Wednesday, May 30, 2012




Traditionally the Moroccan tea is served three times, and the amount of steeping time, gives each of the three glasses of tea a unique flavor, as described in this famous proverb:
Le premier verre est aussi amer que la vie,
le deuxième est aussi fort que l'amour,

le troisième est aussi doux que la mort.
The first glass is as bitter as life,
the second glass is as strong as love,

the third glass is as gentle as death.

Morocco is one of the biggest tea importer in the world. See how mint tea is being prepared, at the last section of this post.


1-How many types of tea and what is green tea?
There are three varieties of tea- black, green and oolong tea, and are sometimes infused with different flavorings
2-What about lemon, mint or chamomile etc? They are herb tea not tea as in #1 above. Actual teas are made from the Camellia sinensis leaves
Herbal tea is derived from the roots/ leaves/ flowers/fruits of herbs/plants.

3-What is anti-oxidant and in tea?
Antioxidants are agents that protect body cells against damage caused by free radicals , also reduce damage caused by LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood.
Polyphenols are natural plant chemical found in tea, which have strong antioxidant properties. Tea leaves contain a particular variety of polyphenols, known as CATECHINS.

4-How to preserve these catechins “anti-oxidants”?
This is done by quick steaming or heating of the tea leaves to prevent breakdown (oxidation) of the CATECHINS as in green tea. It is suggested that green tea may have greater health benefits than black or oolong tea, which was obtained through a longer processing time.

5-Why is LDL/  bad for heart and how is green tea on this?
According to Japanese research, green tea reduces the levels of LDL, or ‘bad’ blood cholesterol, and this may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Another study in Europe found that there’s 36% lower risk of heart disease  for tea drinkers.
Tea polyphenols prevent sticky blood, thus tea helps reduce artery from blocking. Do not drink artificially flavored tea.

6-How to boil or steep green tea?
Hotter water will produce a bitter taste in green tea. It should be steeped around 80 to 85 °C (176 to 185 °F) for 2 minutes; the higher the quality of the leaves, the lower the temperature. If you mix other herb tea for  example, steep these herbs tea first and much later, add in the green tea.

By comparison, Oolong teas, are steeped for shorter periods, sometimes less than 30 seconds. Black Darjeeling tea, the premium Indian tea, needs a longer than average steeping time.

7-How to compliment the green tea benefits?
It is good to have a detox now and again, it is important that your  detox organs - colon, liver, kidneys – are working well. This will compliment the anti oxidants. Lemon is a great detox. Add lemon to your tea.

8-Other tips to compliment the tea?
Investigations showed that the benefits of tea are lessened when milk is added, so add honey instead. Drinking tea increases overall energy level.
Use clay tea pots like the traditional brewing pot and use spring water, as the minerals in spring water tend to bring out more flavor in the tea.

9-How many times can I steep my green tea?
High-quality green and white teas can have new water added as many as five or more times, depending on variety.

Moroccon tea pot
TEA CULTURE is defined by the way tea is made and consumed
by the way the people interact with tea,
by the aesthetics surrounding tea drinking and
by the aspects of: tea production, tea brewing, tea arts and ceremony.

Don’t forget to drink Green Tea. It so effectively increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite. It has also been used for more than 4000 years in Chinese medicine, to cure ailments ranging from headaches to depression.

Sensational?  Read this- from Katrina of woman724-  link here

“ My daughter switched her favorite chocolate drink (MILO) to green tea about two months ago.. told me she lost 5 kg ! “ 

I think, her not drinking Milo (with milk) also helps shed some weight. If it reduces the appetite, logically,  we should drink green tea half hour before meals and not after meals- don’t you agree?
The Moroccan people  make tea performance a special culture in the flower country. Moroccan tea- a sign of friendship, hospitality and tradition. is commonly served with rich tea cookies and fresh mint leaves, in colorful tea glasses and pots. Drinking Moroccan tea is not only a luxury of the tongue, but also of the eyes.
-1 large handful of fresh mint leaves (Moroccan mint leave tastes slightly different )
-6 teaspoons loose gunpowder green tea (imported from China)
-Boil 1 liter of hot water between 70°c (158°F) to 80°c (176°F)
-Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar

