Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kedjenou with kelewele and collards with green peppers in tomato-peanut sauce

God, this post is gonna be long.

I finally got a little time to post this African food I've been threatening to make! But let's back up a bit - why would a little white bitch up in the Pacific NW be interested in making African food in the first place? You can blame that one on the YouTubes.

I was flipping through, looking for Naija videos (I can't stop listening to Afrikan Boy), and this caught my eye. It is a fucking hilarious riff of Lil' Wayne, so please just indulge me and watch it. I had no idea that Nigerians were so food-centric! I love them already. I decided that I should share this video with you all, but wanted to cook a meal to really set it off.

I have all those collard greens I've been talking about, and I knew that many African countries use greens. I'd also had chicken-peanut stew once, but the peanut butter had been slightly burned and the stew ended up tasting like singed ass hairs. I wanted to avoid this, so (being a scientist) I did a little research.

I found this website, The Congo Cookbook. I can't say enough wonderful things about this website. It's like an African, mixed with a little Wikipedia. You can scroll to your desired dish (e.g, chicken, meat, seafood, stew, etc.), and you just roll over a listed dish and it tells you the main components, and where it's from. Then if you click the link, it takes you to the recipe page, which gives the information about how it's served, the specific country or region that perfected it, and other foods commonly eaten with it. This is ideal for my infotainment junkie needs! I will be coming back often. Also, they have no idea who I am: I have not been solicited to review their website (although I am going to tell them I did and see if they'll send me a cookbook or sommat!).

I decided I wanted to stick to west African food to honor the Naija Boyz, and so I could give a shout-out to Courtney, my homegirl at Coco Cooks (her dad is the original Naija Boy). Nikki Miller-Ka at Nik Snacks says every day is African Day at her house, so she gets some love too.

Kedjenou is a stew from Cote d'Ivoire of chicken and vegetables (eggplant and/or okra - I chose "and"), with a tomato-based sauce. I probably spiced it more heavily than is traditional (I love tomato with ginger and hot chili), but it was so good! This is traditionally prepared in an earthware vessel called a canari (or canary), but I used a Chinese clay hotpot instead.

I'm not going to post the recipes since they're not really mine, but for the stew I just browned a cut-up chicken (thighs, legs and wings are best) in a little oil with some chopped onions and garlic, tossed in some minced ginger and sprinkled some Berbere spice over the top. When it was browning up nicely I added the chopped eggplant and some chopped tomato, a bay leaf and some thyme, then a few dashes of Maggi. Next I added some stewed tomatoes and some chicken stock and put the lid on to simmer for about 45 minutes. Since I wasn't cooking over coals I didn't bother doing the shake-every-five-minutes canari method, I just gave it a shake a couple times. About 10 minutes to the end I added the okra (I prefer okra al dente) and let it finish off (falling-off-the-bone tender is done). Serve with buttered rice.

Maggi's claim is true: it improves the taste. Maggi sauce is the wheat alternative to soy sauce, and can be found all over developing countries and in Asian grocery stores. This is actually Chinese Maggi (common theme here), not west African Maggi, but I like the sauce over the cubes and already had some in my cabinet.

Kelewele is spiced fried plantains from Ghana. I love fried plantains, so this was really a no-brainer. These are tossed with some cayenne and ginger before they get fried, and provide a wonderful, unctuous sweetness to the plate.

The greens with green pepper, ironically, were originally the whole point (I just have so many of them!), but ended up a side dish. I removed the stems from the collards and chopped them finely. I sauteed them with chopped onion and green bell pepper, added some tomato salsa and a couple spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter (stir together), then added the chopped greens. A spoonful or two of water and a lid, then 10 minutes later it's on.

Some astute readers will notice a glaring omission: I didn't make fufu. I totally planned to, bought the yams and everything, but I ran out of burners! I will next time, I promise (and then I won't need to use a fork).

One last thing, my baby girl Emiline over at Visions of Sugar Plum has tagged me for a meme! She's the only person I can forgive for this egregious disregard of my "No Memes, Plzkthx" policy, so I will play along and say thank you! But I will not tag anyone.

