Week 43. Tanzania. Ugali and Stew.

I love golf. Not just a little bit  – but almost much as I love my wife and son. Something happens to me when I play it and I just reach a point of thorough relaxation that nothing else can do for me. I could have weeks and months of pent-up deep-seated frustrations and then in one 4 hour blast of golf they are all gone. I don’t really know why it does it for me, it’s not like I’m even that good, but everything feels so far away from having to work, slog, worry about money, do my ironing, unblock the drains etc. This weekend I haven’t been able to play, but instead I have immersed myself into The British Open from the safety of my house. The weather has been horrific and the brave multimillionaires have done so well to battle through. I just wish I was in their shoes. Darren Clarke winning was just perfect considering the fact that he has had such a tough few years……and that I bet on him and won £87.20.

How does The British Open make it onto a food blog? It’s being played at Sandwich in Kent! I like golf and I like sandwiches…..and to make it even more spooky, and Tim my great mate lives in Kent! Crazy shit.

Before I get onto this week’s food I need to discuss Jalapenos and how your body can take certain levels of spice. I thought you just build your tolerance over a number of years but what I didn’t know is that you can take a sudden, random and major step back. I am a Jalapeno hound….I eat them like sweets and get through an absolute minimum of 2 jars a week. I always buy “Discovery” Jalapenos (the green ones) as they are by far the best. Not only are they fiery and eye watering, they also hold their crunch which is so important and so lacking in the competition. The first time I tasted a Discovery Jalapeno my eyes watered, my tongue watered and I had to stop, but I now often eat four at a time and think nothing of it…..until this week that is! I can’t eat them this week. They haven’t changed (I checked) but my tongue won’t have any of it and burns with every bite. WTF? If anyone knows how or why you can  have sudden change in spice tolerance I would very much appreciate your feedback!

This week I cooked Tanzania and researching the food there, it was clear that I had to cook Ugali. The issue with Ugali and me presenting a blog post is that they are effectively tasteless round balls of starch. I couldn’t get very excited about writing about them. I decided, therefore, to cook a traditional dish which could be eaten with the balls. Ugali are made from cornmeal and even when seasoned provide a mass which serves little purpose bar filling you up and costing very little. I absolutely understand why cornmeal must be a staple in Africa but I need to decide whether this blog is a sympathetic look at the economic history of a country and why it might be very poor and that the staple foods are intrinsically linked to the average wealth, or the fact that this is a food blog of food I want to eat – and Ugali, to my palate, are completely tasteless. I wouldn’t wish to have to rely on eating it (unless I cooked it badly or incorrectly) but I can understand why some people must. I decide to make a Tanzanian stew to accompany the Ugali and the stew was (after researching) a very typical British stew but with a cup of coconut milk and a sprinkling of Tumeric. It tasted delicious and when taking a chunk of Ugali with each mouthful it really worked as the sauce soaked into the cornmeal and gave it some texture.

I wouldn’t eat Ugali again unless I adapted them somewhat, but I would be interested to know if anyone has and if I have got this completely wrong and that it does taste great if cooked differently. I don’t want to rubbish a cuisine or dish, but my Ugali were rubbish.

Recipe:

Ugali:

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Cups Cornmeal.

Boil the water with the salt. Add the cornmeal and constantly stir for 10 minutes or until in 1 large ball. Wet your hands and mould them into balls. Done.

Tanzanian Stew:

  • 1 White Onion
  • 1 Large Potato
  • 500G Stewing Beef
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Cup Chopped Toms
  • 2 TBSP Tom Puree
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 Tsp Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tsp Chopped Ginger

Cook off the onions and beef in hot oil for a few minutes without burning. Add the garlic and ginger for a minute. Add the paprika and then the rest of the ingredients bar the chopped toms or tomato puree or coconut milk. Cook for 3 minutes and then add everything else. Cook for 1.5 hours on a gentle heat or until the beef is tender. Season at the end.

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