Friday, May 15, 2015

A Peanut Butter Lover's Dream

I wanted to squeeze in one more country before the end of the semester. Since Zimbabwe is the last country on my alphabetical list of every nation on earth (plus some disputed ones), I thought it was a great choice to wrap up the last week of school. Since it is exam week, forgive me if I cut anything a little short. I’ll try to give Zimbabwe all the credit it deserves without encroaching on my precious study hours. (Whose idea was it to take 18 hours anyway? That just means more exams!)

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Situated in between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers, Zimbabwe is a southern African nation
with a population of 13 million speaking 16 official languages. You can say that Zimbabwe (formerly called Rhodesia under the control of the British South Africa Company) is a pretty diverse place. Most of the people of are Bantu origin. The Shona are the largest ethnic Bantu group making up 70% of the population. The Ndebele people make up about 20%. They are the descendants of Zulu immigrants from the 1800s. Although Zimbabwe’s history has been rough and their current government is still working out the kinks, their culture continues to endure and evolve as time goes on. The beautiful Shona carvings of birds, humans, stools, baskets, and other items are famous for being made out of a single piece of wood or stone. The stone carved bird is their national symbol and can be found on their flag. Zimbabwe also has their own version of the Boy Scouts. Their Boy Scout troops started in 1909, and they celebrate the skills of carving, tracking, leadership field-craft, and self-reliance.

 
 
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Zimbabwe has British and Boer influences, but the majority of the cuisine is mainly African. Sadza and rice are the staples, and peanuts are a favorite flavoring ingredient. The Zimbabweans can mix peanut butter into just about any dish and make it taste spectacular. I was a big fan. Enjoy the following very peanut-filled (or groundnuts as the Zimbabweans call them) recipes!
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This ceremonial feast dish is a chicken and peanut butter stew served on special occasions. Meat is a luxury amongst the poor of Zimbabwe, so this dish is a real treat. To get the true Zimbabwean feel, serve it out of a communal dish and eat it with you right hand. (Sorry lefties. :)  )

https://flic.kr/p/sRqrS6 | DSC_0837[1]
Huku ne Dovi
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green chili pepper, chopped
1 tbsp oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 green bell pepper, diced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup peanut butter
salt and pepper, to taste     

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and chili pepper. Sauté for about 8 minutes until the onion is tender. Add the chicken, bell pepper, and carrots to the pan. Continue to sauté until the chicken is browned all over but not cooked through. Season with cayenne pepper powder and mash the tomatoes into the stew. Add the water, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir in the peanut butter, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until almost all of the moisture has evaporated, and season to taste.

 

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A dish of cooked greens with peanut butter often accompanies a stew and staple grain on the Zimbabwean table. “Muboora” is the word for pumpkin leaves, but I substituted spinach.  

Muboora ne Dovi
1-10 ounce bag frozen pumpkin leaves or spinach, thawed
¼ cup peanut butter
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp water

Heat the water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook thoroughly, draining off any excess moisture. Stir in the peanut butter, cook for another 2 minutes, and season to taste.

 
https://flic.kr/p/rUpYsq | DSC_0832[1]
Although sadza is the typical Zimbabwean staple, I found a lot of recipes and talk of a peanut butter rice dish called mupunga ne dovi. Since I already made sadza when I cooked Tanzania for breakfast and my meal was already very peanut buttery, I decided to go all-out and include the peanut butter rice dish. I do not regret it!

 
Mupunga ne Dovi
1 cup brown rice, rinsed
1 ½ cups water
¼ cup peanut butter
salt, to taste

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Stir in the peanut butter and salt to taste, cover the pot, and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

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Did you catch the theme of this meal? Dovi, dovi, dovi…. What does “dovi” even mean? Peanut butter! Since I am a peanut butter girl, a peanut butter themed meal was a success in the making. Thankfully, Zimbabwe did not fail me. The spicy chicken stew was amazing. (I used a very spicy chili pepper since the recipe was not very specific. If you want a less spicy dish, use a milder chili.) The taste of the peanut butter was not over powerful, but gave it an amazing depth of flavor. My dislike of spinach has completely been eradicated throughout this journey around the world. Peanut butter spinach is the bomb. Even though rice really isn’t my thing due to the sticky texture and bland taste, the peanut butter rice was pretty good.

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