If you have a Moroccan teapot or a heat proof teapot, set the tea pot over low heat and bring the tea to a low simmer.
Then, immediately remove from the heat, add mint leaves and sugar, allow to steep several minutes more.
Pour tea in a glass, then pour it back into the teapot. Repeat a few times, to  dissolve the sugar
Carefully pour the tea into the glass, from a high distance. Doing this will help create a thin layer of foam at the top of glass. When pouring, make sure the tea pellets stay inside the pot.
Garnish with extra mint leaves, it will look great if you use the proper Moroccan glasses.
Moroccan tea pots have long, curved pouring spouts and this allows the tea to be poured evenly into tiny glasses from a height. For the best taste, glasses are filled in three stages.
Traditionally the tea is served three times, and the amount of time the tea has been steeping gives each of the three glasses of tea a unique flavor- bitter, mild and gentle.    wiki and a few other sources

Saturday, May 26, 2012




African cuisine is a term collectively referring to the cuisines of Africa, second largest landmass on Earth. It is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups- hence a diversified culinary tradition in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques.
The continent's many populations: Central Africa, East, North and South and the Horn of Africa each have their own distinctive dishes, eating and drinking habits.
Part 1- link here  East Africa
Part 2- link here  North Africa
Part 3-  link here  South Africa
West African cookingSenegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Benin, Gambia
A typical West African meal is heavy with starchy items, meat, spices and flavors. A wide array of staples are eaten across the region, including those of Fufu, Foutou, Banku, Kenkey, Couscous,Tô, and Garri which are served alongside soups and stews.
Ingredients like native rice (oryza glaberrima) rice, fonio, millet, sorghum, bambara and housa groundnuts, black-eyed beans, brown beans, and root vegetables such as yams, sweet potatoes, and cassava are popular. 

Many of the dishes are enriched by tomatoes, onions and chili peppers, these are considered essential and "sacred" to the cooking techniques of the region
Flaked and dried fish is often fried in oil, and sometimes cooked in sauce made up with hot peppers, onions, tomatoes and  various spices (such as Soumbala). Water is added to make this into a highly flavored stew. 

Beef and especially mutton are preferred. Seafood, eggs and chicken are also consumed.

Water has a very strong ritual significance in many West African nations (particularly in dry areas) and water is often the first thing an African host will offer his/her guest. Palm wine, a common beverage from the fermented sap of various types of palm trees usually in sweet or sour varieties

Fufu is often made from starchy root 
vegetables such as yams, cocoyams or 
cassava, also from cereal grains like 
millet, sorghum or plantains. 

Klouikloui, rings of fried peanut butter  served in Benin. 
Eat guinea fowl eggs

Rice-dishes are also widely eaten in 
the region, especially in the dry Sahel 
belt inland.
Examples of these include Benachin from the Gambia and 
Jollof rice ( see pic), a pan-West African rice dish, origin of Ghana.

Beef Suya, a trending grilled spicy meat kebab flavored with peanuts and other spices, is sold by street vendors as a tasty snack or evening meal and is typically made with beef or chicken.
The staple grain or starch varies 
between region and ethnic groups. 
Corn is trendy. Banku and Kenkey are 
maize dough staples (left), and Gari is made from dried grated cassavas.

West African Maafe or groundnut stew

prepared by a Senegalese cook

The food of Senegal are very much influenced by the many ethnic groups, the French, Portuguese and those of North Africa. As it borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish becomes a staple, with peanuts as the primary crop. Fresh juices are made- frobissap, ginger.
Buy (pronounced buoy) which is the fruit of the baobab tree tree also known as "monkey bread fruit", mango, or other fruit or wild trees. Desserts are very sweet and rich- the extravaganza of the stylish characteristics of  French culinary. Drinks include coffee and tea.

