Last night’s Zimbabwean style dinner.
If you don’t read the name of the dish but only the recipe, you might think I was dining on portuguese food. That’s because portugal had a large influence on shaping the traditional Zimbabwean cuisine. I don’t want to go into the political/ historical aspect of that time, so let’s just stick to the food. Chicken stew with tomatoes has been cooked in many countries around the world for centuries,and so has corn, which was introduced to Zimbabwe ( formerlySouthern Rhodesia), by the Portuguese way back then. Fried cornmeal is still a very popular side dish in Portugal and so is chicken stew with tomatoes. Since I did not have white corn meal in my pantry, I used yellow corn meal. Different color, same texture, taste and pleasure 🙂
Excerpts from ifood.tv :
” Sadza or sadza re chibage is an African version of porridge produced from cornmeal, mielie meal or maize meal and water. It forms the essential carbohydrate portion of African meals and is consumed in different forms in almost every African region. Due to the large variety of cultures and languages in the African subcontinent, the dish has a variety of names. For example, the local shona name for the porridge is Sadza in Zimbabwe while the local tribal Ndebele name for the same dish is isitshwala. In South Africa, the same dish is referred to as Mielie Pap while the Zambians refer to it as Nshima. The dish is given another name in Eastern Africa including the states of Kenya and Tanzania where it is named Ugali. In the tiny state of Malawai, it is referred to as Sima. Furthermore, a large variety of cooking techniques are used along with different recipes to make the same dish.
Originally, a porridge made from millet formed the essential carbohydrate component of every African meal. Millet was a staple crop in the continent and it was easy to grind to produce millet flour. However, Kenya started actively growing corn which was exported to every state in the African continent. The grain was then ground to produce cornmeal and used to make a thick porridge which slowly replaced millet porridges in meals.
Ingredients and Preparation
White corn meal or mielie meal is now commonly used to produce the sadza but a few versions do use yellow cornmeal too. Yellow cornmeal is commonly referred to as KENYA as it was originally imported from Kenya. If mealie meal cannot be found, cream of wheat, or Pillsbury Farina flour can be used. The actual method of preparation varies considerably but modern methods add the mielie meal to the water to mix it well. This paste is then poured into boiling water and cooked on a high heat continuously. As the sadza thickens, more mealie meal may be added. The sadza is done when the mixture pulls away from the pot and forms a ball. Traditionally, salt is not used to season the dish.
Sadza is prepared and served in a communal bowl from which each diner can serve himself. It can also be served in separate individual bowls from where diners pinch up small amounts, roll them into balls and then dip them into meat sauces, gravies, soya chunks, pumpkin leaves, sugar beans, spring beans or vegetable stews for consumption.
4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups white cornmeal
1. Pour three cups water and the salt into a large pot and bring to a boil. Combine 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal with the water, stir well and set aside.
2. Reduce heat of boiling water to medium low and add the cornmeal and water mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for two to three minutes.
3. Slowly shake in the remaining cornmeal, mixing all the while. Stir constantly as the mixture begins to thicken and pull away from the pot, approximately one minute. Immediately transfer to a separate bowl and use a wooden spoon to shape it into a round shape. Allow the sadza to cool slightly, then carefully use your hands (wet them if necessary) to pull off bits of the sadza, shape if desired, and serve with the stew.
2 yellow onions, diced, divided
2 tablespoons fresh minced ginger, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds vine tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon to season the chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, plus 1/4 teaspoon to season the chicken
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon to season the chicken
2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1. Coat a large, shallow pan with about two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add two-thirds of the garlic to the pan and cook for about one minute. Toss in three-quarters of the onions and two-thirds of the ginger, cooking until the onions turn translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes.
2. Turn the heat up to a high flame and stir in the cayenne, black pepper, chili powder and salt. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes, mashing them down every once in a while. Reduce the heat to low and simmer another 10-15 minutes, continuing the mash the tomatoes.
3. While the tomatoes cook down, pull out a separate, heavy pot. Coat the bottom with another two tablespoons of oil. Once hot, toss in the remaining onions, ginger and garlic and cook until the onions have turned translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. As the onions and seasonings cook, season the chicken with the extra black pepper, chili powder and salt. Add the chicken to the pan and brown for approximately 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
4. After the tomatoes have stewed, carefully scrape them into the cooked chicken. Add one cup of water, turn the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir in the parsley and scallions and cook another 5 minutes.
Bon Appetit ! Life is Good !