It has been very exciting to me to explore the recipes and ingredients that are common here in Northern Tanzania. I admit I do miss some of the things I used to take for granted like an abundance of kale, kalamata olives, pecans and pine nuts, fresh herbs like basil, raw cacao and Thai young coconuts. BUT I do love having an abundant supply of the best tasting mangos, pineapples and bananas ever and the fact that I can grow many of the missing things myself (like kale which I will start harvesting soon) all year round.
That plus the gorgeous scenery and the peaceful vibe make it all worth while! Here's a view of the northern part of Arusha and a cloud topped Mt Meru from a roof top 8 stories up. Breathtaking don't you agree?
Eating raw has been somewhat of a challenge for us. Most of our raw meals consist of smoothies or just eating the fruit as is. Ever try eating a mango like an apple (not the peel)? When they're ripe and juicy it's heaven. Issues of water safety and the lack of our raw food equipment has made the more gourmet style raw food largely unavailable for us for right now. That will come in time. In the mean time if you are looking for more raw recipes please refer to the 70 raw recipes I have here.
A common ingredient used in Tanzanian cooking is coconut milk or cream. It is used in curries, beans, rice etc. Common in many stores is a coconut cream in a cute little juice box like container. In addition, the long time Arab and Indian influence in the region has lent the use of the spices and seasonings of curries, especially in the coastal areas.
Coconut rice is a Tanzanian favorite. This recipe uses coconut cream and turmeric along with green peas and carrots. The peas here are green pigeon peas which remain firm and crisp even after cooking. You can use either fresh or frozen green peas.
This dish uses only a few ingredients and takes no more than 45 minutes from start to EAT! Just put the rice and veggies and spices in a pot, sauté a bit then add the coconut cream and water. Simmer until done. Simple but satisfying flavors I'm loving.
The left overs taste great too. I even used leftovers to make an amazing soup.
I'll tell you more about that later.
- 1½ cup rice
- 1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 can or carton coconut milk or cream
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- ¼ tsp cayenne powder (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 2 ½ - 3 cups water
- Place the rice in a thick bottomed pot
- Add the onion and the peas and carrots
- Add 1-2 TBL water
- Stir in the turmeric and optional cilantro and cayenne powder
- Cook over medium high heat until the onions start to soften (about 5 minutes)
- Add more water as necessary to keep it from scorching or sticking.
- Add the coconut cream/milk. Pour in 2 ½ cups of water and stir to mix well
- Add salt and bring to simmer
- Turn heat to low, cover pot and let cook until rice is done (15-30 minutes depending on the type of rice you use)
- Check and stir after 10 minutes. Add more water if needed
- Cover and cook until rice is tender.
This recipe turned out so good that I've made it three times already in just a couple of weeks. You could easily substitute other chopped vegetables depending on your tastes or availability. Try adding in red bell pepper too.
As I mentioned earlier, I took the leftovers and made a delicious soup. I added other veggies, chopped broccoli and some chopped spinach, and added 2-3 cups more water. I zazzed it up with a few drops of sesame oil, a bit of soy sauce and some garlic and ginger. Oooh boy! Was that ever good. The soup was creamy from the coconut milk and it warmed us up on a cool morning.
So that's it for today. I'd love to hear from you. Tell us have you ever made coconut rice? If so, how do you like to make it?