparing the vegetables.  This includes chopping onions and peppers as well as peeling, seeding, and dicing tomatoes. Once everything was ready, we put the tomatoes and onions in the frying pan with olive oil until tender.

With the tomatoes and onions now ready, we added the spices and coconut milk and mixed together with a hand blender until fairly smooth.

The tomato mixture was added to the beans and corn to simmer on low heat until the beans and corn were tender- approximately 45 mins. Just before the beans are ready, stir in the peppers and continue to simmer for a few minutes. Et voila, Makande! It can be served alone or over rice. Delicious!

Makande, traditional Tanzanian dish.

Recipe for Makande

  • 1 1/2 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 1/2 cup maize
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 hot chili pepper, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Soak dried beans and corn in water overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans and corn.
  3. Saute onions until tender.
  4. Add diced tomatoes and continue to cook until tender.
  5. Add the spices and remaining ingredients (except the salt)
  6. Blend with a hand blender until fairly smooth.
  7. Put beans and corn into a large heavy bottom pot and cover with water.
  8. Add blended tomatoes and onions.
  9. Simmer over low to medium heat until beans and maize are soft.
  10. A few minutes before serving, add the peppers. cook slightly, they should remain slightly crunchy.
  11. Add salt to taste.
  12. Serve as is or with rice and ENJOY!

Mtori

When visiting Tanzania, you will quickly find out, that bananas are a foundational food staple for many in the country.  Mtori is a banana based soup that I first tried in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. When I learned we would be eating "banana soup" I got a little nervous. Overripe, sweet bananas came to mind and I had no idea how I was going to be able to stomach this taste in oder to not offend anyone. My ignorance towards the different types of bananas and their preparation quickly became apparent when we tasted this delicious soup. Bananas used in Mtori are extremely unripe and taste more like potatoes. The soup was served with freshly squeezed limes and its deliciousness was obvious by the number of bowls our boys had. 

Above photos of bananas and Mtori we had in Tanzania.

The unripe bananas needed for Mtori are next to impossible to find in Dubai so it was a real treat to make and sample this dish with Hope (her friend who was visiting brought the bananas in her suitcase from Tanzania!)

First, small pieces of chicken (with bones) are boiled in a pot of water with salt and pepper. Use enough water that it allows you to have the needed broth to use as stock of the soup. Every once in awhile the froth from the pot is skimmed and discarded. Boil chicken until fully cooked.

Lots of chicken to make a perfect stock

Next came the lesson in peeling unripe bananas. No joke, this is a skill. Before you start, you must lather your hands in oil to prevent the banana from sticking to you. The bananas are then sliced down one of their seams so you can begin pulling back the peel. It doesn't give way easily and almost feels like you are peeling bark from a tree. Once finished, all the extra bits left on the bananas are then scraped off so that it is fully cleaned for use in the soup. Peeling those bananas is a real labour of love!

Hope fixing our bananas to make them not so "ugly" :-)

The next step was to remove the cooked chicken pieces from the broth so that the remaining liquid can be reduced with further boiling.  Chop the bananas and add them to the chicken stock. Add one chicken bullion cube and bring to a low boil. Simmer until the bananas are tender. With a hand blender, puree the soup. Add the chicken pieces back to the soup for serving. Ladle into bowls and serve as is or with freshly squeezed lime juice. Delicious!!

Mtori soup does not taste like bananas at all

Mtori soup does not taste like bananas at all

Recipe for Mtori

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of chicken pieces with bones in (legs and wings are best)
  • Raw (unripe) Plantain bananas
  • Chicken bullion cube
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Put chicken pieces in a pot of water (enough water to cover all the chicken) and boil until cooked.
  2. Remove chicken from water.
  3. Continue to boil water chicken cooked in until reduced to a nice chicken broth.
  4. Peel bananas and chop
  5. Put bananas in chicken stock along with chicken bullion cube and continue to boil until bananas are tender.
  6. With a hand blender, blender soup until smooth.
  7. Add more water until the desired consistency.
  8. Add chicken pieces back to soup.
  9. erve with lime wedges.

 

The Best Part, Enjoying the Fruits of Our Labour

Friends who eat together stay together!

Friends who eat together stay together!

More Than Cooking

Tanzania is famous for all of its vibrant colours. These colours shine through in the environment, food, clothing, and (what I loved) their artwork. One of the most well known forms is Tingatinga art. The name Tingatinga comes from the original painter of this style, Edward Said Tingatinga. The amateur style uses highly saturated pigments and is geared towards the tourist market, often representing tribal groups like the Maasai and the big five. While enjoying our delicious cuisine and endless conversation, we were also indulged with being surrounded by Hope's collection of Tingatinga art! What a great afternoon.


Cooking Club DXB Volume 1

Tribe Vibe is so fortunate to have one of the best cooks around. Seriously, Carmen is a fabulous cook of all things, but especially Middle Eastern cuisine. I make hummus quite often, and its ok, but after tasting Carmen's, I immediately knew our dishes were two different things. Seriously, hers is that good. So here you go, the recipe for the best hummus ever!  NB:  Like all great cooks, Carmen doesn't go by any set measurements - she adjusts by look and taste. We've done our best to give you the best measurements we can, but please feel free to experiment to customize to your own liking if needed.

