Food

Posted in Uncategorized, Cook, Food, African, on 16 March 2018, by , 0 Comments

When we think of tagines we often think of an item on a menu that could be ordered the same way as a chicken tikka masala or an oxtail stew. But the word ‘tagine’ also takes its name from the earthenware cookware it is made in.

Tagines are typically a stew-like dish made with meat, vegetables or fruit, on occasion with potatoes or lentils and a thick gravy. It is served with a variety of starches today although traditionally couscous or bread was commonplace.

The very concise history of the tagine

When it comes to flavour, the moyo tagines and the majority of what you will find recipes for is based on the Moroccan tagines.

In most Moroccan dishes, including the tagine, one can trace the long lineage of immigrants and colonizers who have left their mark in more than one way.  The cuisine of the first inhabitants of Morocco, the Berbers, still exists today in staple dishes like the tagine. New spices, nuts and dried fruit came later with the Arab invasion, which we see in combinations like dates with lamb tagines. The Moors brought olives and citrus fruit and the Jewish-Moors left their incredibly sophisticated preserving techniques behind. The Ottoman Empire introduced kebabs and the French colony, although very short-lived, left behind a culture of cafes, pastries and wine.

When you consider the rich culinary history in the region it is both impressive how far the modern tagine has come and incredible that it has stood the test of time and still survives today.

Moroccan food, and therefore by proxy tagines, has a remarkable character when it comes to the spices that colours the cuisine. The staples are dried ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper and turmeric. Cumin is so common in Moroccan cuisine that it is often served alongside salt and pepper on the table. Cinnamon makes its appearance in tagines, from time to time, often in combination with sweeter ingredients such as dates or dried fruit. In tomato-based tagines, you may find paprika or smoked paprika.

But who introduced this appetizing dish to the nomadic tribes who first used it? Or was it invented in Morocco itself? According to the Encyclopaedia of Kitchen History by Mary Ellen Snodgrass, the tagine dates back to Harun al Rashid, a late eighth-century ruler of the Islamic empire. Foods cooked tagine-style appeared in The Thousand and One Nights (or more commonly known as ‘Arabian Nights’) in the ninth century. Some sources date it back to the Roman Empire because of the portable ovens used by Romans that are similar to tagines.

 

How tagines work

There are different ways to prepare the tagine. You have the original qidra style in which Arabian clarified butter is used to lubricate the surface and a puree of chopped onion is added for flavour and aroma. For “muqawlli” style cooking, the ingredients are placed in olive oil to enrich the flavours.

The fluted cone shape of a tagine contributes to the incredible succulent dish it creates. The angled lid causes steam to return to the dish as it cooks. This in combination with slow heat produces a stew-like dish that is cooked evenly and meat that is ‘fall-off-the-bone’ soft.

Let’s take a moment to remember our high school science classes. Some of the mystery around why tagines work so well to create tender flavourful dishes is in the science.

Some materials are conductors of heat and energy and others are insulators. Clay is such an insulator, which heats very slowly, almost reluctantly and then disperses the energy in the same way – very slowly.

Now just consider for a second when you cook a steak in a hot skillet, it gets a nice char, but it can also become a little tough, mostly because the muscle tissue seizes up due to the sudden shock of the heat.

On the other end of the scale, we have slow cooking methods. In the last few years, there has been a rising trend towards “sous vide” which means you cook meat in a sealed plastic bag at very low temperatures for hours and then adding a char or browning effect by a quick sear or grill right before serving (the “reverse sear”. Whether these techniques really make a difference is up to a person’s personal taste – but if you like slow cooked food then tagines could be to your liking.

Paula Wolfert, an American Cookbook author and expert on Clay Pot Cooking, tells the tale of how the food was prepared in Moroccan villages utilising slow heat. The custom was to prepare meals a day in advance by filling tall clay pots with meat, seasoning and vegetables. Packing them tightly and covering them, and then placing them overnight in the ashes of a big communal fire.  In the morning the villagers would retrieve the pot with everything cooked evenly after being cooked on a very uneven heat source for the night.

In addition to the slow cooking factor, there is an ‘urban legend like’ quality that some cooks ascribe to the clay tagines that absorb flavour over time. According to some, you will never find that kind of flavour in a stainless-steel pot.

 

The modern tagine

Although history points to tagines (the cookware) being made from unglazed clay we’ve seen an uprising of kitchenware brands modernizing this ancient cookware since the late 1990s. Tagines are now available in cast iron and enamelled cast iron that holds some of the same benefits of slow cooking tender flavourful dishes. The new cast iron versions prove to be significantly more practical in a modern kitchen where open fires are not as commonplace and stovetop proof cookware is required.

Our consensus is simple. At moyo, we love the warm hearty flavour of a tagine, that is why you will find them on our menu. We hope to see you at a moyo soon to enjoy this rich historic dish.

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Posted in Food, on 27 July 2017, by , 0 Comments

Each culinary region in Africa has its own distinctive, unapologetically authentic flavour. While each region on the continent is protective of its particular tastes and recipes, variations of the same dish are generally prepared within the same area on the continent. There is no greater evidence of this than the ongoing debate about who makes better Jollof rice: Ghanaians or Nigerians? In North Africa, which is made up of diverse countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara, you can enjoy cuisine that is a combination of traditional ingredients and cultural influences. The culinary tradition is always rich in colour and flavour.

