Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Comoros


If you didn't have to look at a map to find out where Comoros is located, give yourself a pat on the back. For those of you who would rather not look it up, the Comoros is situated just east of the mainland of Africa, but before Madagascar. It is an archipelago made up of four islands and since attaining independence from France in 1975, it has had more than 20 attempted coups.

Like many other tiny island nations, Comoros is a product of the nations that is was ruled by and those that it has traded with. Over the years, it has been ruled by native tribes originally from East Africa, spice trading Arab colonists, and of course the French. And just like all the other tiny islands with complicated histories that we have come across, the food is a fantastic and unique combination of all these past cultures.

Sweet Pea Soup

The combination of peas and ginger is something that can be found in Indian curries and Chinese stir fried dishes. Here, we put this pairing into a soup and added some coconut milk for a richer body. I thought there was too much ginger in it, but Tom happily ate up his portion. Feel free to put in what you think is a tolerable amount of ginger.



1 lb frozen peas (thawed)
4 cloves garlic smashed
1/2 tsp pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 pound tomatoes chopped
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 can coconut milk
1.5 liters water
salt to taste

1. In a 4 quart saucepan heat the olive oil over medium and add the onion and garlic. Gently cook for 5 minutes stirring often.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes.
3. Add the coconut milk, raise to a simmer, cut the heat and serve.

Avocado and Smoked Fish Salad

This is our second showing of smoked herring in a salad (Norway). I am started to really be convinced that smoked fish in any salad is awesome. It is definitely an unsung ingredient that adds so much. The smokiness really comes through and compliments the avocado beautifully.

1/2 lb smoked herring meat chopped
3 avocados pitted and cut into thin slices
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1 bunch scallions chopped
2 red peppers chopped
4 hard boiled eggs cut into rings
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

45 minutes before serving prep all the ingredients and gently mix everything being careful not to smash the avocado. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Chicken in Coconut Milk

This is essentially a very simple chicken curry dish that can be thrown together from a few ingredients. This is the one dish from the Comoros that we could actually find a full recipe on, and it is listed by many to be the national dish. We served this chicken dish on a bed of rice with pineapple and okra.

1 chicken cut into serving pieces
1/2 stick butter
2 medium onions thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic minced
1.5 tbsp curry powder
1 can coconut milk
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch parsley chopped

1. Brown the chicken in the butter on medium heat on all sides in a deep pot. This should take about ten minutes and you might have to do this in several batches depending on the size of the pot.
2. Add the onions, garlic, and curry powder to the browned chicken and cook for another five minutes spreading the spice evenly over everything in the pot.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, and cook covered for twenty minutes.
4. Turn the heat to high and reduce the sauce to a thick gravy. Salt to taste and serve with rice.

Fruit Salad

Of course, a Comorian dinner (or many an island meal) would not be complete without some fruit on the table. This dish is different from a standard fruit salad, because it has cardamom and vanilla. We thought we should present this dish as a dessert for our guests; giving them a refreshing end to their island eating experience.


3 bananas cut into 1 inch rounds
1 pineapple peeled, cored, and cut into bite sized pieces
1 apple peeled and cored cut into 1 inch segments
1 orange cut into segments
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
Whipped Cream for garnish

Simply combine everything but the whipped cream in a bowl. Serve on individual plates topped with whipped cream. That's it.

Conclusions

This was the most obscure country we have picked so far. When we picked it, everyone in the room was struck with a perplexed "Where's that?" look upon their faces. We apologize to anyone in Comoros reading this now for not knowing where you were located initially. Once we pulled up a map and started cooking, Comoros set itself apart from the other island nations we have done. All of the different influences of lands far and near that have set foot here have left their culinary mark on this island's unique cuisine.

Up next is Ireland. Until then, shucram!

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