Monday, June 23, 2008

Guest Blogger from Malawi

Smell the Basil would like to introduce a guest blogger that will post occasionally on the site. Alicia is my sister and she is currently a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, Africa. She is a food lover just like me and is learning how to cook in Malawi will limited ingredients, cooking utensils and no refrigeration.

Alicia has her own site Chichewa Chit Chat where you can learn all about her experiences in Africa. However, she would love to include her food stories here on Smell the Basil. If you have any questions for her please put them in the comment section and I will be sure to ask her next time I talk to her. Enjoy the insight into cooking from the other side of the world!

Skillet Pita Bread

In my village there is no bread. I could bike a long way to get it, but it doesn’t really seem worth it for stale, white sandwich bread. So I decided to make bread in my skillet since I don’t have an oven. The recipe is your standard pita recipe, but cooked in a screaming hot skillet! Who knew you didn’t have to heat up an oven every time you want bread!
½ tsp yeast
1/3 cup warm water
½ tsp. salt
1 T. Honey
1 cup flour
Mix warm water, yeast, and honey. Let stand 5 minutes until bubbles form. Add salt, flour and knead for 10 minutes. Form into a ball, coat boat and dough in a little bit of oil. Allow to rise in a warm place (covered with a damp towel) for 1 ½ hours. Divide dough into 4 equal sections and knead each section for a few minutes. Roll into 6 inch pita rounds. Place in a very hot, dry skillet for 1 ½-2 minutes on each side.

Falafel Mix

In the village protein is hard to come by. Between powdered milk, peanuts, oatmeal, and beans I do just fine. But cooking beans everyday takes a lot of planning and a lot of fuel. So I developed a way that I could have beans on the fly, even when I forgot to soak them overnight or I’m not home during the day to watch the pot.
1 ½ cup dried chickpeas
2 T. sesame seeds or tahini
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 small onion, diced
10 dried mustard leaves or 2 T. dried parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 egg
Flour or cornmeal
Soak chickpeas overnight. Bring chickpeas to a boil and cook until just soft, about 45 minutes. Mash peas, sesame seeds, cumin, salt, and dried mustard leaves in a mortar and pestle (mtunda in Chichewa) until it is an even consistency (if your are super special and have electricity you could use a food processor). Place in the sun until completely dry. At this point the mix can be stored in an airtight container. When you are ready to have Falafel burgers, for each ½ cup of mix soak in hot water until all the liquid has been absorbed. Start with ¼ cup and add water as necessary. Add diced onion, garlic, and beaten egg. Roll into golf ball sized balls/patties, coat in flour/cornmeal, and panfry until brown and crisp. Makes 6 golf ball sized patties for each ½ cup of mix. Serve on pita bread with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt sauce.

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