1. Last Movie I Saw In A Movie Theater?
Hellboy II

2. What Book Are You Reading?
Persepolis (and yes, even though it has pictures it is still a book)

3. Favorite Board Game?

4. Favorite Magazine?

5. Favorite Smells?
My husband's armpits (mixed with his deodorant), honeysuckle, tomato leaves

6. Favorite Sounds?
Four-part harmony, bacon sizzling, territorial hummingbirds

7. Worst Feeling In The World?

8. First Thing You Think of When You Wake?
I really need to pee before he even thinks about poking me with that thing

9. Favorite Fast Food Place?

10. Future Child's Name?
I won't divulge the ones I'm planning on using, but a girl's name I really like is Astrid, and I really like Sy for a boy

11. Finish This Statement—“If I Had a Lot of Money, I’d…
Write my cookbook, have a really clean house, learn to be a DJ, become fluent in a few more languages..."

12. Do You Drive Fast?
I can't drive 55. Unless I'm in a 40 mph zone.

13. Do You Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?
No, but I stuff a pillow between my tummy and my thighs.

14. Storms—Cool or Scary?
Erotic. You decide which of those that falls under.

15. What Was Your First Car?
A honey-colored 1978 Buick Limited. I called her The Mothership Connection.

16. Favorite Drink?
A Gayhound (vodka with pink grapefruit juice, and a sprig of fresh rosemary).

17. Finish This Statement—“If I Had the Time, I Would…
Write my cookbook, have a really clean house, learn to be a DJ, become fluent in a few more languages..."

18. Do You Eat the Stems on Broccoli?
Waste not, want not.

19. If You could Dye your Hair Any Other Color, What Would It Be?

20. Name All the Different Cities In Which You Have Lived.
Portland, OR. You might think that's boring until you find out how awesome Portland is.

21. Favorite Sport to Watch?
Men's swimming.

22. One Nice Thing About The Person Who Sent This To You
She's who I'd be if I were nicer and more talented (and ten years younger).

23. What’s Under Your Bed?
Carpet, errant slippers, hrblz.

24. Would You Like to Be Born As Yourself Again?
Of course! That's not to say I wouldn't do a few things differently if I had my druthers.

25. Morning Person or Night Owl?
Neither? I'm most coherent between 9:00 and midnight.

26. Over Easy or Sunny Side Up?
I guess Over Easy. Sunny Side Up is just so in-your-face.

27. Favorite Place to Relax?
One of those massage chairs that you sit in while you're getting a pedicure.

28. Favorite Ice Cream Flavor?
Rocky Road.

29. Of All the People You Have Tagged, Who Is the Most Likely to Respond First?
Haha, joke's on you - I didn't tag anyone!


Emiline said...

Mmm, there's nothing like the small of armpit.
Thanks for playing along - I loved your answers!

The African food sounds really good. I've never eaten it before, but I think I'd like it. I like okra, eggplant, peanuts, tomatoes....

glamah16 said...

I'm laughing my ass off on this sad day. Thank you. Where did you find that video? You amaze me and Im loving that stew and plantains. Maggi is THE seasoning. I never knew how prevelant it was in Asian food. CS takes pride in it being German.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

LOL @ singed ass hairs
Yeah, girl! This is right on! I had to show my husband your post. We're both proud of you LOL He's from Senegal and was like, "How does she know about Maggi?" So, I'm going to post about tonight's dinner, which happens to be Senegalese (well, a rendition thereof). And The Congo Cookbook? Yeah, that's my jam. I was on that site every day after we got married so I could get the authentic recipes to make food for my husband and his friends.

Nikki Miller-Ka said...

Oh, and thanks for the shout out ;)

Sarah said...

Yum. I love African, although I've mostly eaten East African food. I have to say that I in no way whatsoever like fufu, which in Kiswahili is ugali. They have two different types in Tanzania, the stuff made from cassavas and a type made of corn meal, which is some what like grits. It's just so...bland. I admit that it's not bad with a spicy sauce, but I also suck and the whole "roll it in a ball, flatten, scoop some sauce and toss in your mouth without actually touching your mouth" thing. (This is how it was eaten in the village I was in... maybe it's different other places.) It's just embarrassing when the two year old beside you is better at it that you.

Anyway, cheers! I hope Ethiopian is in your future. So spicy and delicious!

April in CT said...

Armpits and okra...don't get no better than that.

Thank you for an entertaining post and a delicious looking meal.

