Madagascar was another exciting pick, it was the first African country to be drawn and apart from Morocco, Egypt and Ethiopia I haven't cooked food originating from African countries before. The food influences of Madagascar vary greatly due to the mix of South East Asians, Africans, Indians, Chinese and Europeans that have settled on the island over the past 2,500 years. Rice is the centre of the Malagasy diet and is eaten at every meal of the day, usually served with an accompaniment called a laoka. The people that reside in coastal areas use coconut milk as the base in their laoka whereas the highlanders are more likely to cook with a tomato base.
I found a selection of Malagasy recipes on celtnet.org.uk and picked out a lima bean and tomato curry called Kabaro au Carry and some fritters which are a common street food called Moko Sakay. Lima beans are one of the few beans I haven't cooked with yet so I was interested to give them a try. The recipe included a curry powder referred to as cape curry powder, this was stated to be most similar to a Malaysian curry powder blend and as I already had some in the pantry, this is what I used. I didn't change anything about this recipe although the cooking time needed to be extended considerably as my beans took 2 hours to soften. This was a fairly mild dish which we all enjoyed, especially the man as he really loves his beans.
Mofo Sakay introduced another new ingredient into my cooking repertoire - watercress. These fritters were a mixture of watercress, tomato, spring onions (scallions), fresh chillies and curry powder. They were simple to put together and fry whilst the beans were cooking away. I was expecting them to be spicier than they turned out, this may have been due to using chillies that had been sitting in the fridge for a while as I usually find fresher chillies tend to have more bite to them. Fritters are usually best eaten straight away yet I found it interesting that the leftover ones reheated in the oven the following day tasted a little different. The peppery taste of the watercress was more prominent as were the spices so even though they weren't as crisp I preferred the heightened flavours.
Mofo Sakay (Adapted from a recipe on celtnet)
Makes about 12 fritters
280g plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Malaysian curry powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
60g watercress, chopped
3 birds eye chillies, finely sliced
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
oil, for shallow frying
Mix together the flour, salt, curry powder, baking powder and pepper in a large bowl. Pour in the water and stir thoroughly until it becomes a thick batter and no lumps are remaining. Fold the watercress, chillies, spring onions, and tomato through the batter.
Pour about 1-2 cm of oil into a deep sided frying pan and place on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, drop 3 or 4 large spoonfuls of the batter into the oil, ensuring they have room to spread. Fry for about 3 minutes on one side or until the batter is almost set on top. Flip over and fry for a further 2 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Repeat the frying process until the batter is used up.
Did you know?
Although the island of Madagascar is situated closest to the African coast, the cultural roots are more similar those of South East Asia which were the first inhabitants of the country. The residents of Madagascar are known as Malagasy and they do not like to be referred to as Africans.
Do you want to know where else I've been this month? Click here for the round up.