A traditional dish of Senegal, Poulet Yassa (Chicken Yassa), is one of the most famous Senegalese recipes. The chicken is marinated overnight. Another variety is Fish Yassa (poisson yassa). For the simplest yassa, just marinade with oil, lemon juice, onions and a little mustard.
What you need
1½ cup peanut oil (or any cooking oil)
One chicken, cut into serving-sized pieces
4- 6 onions, cut up
8 tbsp lemon juice
8 tbsp vinegar (cider vinegar is good)
1 bay leaf
4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
1-2 cubes Arome Maggi® sauce (or Maggi® cubes mix with water), or soy sauce (optional)
chili pepper, cleaned and finely chopped (optional)
cayenne pepper or red pepper, black pepper, salt (to taste)
a small cabbage, cut into chunks (optional)
a few carrots, cut into chunks (optional)
What you do
Mix all ingredients (except the optional vegetables), the more onions the better, and allow chicken to marinate in a glass dish in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Remove chicken from the marinade, but save the marinade (ingredients). Cook according to one of the following methods.

Cooking method 1: Grill chicken over a charcoal fire (or bake it in a hot oven) until chicken is lightly browned but not done.
Cooking method 2: Sauté chicken for a few minutes on each side in hot oil in a frypan.

While chicken is browning: Remove onions from marinade and sauté them in a large saucepan  for a few minutes. Add remaining marinade and the optional vegetables and bring to a slow boil and cook at a boil for ten minutes. Cook the marinade into a sauce. Reduce heat.
Sources link  here..  and here  and wiki and other sources.
OSU Castle- government house Ghana
Diamond mining  Sierra Leone
 Ghana Silk and cotton woven materials
Fishing boat - The Gambia
Market place- Ivory Coast
Some images of West Africa

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

UMNGQUSHO RECIPE- A Nelson Mandela's favorite foodie . FISH FRIKKADEL RECIPE- Cape malays


MNGGUSHO RECIPE- Nelson Mandela's favorite


African cuisine is a term generally referring to the cuisines of Africa. Being the second  largest land mass on Earth, the continent of Africa is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. This is reflected in the diverse local culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques.
The continent's many populations: Central Africa, East, North and South and the Horn of Africa each have their own distinctive dishes, eating and drinking habits.
BLUE CRANE- the national bird of South Africa
South Africa has two capital cities, Pretoria and Cape Town a mother city. 
I would love to visit this country especially Cape Town and Johannesburg – which I believe will be a tour that will exceed my expectations. 
Reading on, I would definitely want the unique experience  of a South African safari at the Kruger national park
The safari waterhole

South Africa has several sites where ancient fossils are found to have  existed way back 3 million years ago. Discoveries include human fossils and the homonini fossils, which are actually species and ancestor lineages of the chimpanzee. 
These fossil sites are known as “Cradle of Humankind”  and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Part 1 check here  on East African cuisine
Part 2 check here   on North African cuisine

Southern African cooking
The cooking of South Africa is sometimes called 'rainbow cuisine '
It is a name  given, since  the food in this region is a blend of many cultures – the indigenous African tribal societies, the European and  the Asian.
The indigenous people of Southern Africa were divided into two main groups and several sub groups.
The largest group are the Bantu-speakers, whose descendants are identified by various sub-group such as the Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi, Sotho, Tswana, Pedi, Shangaan and Tsonga.
Two thousand years ago, they came and introduce crop cultivation, animal husbandry etc. so the Bantu-speakers  became agriculturalists and herdsmen, rearing cattle, sheep and goats.

The primeval residents of the region is a smaller group, the Khoisan, who some archaeologists believe, had lived in the region for at least ten thousand years. Many descendants of the Khoisan people have now been incorporated into the colored population of South Africa. 

Potjiekos is a traditional Afrikaner stew made with meat and vegetables and   cooked over coals in cast iron pots.
The Bantu speakers ate dishes of grain, meat, milk and vegetables, as well as fermented grain and fermented milk products.
The Khoi-Khoi (khoisan) ate meat and milk, and the San hunted wild animals and gathered wild tubers and vegetables.

South African cuisine is heavily meat-based and the daily food of Black South African families can be traced to the indigenous foods of their ancestors. The Khoisan ate roasted meat, and they do dried meat for later use. The influence of their diet is reflected in the universal Southern African love of barbecue in their social gatherings (generally called in South Africa by its Afrikaans name, a "Braai") and Biltong (dried preserved meat).

