Kyrgyzstan was first and now I’m on Mali, which means…. I skipped some countries. In truth, I only skipped three recipes but I skipped several more countries. Because life happened and the days got away from me and I realized I’m making recipes faster than I’m posting. So adjustments are being made, no worries ova here.
I can give you a quick recap of what you missed (because of me):
Liberia is a West African country, which was formed as a resettlement location for freed slaves from North America. I planned to make a dessert from here called Sweet Potato Pone. Sounded kind of like a doughnut recipe, and who can turn that down? The sweet potatoes are still sitting in my kitchen. Taunting me with their rawness.
Malawi is in Southeast Africa, between Mozambique, Zambia, and Tanzania. I had two recipes planned for this week so I picked another dessert from here called zitumbuwa – aka banana fritters. These were tasty, but pretty mushy. I’ve ended up using them in my oatmeal instead of eating them by themselves.
Next was Malaysia, for which I attempted a very diverse dish called nasi lemak - the national dish, from what I hear - involving anchovies and a homemade sweet and sour kind of sauce. Suffice it to say this was my biggest failure yet. And what am I supposed to do now with a whole bag full of anchovies?? I only needed a sample pack. Malaysia, I’ll get back to you.
Which brings us to Mali – back to West Africa we go! Mali is landlocked, but near the west coast and is apparently one of the largest countries within Africa. Its population is 14.5 million, and is primarily Muslim, while traditional beliefs and Christianity make up a smaller proportion. Prayer points for Mali from our calendar focus heavily on praise for recent increases in missions and continued focus in that area.
Mali gained independence from France in the 1960s, though they have had several struggles as a country since then. Those struggles have included everything from drought to dictatorships. More recently there have been issues involving rebel groups and Islamic militants causing embattlement within the country.
On a lighter note, Timbuktu is located here! Though it’s not the trading hub it once was, it’s still fun to say and holds its place in my mind as a place very, very far away. Mali is also home of musician Salif Keita, whose music I discovered for this post but quite enjoy. Finally, let’s talk about their food.
Traditionally food prep is a women-only thing in Mali, and meals consist of porridges and stews with meat, vegetables, rice, millet or other grains. I chose another recipes from 196flavors for jollof rice, however I just realized there's also a jollof recipe in the list on the Liberian recipe site since it's popular in Africa.
It’s a super simple cooking process, and really a dish you could expect to find in multiple cultures. My Peruvian in-laws make similar dishes all the time, I ate chicken-rice-veggie dishes growing up in the Midwest, just to give a couple examples. Be warned that there is a decent amount of simmering time (35-40 minutes) involved, in case you’re like me and don’t read through the entire recipe before you start cooking 20 minutes before you want to start eating. Depending how fast you can chop your veggies and follow the first several steps, you’re probably looking at near an hour of total cooking time. Plan accordingly and you’re all set for a delicious West African dish!
INGREDIENTS (FOR 4 PEOPLE)
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 3 cups long grain rice
- 2 large onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 hot pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 1 large green bell pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 10 mushrooms
- 1/2 lb cooked green beans
- Neutral oil
- Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and let stand for 2 hours.
- Cut into pieces and sear in a pan with hot oil. Brown all sides, remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, sauté onions, garlic and finely chopped chili until browned.
- Then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Dice all the remaining vegetables and green beans into small pieces. Divide the vegetable mixture into two equal parts.
- Add half of the vegetables to the pot and cook over medium-low heat for ten minutes.
- Pour the hot chicken broth and add the reserved chicken breasts pieces.
- Simmer and reduce the liquid by about one third (twenty minutes).
- Add the rice, cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes (until the rice has absorbed all the liquid).
- Mix with the other half of the vegetables (you can also take a small portion to decorate when serving) and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.