An African Dream

I dream of a better life,
For me and my family,
Where we won’t be judged by our colour,
But rather by our abilities and character,
And to be given due respect as any other humans deserve.

These sentiments were echoed by all African friends I have, for all have tales to tell, of how they have been treated differently, how simple everyday activities such as taking public transport, hanging out at eateries, parking, etc was made more difficult for them just because of their colour.

Just last month I was invited to an African baby christening ceremony. As with any function, there was promises of good food, fun and an entirely new experience.

Not one to miss any of the mentioned factors, I was there of course, and was even early hoping to catch some of the cooking action.

The Chancellor from the African Embassy was there to ‘conduct’ the ceremony; which was held in the community hall of the apartment where the parents stayed.

Alas, the food was prepared elsewhere and bought in in containers, sort-of like “catered” food. But the cook was authentic enough (below the lady on the left), thus I was assured of some real African grub.

To plan an African meal, one must consider a starch base, emphasize is on yams, cornmeal, and lentils and wheat. So lets start off with all the carbo…

Red Bean rice
Actually I think they do have a name for it, just that everyone is soooo busy that they can’t quite attend to my never-ending Qs! “What’s the ingredients for this? How do you cook that? Why is the colour as such? Where do you buy the …”
I probably took the award for the most irritating guest ever!

Cooked with red beans (duhhh), it’s a simple dish, sweeten naturally from the beans. I liked it.

Jollof rice, You can read more about it here.
It looked somewhat like our briyani, but sadly, tasted no where near it. Rather plain actually, much much better if consumed with the stew.

Kenkey.

Seriously an acquired taste!
“a maize” of a ball. HUGE aint it??? And I saw EACH person consuming one!
I could barely manage a mouthful. Darn sourish too!
More on Kenkey..taken off the internet.
What is kenkey and how is it made?

Kenkey is one of the principal fermented foods consumed in Ghana. It is prepared from fermented ground white corn (maize). To prepare kenkey, the corn has to be ground first into flour and mixed with warm water, followed by fermentation (for two to three days) into maize dough.

The fermented dough is kneaded with the hands until it is thoroughly mixed and slightly stiffened, after which it is divided into two equal parts. One part of the fermented dough is partially cooked in a large pot of water for about ten minutes, stirring constantly and vigorously, after which it is combined with the remaining uncooked dough and mixed well. The cooked half of the dough is called β€œaflata”. The aflata-dough mixture is divided into serving-sized pieces and wrapped tightly in banana leaves, cornhusks, or foil. The wrapped dough packets are placed on a wire rack above water in a large pot and allowed to boil and steam for one to three hours, depending on their size and thickness. The final product, kenkey is served with a sauce or any fish or meat dish.

Yup, so we have all the guest eating this with their hands (which is the norm, btw), by breaking off parts of it and molding it with their fingers, with bits of chicken, fish, etc..just like how we eat our nasi kunyit.

African don’t call their curries “curry”.. everything is just “stew”. Likewise, I find most African food tend to be more on the sweet side, not so much of spicy as chillies are not a main staple.

This was the Chicken Stew that was served that day.
The “gravy” is not brownish-based like most stews we are accustomed to, and looks can be deceiving..for though it was red, it wasn’t spicy. Bearing resemblance of our Ayam Masak Merah, but doesn’t taste remotely anywhere the same. Mildly sweet. Other than that, disappointingly tasteless.
The rough ingredients guide:
Sliced onions (African food seems to use onions and tomatoes a lot), tomatoes, tomatoes sauce, small grounded chili or chili powder else chili boh can be used as substitute & chicken stock cubes.

Fried fish.
No one could tell me what sort of fish, and it didn’t look appetizing, hence i didn’t take any ;p

Finally there is chilli!
Bland stew, bland rice, bland sour kenkey..seeing chili was a bliss..
Very “chilli flakes in oil” kinda texture, consisted of onions, chillis, grinded dried shrimps and black pepper sauce.
Result is this dark-coloured paste, and as expected from the ingredients, it wasn’t spicy enough. Maybe I’m just used to our Malaysian bird’s eye chilies and sambal…

Oh, of course there was a whole bowl of it.. but there was a perpetual queue at the buffet line making taking pics a drag so I end up taking most pics of whatever that was on my plate. LOL.
Fried chicken.
Garlic, ginger, onions grinded together and marinated. Then fried. It was VERY dry. Took some mouth muscles to get the meat into assimilation-able form.
The noodles (or is it pasta?) was so plain, I figured that it was meant to be eaten with the lamb balls stew and not on its own.
The Lamb Meatballs is good… should have taken more of it!
Soft, meaty and sweet (again!), but a minor sting of spiciness. Nice.
Desserts – Trifle.

This was extremely sweet (after all, if their food is sweet, then desserts are meant to be sweeTER no? ;p), and the jelly was more mushy than springy/firm.
That aside, the very rich milky custard, layered with marbled sponge fingers & topped with fresh black cherries was a great palate cleanser.

My African friends said there are a few African restaurants around, with one in Puchong and another in Cheras, but the only one that I really know of is OUT OF AFRICA RESTAURANT & KUDU BAR in PJ, of which I been meaning to pay a visit for eons… Seems really expensive from the menu but for the experience..why not?

Category : General