Monday, March 15, 2010


Most of what I know about Rwanda I have learned from either NPR or Don Cheadle. Genocide aside, Rwanda these days is becoming quite the success story. The average income has just about tripled in the last ten years and it is now considered a much safer country with a model government. Among African nations, Rwanda's government is seen as one of the most honest and efficient. They are also making a pretty penny from tourism, mainly due to their rare primate populations. Mountain gorillas are actually the number one attraction. Not too shabby, Rwanda.

For this meal, we decided to do some dishes that didn't make it into Uganda. These countries are very similar in their eating habits due to proximity and shared cultures.


This was our time consuming item of the meal. It seems as though we always have one thing we make per country that we debate on making or not because of time constraints. They always are worth it in the end though, and this was no exception. Samosas make a perfect appetizer and a crowd pleaser.

For the dough:

2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 cups flour
2 tsp salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Put all the ingredients into a mixer, processor, or bowl and and knead the ingredients together until a smooth ball is formed.
2. Set aside for 30 minutes in a large covered bowl.
3. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized balls.
4. Roll each ball into a 1/4 inch thick circle about 6 inches across.
5. Place a generous amount of filling inside each circle. Place a bit of water around the edges and fold over to seal.
6. Deep fry the samosas and serve immediately or keep warm in a 200 degree oven.

For the filling:

1 russet potato boiled and chopped
1 onion minced
1 carrot peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 cup peas
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt to taste

1. Saute the vegetables in a small saucepan in a bit of corn oil for ten minutes over medium.
2. Add the coconut milk and simmer for five minutes.
3. Top with the lime juice and taste for salt.

Fruit and Rice Salad

This dish is the food pyramid's dream. Fruit, grain, vegetables, and lentils combined sounds like an odd concoction but it proves to be filling and delightful. Plus, as you will see below, it's really simple to throw together.

3 cups long grain rice cooked, rinsed, and dried
1/2 pineapple cut into small pieces
1 red onion roughly chopped
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 cup cooked red lentils
3 cups tangerine slices
1 cup chopped cilantro
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lime juice
2 serrano chiles chopped seeds removed according to taste
Salt to taste

Make sure the rice has drained thoroughly and then simply combine everything in a large bowl. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Isombe: Greens and vegetables cooked in a peanut sauce

A great many posts ago, I mentioned that we could not seem to find cassava leaves in the city. Well, we found them due north of us and it was a wonderful thing. This city never ceases to amaze us when our food needs seem somewhat unreasonable. Thank you, Chicago.

1 lb cassava leaves cooked and pureed
1 lb collared greens ribs removed and chopped into manageable pieces
2 serrano chiles chopped (I removed the seeds from one)
1 cup ground peanuts
1/2 cup palm oil
Salt to taste

1. In a pot combine the greens with all the ingredients and just enough water to cover.
2. Bring to a boil and add the remaining ingredients.
3. Boil the mixture down to a thick sauce that covers the wilted greens and serve.

Meat and Eggplant Skewers with a yogurt turmeric sauce

We found some cheap ground turkey at the African market and although it's not the most authentic way, it was a little healthier and our guests were none the wiser.

For the Meatballs:
2 lbs ground beef
2 lbs ground turkey
2 eggs
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp salt

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Roll a test meatball and fry in a skillet. Taste for seasoning and then proceed to pack the rest of the meat into meatballs.

For the eggplant:

1 large round globe eggplant

Cut the eggplant into 1 inch chunks. Salt the eggplant and set aside in a colander for 20 minutes to tenderize. Rinse the salt from the eggplant pieces of salt and dry thoroughly.

Now combine everything on bamboo or metal skewers. If you use bamboo soak them a day ahead so they don't burn. Then grill or bake on a greased pan at about 350 for twenty minutes to a half hour making sure to turn the skewers halfway through the cooking process. Serve with yogurt sauce.

For the Yogurt Sauce

2 cups yogurt
2 cloves garlic chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp pepper
1 serrano chile
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt

Combine the following ingredients in a bowl and serve alongside the skewers.

Baked Plantains

One of the easier desserts to make, baked plantains are all about making sure your plantains are aged and sweet. The blacker the peel, the sweeter the plantain. In the future, I may use rum instead of brandy, but that was all we had on hand.

6 plantains
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Cut ends off plantains, peel and cut lengthwise.
2. Melt butter and stir in brandy, brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Put in a casserole dish and roll plantains in mixture until all sides are covered. Place cut side of plantain down in the dish.
4. Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. You should probably take them out and turn them a few times while baking.
5. Add salt if desired and serve.


Turmeric, turmeric and more turmeric. We definitely used all the turmeric from our spice rack vile, plus some more. Besides the danger of staining all the clothes you are wearing permanently, the turmeric added nothing but positive flavors to our Rwandan meal.

Rwanda is much more than meets the eye. It seems as though modern day Rwanda is breaking away from their unfortunate past and making a new name for itself. If their food culture is any indication of this rebranding, I think they will do just fine.

Next up, Bangladesh. Until then, dusangire karyohe!

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