Ingredients brought into the region by traders and migrants have heavily influenced the foods of North Africa. Variety, diversity and depth are added to a selection of herbs and spices. Arabs introduced spices such as saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Turks brought in sweet pastries and other baked goods. Wheat and its by-product semolina were introduced early on, but the nomadic Berbers adapted semolina into couscous. Today, couscous is a staple in North Africa and enjoyed all over the world.

The Mediterranean is a stone’s throw away from North Africa, which means olives and olive oil have become integral to the cooking process. Seafood, goat, lamb, beef, dates, almonds, vegetables and fruit are all staple foods on the North African menu.

The regional nuances within North Africa create an interesting gastronomic blend. In Tunisia, turmeric, dried chilli and mint are common ways to create spicy and hot dishes. In Egypt, stews are rich in vegetables while, in Libya, its history as an Italian colony means tomato-based dishes are more common.

Although desserts aren’t a must-eat after every meal, North African menus boast a host of tasty, rich and sweet desserts. These can range from pastries and puddings drenched in honey syrup, to fruit salads (dates and figs are a favourite) and biscuits, sweet teas and spiced coffees.

With its unique tastes and diverse offering, there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy when indulging in cuisine from North Africa.

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Posted in Food, on 6 June 2017, by , 0 Comments

Mandazi

Looking an indulgent treat? Aren’t we all! Well in an attempt to switch it up we decided to get baking and made a batch of mandazi –  traditional African doughnuts. Not all is it unbelievably delicious and easy to prepare, but they’re not overwhelmingly sweet. If you’d like to add a little extra sweetness to them we suggest you dust a little powdered-sugar on top or even better serve them with caramel or chocolate dipping sauce. Yum!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • vegetable oil for frying donuts

METHOD:

  1. In a small bowl mix the yeast and warm water and stir. Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, add flour, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon and mix. Add vegetable oil, egg, coconut milk, sugar and yeast mixture.
  3. Using the hook attachment mix everything until the dough is not too sticky and it does no longer stick to the side of the bowl, add additional flour as needed.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for about an hour until the dough rises a bit.
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan or a wok works well for this.
  6. Cut the dough in about 6 pieces to make it easier to roll and cut. Roll each piece so that the dough is about 1 cm (less than ½ inch) in thickness. Cut into triangles and place in hot oil. Fry on both sides. Place doughnuts on paper towels to soak up the oil. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy.
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Posted in Food, on 5 June 2017, by , 0 Comments

Kachumbari Recipe

Kachumbari is a traditional Kenyan dish, but can be found throughout East Africa and even if you venture into parts of the Middle East. This deliciously refreshing dish can be served as either salad, side dish to accompany your main meal or even appetiser. Made with succulent, fresh ingredients how could you possibly go wrong? Not to mention it’s the ideal summer dish. We just love it with a spicy roast chicken and a green lentil bake!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Three big ripe tomatoes
  • one large onion sliced and soaked in salty water
  • one bunch coriander. roughly chopped
  • Avocado (seasonal) thickly sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • chilli (optional)

METHOD:

Slice your onions thinly and soak them separately in a bowl of salty water, we recommend you use warm water and dissolve one tablespoon of salt in the water. Set aside for approximately 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop or slice the tomatoes –depending on your preference and drain away the excess juice, otherwise your Kachumbari will be drenched, making it soggy and less crisp.

Roughly chop the coriander and other optional ingredients like chilli or avocado.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

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Posted in Food, on 5 June 2017, by , 0 Comments

flatbread breakfast

Breakfast is most definitely the most important meal of the day, and we love it! But that doesn’t mean we only have to eat it in the morning – we’re major fans of omelettes for dinner. But sometimes we need to mix it up a little which is why we love this recipe we found, with delicious flavours and a North African flare what’s not to love.

INGREDIENTS:

– For the flatbreads:
• 250g plain flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
• Pinch salt
• 1tbsp olive oil
– For the eggs:
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion (diced)
• 1 green pepper (deseeded and sliced)
• 1 garlic clove (grated)
• ½ tsp crushed chilli flakes
• 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
• salt and black pepper
• 6 eggs
• 100g feta cheese, try Danish for a creamier texture (crumbled)

METHOD:

To make the flatbreads, sieve the flour and a generous pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the oil. Mix into the flour then add 100-150ml/3½-5fl oz warm water until the mixture comes together to form a dough.

Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, or until elasticated a little so that the dough springs back while you knead. Set aside to rest.

For the eggs, heat a wide, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and, once hot, gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt until softened and translucent. Add the green pepper, cover with a lid and gently fry for further five minutes, or until soft.

Once the pepper is softened, add the garlic. Cook for two minutes, then sprinkle in the chilli flakes and add the chopped tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook over a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and flavoursome. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Meanwhile, divide the flatbread dough into eight balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each ball out to the thickness of a 50p piece (each flatbread should be approximately 12cm/4½in in diameter).