Peter G said...

Wow! Another amazing contribution by Ms Voodoolily! I adore okra too especially al dente and I think I've eaten fufu in South Africa (they call it pap..I think)'s kinda mealy if I remember. As for your meme....ROFLMAO...armpits? kinky thing!

Norm Schoen said...

Hellboy II was AWESOME!
As for Broccoli, I didn't even know it had florets until I moved away from home (my thrifty Mom always bought the stalks...frozen). Y'know, I actually like the stems better then the florets : )

Anonymous said...

Can i borrow the mothership connection for a week-end? haha.. most importantly does it come with the whole George Clinton collection? :)

Thanks for bringing the African vibe around here. The Kedjenou sounds pretty damn awesome but..

what's that armpit smell?

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

What a fabulous looking meal! I haven't tried much African food, but I've really enjoyed the things I have had. We have an Ethiopian restaurant in town and the food is great! I'm definitely checking out the Congo Cookbook site.

Heather said...

Em - His smell really good! He doesn't sweat much.

Coco - You'd be amazed at what I find by Googling "Naija". Actually, these guys are remaking Thriller too. The Nestle corporation makes many delicious products. :)

Nikki - I'm so glad to get a little street cred with you and your Senegalese hubz! I can't wait to see your post.

Sarah (aka Bebbeh Cuzzin) - I am always amazed at the places you've been! I love Ethipian food - maybe I'll try my hand at doro wat next (I have some nice eggs that need eating).

April - Damn skippy! Armpits and okra sound like a party to me. (@_@)

Petah - I just love to bury my nose in there and breathe in deeply. I think it strengthens my immune system. (^-^)

Norm - Ha! Figures you saw it too, since you have a kid. (I was hanging out with some big movie/comic book nerds last weekend.)

M. Zen - I used to listen to a shitload of Parliament in that beast. What a great car. It cost $5 in gas every day to get to school.

Susan - That website is so informative! I hope you try a recipe from it. :)

Peter M said...

First off, Cote D'Ivoire comes as no surprise to offer up such good food..must look into it...diggin' okra.

Second, Maggi is everywhere here in the markets...I'll pick some up next time.

Thirdly, armpits? FREAK! lol

Brittany said...

I am gonna be honest...I have no idea what the words in this dish even mean, but would I eat it? Fuck yes. It looks amazing.

And, you should totally WAIT to pee in the morning, it makes the poking even more enjoyable!

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Loved your meme...another small look into the mind of Heather!

You never fail to astound me with the recipes that you choose to make. I am so incredibly envious and wish that I had of had a love of food and cooking before I had children (my time is more limited now???!!!).

MrOrph said...

Well done!

I work with a Nigerian brother and he eats "stew" EVERYDAY! He may vary it with vergetables but for the most part it is chicken and rice. For dinner, fufu, no hands!

I've made a couple of peanuty chicken and some goat dishes that actually impressed him. I am going to show him your post and see what he thinks! I'll bet he's equally as impressed as I am.

Foodycat said...

Oh! Do you love Persopolis? That book rocked my world. I really want to see the film too.

Friends made us the jollof rice from that congocookbook site - tastes a lot like my mum's (English/Swiss woman)take on Caribbean red bean rice. Delicious. And makes me wanna try this one too.

Heather said...

Peter the Greek - Armpit smell is 100% Man! You just remember that next time a lady smells you up.

Brittany - I read that somewhere, but there's a fine line between "just right" and "too much". ;)

Judy - I know the shit'll hit the fan when we have kids, so I'm trying to milk it for all it's worth. :)

Donald - I love goat. It's like beef and lamb had a delicious baby. I can't wait to see what your friend thinks! I don't have any Nigerian friends to serve this to. :(

Foodycat - I do love it! Unfortunately, I got the books after I'd seen the movie (which was fantastic), but the books seems to have a lot more going on.

Brittany said...

haha- cool meme. Armpit smell (the nice kind) is kind of hot when it's wafting from your loved one. Somehow I've managed to never be tagged for one of these things. A blessing for sure.

peter said...

My friend John once poured me a glass of wine and said: "It's like eating ass, but it's ass that you like."

He was right.

The Earthy, barnyardy, funky notes are what make us crave fermented food (and people, in the right cases.)

