Thursday, 27 September 2012

Tanzania and Madagascar: Rainbow Tours

On a relatively mild September night I find myself strolling the roundabout of Old Street trying to find the correct road to lead me to the Open Kitchen in Hoxton. Twenty minutes after marching in the wrong direction, I admit myself to defeat and ask a Travelodge for the way. Finally I arrive at my destination of The Open Kitchen half an hour early clutching an overflowing bag. Sometimes being too prepared can backfire, but not this time. Meeting the welcoming guys from Rainbow Tours I immediately felt comfortable in the vibrant surroundings.

Upon arrival I was offered red and white wine as well as canapés, which was sufficient to make anyone happy. The first blogger I met was Amy from London Food Adventures . Having a keen interest in food photography, she made me more determined to improve the standard of mine.

Based in the comprehensive kitchen above the restaurant, each blogger had their own area to work in. The chef Attoma Manji showed us the dishes and how to make them prior to us starting. On the menu was SamakiwaKakuango (steamed fish with fried onions), as well as a curry-like simply named Beef with Greens (Malagasy).

You could clearly see many bloggers' eyes beginning to water due to the dicing of the onions, but our tears soon evaporated when we smelt the ginger and garlic which we added to our sautéeing onions for the beef dish. We finely sliced the cabbage in the style of chiffonade to add to the dish later. Tearing chunks of fresh red beef, we browned them in the pan and then added beef stock. Water could have been used instead but beef stock just strengthens the meaty, hearty flavour. After the beef stock had reduced a little bit, we added rice, topped with some more liquid (Fiona from London Unattached added in some of her red wine to make a French- African fusion bourignon), poured in some chopped tomato and added the cabbage. You don't want to add the cabbage too late, because you want some crunch, but you still want it to soften. Once the rice is cooked it's ready to eat. Adding some chunks of cabbage at the end give another dimension to the texture.

The fish was a pretty easy dish to make too- the kind of meal you could make in less than 30 minutes. Once I had preheated the oven I scored my seabass - any firm white fish works well. Slicing red chilli, crushed garlic and olive oil, I combined it all together and stuffed into the fish. I left the fish to cook for 20 minutes whilst I made an accompaniment which didn't taste too disimilar to a cooked salsa.

I very thinly sliced three plump tomatoes with half a large onion. In a pan of hot oil, I chucked in the onions and left to soften till they had considerably decreased in size. Then I added the tomato with some very finely chopped parsley. Every now and then i'd add a bit of water and stir a little. When it had all reduced, I served it with the baked seabass.

Funnily enough, I actually have a slight Tanzanian heritage (one of the recipes is from Tanzania). My paternal grandad was brought up on the islands of Pemba and Zanzibar which belong to Tanzania, so I have slight links with the country which I hope to visit some day.

Although it was the first blogger event I have been to, I thouroughly hope to go to more... Not only do you learn to make foods you might not normally, you meet new people (like the lovely Maya from Brunch, etc. ).

PS.. Apologies for not posting for an eternity! I will definitely, definitely, definitely be posting very regularly from now on.