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Think Pink!

The colour pink has become a symbol for the fight against breastcancer, and awareness levels of the disease are now higher than ever before as a result! 

In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Dubai, you can take advantage of a series of events and activities accross the city. From multi-national companies who hold annual breakfast meetings to raise awareness,  yoga on the beach, fundraising sporting events such as Ignite Pink is Punk Swim Run, awareness luncheons, Reiki therapy sessions, numerous possibilities to have health related check ups done; the list is endless.

While no food can be solely blamed for the cause of breast cancer, and no food can prevent it, a balanced diet and regular excercise can keep you in optimal health. Last week I tried a recipe with a twist: Hot Pink Hummus. 

Not knowing if the beets would be too overpowering, I added lemon, garlic and olive oil to temper the flavour. Here's the recipe for this smooth, tasty spread, which is perfect with pita bread and colourful veggies:

Ingredients: 

- 400 grams of roasted beets

- 1 can of chickpeas

- 1 large lemon (zest and juice)

- 3 garlic cloves

- 1/2 cup of tahini

- 1/4 cup of olive oil

- salt and pepper

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Method: 

1. Wrap beets in foil, drizzle olive oil over beets, close and wrap tightly.

2. Roast beets in the oven for 1 hour (180 degrees).

3. Cool, peel, and quarter beets.

4. Place all ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth.

5. Taste, season with salt and pepper. To give it a bit of a kick I sprinkle "Fleur de Sel Espelette" from our last holiday on I'île de Ré. 

6. Drizzle olive oil and pomegranate seeds over hummus.

7. The spread will keep in the fridge for one week. 

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Bon appetit! 

Family movie night dinner option (hint-it's not pizza!)

Family movie night dinner option

What do you feel like at weeks end? Exhausted? Depleted? Do you arrive home late, with everyone in tow, describing in detail how hungry they are as they push through the front door? Good times, right? Well, I have the perfect Thursday/Friday night solution for you. In our house it's called Tapas Night (it's not really tapas, but because we eat from small plates and a shared tray of food, my kids think of it as tapas.) It's dinner in front of the tv that the whole family can enjoy.

While the boys are discussing which bad teenage movie we are all going to have to suffer through, I quickly put our meal together (or more often than not, it is already prepared and waiting in the fridge to make its way to the coffee table.). It is all based around two Ikea turning platters. Typically one platter is home to fruits, nuts, and cheeses, while the other platter houses the dried meats, sausage, vegetables, olives, and pickles. There are no rules here, just odds and ends from the fridge that need to be finished up. The point is, it is all very simple, easy to eat, finger foods.

Guess what the kids go for first? You got it, all the fruit. They are like savages going in for the kill on the berries! There are no rules to the sequence of eating off the trays, you want fruit first, then eat fruit first. The veggies will be waiting.

Grazing is the best way to eat in front of the tv. Most of the time people don't even realize they are eating while zoned into the screen. That's a good thing here, because bit by bit, all the food gets eaten up. Even the veggies!

Friday night dinner in front of the tv ideas

And just as the movie is coming to an end, the last bites are taken. You can go to bed knowing that everyone had a super healthy dinner that required very little effort.

A real perk of this meal is the easy clean-up. For us, there are just 5 small plates and 5 glasses to go in the dishwasher. A quick wash of the trays et voila, dinner is cleaned up! The perfect ending to a hectic week!

Friday night dinner in front of the tv ideas

Clone of the Cinnabon

What I really love about these, aside from the yummy taste, is the smell of cinnamon that fills the house once they're in the oven.

This recipe is a keeper. It rarely fails; just make sure your dough proves well. Extra time is always good. Also, make sure you don't bake them on high or over bake. Once they cool down a bit ; keep them covered so that they don't dry out. Any Extras? These also freeze well.

 

I have made these many times and always get asked for the recipe. And so when my  12-year-old daughter offered her help in making the video, I couldn't say no.

So here you go folks. A simple, fast and very yummy Cinnabon Clone recipe.

Ingredients
For Dough:
1 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter
4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

For Filling
1 cup brown sugar packed
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
walnuts or pecan ( optional )

For Topping

You can really eat these as is, powder them with confectioners' sugar when cool, use a simple glaze, drizzle with chocolate or go for the classic cheese cream topping. Get creative!


Regular Glaze
1 1/2 confectioners' sugar with a 3 tbsp of water, cream or milk (or enough to get heavy cream consistency), 2 tsp of vanilla


Cream Cheese
1 package cream cheese, softened 1/4 cup butter, softened 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/8 teaspoon salt

Method:
Add all ingredients ( eggs, melted butter, yeast, salt and sugar).Gradually add the flour, mix until you get a dough ball. Knead dough. Let prove for at least one hour. You will get better results if you can keep it for extra.

Roll with a pin into a rectangle of around 0.5 cm thickness. spread softened butter ( keep a tbsp or so to brush rolls later ), sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon. Add nuts if you like.

Roll from wide end and cut into 2-3 cm thick slices. Place on greased baking tray.

Let prove again for 30 minutes or more if you can. Brush with any remaining butter if any.Bake at 165c for 30 minutes or until golden. Glaze or top with cream cheese topping. Serve warm. 

Bon Appetit :)