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Cook a flatbread in the dry pan for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until slightly charred, cooked through and a little puffed up. Transfer to a plate and wrap in a clean tea towel. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Keep warm while you finish the eggs.

Make six wells in the tomato mixture and break an egg into each. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the whites are set (cook for a further 2-3 minutes if you like your yolks set).

Sprinkle with the feta and serve with the warm flatbreads on the side.

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Posted in Food, on 4 June 2017, by , 0 Comments

When visiting a continent as diverse and as rich in culture as Africa, one can only expect to have a unique culinary experience. African food is as assorted as the population of the continent; it is a melting pot of different African and Eastern flavours, with a touch of Western gastronomy. The different tastes, smells and textures take you on a journey that is quintessentially African.

WHAT’S IN THE MELTING POT OF AFRICAN FOOD?

The African culinary experience is enjoyed by many locals and tourists, and it is infused with a complex and rich history. There is much more to African food than biltong, boerewors, maize and meat. Each African culture offers culinary uniqueness and traditional tastes that give you a glimpse of what different countries enjoy.

TRADITIONAL ZULU FOOD

As it is with many African cultures, maize and sorghum are key elements of Zulu cuisine. The following are common Zulu food types:Uphuthu:

Uphuthu: This meal is made from maize meal and has a crumbly texture. It is mostly enjoyed with spinach, milk or amasi (sour milk).

Amadumbe: This is a root vegetable that is akin to a sweet potato.

Ujeqe: Ujeqe is steamed bread that is often served with meat, curry or chakalaka.

Ugqoko: At a traditional Zulu ceremony, meat is often served on Ugqoko – a traditional Zulu meat tray.

TRADITIONAL CAPE MALAY FOOD

Cape Malays were involuntarily brought to South Africa from South Eastern Asia; they came with aromatic flavours and tantalising spices which we enjoy in curries – which is a traditional Cape Malay meal. Most of their meals are enjoyed with rotis, which adds a neutral touch to the immensely flavourful curry. Other Cape Malay meals include samoosas, atchaar, boboties and koek sisters.

TRADITIONAL XHOSA FOOD

The most popular Xhosa dish is uMngqusho; this meal consists of dried maize and beans. It used to be Nelson Mandela’s favourite meal and his chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, used to prepare it for me every Wednesday.

The following are common Xhosa foods

Umpokoqho: Maize porridge.

Isopho: Corn soup.

Imithane: A medley of pumpkin leaves and butter.Ilaxa: A mixture of cooked pumpkin leaves, pumpkin, and butter.

Ilaxa: A mixture of cooked pumpkin leaves, pumpkin, and butter.

TRADITIONAL NIGERIAN FOOD

Jollof rice: Jollof rice is a popular Nigerian dish; it consists of rice, tomato, onions and peppers, with a touch of scotch bonnets. The spiciness of the meal ranges depending on how much an individual’s taste buds can take – hot or mild, the taste is still spectacular. Jollof rice can be served with beef or chicken.

Akara: These are deep fried bean cakes made from peeled brown beans which are grounded and mixed with onions and spices, and then fried in vegetable oil. Akara is usually served with pap or rice.

Pounded yam and egusi soup: to make this delicious meal, yams are boiled and pounded. the egusi soup is a mixture of melon seeds, beef, fish, Nigerian pumpkin leaves and spinach. the two come together to make a meal that will leave you wanting more.

TRADITIONAL MOZAMBICAN FOOD

Since Mozambique has a long coastline, it’s small wonder that Mozambican cuisine consists mostly of seafood. PRAWNS A Mozambican dish is incomplete without big, scrumptious prawns. The prawns are usually grilled or fried and served with peri-peri sauce or garlic. They are usually served with rice or chips. MATAPA Matapa is made from stewed cassava leaves, ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk; it is an explosion of exotic flavours. Matapa can be enjoyed with prawns and rice.

Prawns: A Mozambican dish is incomplete without big, scrumptious prawns. The prawns are usually grilled or fried and served with peri-peri sauce or garlic. They are usually served with rice or chips. MATAPA Matapa is made from stewed cassava leaves, ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk; it is an explosion of exotic flavours. Matapa can be enjoyed with prawns and rice.

Matapa: Matapa is made from stewed cassava leaves, ground peanuts, garlic and coconut milk; it is an explosion of exotic flavours. Matapa can be enjoyed with prawns and rice.

Prego Rolls: Põa rolls are white bread rolls with a bit of flour on top. A prego roll is a põa roll with a piece of steak which is slathered with peri-peri sauce.

TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN FOOD

Get a taste of North Africa by indulging in traditional Moroccan cuisine. Moroccans are well-known for their flavourful and hearty tagines. A tagine is a clay pot in which lamb or chicken and vegetables are slowly cooked to perfection; the meals are usually served with bread or couscous.

If you are looking for a quintessentially African fine dining experience, look no further than Moyo. We serve a wide selection of food from different parts of the continent. From the North Africa, to the South, from the West to the East, come on a culinary journey with us.

Visit us today to get your taste of Africa

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