But I loathe green peppers. They are the only vegetable I don't eat. Wait until they're red, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

LisaRene said...

Thanks for sharing The Congo Cookbook web site, I'm quite excited to look it over as I do love the flavors of African cooking.

The video is amusing/annoying/put-a-smile-on-my-face entertaining.

Your dish looks absolutely lovely!

My favorite drink when out is a grayhound (can't mess it up and over charge for it) but I will definitely give a gayhound a try! Love the addition of the rosemary!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

"I didn't make fufu."

Try telling that to the police officer... ;-)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Brilliant looking food.

I like your creative kid names.

Persepolis is a great book too. I have the movie saved on my Netflix queue and I'm dying to see it.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This looks delicous! I love the whole story behind it as well - and listening to the music you recommended while watching it is a whole other thing! :)

That is so funny about your meme - I have always wanted to name a future child Astrid - but I fear that now I am actually married, it isn't gonna work so well with the guido barbarian last name! :)

Heather said...

Brittany - Happy birthday to you too! Manpit is hot on someone you love.

Jube - Red peppers are tastier, it's true. I tasted some pretty assy wine yesterday (some bad Reisling), but it wasn't ass that I like.

LisaRene - I hope you do try the gayhound - it's the perfect summer cocktail. :)

Sketti - Did you call the food police on me?

Rachel - I swear, we returned Persepolis back to Netflix a few weeks ago - you should be getting it soon. XD

Jenn - It would be kinda cute to have a Nordic-y first name with an Italian last name! Although I'm sure there are plenty of lovely Italian girls' names. Isn't it funny, the kinds of things we think about once we get married? :D

We Are Never Full said...

now THIS is my kind of post! super informative - thanks so much for introducing us all to such new ingredients and african food. this looks amazing. i am def. goign to be trying my hand at some of this soon. LOVE the video.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

What a fabulous meal! I love the fact that it's African -- a cuisine that I know next to nothing about. Thanks for the information. This is definitely something that I should look into.

Núria said...

Too bad you hate memes because I love to read your answers :D. You are pure entertaining!!!!

Feromones are powerful ;-)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I know just about nothing when it comes to African cuisine, but this sure sounds good. Seems like an area I need to learn more about.

Then I hit the meme, started skimming, but somehow caught the armpit thing, lol...

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

You said it Heather! We have thought of a few alternatives already - even though there aren't even any plans for kids right now! LOL!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Looks tasty! That's like a whole new continent of food to explore. Who knew...

Sweet Bird said...

Wow, I liked hummingbirds until I found out they could chirp. We have this one little black and red douche bag that likes to hang out in the tree right outside my patio door.

For the first time in my life I'm considering murdering a hummingbird.

kittie said...

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

Great post! I've been meaning to try my hand at some Ethiopian since I had a fabulous meal in an Ethiopian restaurant a couple of years back - it was amazing, and we got to drink quinoa beer out of coconut shells ;)

rotfl at your meme. I get the armpit thing though - it's only old sweat that's stinky - boy-smell rocks ;)
Also, totally with you on the men's swimming and lmfao at #8

Leigh said...

heather - you win another TGS award - 'Post with two genuine ingredients I have never heard of, and if I did propose to cook with them, my friends would think i've been taking crazy pills' Kelewele? Wonderful!!! informative - i'm learning as well as salivating!!

Heather said...

Amy - That video never ceases to crack me up.

JS - It's good to branch out once in awhile, yeah?

Núria - It's not that I don't like memes, it's just that I don't like being told what to post. :P

Mike - Learn more! Google is very helpful.

Jenn - We're not sure when we'll get started either, but it's still fun to think of names. :)

Marc - Oh you bet your sweet ass.

Sweet Bird - I love the sound they make! It's like rusty nuts and bolts twisting together. Now jays, I can understand murdering.

Kittie - Boy smell is pretty great. They should just bottle that.

Leigh - You got a connection for crazy pills?

MrOrph said...

OK, so I showed this recipe to my Nigerian colleague. We couldn't see the pix, 'cause they're blocked at work, but he was extremely impressed. He still does not believe that I, ahem, grey girl from the Pacific Northwest made this.

Oh, and he bookmarked the Congo cookbook site.

I told you this recipe would impress!