Mageu, a traditional non-alcoholic drink made from fermented mealie pap is popular among many of the Nguni people.
Milk was historically one of the most important diet components. They enjoy drinking sour milk products, comparable to American buttermilk, yogurt and sour cream. On weekends they will have a "Braai" and the meal would usually consist of "Pap and Vleis," which is maize porridge and grilled meat.

The basic ingredients include seafood, meat products (including wild game like venison, ostrich and impala), poultry, as well as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Like any other countries, South Africa too has its own unique recipes. To my personal opinion, here are a few:

-Walkie Talkies-  Grilled or deep-fried chicken heads and feet
-Vetkoek- fat cake.  A deep-fried dough balls typically stuffed with meat or   served with snoek fish or jam.
-Mashonza, made from the mopane worm.- the caterpillar of a moth species found locally and is an important source of protein for millions of indigenous South Africans.
-Rusks, a rectangular, hard, dry  biscuit eaten after being dunked in tea or coffee.

-Water blommetjie (water flower stew), meat  stewed with the flower of the Cape Pondweed.

Umngqusho , is a favorite traditional dish of the Xhosa people in South Africa made of samp and cowpeas. Samp  is a de-hulled dried corn been crushed or broken into pieces which are then easier to cook and eat.  Cowpeas are a variety of the black-eyed pea.
  • What you need
  • four cups dry samp (broken maize/ corn kernels)
  • two cups dry cow peas (black-eyed peas/ field peas) or any similar beans
  • salt
  • What you do
  • Combine samp and cow peas in a large enamel pot or glass bowl. Add cold water sufficient to cover. Cover, and let stand overnight. Drain and rinse before cooking.
  • In a large pot. Cover the soaked samp and cowpeas mixture with cold water. Bring to a boil. Let boil for ten minutes. Reduce heat. Simmer on low heat for one to two hours, until all is tender and the water is mostly absorbed. Add additional water during cooking if needed.
  • Season with salt. Serve hot.b
  • This ancient have been improvised by adding butter, potatoes, onions and chili.... with some lemon juice.
Many websites report that umngqusho is said to be  the anti apartheid activist and former President Nelson Mandela’s  favorite dish (he is a Xhosa clan). It is usually described as "stamp mealies. His autobiography describes the more traditional umngqusho.  .
 Something for all of us to reflect upon 
South African former President, Nelson Mandela describes the umngqusho of his youth in "Long Walk to Freedom".

I do have one  South African  cape malay recipe, Fish frikkadel , which is a guest post by my South African blogger friend., Miss Rawiyah, a cape malay. (ancestors of the Malays from Malaysia, who migrated to South Africa). I received almost daily visits on this recipe, Since June 01 – check here 

Society and culture.
For the love of culture and art, here.. i still want to put the Zulu dancers image in this post- ha ha. Like i can vividly hear the sounds of the drums and their husky guttural humming, being part of the musical instrument and also   the rapid stamping of their feet.. wish i am there :)

  Sources check here,  here   and here  and other sources.

Friday, May 18, 2012




African cuisine is a generalized term collectively referring to the cuisines of Africa. The African continent being the second largest landmass on Earth, is home to hundreds of different cultural and ethnic groups. 
The culinary traditions in terms of choice of ingredients, style of preparation and cooking techniques are also diversified.

The continent's population in: Central Africa, East, North and South and the Horn of Africa each have their own distinctive dishes, eating and drinking habits.

THIS POST IS PART 2 OF A FOUR PART SERIES- First post was on Central Africa.    link here
PART 3-   link here


North Africa, along the Mediterranean sea, with several nations, including Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritiana and Egypt. This is a region marked by geographical, political, social,  economic and cultural diversity. The cuisine, the culinary style and art of North Africa are also as diverse as the land, its people and its history. The roots to North African cuisine can be traced back over 2000 years.

Over several centuries, many have influenced the cuisine of North Africa. The Phoenicians of the 1st century brought sausages, the Carthaginians introduced wheat and semolina. The Berbers, adapted this into Couscous, one of the main staple diet. 
Olive oil and olives were before the arrival of the Romans. The Arabs introduced spices. The Ottoman Turks brought sweet pastries and other bakery products, and from the New World, North Africa got potatoes, tomatoes , zucchini and chilies.

