Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 28 - Burundi (AF) Black Eyed Peas with Cilantro and Coconut, Plantains in Coconut Milk (Vegetarian)- Up Next, Cambodia (AS)

Who lives in a plantain way up in a tree?  Today's Celebrity Chef? No introduction necessary!

While the rest of the United States is celebrating Independence Day with hamburgers and hot dogs, our family enjoyed a Burundian meal of Black Eyed Peas with Cilantro and Coconut, with a side dish of Plantains in Coconut Milk, all cooked on my fire pit in my wonderful cast iron pot. Lest anyone think me unpatriotic, we had the burgers and dogs yesterday. But....I have decided that if I had to choose a last supper before dying, it would likely be black eyed peas and plantains.

And, of course I'd share them with my beloved and constant companion, Buddy Boy.
Seriously, don't nobody try to jack our  plantains and peas !
I switched up from Kingsford charcoal  to try hardwood -- Plus, I'm 99% sure I was a cowgirl in my first life, and this is absolutely the best logo I've ever seen on a bag of charcoal - The small pieces of wood caught beautifully using only newspaper and scrap wood and burned much more evenly than typical chemical-laced charcoal

Now about Burundi

Burundi (Bujumbura) (AF): Wedged between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda in east-central Africa, Burundi occupies a high plateau divided by several deep valleys. It is equal in size to Maryland.

The original inhabitants of Burundi were the Twa, a Pygmy people who now make up only 1% of the population. Today the population is divided between the Hutu (approximately 85%) and the Tutsi, approximately 14%. While the Hutu and Tutsi are considered to be two separate ethnic groups,  they speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share many cultural characteristics. Traditionally, the differences between the two groups were occupational rather than ethnic. Agricultural people were considered Hutu, while the cattle-owning elite were identified as Tutsi.
 The country gained independence from Belgium on July 1st, 1962, but was embroiled in a brutal civil war for more than 15 years. The government and the rebel group Forces for National Liberation, which was the last rebel group to engage in negotiations finally  signed a cease-fire in May 2008, signaling finality in the civil war that claimed some 300,000 lives.

Beans are the staple of Burundian cuisine and the typical carbohydrate sources are beans, plantains, bananas and corn. Like many East African cuisines there is a strong Asian influence on Burundian cookery, including the use of hot spices and the prevalence of Chapatis at meals. 

I deviated a little from my typical quest to cook the National Dish of Burundi, which is Mealie Meal Pap, a cornmeal porridge.  Mainly, I felt it was too close to the meal I'd just made from  Burkina Faso and wanted to try something different. So here's how I cooked the Black Eyed Peas with Cilantro and Cococnut and  Plantains in Coconut Milk as a side dish...
Plantains in Coconut Milk
Combine plantains, salt, curry powder, cinnamon and cloves

Pour in coconut milk and simmer till plantains are soft (as you would potatoes)
****the coconut milk oxidized in the cast iron pot and turned a funky grayish color, but the flavor didn't change****

Black Eyed Peas with Cilantro and Coconut
Next, saute garlic, chili powder, add cumin, coriander, turmeric and cilantro leaves
***I added a little extra chili powder for good measure***

Add potatoes, black eyed peas, coconut and lime juice (I added a little water to keep from sticking)

Serve it up with a simple green salad!
WooHoo! Another incredible meal and trip to the beautiful continent of Africa

The Recipes
Black Eyed Peas and Cilantro and Coconut

  1. Heat the oil and sizzle the garlic together with the chili powder for half a minute.
  2. Next, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cilantro leaves.
  3. Cook for another minute or two, stirring often to blend.
  4. Add the coconut and mix this in too.
  5. Add the cooked beans and potatoes.
  6. Season and then pour in the lime or lemon juice.
  7. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until everything is blended together and then serve with green vegetables. 
Plantains in Coconut Milk

  • 4 or more plantains (they don't have to be completely ripe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • a few cloves or a pinch of powdered cloves (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • pat of butter (optional)
  • 1-2 cups of coconut milk

  • Peel plantains. Cut plantains into slices, or into quarters by cutting once lengthwise and once across the middle. 
  • In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except coconut milk. 
  • Heat slowly, stir gently, and add coconut milk little by little until all is absorbed. 
  • Simmer until plantains are tender. Add a little water if necessary.
Final Assessment: Fantastic - I'd eat this any day. Very, very filling. I might try using light coconut milk next time as it's extremely rich. The black eyed peas, coconut and cilantro were out of this world.


Young Werther said...

Don't think I've ever tried plantains. Can't tell the difference between them and bananas anyway.

The plantains in coconut milk should make a great dessert if you throw in sugar and pandan leaves :)

sadie said...

You're right! I've seen recipes where brown sugar is added and it's served as a dessert :)