#37 Date selected: 3/7/16 Date completed: 16/7/16
Country selected: Rwanda
Dining Selection: cooked own
What was on the menu/recipe addresses:
- Bananas with Split Green Peas
- Rwandan Honey Bread
If you look at Rwanda on a map of Africa, it’s actually incredibly small. I think because it’s been in the news so much I always imagined it to be much larger. It turns out that it’s one of the smallest countries on the African mainland.
It’s a few degrees south of the Equator and bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The country is highly elevated with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east. A part of the African Great Lakes region, it has numerous water sources throughout.
My knowledge of Rwanda comes from news reports of the civil war. This stems from a long standing feud between two ethnic groups – the Tutsi and the Hutu and this erupted into the genocide in which Hutu extremists killed some 500,000 to 1 million Tutsi and moderate Hutu in 1994. This era of the country’s history is beautifully depicted in the film ‘Hotel Rwanda’ and I’d highly recommend watching it.
The cuisine of Rwanda is agricultural-based with local staples such as bananas, plantains, pulses, sweet potatoes, beans and cassava featuring heavily. Potatoes are also popular. The diet is predominately vegetarian with most Rwandans eating meat only a few times a month.
I start this challenge with a bit of a disclaimer. One of my self imposed rules is that I must take photographs of each challenge to prove that I have completed the task. Well, as I discovered last night, this hit a bit of a road bump over the past two challenges. For some reason the SD card in my camera somehow ended up on ‘read only’ protection. It’s just a little slider button on the side which I must have accidentally hit when moving it from my camera to my laptop or similar. Either way, nothing has been recording on it for the past couple of challenges!!
All is not in vain however – by a simple stroke of luck, I had run out of battery for part of the Rwandan challenge so ended up taking photos of one of the dishes on my phone. I also realised the issue in time for me to take photos of most of the dishes in my next challenge too! It does mean that I am lacking in a bit of visual content for the next couple, but I think it’s enough to scrape through a passing grade for each.
The first dish I tried for my Rwandan challenge was Bananas with Split Green Peas. I chose it simply because it sounded strange to me. I could not for the life of me imagine what it would taste like so I gave it a go even though I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it.
You boil the split peas until tender, peel the bananas and simmer them under the peas. You then fry off some onion in palm or peanut oil then add the pea and banana mix. You season the dish with paprika, and salt and serve hot.
The end result is like a thick, gloopy paste with chunks of banana in it. It’s not particularly attractive, but it’s actually surprisingly tasty. That said, it’s also quite difficult to describe. It reminded me a bit of a thick satay. The peanut oil soaks in and gives it a peanut-butter type flavour with a sweetness from the bananas that breaks through now and then. It’s very odd.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this dish, though I feel it needs to be served with an accompaniment. I couldn’t eat much of it by itself. That said, I’m still a bit stumped as to what to have with it. Perhaps a meal or potato mash might lend itself to it but I’m still unsure. Something to ponder in any case!
The next dish I made was one that I couldn’t recover the photos from I’m afraid. A shame because it’s a particularly delicious one!
Rwandan Honey bread is to die for. It’s sweet and a little reminiscent of ginger bread. The smell permeates the house and makes your stomach grumble.
As an adaption of a simple yeast-based bread, it’s also reasonably simple to make. You soak some dried yeast and put aside while you whisk together honey, egg, ground coriander, cloves, cinnamon and salt. You then mix these with the yeast and some melted butter. Add flour to make a sticky dough. This is kneaded, left to rise, then punched down and kneaded again. Unlike most breads, it’s cooked in a casserole dish and you leave it to proov one last time before putting it in the oven.
I could eat this every day. It’s savoury enough to have as a snack or accompaniment if you wish. Alternatively, top it with a bit of whipped cream or the like and eat it like a scone. So yummy!!
But for now, onto my next challenge….