Most North African countries have several similar dishes, sometimes with a different name (the Moroccan Tangia and the Tunisian Coucha are essentially the same dish: a meat stew prepared in an urn and cooked overnight in a public oven).

Two completely different dishes may  share the same name (for example, a "Tajine" dish is a slow-cooked stew in Morocco, whereas the Tunisian "Tajine" is a baked omelet/ quiche -like dish).

There are noticeable differences between the cooking styles of different nations – there's the sophisticated, full-bodied flavors of Moroccan palace cookery, the fiery dishes of Tunisian cuisine, and the humbler, simpler cuisines of Egypt and Algeria.

Morocco is one country which I would very much like to visit, especially Marrakech and Casablanca, simply for its world class exotic culinary and its awesome Moorish architecture.

The scents of coriander, cumin, saffron, marjoram, and onion mingle with the pungency of olive oil and the sweetness of sandalwood, mint and roses, delighting the senses. 

A hostess in Morocco may take a week to prepare a suitable dinner for her honored guests. 

Sweet and peppery …….  Soft and violent.

The meal often consists of as many as fifty courses. For example, It would take a full day just to make Bstilla- a crisp pastry, rolled as thin as tissue paper, filled with chicken in a mixture of "sweet and peppery, soft and violent."

As in most Arab lands, every Moroccan household makes its own bread from semolina flour. When the bread has been properly shaped, each family puts its own mark on it, before sending it to a common bakery oven.
How a dinner is served in Morocco.
Lay the table-
A  low table with brocaded  table cloth is used for dining and  cushions are placed on the floor for seating. So, be comfortably dressed.  Guests  are provided with thick towels to cover their knees. 
Before serving the dinner, the host rep, will walk around the table with an attractive pitcher (possibly silver) filled with perfumed scented warm water. 
He has a Turkish towel over his left arm and a small basin in his left hand. He pours a little water over the fingers of each guest, catching the water in the small basin.
Serve the food-
Tiny kebabs are served first on small plates and removed once eaten. The Couscous is served in a large platter, placed at center table with side plates for guests to serve themselves.
The dinner starts with Bstilla, followed by kebab flavored with bits of beef or lamb fat. Next comes the Tajine, chicken or meat in a spicy stew which has been simmered for many hours, and it is served with a flat bread called Khubz.
Next, a Batinjaan- eggplant salad or chopped tomato salad- is served as a separate course. Then comes Couscous, that marvelous Moroccan national dish made of semolina, cooked to perfection, each grain well separated from each other.
Slices of melon or cantaloupe comes after the Couscous. Mint tea may be served at this time, or later, together with pastries of almond and honey, like the Middle Eastern Baklava. This dinner is a much simplified version.

In the end, the hostess pours water over the fingers of her guests. This is a mark of graciousness and hospitality. At the end of the meal, a tiny incense burner is lit up and put on the table.

In a 1-pint bowl: (yields 8 pieces)
Cut 4 BANANAS  into 1/2 inch slices.
Add 1/2 cup APRICOT LIQUEUR and marinate for 1/2 hour.
In a 1-quart bowl:
Place 1 cup PANCAKE MIX.
Drain the liquid from the above bananas  and add this liquid  to the batter mix and stir following package directions.
In a 9-inch skillet:

Heat 1/4 inch COOKING OIL.
Drop the mixture by tablespoonfuls (2 or 3 pieces of banana in each spoon) into the hot fat until golden brown on both sides.

Mix: 1/2 cup SOFT BREAD CRUMBS made by grating fresh bread
4 Tbs. SUGAR

Place 3 or 4 PEASANT PANCAKES on dessert plates.
Sprinkle 1 to 2 Tbs. CRUMB MIXTURE over the pancakes.        an other sources 
ALGERIA- Snow clad, Chelia Sommet, 'Shelia' Aures, KHENCHELA  
and desert Mt Tahat, Hoggar.

Shells from Mauritiana 
Port Said, Gulf Of Tunis,Tunisia