Thursday, April 3, 2014

Senegalese Maffe Tiga (Peanut Butter Stew) x An Ode to Dad

Last night I cooked for my dad.

I have never pretended I was the best cook in the family. Infact, I am far from it (and I have discussed my familial role in the kitchen in this post). When he is home, my mother usually takes charge and I make the occasional sukuma wiki and kachumbari.

But she is currently traveling, and so it was up to me to feed us both. And my odd diet and eating habits would not cut it.

My mother, as great as a cook as she is, declares my father to be the best kind of “customer.”

"Whatever you put infront of him, he will eat,“ she has told me many times.

Not to say that he has zero taste. Her point is that he is satisfied and grateful with whatever she puts in front of him. Granted, my mother goes above and beyond to make sure she makes food he enjoys, and seasons meats to his tastes etc; but you will never find him in the kitchen ordering his meal. He waits patiently without complaints, eats what you give him and is gracious and thankful when done. Even when he does not have to be. Apparently for many a marriage and relationship, this is quite abnormal.

My mother's point is that, if you are a woman who is juggling a high-powered job, four children, and a full household to run, this kind of man is the best you can find. Last night, I was reminded of her words when I cooked for him.

 In the past I have cooked for my dad, and he and I both know that the results could vary. But he eats what he can, will make a joke here and there, and is always encouraging and thankful.

So last night, I decided to cook this Senegalese maffe tiga (peanut butter stew) for him. The recipe was inspired by this version found on the "Ma Cabane aux Delices" food blog. I freestyled much of the recipe because I was missing a few ingredients. I had also made a similar peanut butter stew here a few years ago for father's day (apparently, I associate peanut flavor with my dad), but I wanted to try a specifically Senegalese version as this is a popular West African dish.

I started cooking it pretty late in the evening as I came straight from work. When I finally served him the food, along with kenyan chapati and sukuma wiki, I escaped to a different room as to not view his initial reaction.

“Adhis?” he called from his perch in the living room

“Yes,” I answered nervously, walking towards him.

“This is very good,” he said in my tribal language. “Very delicious”

He was getting up to for more.

“All it needs is some pili-pili (chillies),” he added. And from there we had a conversation about the best chillies to use (he rejected my jamaican hot sauces).

Let me tell you friends, his compliment left me feeling like the most accomplished woman in the world. That was when I sent the tweet above. For the rest of my evening I was on cloud nine and it carried over into the next day.

So this post is dedicated to my father, who will be reading about Chef Afrik for the first time when I send this post to him. He has always been patient with me, eaten the worst of my food and encouraged me and praised me when it is delicious. A true metaphor for the type of father he has been. He has also taught me kindness, thankfulness and graciousness.

Also, it is time to share Chef Afrik with him. It has been almost 2.5 years of blogging. So this is for you daddy. I am truly blessed and I love you.

Catch the recipe below:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DYNAMIC AFRICA: Meet the Sitta Shai, or the Sudanese “Tea Ladies”.

 "All Africa, All the time"

I have great news to share! I am now a contributor to one of my favorite blogs, Dynamic Africa. The lovely lady who runs the site (I believe she prefers to stay anonymous) diligently curates this quality expressive platform with passion that focuses on African. When she asked me to contribute food and culture posts to the site, I was truly honored. This was my first post on the tea ladies seen in the streets of Khartoum. The photos were taken by Malta-based photographer Tomoko Goto who kindly allowed me to use her work. Check out Tomoko's work here and go reblog and like the Dynamic Africa post on tumblr - A.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

GUEST POST: Being a Vegetarian in Africa is Hard... Right?

I have been a pescetarian all of 2014. Pescetarians are basically vegetarians, except we also eat fish and seafood. Outside of a few weak moments with bacon and a huge burger and steak during my vacation (YIKES!), I have been diligent about it. It has definitely broadened my carnivorous palette and my diet is much healthier as a result. In making the change, I wondered how that would affect my cooking for Chef Afrik because meat plays a huge role as the main protein in African cuisine. But the shift has been pretty easy, and I was happily surprised to find how many vegetarian options different national cuisines offered.

And I have enjoyed exploring the seafood and fish dishes, especially from countries that are by a large water source.

Last year, I met Elin of the Taste of Slow blog. It is a a blog "about worldwide travel and veggie food tips for the green traveler". She eats vegetarian and for the last seven months has been living in Ghana. There is this bizarre myth, and maybe there is truth to it, that vegetarianism cannot flourish in Africa. Being in a position to actually say, I do not eat this or that is very privileged and I understand why it can be rejected or given a big ol' side-eye.

This piece from Elin discusses her experience eating vegetarian in the different African countries. She shares the good and the bad. Take a read:

Friday, March 21, 2014

LISTEN: How to Order Authentically Spicy Ethiopian Food

photo: Bunna Cafe blog

Have you ever been to a restaurant with an exotic cuisine and been completely lost?

It happens to the best of us.

NYC-based journalist Anne Noyes Saini aims to help her audience overcome that difficulty with her "an audio guide to ordering spicy food" series. The goal is to demystify ordering food from "exotic" cuisines (noting that exotic is relative). These audio guides demonstrate phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations with tricky cultural and language barriers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sudanese Cinnamon Tea

 I found a great book of African love poems recently. They are simple and beautiful and have been filling me up during a strong bout of winter blues. Being that I have been feeling a little down on love lately, I thought I'd share some of these poems with my food posts.

A Woman To Her Lover (Guinean Love Poem)
I have painted my eyes,
I have girded my hips.
I am full of desire of love.
O my handsome lover!
I shall go behind the wall,
And wearing an apron,
I shall help him paint.
I shall mix his plaster
To repair his house.
O my beautiful, slim lover!
I am going to use a thaler
To buy me a kerchief of silk.

I shall put on my best,
To be with him.
O my handsome,
My slim and graceful lover!
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